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Sonnets from the Portuguese
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Chapter: Reading for Enjoyment
Published by Crown Publishers/NY in 1979
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©1999


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When Robert Browning had these poems of his wife Elizabeth published in 1850, he is reported to have said: "I dared not keep to myself the finest Sonnets written in any language since Shakespeare's." That is ample praise for the fine work of the woman he called his "little Portuguese," which may have led to the title chosen for this collection of sonnets.

What else can one say about this book of sonnets, except to offer brief glimpses of their artistry to tantalize and delight. If these words seem familiar, you will know why Robert thought they were so important they have won their way into our collective psyche.

Each sonnet is on a separate page, and I offer to you, dear Reader, a few lines from some of them:

[page 18]
Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand
Henceforth in thy shadow.

[page 30]
The face of the world has changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul

[page 44]
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except love's sake only.

[page 94] Because thou hast the power and own'st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me,

[page 102]
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach . . .
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall love thee better after death.


Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne


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