Sonnets from the Portugese cover

Sonnets from the Portugese

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

1. 01 – I thought once how Theocritus had sung
2. 02 – But only three in all God’s universe
3. 03 – Unlike are we, unlike, o princely heart
4. 04 – Thou hast thy calling to some palace floor
5. 05 – I lift my heavy heart up solemnly
6. 06 – Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand
7. 07 – The face of all the world is changed, I think
8. 08 – What can I give thee back, O liberal
9. 09 – Can it be right to give what I can give?
10. 10 – Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful enough
11. 11 – And therefore if to love can be desert
12. 12 – Indeed this very love which is my boast
13. 13 – And wilt thou have me fashion into speech
14. 14 – If thou must love me, let it be for nought
15. 15 – Accuse me not, beseech thee, that I wear
16. 16 – And yet, because thou overcomest so
17. 17 – My poet, thou canst touch on all the notes
18. 18 – I never gave a lock of hair away
19. 19 – The soul’s Rialto hath its merchandise
20. 20 – Beloved, my beloved, when I think
21. 21 – Say over again, and yet once over again
22. 22 – When our two souls stand up erect and strong
23. 23 – Is it indeed so? If I lay here dead
24. 24 – Let the world’s sharpness, like a clasping knife
25. 25 – A heavy heart, Beloved, have I borne
26. 26 – I lived with visions for my company
27. 27 – My own Beloved, who has lifted me
28. 28 – My letters! all dead paper, mute and white!
29. 29 – I think of thee!–my thoughts do twine and bud
30. 30 – I see thine image through my tears tonight
31. 31 – Thou comest! All is said without a word
32. 32 – The first time that the sun rose on thine oath
33. 33 – Yes, call me by my pet-name! Let me hear
34. 34 – With the same heart, I said, I’ll answer thee
35. 35 – If I leave all for thee, wilt thou exchange
36. 36 – When we first met and loved, I did not build
37. 37 – Pardon, oh, pardon that my soul should make
38. 38 – First time he kissed me, he but only kissed
39. 39 – Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace
40. 40 – Oh yes! they love all through this world of ours!
41. 41 – I thank all who have loved me in their hearts
42. 42 – My future will not copy fair my past
43. 43 – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
44. 44 – Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers

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Poetry lovers and lovers themselves would certainly know and remember these lines: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.....” These and other sublime verses are contained in this collection of tender, mystical, philosophical poems Sonnets from the Portuguese, published originally in 1850. The poet herself was part of one of the most famous literary love-stories of all time – a saga filled with romance, danger and severe opposition from her family. Born into a prominent and extremely wealthy family in Durham, England, she began writing as a child and her father encouraged her talent by getting a collection of poems published when she was only twelve. Schooled in Latin and Greek, she undertook serious scholarly work as well. An undiagnosed illness rendered her a life-long invalid. Elizabeth Barrett was already a well-known poet when she began corresponding with the brilliant writer and poet Robert Browning. Robert Browning who had read and admired her poems began writing to her and their romance began soon afterwards. The couple eloped to Italy, and as feared by her, she was disinherited by her father and her brothers, who felt Browning was a social climber who married Elizabeth for her wealth. However, the couple spent a blissful but short life together and their social circle included all the prominent writers and poets of the day. This collection takes its title from Browning's pet-name for his beloved - “my little Portugee” since she admired the works of Luiz Vaz de Camoes, a 16th century Portuguese bard. Though she thought the poems too personal to publish, her husband encouraged her to do so. They were experimental in form and content at that time. The poems are sequential and must be read in order to trace the development of love and the evolution of the poet, in an era when women shied away from expressing their deepest feelings. A keepsake collectible indeed!