This month our lovely professor had given us the assignment of writing about poetry that inspires us. I know many will write about Edgar Allan Poe, the quintessential goth poet, so I will skip him over. Below is one of my my other favourite poets. Of course as you will notice I have a love of 19th century literature, so had to pick an interesting and outstanding woman of that century.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett was me of the most prolific and prominent pets of the 19th century. Born in 1806, she started writing poetry at age 6. Her mother encouraged her and kept all of them. In the 1830s a cousin introduced her to other writers including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Alfred Lloyd Tennyson. Her first book of poetry was published in 1838 and she went on to publish many more.
She began corresponding with another poet Robert Browning, and the two fell in love. They kept it secret though as they feared her family's disapproval. They married in 1846 and she was disinherited. The couple moved to Italy where she lived until her death in 1861.
She had suffered from frail health from age 15 onwards, having mysterious undiagnosed pains, and then later TB. She became addicted to laudanum due to this, which led to her becoming sickly and passing away at only 55.
Her many poems touch on subjects like love, devotion and spirituality. Below is her most famous -Sonnet 43.
Besides writing poems, she campaigned to abolish slavery and change child labour laws.
How Do I Love Thee? sonnet 43
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
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 but love thee better after death.
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