Feb 14, 2011 - poetry    6 Comments

Valentine sighs ♥

Habby Valentines Day

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Excerpts from the Letters of Elizabeth Barret Browning & Robert Browning ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

January 10th, 1845
New Cross, Hatcham, Surrey

I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett, — and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write, –whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me — for in the first flush of delight I though I would this once get out of my habit of purely passive enjoyment, when I do really enjoy, and thoroughly justify my admiration — perhaps even, as a loyal fellow-craftsman should, try and find fault and do you some little good to be proud of herafter! — but nothing comes of it all — so into me has it gone, and part of me has it become, this great living poetry of yours, not a flower of which but took root and grew … oh, how different that is from lying to be dried and pressed flat and prized highly and put in a book with a proper account at bottom, and shut up and put away … and the book called a ‘Flora’, besides!

After all, I need not give up the thought of doing that, too, in time; because even now, talking with whoever is worthy, I can give reason for my faith in one and another excellence, the fresh strange music, the affluent language, the exquisite pathos and true new brave thought — but in this addressing myself to you, your own self, and for the first time, my feeling rises altogether. I do, as I say, love these Books with all my heart — and I love you too: do you know I was once seeing you?
Mr. Kenyon said to me one morning “would you like to see Miss Barrett?” — then he went to announce me, — then he returned … you were too unwell — and now it is years ago — and I feel as at some untoward passage in my travels — as if I had been close, so close, to some world’s-wonder in chapel on crypt, … only a screen to push and I might have entered — but there was some slight … so it now seems … slight and just-sufficient bar to admission, and the half-opened door shut, and I went home my thousands of miles, and the sight was never to be!
Well, these Poems were to be — and this true thankful joy and pride with which I feel myself.
Yours ever faithfully
Robert Browning

.♥ ..months later after they first met and his first proposal

I believe in _you_ absolutely, utterly–I believe that when you bade
me, that time, be silent–that such was your bidding, and I was
silent–dare I say I think you did not know at that time the power I
have over myself, that I could sit and speak and listen as I have done
since? Let me say now–_this only once_–that I loved you from my
soul, and gave you my life, so much of it as you would take,–and all
that is _done_, not to be altered now: it was, in the nature of the
proceeding, wholly independent of any return on your part. I will not
think on extremes you might have resorted to; as it is, the assurance
of your friendship, the intimacy to which you admit me, _now_, make
the truest, deepest joy of my life–a joy I can never think fugitive
while we are in life, because I KNOW, as to me, I _could_ not
willingly displease you,–while, as to you, your goodness and
understanding will always see to the bottom of involuntary or ignorant
faults–always help me to correct them. I have done now. If I thought
you were like other women I have known, I should say so
much!–but–(my first and last word–I _believe_ in you!)–what you
could and would give me, of your affection, you would give nobly and
simply and as a giver–you would not need that I tell you–(_tell_
you!)–what would be supreme happiness to me in the event–however
distant

♥ …on friendship

your friendship is my pride and
happiness. If you told me your love was bestowed elsewhere, and that
it was in my power to serve you _there_, to serve you there would
still be my pride and happiness.

♥ …what is love

My life is bound up with yours–my own, first and last love. What
wonder if I feared to tire you–I who, knowing you as I do, admiring
what is so admirable (let me speak), loving what must needs be loved,
fain to learn what you only can teach; proud of so much, happy in so
much of you; I, who, for all this, neither come to admire, nor feel
proud, nor be taught,–but only, only to live with you and be by
you–that is love–

♥ …reassuring her doubts that he wouldn’t be happier elsewhere

I love you because I _love_ you; I see you
‘once a week’ because I cannot see you all day long; I think of you
all day long, because I most certainly could not think of you once an
hour less, if I tried, or went to Pisa, or ‘abroad’ (in every sense)
in order to ‘be happy’ … a kind of adventure which you seem to
suppose you have in some way interfered with. Do, for this once,
think, and never after, on the impossibility of your ever (you know I
must talk your own language, so I shall say–) hindering any scheme of
mine, stopping any supposable advancement of mine. Do you really think
that before I found you, I was going about the world seeking whom I
might devour, that is, be devoured by, in the shape of a wife … do
you suppose I ever dreamed of marrying? What would it mean for me,
with my life I am hardened in–considering the rational chances; how
the land is used to furnish its contingent of Shakespeare’s women: or
by ‘success,’ ‘happiness’ &c. &c. you never never can be seeing for a
moment with the world’s eyes and meaning ‘getting rich’ and all that?
Yet, put that away, and what do you meet at every turn, if you are
hunting about in the dusk to catch my good, but yourself?

_I_ know who has got it, caught it, and means to keep it on his
heart–the person most concerned–_I_, dearest, who cannot play the
disinterested part of bidding _you_ forget your ‘protestation’ …
what should I have to hold by, come what will, through years, through
this life, if God shall so determine, if I were not sure, _sure_ that
the first moment when you can suffer me with you ‘in that relation,’
you will remember and act accordingly. I will, as you know, conform my
life to _any_ imaginable rule which shall render it possible for your
life to move with it and possess it, all the little it is worth.

For your friends … whatever can be ‘got over,’ whatever opposition
may be rational, will be easily removed, I suppose. You know when I
spoke lately about the ‘selfishness’ I dared believe I was free from,
I hardly meant the low faults of … I shall say, a different
organization to mine–which has vices in plenty, but not those.
Besides half a dozen scratches with a pen make one stand up an
apparent angel of light, from the lawyer’s parchment; and Doctors’
Commons is one bland smile of applause. The selfishness I deprecate is
one which a good many women, and men too, call ‘real passion’–under
the influence of which, I ought to say ‘be mine, what ever happens to
_you_’–but I know better, and you know best–and you know me, for all
this letter, which is no doubt in me, I feel, but dear entire goodness
and affection, of which God knows whether I am proud or not–and now
you will let me be, will not you. Let me have my way, live my life,
love my love.

When I am, praying God to bless her ever,

R.B.

♥ on his love…

I shall only say I was
scheming how to get done with England and go to my heart in Italy. And
now, my love–I am round you … my whole life is wound up and down
and over you…. I feel you stir everywhere. I am not conscious of
thinking or feeling but _about_ you, with some reference to you–so I
will live, so may I die! And you have blessed me _beyond_ the _bond_,
in more than in giving me yourself to love; inasmuch as you believed
me from the first … what you call ‘dream-work’ _was_ real of its
kind, did you not think? and now you believe me, _I_ believe and am
happy, in what I write with my heart full of love for you. Why do you
tell me of a doubt, as now, and bid me not clear it up, ‘not answer
you?’ Have I done wrong in thus answering? Never, never do _me_ direct
_wrong_ and hide for a moment from me what a word can explain as now.
You see, you thought, if but for a moment, I loved your intellect–or
what predominates in your poetry and is most distinct from your
heart–better, or as well as you–did you not? and I have told you
every thing,–explained everything … have I not? And now I will dare
… yes, dearest, kiss you back to my heart again; my own. There–and
there!

And since I wrote what is above, I have been reading among other poems
that sonnet–’Past and Future’–which affects me more than any poem I
ever read. How can I put your poetry away from you, even in these
ineffectual attempts to concentrate myself upon, and better apply
myself to what remains?–poor, poor work it is; for is not that sonnet
to be loved as a true utterance of yours? I cannot attempt to put down
the thoughts that rise; may God bless me, as you pray, by letting that
beloved hand shake the less … I will only ask, _the less_ … for
being laid on mine through this life! And, indeed, you write down, for
me to calmly read, that I make you happy! Then it is–as with all
power–God through the weakest instrumentality … and I am past
expression proud and grateful–My love,

I am your

R.B.

♥ …when she sent him a ring with a lock of her hair

I was happy, so happy before! But I am happier and richer now. My
love–no words could serve here, but there is life before us, and to
the end of it the vibration now struck will extend–I will live and
die with your beautiful ring, your beloved hair–comforting me,
blessing me.

Let me write to-morrow–when I think on all you have been and are to
me, on the wonder of it and the deliciousness, it makes the paper
words that come seem vainer than ever–To-morrow I will write.

May God bless you, my own, my precious–

I am all your own

R.B.

♥ …interestingly I found this passage in one of her poems on this same subject

XVIII. I never gave a lock of hair away

I never gave a lock of hair away
To a man, Dearest, except this to thee,
Which now upon my fingers thoughtfully
I ring out to the full brown length and say
“Take it.” My day of youth went yesterday;
My hair no longer bounds to my foot’s glee,
Nor plant I it from rose- or myrtle-tree,
As girls do, any more: it only may
Now shade on two pale cheeks the mark of tears,
Taught drooping from the head that hangs aside
Through sorrow’s trick. I thought the funeral-shears
Would take this first, but Love is justified, -
Take it thou,–finding pure, from all those years,
The kiss my mother left here when she died.

♥ …on making the other happy and not disappointing them

I do not, nor will not think, dearest, of ever ‘making you happy’–I
can imagine no way of working that end, which does not go straight to
my own truest, only true happiness–yet in every such effort there is
implied some distinction, some supererogatory grace, or why speak of
it at all? _You_ it is, are my happiness, and all that ever can be:
YOU–dearest!

But never, if you would not, what you will not do I know, never revert
to _that_ frightful wish. ‘Disappoint me?’ ‘I speak what I know and
testify what I have seen’–you shall ‘mystery’ again and again–I do
not dispute that, but do not _you_ dispute, neither, that mysteries
are. But it is simply because I do most justice to the mystical part
of what I feel for you, because I consent to lay most stress on that
fact of facts that I love you, beyond admiration, and respect, and
esteem and affection even, and do not adduce any reason which stops
short of accounting for _that_, whatever else it would account for,
because I do this, in pure logical justice–_you_ are able to turn and
wonder (if you _do … now_) what causes it all! My love, only wait,
only believe in me, and it cannot be but I shall, little by little,
become known to you–after long years, perhaps, but still one day: I
_would_ say _this_ now–but I will write more to-morrow. God bless my
sweetest–ever, love, I am your

R.B.

♥ …on marriage

I feel, after
reading these letters,–as ordinarily after seeing you, sweetest, or
hearing from you,–that if _marriage_ did not exist, I should
infallibly _invent_ it. I should say, no words, no _feelings_ even,
do justice to the whole conviction and _religion_ of my soul–and
though they may be suffered to represent some one minute’s phase of
it, yet, in their very fulness and passion they do injustice to the
_unrepresented, other minute’s_, depth and breadth of love … which
let my whole life (I would say) be devoted to telling and proving and
exemplifying, if not in one, then in another way–let me have the
plain palpable power of this; the assured time for this … something
of the satisfaction …
I will care for it no more, dearest–I am wedded to you now. I believe
no human being could love you more–that thought consoles me for my
own imperfection-

♥ …account he wrote in a letter of his wife’s death

The main comfort is that she suffered very
little pain, none beside that ordinarily attending the simple attacks
of cold and cough she was subject to–had no presentiment of the result
whatever, and was consequently spared the misery of knowing she was
about to leave us; she was smilingly assuring me she was ‘better’,
‘quite comfortable–if I would but come to bed,’ to within a few minutes
of the last. I think I foreboded evil at Rome, certainly from the
beginning of the week’s illness–but when I reasoned about it, there
was no justifying fear–she said on the last evening ‘it is merely the
old attack, not so severe a one as that of two years ago–there is no
doubt I shall soon recover,’ and we talked over plans for the summer,
and next year. I sent the servants away and her maid to bed–so little
reason for disquietude did there seem. Through the night she slept
heavily, and brokenly–that was the bad sign–but then she would sit
up, take her medicine, say unrepeatable things to me and sleep again. At
four o’clock there were symptoms that alarmed me, I called the maid and
sent for the doctor. She smiled as I proposed to bathe her feet, ‘Well,
you _are_ determined to make an exaggerated case of it!’ Then came what
my heart will keep till I see her again and longer–the most perfect
expression of her love to me within my whole knowledge of her. Always
smilingly, happily, and with a face like a girl’s–and in a few minutes
she died in my arms; her head on my cheek. These incidents so sustain
me that I tell them to her beloved ones as their right: there was no
lingering, nor acute pain, nor consciousness of separation, but God took
her to himself as you would lift a sleeping child from a dark, uneasy
bed into your arms and the light. Thank God. Annunziata thought by her
earnest ways with me, happy and smiling as they were, that she must have
been aware of our parting’s approach–but she was quite conscious, had
words at command, and yet did not even speak of Peni, who was in
the next room. Her last word was when I asked ‘How do you feel?’
–’Beautiful.’ You know I have her dearest wishes and interests to
attend to _at once_–her child to care for, educate, establish properly;
and my own life to fulfil as properly,–all just as she would require
were she here. I shall leave Italy altogether for years–go to London
for a few days’ talk with Arabel–then go to my father and begin to try
leisurely what will be the best for Peni–but no more ‘housekeeping’
for me, even with my family. I shall grow, still, I hope–but my root is
taken and remains.

I know you always loved her, and me too in my degree. I shall always be
grateful to those who loved her, and that, I repeat, you did.

She was, and is, lamented with extraordinary demonstrations, if one
consider it. The Italians seem to have understood her by an instinct.
I have received strange kindness from everybody. Pen is very well–very
dear and good, anxious to comfort me as he calls it. He can’t know his
loss yet. After years, his will be worse than mine–he will want what he
never had–that is, for the time when he could be helped by her wisdom,
and genius and piety–I _have_ had everything and shall not forget.

God bless you, dear friend.

♥ Sources:
1. Elizabeth Barrett Browning
2. Wikipedia
3. Letters vol. 1
4.
Letters vol. 2

6 Comments

  • Asalaamu Alaikum :)

    After doing my fair share of ‘squishing’ on last year’s Valentines day post, I’m just going to post my favourite lines from Elizabeth Barrett Browning this year :)

    Words may be temporary and few but their meanings can last forever.

    ‘Love me Sweet, with all thou art,
    Feeling, thinking, seeing;
    Love me in the lightest part,
    Love me in full being.’

  • wsalam,

    I don’t know what squishing means. Another strange british colloquialism? Btw I just learned “allow it” means like the opposite from those Badman videos lol

    Need to buy all the Browning’s books and letters!!

  • love is the only divine thing among all worldly things on this earth.

    Entire universe is, as it is,only because of one force termed as gravity (i.e joining,not-disintegrating,loving force).

    I love LOVE.

  • I don’t think you have enough hearts in this post, you may want to end all your sentences with them too just to make sure its extra mushy.

    :P

  • shaddup :p ? it’s valentines day i’m allowed!! i just figured out how to make these ? and did u know u can do these too: ? ? ? now we can play cards!!

    d’oh!!! jinxeddddddddd they don’t work anymore :(

  • You have been awarded with the Stylish Blogger Award- Check this out at: http://muslim-women-exposed.blogspot.com/2011/03/stylish-blogger-award-2.html

    Peace and Blessings:)