Elizabeth Barrett Browning, And yet, because though overcomest so

Browning’s give her readers glimpses into her love affair. Many begin and end at various points, with no perspective. It makes me see them as letters to one person whose replies have not survived. This sonnet is no different. In the beginning, Browning addresses her lover and accuses him of being “more noble and like a king.” This accusation makes him seem arrogant and makes me think that she thinks he is above her or at least imagines him to be. Browning’s speaker struggles with her emotions and her self-worth as illustrated by her regal references as well as the last line in which she states “make thy love larger to enlarge my worth.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Accuse me not, beseech thee, that I wear

This sonnet discusses a common theme found in Browning’s other poetry. Like her other sonnets, this one is written in the first-person is centered around the theme of melancholy. It begins with her commanding someone to stop accusing her of appearing sad. In the rest of the poem, the speaker tries to explain why her sorrow is written on her face and in one line uses a beautiful metaphor of “a bee shut in a crystalline.” It appears that her sorrow is fueled by love. Love that is so impossible to escape that it would be “most impossible failure” even if she actually aimed “to fail so.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Go from me. Yet I feel that I should stand

Browning writes the sonnet in first person and begin by sending a man away from her speaker. Though she sends him away, she’s quick to point out that she will never be free of him or his shadow. She begs him to leave her alone even though she admits that she will not be able to even “lift my hand/serenely in the sunshine as before.” Browning uses the word doom to illustrate the hopelessness that she feels and illustrates the concept of heart break by begging him to leave her heart alone “with pulses that be double.” In the end, she points out that whatever she will do or dream of in the future will always include him. Finally, Browning shows the reader that this man is ingrained deep within her by using the analogy that wine “tastes of its own grapes.” The last lines that include God makes me consider the idea that this individual is not just a long lost significant other but rather a significant other who is also dead.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I thought once how Theocritus had sung

Browning writes about age. She references Theocritus in the first line and spends the entire sonnet musing about what it means to have age. Browning uses the first part of the poem to discuss what she had learned and in particular, to point out that each year of a person’s life is a gift “for mortals, old or young.” By the middle of the poem, the speaker comes to the realization that even her sweet and sad years were meaningful. I’m unclear as to what she means when she refers to “a mystic shape” but, at the end, when he holds her the reader is presented with a sense of relief. The relief comes from the fact that the answer is not “death” but rather “love.”