While Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an accomplished writer and poet in her own right before she met Robert Browning, it was this series of sonnets that she composed during their secret and temultuous courtship, and which she had never intended for anyone else to see, that are the basis for her famous and enduring legacy. It is hard to try and determine which sonnet is the best, but I have to say my favourite would be a tie between Num 14: If thou must love me, let it be for nought Except for love's sake only. Do not say 'I love her for her smile---her look---her way Of speaking gently,---for a trick of thought That falls in well with mine, and certes brought A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'--- For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may Be changed, or change for thee,---and love, so wrought, May be unwrought so. Neither love me for Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,--- A creature might forget to weep, who bore Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby! But love me for love's sake, that evermore Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity. and Num 7: The face of all the world is changed, I think, Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul Move still, oh, still, beside me, as they stole Betwixt me and the dreadful outer brink Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink, Was caught up into love, and taught the whole Of life in a new rhythm. The cup of dole God gave for baptism, I am fain to drink, And praise its sweetness, Sweet, with thee anear. The names of country, heaven, are changed away For where thou art or shall be, there or here; And this . . . this lute and song . . . loved yesterday, (The singing angels know) are only dear Because thy name moves right in what they say I shall leave the words to speak for themselves.
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