Doth it not thrill thee, Poet
Dead and dust though thy art,
To feel how I press thy singing
Close to my heart?
~By Richard Le Gallienne~
(The Passionate Reader to His Poet)
Lady, passionate lady, what should I call you?
The title wordsmith is brassy and dully clangs,
And poetess only mocks, is meant to subdue,
Though lovely all of your works, they often bared fangs.
As a child they christened you, Poet Laureate,
You had penned your first verse when you were only six,
Your father owned slaves, to his ways you’d not submit,
The poem, ‘Curse for a Nation’, true justice depicts.
Robert read your book ‘Poems’ and became smitten,
Long letters were exchanged, for two souls felt like one,
“Sonnets of the Portuguese” is love’s famish written,
Not one word rings false, not a line comes undone.
Beauty mingles with anguish in supplicant verse,
You prove from the sour of life, sweet can emerse.
*By Cyndi MacMillan, October 26, 2011
**For Constance’s “The Passionate Reader” Contest
ABOUT THIS POEM
I was twelve when I fell head over heels for Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry. My own copy of “Sonnets of the Portuguese” had a black velvet cover. The velvet has developed severe worn spots through the years… it is that cherished.
Due to an illness she had her entire adult life, Elizabeth suffered such great physical pain that she took opium. Some say that the drugs made her more creative. I disagree. Elizabeth suffered many losses in her life: a younger brother when she was only 8, her mother when she was just 22, and two brothers (one of whom she was very close to) when she was 34. It was at 35, when she became somewhat of a hermit, she was the most prolific. Writing is an outlet for deep emotions (don’t we know it!), and I believe her poetry is born of pain, not painkillers.
The union of two highly regarded poets is one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever heard. Their mutual admiration is, to me, what true romance is about.
And Elizabeth, here on Poetry Soup, reminds me very much of E.B.B. I dedicate this poem to her.