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Sonnets from the Portuguese: A Celebration…

Sonnets from the Portuguese: A Celebration 0f Love (original 1850; edition 1986)

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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1,779176,665 (4.21)41
"I love your verse with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett . . . and I love you too," Robert Browning wrote in January 1845, thus initiating the most celebrated literary correspondence of the nineteenth century. During their courtship, Elizabeth privately wrote a series of forty-four sonnets to Robert, which she disclosed to no one -- not even to him -- until three years after their marriage. The poems were later collected in a volume entitled Sonnets form the Portuguese. In this elegant new edition, the poems are accompanied by relevant excerpts from Elizabeth and Robert's love letters. With an introduction by biographer Julia Markus, this volume will be a valued resource for the poetry scholar and those wanting wise and lyrical guidance in matters of love.… (more)
Title:Sonnets from the Portuguese: A Celebration 0f Love
Authors:Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Info:St. Martin's Press (1986), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 64 pages
Collections:Your library

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Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1850)


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» See also 41 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I’ve got the Peter Pauper Press edition and it is a physical joy.
  2wonderY | Apr 23, 2020 |
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets From The Portuguese might be her most famous work. It contained the poem of hers I was most familiar with, 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 everyday'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.

I can see why it's her most famous. The collection is brilliant, but Sonnet 43 stands out among them. She initially didn't want to publish this collection. Her husband, Robert Browning (who the poems are about) encouraged her to do so. He apparently said they were the best sonnets since Shakespeare. Since my hubby thought I was reading Shakespearean sonnets, maybe he was right.

Another favourite for me was Sonnet 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 may’st love on, through love’s eternity.

I think her take on love is pretty modern and refreshing. I didn't know about the darker quality of Browning's "love" poems until I read the first one. It certainly grabs you, as love gets a "death grip" on you. I loved the unexpected end of the first Sonnet. I looked up some information about it online (without spoiling anything for myself.) Sonnet XVIII has a morbid way of bestowing a token of love (giving a lock of hair that was the last place your mother kissed you before she died.) I found Sonnet XXXII relateable because it talked about insecurity in a relationship; something everyone feels at one time or another, I believe. I'm not sure I like the final Sonnet in the collection. It's not as passionate as some of the others. Maybe because it comes after How do I love thee; that's a tough comparison.
( )
  Loni.C. | Aug 17, 2018 |
I am not a fan of any 19th century literature simply because of the complexity of everything. It is so difficult to read, but I thought that I would explore something different for a change now that I am older and wiser. These sonnets are of love and emotions, which most can relate to after it has been dissected and analyzed further. I would not recommend this book to the below average or even the average reader because it will take a lot to understand on one's own. ( )
  sshelby23 | Sep 27, 2016 |
Classic, romantic poetry from 1850 Britain. ( )
  FoxTribeMama | Sep 24, 2016 |
I must say that I was slow to warm up to the poems and don't think I would have liked them as well without having read the Introduction first. Lovely, very personal. You can really see the path of the love affair between EBB and Robert Browning. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (38 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Barrett Browningprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dean, ChristopherCalligraphersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duncan, J.A.Calligraphersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mayer, Fred A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mersand, JosephNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rilke, Rainer MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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