lX. Can it be right to give what I can give? – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

lX. Can it be right to give what I can give?…

Can it be right to give what I can give?
To let thee sit beneath the fall of tears
As salt as mine, and hear the sighing years
Re-sighing on my lips renunciative
Through those infrequent smiles which fail to live
For all thy adjurations? O my fears,
That this can scarce be right! We are not peers,
So to be lovers; and I own, and grieve,
That givers of such gifts as mine are, must
Be counted with the ungenerous. Out, alas!
I will not soil thy purple with my dust,
Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass,
Nor give thee any love — which were unjust.
Belovèd, I love only thee! let it pass.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


though it might seem unworthy, this is my condition,
she says, I have only my misery to offer, and my
intemperate, ineradicable, love, my very destiny,
should it be of any consequence, best were for you,
therefore, to move on

at which her abnegation brought me to a shiver, and,
marvelously, to, in my very body, compassion

there is something awesome, even sacred, in this
unbound sincerity