XXVl. I lived with visions for my company – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXVl. I lived with visions for my company

I lived with visions for my company
Instead of men and women, years ago,
And found them gentle mates, nor thought to know
A sweeter music than they played to me.
But soon their trailing purple was not free
Of this world’s dust, their lutes did silent grow,
And I myself grew faint and blind below
Their vanishing eyes. Then THOU didst come–to be,
Belovèd, what they seemed. Their shining fronts,
Their songs, their splendours (better, yet the same,
As river-water hallowed into fonts),
Met in thee, and from out thee overcame
My soul with satisfaction of all wants
Because God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


compare Joyce Kilmer‘s

“Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”

from Kilmer‘s Trees“, where Elizabeth Barrett Browning
in her poem has of course a much more Romantic view
of things nearly a century earlier, and where the source
of her telling light is rather the much more human
Robert Browning

a fair match, I first wondered, Browning or a tree

then thought, what do I now mean, a good one
and two respective centuries later, by God, the
genesis of all this inscrutable incontrovertible
horn of bounteous and wondrous plenty

I am of course still wondering, despite even the
Sisyphean exponentiality of those wonders

in the end I believe a tree is no less the equal
of a Robert Browning, as proof of the divine

about the divine itself however I’ll reserve
judgment, though my own personal experience
of miracles has made me believe in at least the
ineffably miraculous, the immanence ever of a
mystical, multidimensional order – “There are
more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, /
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

maybe therefore of the divine

but this could easily be just ultimately empty

so presently I cede

interesting that the question was even popping
up however, finally, after centuries of obligatory
Christian, and obfuscating, dogma, a personal
quest, rather than adherence by ecclesiastical
ordinance, for a proof of God