XXXlX. Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

by richibi

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXXlX. Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace

Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me
(Against which years have beat thus blanchingly
With their rains), and behold my soul’s true face,
The dim and weary witness of life’s race, –
Because thou hast the faith and love to see,
Through that same soul’s distracting lethargy,
The patient angel waiting for a place
In the new Heavens, – because nor sin nor woe,
Nor God’s infliction, nor death’s neighbourhood,
Nor all which others viewing, turn to go,
Nor all which makes me tired of all, self-viewed, –
Nothing repels thee, . . . dearest, teach me so
To pour out gratitude, as thou dost good!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

_____________________________

after XXXVlll indeed iconic poems, wherein
Elizabeth speaks nearly exclusively about
herself, intimately and, as history would
show, epochally, breaking new, fertile,
Romantic in this instance, ground, she
turns her attention here to someone else,
to Robert, her paragon

Bette Midler would later say, now that’s
enough about me, let’s talk about you,
what do you think about me

having shed some of her insecurity,
Elizabeth seems equally more solid, less
fragmented, in her inordinate, indeed
disarming, ardour

you’ll note a return to rhyme, metre, cadence,
commas are in the right place, the reiteration
of certain words, like markers, beat rhythm
as well as emphasis, the ground of the
verses seems sounder, sound, all elements
which earlier would have determined the
very parameters of poetry, as though she
could now return to balance, order, lyricism,
even convention, when turned away from
strictly herself, a lesson I’m sure we could
all learn

Schubert, incidentally, could ‘ve easily set
this to music, as indeed someone else did
here only over a year ago, David MacIntyre,
and called it Love in Public“, an inspiration
which set me off on this very journey

to date this is my very favourite of Elizabeth‘s
poems

Richard

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