Xll. Indeed this very love which is my boast – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

by richibi

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

Xll. Indeed this very love which is my boast

Indeed this very love which is my boast,
And which, when rising up from breast to brow,
Doth crown me with a ruby large enow
To draw men’s eyes and prove the inner cost, –
This love even, all my worth, to the uttermost,
I should not love withal, unless that thou
Hadst set me an example, shown me how,
When first thine earnest eyes with mine were crossed,
And love called love. And thus, I cannot speak
Of love even, as a good thing of my own:
Thy soul hath snatched up mine all faint and weak,
And placed it by thee on a golden throne, –
And that I love (O soul, we must be meek!)
Is by thee only, whom I love alone.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


though the sonnet has a history going back to the
13th Century, English poets probably found their
soul spring in Shakespeare, all CLlV of his seminal

you’ll notice the order of rhymes, the set number of
lines of verse, 14, are the same, Barrett Browning
hides however her consonant sounds by blurring
the meter as she forces it into the following line by
the dictates of correct grammar and meaning

the result is Romantic urgency, instead of the more
controlled poetry of a ceremonious, therefore less
indulgent, more rigidly formal, monarchic court, and

majesty has ceded here to democracy, for better
or for worse