XXll. When our two souls stand up erect and strong – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

by richibi

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXll. When our two souls stand up erect and strong

When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curvèd point,–what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think. In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Belovèd,–where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


in this XXllnd of her Portuguese sonnets, perhaps a little
too unbridled for my taste, I nearly even blushed,
Elizabeth seems to have been eating all her Wheaties

“erect and strong” indeed, “wings break[ing] into fire”,
the yet unfulfilled idea of “mounting higher”, goodness,
I’ve been even tripling in my excitement all my o’s here
instead of only doubling them, in my unsettling
distraction trippingly misspelling gooodness, and,
however improbably, even tooo

I think I’ll draw the curtain on this one, or at least a veil

this kind of thing, this sort of personal revelation, doesn’t
occur much until, in Paris before the Second World War,
Henry Miller, who is way too uninhibited, not to mention
creatively unedited, generally, for my perhaps too proper
sensitivity, though you could read to the greatest
advantage his magisterial The Colossus of Maroussi“,
an exhilarating evocation of the Greeks, their invaluable
life lessons, grounded in the still unrivalled wisdom of
their verily Promethean legacy


psst: “Every moment is a golden one for him who has
the vision to recognize it as such”

Henry Miller