XXlll. Is it indeed so? If I lay here dead – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

by richibi

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXlll. Is it indeed so? If I lay here dead

Is it indeed so? If I lay here dead,
Wouldst thou miss any life in losing mine?
And would the sun for thee more coldly shine
Because of grave-damps falling round my head?
I marvelled, my Belovèd, when I read
Thy thought so in the letter. I am thine–
But . . . so much to thee? Can I pour thy wine
While my hands tremble? Then my soul, instead
Of dreams of death, resumes life’s lower range.
Then, love me, Love! Look on me–breathe on me!
As brighter ladies do not count it strange,
For love, to give up acres and degree,
I yield the grave for thy sake, and exchange
My near sweet view of Heaven, for earth with thee!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


it is nearly a commonplace that to be profoundly
loved keeps one in fact alive, it is also so in my
own experience, though the expression of it may
often seem, paradoxically, subservient and

and a great spiritual burden, I would think,
for the anchor, who would be told, in reversed
circumstances, that to be abandoned would be
to have been left, ignominiously, to die

but Elizabeth chooses not to survive, but to
not die, there is a difference, enough to make
a jewel of this poem