XXVll. My own Belovèd, who hast lifted me – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

by richibi

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXVll. My own Belovèd, who hast lifted me

My own Belovèd, who hast lifted me
From this drear flat of earth where I was thrown,
And, in betwixt the languid ringlets, blown
A life-breath, till the forehead hopefully
Shines out again, as all the angels see,
Before thy saving kiss! My own, my own,
Who camest to me when the world was gone,
And I who looked for only God, found thee!
I find thee; I am safe, and strong, and glad.
As one who stands in dewless asphodel
Looks backward on the tedious time he had
In the upper life,–so I, with bosom-swell,
Make witness, here, between the good and bad,
That Love, as strong as Death, retrieves as well.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


the Asphodel Meadows were a mythological
nether field where souls wandered aimless
after death, bereft of their earthly memories,
washed away by the river Lethe they’d had
to cross to enter the Underworld, can you
dig it

very few have returned from There, notably
Eurydice, who, profoundly grieved by
Orpheus, her swain, is granted leave to
come back by the god of the Underworld,
Hades, as a grace for Orpheus’ uncanny,
uneartlhy, musical ability, though with one
dire condition, that he, Orpheus, Lot-like,
not look back, but that’s an entire other story

love however is what has resurrected her here,
according to Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
afforded her another, transformed, life, she

for transcendental apparently love, not only
ineluctable death, according to her earlier
staunch expectations, had proved able to
stir her from her earlier in-, or “asphodel”,
as she calls it, existence

as love does