XXXll. The first time that the sun rose on thine oath – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

from “Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXXll. The first time that the sun rose on thine oath

The first time that the sun rose on thine oath
To love me, I looked forward to the moon
To slacken all those bonds which seemed too soon
And quickly tied to make a lasting troth.
Quick-loving hearts, I thought, may quickly loathe;
And, looking on myself, I seemed not one
For such man’s love! – more like an out-of-tune
Worn viol, a good singer would be wroth
To spoil his song with, and which, snatched in haste,
Is laid down at the first ill-sounding note.
I did not wrong myself so, but I placed
A wrong on thee. For perfect strains may float
‘Neath master-hands, from instruments defaced, –
And great souls, at one stroke, may do and dote.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


“great souls” may transform those they touch,
to their great honour, and may stay to watch,
and nurture, in proud appreciation of that
transcendental transformation, look at our

but see here Elizabeth Barrett Browning
herself in this very poem, and also those
we’ve touched, been touched by, and

if I’ve been connecting XlXth-Century
Elizabeth Barrett Browning with modern
torch songs, sublime often evocations
of consummate and unfettered love, it
is not without the influence of, indeed,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who opened
the floodgates to our cultural emotional
honesty, name any other otherwise

brave, brave Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
to whom we owe our unadulterated

here is Roberta Flack doing her own
sororal “first time”, an obvious heir
to Elizabeth Barrett Browning‘s
tacit permission and poem

here is another, and updated version
of the featured classic, that, however
improbably, in every moment, shines,
blazons, becoming just as, goodness,
unforgettable, just watch