Monday, January 18, 2016

Elizabeth Barrett Browning*

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806—1861) is one of the nineteenth century's most influential poets. She was so admired by Emily Dickinson that she had a framed picture of the English poet in her bedroom.

Elizabeth Barrett suffered a spinal injury while saddling a pony, when she was 15 years old; that, along with a lung ailment, eventually made her an invalid. "Books and dreams were what I lived in and domestic life only seemed to buzz gently around, like bees about the grass," she said years later. In her teens she taught herself Hebrew so she could read the Old Testament, and later began learning Greek.

Her father was overly protective of her, and disapproved of her romance with Robert Browning. In 1846 the couple eloped and moved to Italy, where her health improved significantly. They soon settled in Florence, where they lived until her death 15 years later. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sarcophagus is in the Protestant Cemetery in Florence.

A Child's Thought of God

They say that God lives very high;
But if you look above the pines
You cannot see our God; and why?
And if you dig down in the mines,
You never see Him in the gold,
Though from Him all that’s glory shines.
God is so good, He wears a fold
Of heaven and earth across His face,
Like secrets kept, for love, untold.
But still I feel that His embrace
Slides down by thrills, through all things made,
Through sight and sound of every place;
As if my tender mother laid
On my shut lids her kisses’ pressure,
Half waking me at night, and said,
“Who kissed you through the dark, dear guesser?”

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Elizabeth Barrett Browning: first post, third post, fourth post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.