September 12, 2013

Let Me Count the Ways

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Today, September 12th, is the 255th day of the year. On this date in 1846, Elizabeth Barrett eloped with Robert Browning. 

Their marriage union forever left their mark on the written word. Her prose in Sonnet #10 — How Do I Love Thee? is, well, a classic. Elizabeth Barrett Browning knew how to write to a soul mate.

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death."---By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The newlyweds, after eloping, left England and settled in Florence, Italy. Elizabeth's health improved in Italy. Their son, nicknamed "Pen", was born in 1849. Elizabeth's,"Sonnets from the Portuguese", was published in 1850. The sonnets are a depiction of the couple's courtship and marriage. Elizabeth died in 1861 in the arms of her husband. Their Florentine home, Casa Guidi, has been preserved by "The Browning Society". After Elizabeth's death, Robert returned to England with their son. Robert published "The Ring and the Book", a 12 volume poem about an actual 17th century murder trial in Rome, was published in 1868.

Can you imagine if these two writers had not found each other? 

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