Reverend T. S. Deacon Economos
Minister and Registered Wedding Officiant in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Poetry by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee?

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 thee 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..


We cannot live, except thus mutually
We alternate, aware or unaware,
The reflex act of life: and when we bear
Our virtue onward most impulsively,
Most full of invocation, and to be
Most instantly compellant, certes, there
We live most life, whoever breathes most air
And counts his dying years by sun and sea.
But when a soul, by choice and conscience, doth
Throw out her full force on another soul,
The conscience and the concentration both
Make mere life, Love. For Life in perfect whole
And aim consummated, is Love in sooth,
As nature’s magnet-heat rounds pole with pole.

If Thou Must Love Me

If thou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love's sake only. Do not say,
'I love her for her smile-her look-her way
Of speaking gently,-for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'-
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee-and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry:
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.

First time he kissed me, he but only kissed...

First time he kissed me, he but only kissed
The fingers of this hand wherewith I write;
And ever since, it grew more clean and white,
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its 'Oh, list,'
When the angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second passed in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half missed,
Half falling on the hair. O beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love's own crown,
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed,
I have been proud and said, 'My love, my own.'

Other Readings

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Born in 1806,at Coxhoe Hall, Durham, England, Elizabeth Barrett was brought up in a well to do family and educated in the classics and languages at an early age. Educated at home, she was precocious having read passages from Paradise Lost and a number of Shakespearean plays, among other great works, by the time she was ten years old.

By age twelve she had written her first poetry and by age thirteen had, with the help of her father been published.

At age 14, she suffered a lung condition and was prescribed morphine by her doctors which she continued to use for the rest of her live. A subsequent riding accident when she was 21 left her virtually an invalid. For most of her early life, she spent in bed rest continuing her self education of classic literature and languages. She also developed a deep devotion to Christianity during this time.

By 1938, and with the death of her brother, Elizabeth became a recluse spending the next few years in her bedroom. She did continue writing however and in 1844, published "Poems" It was during this time that Robert Browning began writing her and eventually they married in 1846. They made their home in Florence, Italy where they raised one son, Robert Wideman Browning.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning died June 29, 1861 at Florence, Italy.
Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.

~ Victor Hugo ~

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