On Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I enjoy the poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning – always have. In grade school and we copied, “How do I love thee” on Valentine cards. It was “sweet.” Today, the words are not as sweet as much as they are embracing. 

Later in life, I read, “If it could weep, it could arise and go.” The words did not console me as much as they wrapped me in a warm blanket.

Despite these obvious connections with Barrett Browning, I didn’t “discover” until well into adulthood. Perhaps it was only when I reached the point of empathy with her that her poems took on a new life for me. I recently read Flush, a Biography by Virginia Woolf. It inspired me to know more of both Barrett and Wolff. That’s when I found Barrett’s poem about her long-time friend, Flush. Once again, Barrett’s words moved me, and for the first time in three years, I realized how much I missed my fuzzy little friends.

Barrett Browning live peculiar life she lived. Illness and obsession trapped her body for so long, that when she broke the bounds of family, she created a second life. All the while, her faithful companion, Flush, rested by her side. 

Flush by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
You see this dog. It was but yesterday
 I mused, forgetful of his presence here,
 Till thought on thought drew downward tear on tear;
 When from the pillow, where wet-cheeked I lay,
 A head as hairy as Faunus, thrust its way
 Right sudden against my face,—two golden-clear
 Large eyes astonished mine,—a drooping ear
 Did flap me on either cheek, to dry the spray!
 I started first, as some Arcadian
 Amazed by goatly god in twilight grove:
 But as my bearded vision closelier ran
 My tears off, I knew Flush, and rose above
 Surprise and sadness; thanking the true Pan,
 Who, by low creatures, leads to heights of love.

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4 thoughts on “On Elizabeth Barrett Browning”

  1. I love How do I love thee? So much, I rewrote it in homage to both Barrett Browning and my own love! I’ve not come across Flush but i will go hunting!

  2. One of the many poets we should all recognize. Yes, there can be comfort found in poetry. So many things found in reading and writing it.

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