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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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.

In 1850, she published "Sonnets from the Portuguese," considered to be her finest work. In 1857 she published "Aurora Leigh" her last major work.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning died June 29, 1861 at Florence, Italy.

 

How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


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.