Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Salon: Happy Birthday Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 - 1861)

Most everyone knows at least the outline of the one of the most romantic love stories in history: that of the meeting and eventual marriage of the shy, reclusive 38 year old English poet Elizabeth Barrett and the more outgoing, younger and lesser-known poet, Robert Browning. Their poems are still loved today, their correspondence and inspiring story still read and admired.

One of the books I mean to read this year is just this story: DARED AND DONE The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning by Julia Markus.

Books, book, books!
I had found the secret of a garrett-room
Piled high with cases in my father's name,
Piled high, packed large, - where, creeping in
and out
Among the giant fossils of my past,
Like some small nimble mouse between
the ribs
Of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there
At this or that box, pulling through the gap,
In heats of terror, haste, victorious joy,
The first book first. And how I felt it beat
Under my pillow, in the morning's dark,
And hour before the sun would let me read!
My books!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
Aurora Leigh

(Thanks to Anna Quindlen for bringing this poem to my attention.)


  1. Happy birthday, EBB! I just re-read Sonnets from the Portuguese recently and had completely forgotten that it got that title because Browning called Elizabeth "my Portuguese."

  2. Lisa: Such a great love story. Yes, she had all that dark hair and I think, olive skin. But I wish she'd had a better hairdo. Victorian hair - not so crazy about some of the styles. But Browning obviously didn't mind. :)

  3. What a lovely poem! And I would say I've agreed with her sentiment for decades.

  4. Kathy: Yes, I'd never read this one but Anna Quindlen uses it in her preface to HOW READING CHANGED MY LIFE and I thought it was perfect for a book blogger to post as well. :)


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