Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 - 1861
"How do I love thee..." are the words most of us conjure when thinking of Elizabeth Barrett Browning; but the prolific prodigy, who had four books to her credit by age twelve, wrote hundreds of love poems. Suffering from a chronic lung disease that descended upon her in her fourteenth year, as well as a spinal injury from a riding accident when she was fifteen, Elizabeth lived a life of pain and reliance upon morphine. Despite these challenges, she wrote passionately, enthusiastically and romantically, personifying the artist who must express.
Sonnets from the Portuguese ~ XIV
IF thou must love me, let it be for nought
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.