Happy Birthday, EBB


I have a lovely book about Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s life. It contains snippets of her letters to friends and, of course, the romance by letter with Robert Browning. Authored by Joanna Richardson, it is a lovely slim book (at least my Folio Society version is…) that takes you through her sad childhood, that amazing transformation in her 30’s when she met Robert, all the way through to her death.

It is an incredible story, really. And their letters are full of that language of love, emoted by the amazing words they were mutually gifted with. Here’s a snippet of her work – just a piece of a longer work and yet it can stand on its own. So well did she compose…Happy Birthday, m’dear!

My Heart And I
You see we’re tired, my heart and I.
We dealt with books, we trusted men,
And in our own blood drenched the pen,
As if such colours could not fly.
We walked too straight for fortune’s end,
We loved too true to keep a friend ;
At last we’re tired, my heart and I.

3 responses to “Happy Birthday, EBB

  1. Her work is to be savored. It seems no one writes to one another like that any more. How do you do that with a text message, how do you convey such feelings of family in a smiley? How do you explain what it feels to live, to breathe, to love, in a text? Train of thought. For those thoughts make up boxcar after boxcar of the steady motion of thought, sturdy boxes of space and time, their spaces containing the heavy load of lust and longing, pride, fear and desire. A train barrelling forward in steady progressions as moving clouds fly overhead and shafts of sunlight peer through sliding cars, into their depth. As others transmit through satellites and space, I watch the landscape from the viewpoint of the train. Structures of iron lace, the suddenness of buildings, clouds of morning mist all crossing my line of sight, my muscles straining with the curves through corn shrouded fields, moving with the train, thundering through empty fields of past loss into meadows washed with light. I rush into the rain as the cars gain speed, waters cleansing the windows on which I look out on life. I hurl words into the darkness of an upcoming tunnel and wait for their echo.Train of thought rushing on. Life viewed as a passing landscape in which I live in the midst yet best write about it only as it has passed my window, a memory behind me trailing in the smoke of the engine.That is what I want to write, not a smiley and an abbreviated vision of what wells deep within. Mrs. Browning would understand.

  2. Oh, all who appreciate you, B, understand quite well. Thank you for gifting me with such a lovely comment – worthy of its own post I don’t know why you let it languish here.And thank you, Rob, for the kind comment! It would seem that a fair few even notice such things anymore…

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