Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sonnet XXXIX by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Because thou hast the power and own'st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me
(Against which years have beat thus blanchingly
With their rains), and behold my soul's true face,
The dim and weary witness of life's race,--
Because thou hast the faith and love to see,
Through that same soul's distracting lethargy,
The patient angel waiting for a place
In the new Heavens,--because nor sin nor woe,
Nor God's infliction, nor death's neighborhood,
Nor all which others viewing, turn to go,
Nor all which makes me tired of all, self-viewed,--
Nothing repels thee, . . . Dearest, teach me so
To pour out gratitude, as thou dost, good !

I chose a sonnet to write about since I will be reciting Shakespeare on tuesday. This is a nice poem where the speaker seems to be praising a significant other for being able to see the speaker's true character. The language is confusing at points, but I think this is straightforward until the end, where the speaker asks his significant other to teach him gratitude. I think this just means that the speaker cannot thank his "dearest" as much as he would like, and is asking her to use more of her "power" and "grace" to help him. I think Browning chose to write this poem as a sonnet since he was trying to enhance the poem's beauty, but its not very beautiful to begin with. It is mostly about the love she has for the speaker, rather than the speaker's love for her (the way that a typical sonnet is).


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