Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

“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.”

“Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death”

“I love thee to the level of everyday’s most quiet need, by sun and candle light…I love thee with the breath, smiles,tears,of all my life.”

“Who so loves believes the impossible.”

“You were made perfectly to be loved – and surely I have loved you, in the idea of you, my whole life long.”

“Best be yourself, imperial, plain and true!”

“What is genius but the power of expressing a new individuality?”

“God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.”

“What I do and what I dream include thee, as the wine must taste of its own grapes.”

“He lives most life whoever breathes most air.”

“And each man stands with his face in the light of his own drawn sword. Ready to do what a hero can.”

“If thou must love me, let it be for naught except for love’s sake only.”

“Whoso loves believes the impossible”

“Light tomorrow with today!”

“A woman’s always younger than a man of equal years.”

“First time he kissed me, he but only kissed the fingers of this hand wherewith I write; And, ever since, it grew more clean and white.”

“World’s use is cold, world’s love is vain, world’s cruelty is bitter bane; but is not the fruit of pain.”

“If you desire faith, then you have faith enough.”

“All actual heroes are essential men,
And all men possible heroes…”

“The Greeks said grandly in their tragic phrase, ‘Let no one be called happy till his death;’ to which I would add, ‘Let no one, till his death, be called unhappy.’”

“My sun sets to raise again.”

“The beautiful seems right by force of beauty and the feeble wrong because of weakness.”

“But the child’s sob curses deeper in the silence than the strong man in his wrath!”

“Into our deep, dear silence.”

“Since when was genius found respectable?”

“Suddenly, as rare things will, it vanished.”

“How many desolate creatures on the earth have learnt the simple dues of fellowship and social comfort, in a hospital.”

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees takes off his shoes”

“God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers, And thrusts the thing we have prayed for in our face, A gauntlet with a gift in it”

“An ignorance of means may minister to greatness, but an ignorance of aims make it impossible to be great at all.”

“He said true things, but called them by wrong names.”

“At painful times, when composition is impossible and reading is not enough, grammars and dictionaries are excellent for distraction.”

“Women know the way to rear up children (to be just). They know a simple, merry, tender knack of tying sashes, fitting baby-shoes, and stringing pretty words that make no sense. And kissing full sense into empty words.”

“What was he doing, the great god Pan,
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river.”

“Books, books, books had found the secret of a garret-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. An hour before the sun would let me read! My books!”

“We all have known good critics, who have stamped out poet’s hopes;
Good statesmen, who pulled ruin on the state;
Good patriots, who, for a theory, risked a cause;
Good kings, who disemboweled for a tax;
Good Popes, who brought all good to jeopardy;
Good Christians, who sat still in easy-chairs;
And damned the general world for standing up.
Now, may the good God pardon all good men!”

“Hurt a fly! He would not for the world: he’s pitiful to flies even. ”Sing,” says he, ”and tease me still, if that’s your way, poor insect.””

“I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless; That only men incredulous of despair, half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air beat upward to god’s throne in loud access of shrieking and reproach”

“Measure not the work
Until the day’s out and the labor done”

“I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless.”

“`Guess now who holds thee?’
`Death’, I said, but there
The silver answer rang, . . .
Not Death, but Love.’”

“Books succeed, and lives fail.”

“And lips say ”God be pitiful,” who never said, ”God be praised.””

“Men get opinions as boys learn to spell, by reiteration chiefly”

“I felt so young, so strong, so sure of God.”

“Do you hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
Ere the sorrow comes with years?”

“Think, in mounting higher, the angels would press on us, and aspire To drop some golden orb of perfect song into our deep, dear silence.”

“This race is never grateful: from the first, one fills their cup at supper with pure wine, Which back they give at cross-time on a sponge, in bitter vinegar.”

“He, in his developed manhood, stood A little sunburnt by the glare of life; While I, it seemed no sun had shone on me”

“The devil’s most devilish when respectable”

“Get work: be sure it is better than what you work to get”

“Life treads on life, and heart on heart: We press too close in church and mart, To keep a dream or grave apart”

“He, in his developed manhood, stood, a little sunburn by the glare of life.”

“Let no one till his death be called unhappy. Measure not the work until the day’s out and the labor done.”

“What monster have we here? A great Deed at this hour of day? A great just deed — and not for pay? Absurd — or insincere?”

“The man, most man, works best for men: and, if most man indeed, he gets his manhood plainest from his soul.”

“In the pleasant orchard closes,
‘God bless all our gains’, say we;
But `May God bless all our losses’
Better suits with our degree.”

“A woman cannot do the thing she ought, which means whatever perfect thing she can, in life, in art, in science, but she fears to let the perfect action take her part and rest there: she must prove what she can do before she does it, / prate of woman’s rights, of woman’s mission, woman’s function, till the men (who are prating, too, on their side) cry, ”A woman’s function plainly is… to talk’.’ Poor souls, they are very reasonably vexed!”

“The works of women are symbolical. We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull our sight, producing what? A pair of slippers, sir, to put on when you’re weary — or a stool. To stumble over and vex you… ”curse that stool!” Or else at best, a cushion, where you lean and sleep, and dream of something we are not, but would be for your sake. Alas, alas! This hurts most, this… that, after all, we are paid the worth of our work, perhaps.”

“O earth, so full of dreary noises!
O men, with wailing in your voices!
O delvèd gold, the wailers heap!
O strife, O curse, that o’er it fall!
God strikes a silence through you all,
And giveth his beloved, sleep.”

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

“Children use the fist
Until they are of the age to use the brain.”

“Experience, like a pale musician, holds a dulcimer of patience in his hand.”

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