A Book of Answers XII: Robert Browning And E.B.B.


“Dear Mrs B—Chops and Tomato Sauce—Yours, Pickwick”

This is pure mischief. I have nothing against Sonnets from the Portuguese—I was once in love with Mrs Browning on their account—and I greatly admire Browning still, though I am not the disciple I was at the age of sixteen. The domestic life of the Brownings appears vividly in their letters, and we probably know more about it than about the day-to-day family events of most poets. It had its comic moments, and I have taken the liberty of inventing one more.

Sonnets From The Portuguese


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.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise;
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith;
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Robert Browning To E.B.B.

What, fourteen separate ways to love me, pet!
You’ve spent the morning counting them, you say?
And that’s why lunch is late?—O, by the way
What is for lunch?—But, if this table’s set
For chops, where pray’s the sauce? I never yet
Had chops without tomato catsup. Nay,
Husband and wife are not more wed than they.
That’s one fine way to love me you forget.

Not, dearest Ba, not tears? My precious love,
Here, take my handkerchief! I would not choose
To wound, yet heart with stomach’s hand-in-glove;
And though I grant love grand—Odd’s Blood, what grander?
Believe me, sonnets from the Portugoose
Do not replace sauce for the Portugander.

Rate this post
Previous articleA Book of Answers XI: Alfred Tennyson And Arthur Henry Hallam
Next articleA Book of Answers XIII: Alfred Tennyson And Gerard Manley Hopkins


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here