Elizabeth Browning: Sonnet 14

Today’s entry into the UltPen National Poetry Month comes from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. A master of the sonnet, Browning’s “If thou must love me…” strikes a fine line between the outright love poem most associated with her and a certain sense of reservation that pervades her work on closer reading.

Sonnet 14

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.

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