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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Reading Books


One who don't forego The after-battle work

Strictly speaking, is not 'doesn't' the right abbreviation for only the third person? I don't he doesn't. `Who won't go' you might say with accuracy, perhaps.

`Who's me' it sounds awkward `what's I ?' Yet I doubt altogether what fine part of the dialogue all this is. Would `what's me' sound less awkward?

`What's me' `it's man in me.' Yes, I think it should be `what': For the relation of the `it' afterwards.

Wast not enough that I must strive, I said, To grow so far familiar with all you As find and take some way to get you which To do, an age seemed far too little.

There is something obscure, as it strikes me, in the expression of this. `As to find' seems necessary to the construction. But `all you' (besides) appears to lead the thought from Eulalia, and you mean Eulalia I think. The reader will doubt here, and have first and second thoughts.

Nor missed a cloak from wardrobe, nor a dish from table.

Why such a dragging line just here? An oversight, probably. The second `nor a' might drop out to advantage.

THE BOY AND THE ANGEL Morning, noon, eve and night.

Do you prefer this to

Morning, Evening, noon and night for rhythm, I mean?

As if thy voice today.

I think you must have meant to write

As well as if thy voice today.

Not that the short lines are not good in their places.

In heaven God said `nor day nor night Brings one voice of my delight.'

Taking this verse with the context, will you consider if `God said in heaven' is not of a simple and rather solemner intonation? The next line I do not like much. It might be more definite in meaning, I think.

Entered the empty cell
And played the craftsman well

Do you prefer to have short lines in this place, and why?

Then forth sprang Gabriel's wings, off fell
The flesh, remained the cell.

Is not something wrong here? If you mean that the flesh remained in the cell (named before), you do not say; and what else is said?

To the east with prayer he turned:
And in the angel burned.

I like and see plainly this burning in of the angel upon Theocrite as he looks to the east; but I doubt whether it will be as clear to all readers, you suggest it so very barely. Would not a touch or two improve the revelation? Do think.

Be again the boy all curled.

At any rate you will write 'be then again'... will you not? But I doubt about the curled boy any one `becurled' may be right but a curled boy `tout rond' does strike me as of questionable correctness. Think, yourself. And I do ask you to think besides, whether a little dilation of the latter stanzas of this simple noble ballad would not increase the significance and effect of the whole. Readers will not see at a glance all you have cast into it, unless you make more surface it is my impression, at least.


You have finely distanced the rider in Rookwood here not that I should think of saying so, if we had not talked of him before. You have the very trampling and breathing of the horses all through; and the sentiment is here in its right place, through all the physical force and display. Then the difficult management of the three horses, of the three individualities; and Roland carrying the interest with him triumphantly. I know you must be proud of the poem; and nobody can forget it who has looked at it once.

Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight seemed clear.

I doubt about `twilight seeming clear.' Is it a happy expression? But I only doubt, you know. The leaping up of the sun afterward, and the cattle standing black against him, and staring through the mist at the rider, all that, I do not call it picture, because it is so much better: it is the very sun and mist and cattle themselves.

And I like the description of Roland; I like him seeing him; with one sharp ear bent back and the other pricked out it is so livingly the horse, even to me who know nothing of horses in the ordinary way of sitting down and trying to remember what I know, but who recognise this for a real horse galloping. By the way, how the `galloping' is a good galloping word! And how you felt it, and took the effect up and dilated it by repeating it over and over in your first stanza, doubling, folding one upon another, the hoof-treads.

I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three.
Good speed cried the watch as the east gate undrew;
Good speed from the wall, to us galloping through.
The gate shut the porter, the light sank to rest,
And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

One query at the last stanza.

That they saved to have drunk our duke's health in but grieved.

You mean to say... `would have grieved'... do you not? The construction seems a little imperfect.


He does though; and if some vein.

Will you consider, taking the context, whether `he does himself' would not be better?

If I lived to try
I should just turn round nor ope an eye.

Do you like `nor ope an eye'? I cannot much. Nor do I like the `living to try.' You see how I tell you the truth. My truth. As I fancy I see the truth.

As all my genius, all my learning
Leave me, where there's no returning.

Is not that in the last line... somewhat weak and indefinite, for you?

And purchase her the dear invite.

I protest zealously against that word. Now isn't it a vulgarism, and out of place altogether here? It seems to me, while I appreciate the conception of this poem fully, and much admire some things in it, that it requires more finishing than the other poems I mean particularly the first part, but may be as wrong as possible, notwithstanding. I do beseech you in regard to all these notes to separate the right from the wrong as carefully as possible! And in the hope of your doing so, I have ventured to put down everything that came into my head.

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