Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Browning
If thou must love me, let it be for naught 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 may'st love on, through love's eternity.
When our two souls stand up erect and strong, Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher, Until the lengthening wings break into fire At either curvèd point,--what bitter wrong Can the earth do to us, that we should not long Be here contented? 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. Let us stay Rather on earth, Belovèd,--where the unfit, Contrarious moods of men recoil away And isolate pure spirits, and permit A place to stand and love in for a day, With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.
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.
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