Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sonnet XIV (14) by E.B. Browning (Analysis)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a passionate person who eloquently wrote beautiful sonnets to her dear husband. In these poems she confesses her deep love for him while also conveying to him how he should love her as in Sonnet 14. In this poem Browning ultimately tells her husband that his love for her should be eternal, unlike the temporary comparisons she uses in order to draw contrasts with love.

The first comparison to the eternal love that Browning makes is the temporary appearance. She says “Do not say I love her for her smile-her look-her way”. She says this because she knows that her appearance and ‘good looks’ can fade and she doesn’t want him to only love her for these simple things. She also says do not love her for the way she talks/her voice, “Of speaking gently”, for the same reason, that there is so much more to love than just what is at face-value. She then says though you may truly love these things about me they “may be changed, or change for thee” and the love he had for her may be lost. The other comparison is when she tells her husband not to love her for the pity he feels for her. She says this because she knows she “might forget to weep” and since there will be no more tears he will stop loving her. Though, that line “A creature might forget to weep” is quite peculiar because she says a creature instead of just specifically saying herself. Browning does this to relate to the audience; by her saying a creature she alludes to something similar to a whimpering dog or flopping baby bird which instantly invokes human sadness and pity for the “creature”. In this line she compares herself to the pity-invoking creature to exemplify to the reader exactly what she does not want to be loved for. In the last couple of lines she reiterates how she wants to be loved for love’s sake so then it will be true and she will be loved “through love’s eternity”.

In this poem Browning expresses her fears, which many people can relate to. She is worried about the fleeting love of her husband as her temporary good looks, and temporary tears fade with time. Overall, she implores that her husband continues to love her for “love’s sake” so that she will always be loved no matter what fades over time.

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