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Sonnets from the Portuguese #7(1850)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The face of all the world is changed, I think,
MeterThe face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
MeterSince first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me, as they stole
MeterMove still, oh, still, beside me, as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer brink
MeterBetwixt me and the dreadful outer brink
Of obvious death, where I, who thought to sink,
MeterOf obvious death, where I, who thought to sink,
Was caught up into love, and taught the whole
MeterWas caught up into love, and taught the whole
Of life in a new rhythm. The cup of dole
MeterOf life in a new rhythm. The cup of dole
God gave for baptism, I am fain to drink,
MeterGod gave for baptism, I am fain to drink,
And praise its sweetness, Sweet, with thee anear.
MeterAnd praise its sweetness, Sweet, with thee anear.
The names of country, heaven, are changed away
MeterThe names of country, heaven, are changed away
For where thou art or shalt be, there or here;
MeterFor where thou art or shalt be, there or here;
And this… this lute and song… loved yesterday,
MeterAnd this… this lute and song… loved yesterday,
(The singing angels know) are only dear,
Meter(The singing angels know) are only dear,
Because thy name moves right in what they say.
MeterBecause thy name moves right in what they say.

Note on line 14: There are good reasons to stress “thy” or “moves,” or indeed both those syllables. But 4B4V prefers the way a straight iambic scansion confers serene rectitude at last on the often struggling versification of a poem that has been all about “footsteps” and has rendered emotion according to the motion of “a new rhythm” that plays not only against meter but also against an unusually strong handling of the caesura.


Rhyme
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