Can it be right to give what I can give?

Venitian glass

I will not soil thy purple with my dust,
Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass

Sonnets from the Portuguese No. IX

Can it be right to give what I can give?
To let thee sit beneath the fall of tears
As salt as mine, and hear the sighing years
Re-sighing on my lips renunciative
Through those infrequent smiles which fail to live
For all thy adjurations? O my fears,
That this can scarce be right! We are not peers,
So to be lovers; and I own, and grieve,
That givers of such gifts as mine are, must
Be counted with the ungenerous. Out, alas!
I will not soil thy purple with my dust,
Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass,
Nor give thee any love — which were unjust.
Belovèd, I love only thee! let it pass.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (March 6, 1806 – June 29, 1861)
Sonnets from the Portuguese, first published in 1850
image – unforth

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2 Responses to “Can it be right to give what I can give?”

  1. clarissa mcfairy Says:

    “I will not soil thy purple with my dust,
    Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass,”

    Wow, Elizabeth, this is heady stuff!

  2. E. A. Able Says:

    I think she was very brave to fall in love, with her depression and health problems. I imagine, after sensing that sort of love, a person in her situation would hold on with whatever they had, through whatever changes love required, as long as that love was right.

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