Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) , the other poetess Amy Lowell refers to in Sisters was already famous when she met Robert Browning and, against her father’s will, eloped with him and married him (1846). The Seraphim, and other Poems(1838) gained her critical and public attention and so did The Cry of the Children (1844) about the exploitation of child labour in factories. Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850) are the expression of Elizabeth Barrett’s passionate love for her husband; they were followed by Casa Guidi Windows (1851) on the theme of Italian liberation and by Aurora Leigh (1857), a novel in verse telling the life of a woman writer conscious of her social responsibilities.
She lived all her married life in
, where her only child was born.
In her poems, Elizabeth Barrett Browning depicts the depth and universality of her feelings for her husband
How do I love thee? (from : Sonnets from the Portuguese ,1850)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height (profondità, larghezza e altezza)
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight(lontano)
For the ends of Being and Ideal Grace. (scopo di Dio)
I love thee to the level of everyday’s (thee = you)
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.(luce di candela)
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; (lotta)
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. (lode)
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. (dolori)
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose(perdere)
With my lost saints,- I love thee with the breath, (gente a cui voglio bene)
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose, (lacrime)
I shall but love you better after death.