Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A PORTRAIT, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING



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A PORTRAIT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I will paint her as I see her
Last Line: We may all be sure he doth.
Subject(s): Children; Childhood


I WILL paint her as I see her.
Ten times have the lilies blown
Since she looked upon the sun.
And her face is lily-clear,
Lily-shaped, and dropped in duty
To the law of its own beauty.
Oval cheeks encolored faintly,
Which a trail of golden hair
Keeps from fading off to air;
And a forehead fair and saintly,
Which two blue eyes undershine,
Like meek prayers before a shrine.
Face and figure of a child, --
Though too calm, you think, and tender
For the childhood you would lend her.
Yet child-simple, undefiled,
Frank, obedient, -- waiting still
On the turnings of your will.
Moving light, as all your things,
As young birds, or early wheat,
When the wind blows over it.
Only, free from flutterings
Of loud mirth that scorneth measure, --
Taking love for her chief pleasure.
Choosing pleasures, for the rest,
Which come softly -- just as she,
When she nestles at your knee.
Quiet talk she liketh best,
In a bower of gentle looks, --
Watering flowers, or reading books.
And her voice, it murmurs lowly,
As a silver stream may run,
Which yet feels, you feel, the sun.
And her smile, it seems half holy,
As if drawn from thoughts more far
Than our common jestings are.
And if any poet knew her,
He would sing of her with falls
Used in lovely madrigals.
And if any painter drew her,
He would paint her unaware
With a halo round the hair.
And if reader read the poem,
He would whisper, "You have done a
Consecrated little Una."
And a dreamer (did you show him
That same picture) would exclaim,
"'Tis my angel, with a name!"
And a stranger, when he sees her
In the street even, smileth stilly,
Just as you would at a lily.
And all voices that address her
Soften, sleeken every word,
As if speaking to a bird.
And all fancies yearn to cover
The hard earth whereon she passes,
With the thymy-scented grasses.
And all hearts do pray, "God love her!" --
Ay, and always, in good sooth,
We may all be sure HE DOTH.




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