Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A WOMAN'S SHORTCOMINGS, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A WOMAN'S SHORTCOMINGS, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: She has laughed as softly as if she sighed
Last Line: Oh, never call it loving!
Subject(s): Love; Women


SHE has laughed as softly as if she sighed,
She has counted six, and over,
Of a purse well filled and a heart well tried --
Oh, each a worthy lover!
They 'give her time;' for her soul must slip
Where the world has set the grooving;
She will lie to none with her fair red lip:
But love seeks truer loving.


She trembles her fan in a sweetness dumb,
As her thoughts were beyond recalling,
With a glance for one, and a glance for some,
From her eyelids rising and falling;
Speaks common words with a blushful air,
Hears bold words, unreproving;
But her silence says -- what she never will swear --
And love seeks better loving.


Go, lady, lean to the night-guitar
And drop a smile to the bringer;
Then smile as sweetly, when he is far,
At the voice of an in-door singer.
Bask tenderly beneath tender eyes;
Glance lightly, on their removing;
And join new vows to old perjuries --
But dare not call it loving.


Unless you can think, when the song is done,
No other is soft in the rhythm;
Unless you can feel, when left by One,
That all men else go with him;
Unless you can know, when unpraised by his breath,
That your beauty itself wants proving;
Unless you can swear 'For life, for death!' --
Oh, fear to call it loving!


Unless you can muse in a crowd all day
On the absent face that fixed you;
Unless you can love, as the angels may,
With the breadth of heaven betwixt you;
Unless you can dream that his faith is fast,
Through behoving and unbehoving;
Unless you can die when the dream is past --
Oh, never call it loving!

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