Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CATARINA TO CAMOENS, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CATARINA TO CAMOENS, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: On the door you will not enter
Last Line: Be the sweetest his have seen!
Subject(s): Camoens, Luiz De (1524-1580)


ON the door you will not enter,
I have gazed too long: adieu!
Hope withdraws her peradventure;
Death is near me, -- and not you.
Come, O lover,
Close and cover
These poor eyes, you called, I ween,
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen!'


When I heard you sing that burden
In my vernal days and bowers,
Other praises disregarding,
I but hearkened that of yours --
Only saying
In heart-playing,
'Blessed eyes mine eyes have been,
If the sweetest HIS have seen!'


But all changes. At this vesper,
Cold the sun shines down the door.
If you stood there, would you whisper
'Love, I love you,' as before, --
Death pervading
Now, and shading
Eyes you sang of, that yestreen,
As the sweetest ever seen?


Yes. I think, were you beside them,
Near the bed I die upon,
Though their beauty you denied them,
As you stood there, looking down,
You would truly
Call them duly,
For the love's sake found therein,
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen.'


And if you looked down upon them,
And if they looked up to you,
All the light which has forgone them
Would be gathered back anew:
They would truly
Be as duly
Love-transformed to beauty's sheen,
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen.'


But, ah me! you only see me,
In your thoughts of loving man,
Smiling soft perhaps and dreamy
Through the wavings of my fan;
And unweeting
Go repeating,
In your reverie serene,
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen --'


While my spirit leans and reaches
From my body still and pale,
Fain to hear what tender speech is
In your love to help my bale.
O my poet,
Come and show it!
Come, latest love, to glean
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen.'


O my poet, O my prophet,
When you praised their sweetness so,
Did you think, in singing of it,
That it might be near to go?
Had you fancies
From their glances,
That the grave would quickly screen
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen'?


No reply. The fountain's warble
In the courtyard sounds alone.
As the water to the marble
So my heart falls with a moan
From love-sighing
To this dying.
Death forerunneth Love to win
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen.'


Will you come? When I'm departed
Where all sweetnesses are hid,
Where thy voice, my tender-hearted,
Will not lift up either lid.
Cry, O lover,
Love is over!
Cry, beneath the cypress green,
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen!'


When the angelus is ringing,
Near the convent will you walk,
And recall the choral singing
Which brought angels down our talk?
I viewed Heaven,
Till you smiled -- 'Is earth unclean,
Sweetest eyes were ever seen?'


When beneath the place-lattice
You ride slow as you have done,
And you see a face there that is
Not the old familiar one, --
Will you oftly
Murmur softly,
'Here ye watched me morn and e'en,
Sweetest eyes were ever seen!'


When the palace-ladies, sitting
Round your gittern, shall have said,
'Poet, sing those verses written
For the lady who is dead,'
Will you tremble
Yet dissemble, --
Or sing hoarse, with tears between,
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen?'


'Sweetest eyes!' how sweet in flowings
The repeated cadence is!
Though you sang a hundred poems,
Still the best one would be this.
I can hear it
'Twixt my spirit
And the earth-noise intervene --
Sweetest eyes were ever seen!'


But the priest waits for the praying,
And the choir are on their knees,
And the soul must pass away in
Strains more solemn-high than these
For the weary!
Oh, no longer for Catrine
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen!'


Keep my riband, take and keep it,
(I have loosed it from my hair)
Feeling, while you overweep it,
Not alone in your despair,
Since with saintly
Watch unfaintly
Out of heaven shall o'er you lean
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen.'


But -- but now -- yet unremoved
Up to heaven, they glisten fast;
You may cast away, Beloved,
In your future all my past:
Such old phrases
May be praises
For some fairer bosom-queen --
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen!'


Eyes of mine, what are ye doing?
Faithless, faithless, -- praised amiss
If a tear be of your showing,
Dropt for any hope of HIS!
Death has boldness
Besides coldness,
If unworthy tears demean
'Sweetest eyes were ever seen.'


I will look out to his future;
I will bless it till it shine.
Should he ever be a suitor
Unto sweeter eyes than mine,
Sunshine gild them,
Angels shield them,
Whatsoever eyes terrene
Be the sweetest HIS have seen!

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