Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PET NAME, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

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THE PET NAME, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I have a name, a little name
Last Line: And heighten it with heaven.
Subject(s): Children; Names; Childhood


I HAVE a name, a little name,
Uncadenced for the ear,
Unhonored by ancestral claim,
Unsanctified by prayer and psalm
The solemn font anear.


It never did to pages wove
For gay romance belong;
It never dedicate did move
As 'Sacharissa' unto love,
'Orinda' unto song.


Though I write books, it will be read
Upon the leaves of none,
And afterward, when I am dead,
Will ne'er be graved for sight or tread,
Across my funeral-stone.


This name, whoever chance to call,
Perhaps your smile may win:
Nay, do not smile! mine eyelids fall
Over mine eyes and feel withal
The sudden tears within.


Is there a leaf, that greenly grows
Where summer meadows bloom,
But gathereth the winter snows
And changeth to the hue of those,
If lasting till they come?


Is there a word, or jest, or game,
But time incrusteth round
With sad associate thoughts the same?
And so to me my very name
Assumes a mournful sound.


My brother gave that name to me
When we were children twain,
When names acquired baptismally
Were hard to utter, as to see
That life had any pain.


No shade was on us then, save one
Of chestnuts from the hill;
And through the word our laugh did run
As part thereof: the mirth being done,
He calls me by it still.


Nay, do not smile! I hear in it
What none of you can hear, --
The talk upon the willow seat,
The bird and wind that did repeat
Around, our human cheer.


I hear the birthday's noisy bliss,
My sisters' woodland glee,
My father's praise I did not miss,
When stooping down he cared to kiss
The poet at his knee, --


And voices which, to name me, aye
Their tenderest tones were keeping --
To some I never more can say
An answer till God wipes away
In heaven these drops of weeping.


My name to me a sadness wears:
No murmurs cross my mind --
Now God be thanked for these thick tears
Which show, of those departed years,
Sweet memories left behind.


Now God be thanked for years enwrought
With love which softens yet:
Now God be thanked for every thought
Which is so tender it has caught
Earth's guerdon of regret.


Earth saddens, never shall remove
Affections purely given;
And e'en that mortal grief shall prove
The immortality of love,
And heighten it with Heaven.

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