Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Elizabeth Browning, fully Elizabeth Barrett Browning

English Poet, Wife of Robert Browning

"A poor man serv’d by thee, shall make thee rich."

"Every wish is like a prayer with God."

"I would rather be kicked with a foot than be overcome by a loud voice speaking cruel words."

"Light tomorrow with today!"

"Who loves believe the impossible."

"Earth's crammed with Heaven and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes."

"How willingly I would as a poet exchange some of this lumbering, ponderous, helpless knowledge of books for some experience of life and man. But all this grumbling is a vile thing."

"If you get simple beauty and nought else, you get about the best thing God invents."

"Men get opinions as boys learn to spell, by reiteration chiefly."

"The essence of all beauty, I call love. The attribute, the evidence, and end, the consummation to the inward sense of beauty apprehended from without, I still call love."

"“Yes,” I answered you last night; “No,” this morning, sir, I say; Colors seen by candle-light will not look the same by day."

"I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless."

"God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame."

"I should not dare to call my soul my own."

"Since when was genius found respectable?"

"Who so loves believes the impossible."

"Whoever loves true life, will love true love."

"What is art but life upon the larger scale, the higher, when, graduating up in a spiral line of still expanding and ascending gyres, it pushes toward the intense significance of all things, hungry for the Infinite? Art’s life, - and where we live, we suffer and toil."

"What frightens me is that men are content with what is not life at all."

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right. I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."

""For if I wait," said she, "Till time for roses be,-- for the moss-rose and the musk-rose, maiden-blush and royal-dusk rose,-- “What glory then for me in such a company?-- Roses plenty, roses plenty and one nightingale for twenty?""

""Yes," I answered you last night; "No," this morning, sir, I say: Colors seen by candle-light will not look the same by day."

"A gauntlet with a gift in't."

"A good neighbour, even in this, is fatal sometimes, cuts your morning up to mince-meat of the very smallest talk, then helps to sugar her bohea at night with your reputation."

"A great acacia, with its slender trunk and overpoise of multitudinous leaves. (In which a hundred fields might spill their dew and intense verdure, yet find room enough) stood reconciling all the place with green."

"A white rosebud for a guerdon."

"`Guess now who holds thee?' - `Death', I said, but there / The silver answer rang, . . . `Not Death, but Love.'"

"A woman cannot do the thing she ought, which means whatever perfect thing she can, in life, in art, in science, but she fears to let the perfect action take her part and rest there: she must prove what she can do before she does it,—prate of woman's rights, of woman's mission, woman's function, till the men (who are prating, too, on their side) cry, A woman's function plainly is ... to talk. Poor souls, they are very reasonably vexed!"

"A woman is always younger than a man at equal years."

"A woman's pity sometimes makes her mad."

"A worthless woman! mere cold clay as all false things are! but so fair, she takes the breath of men away who gaze upon her unaware: I would not play her larcenous tricks to have her looks!"

"Ah, ah, Cytherea! Adonis is dead. She wept tear after tear, with the blood which was shed,-- and both turned into flowers for the earth's garden-close; her tears, to the wind-flower,--his blood, to the rose."

"All actual heroes are essential men, and all men possible heroes."

"All are not taken! there are left behind living Beloveds, tender looks to bring, and make the daylight still a happy thing, and tender voices, to make soft the wind."

"All men are possible heroes: every age, heroic in proportions, double-faced, looks backward and before, expects a morn and claims an epos. Ay, but every age appears to souls who live in it (ask Carlyle) most unheroic."

"An ignorance of means may minister to greatness, but an ignorance of aims make it impossible to be great at all."

"And a breastplate made of daisies, closely fitting, leaf on leaf, periwinkles interlaced drawn for belt about the waist; while the brown bees, humming praises, shot their arrows round the chief."

"And all men possible heroes."

"And Chaucer, with his infantine familiar clasp of things divine."

"And each man stands with his face in the light of his own drawn sword, ready to do what a hero can."

"And every common bush afire with God;"

"And friends, dear friends,--when it shall be that this low breath is gone from me, and gone my bier ye come to weep, let One, most loving of you all, say, "Not a tear must o'er her fall; He giveth His beloved sleep.""

"And her yes, once said to you, shall be Yes for evermore."

"And I must bear what is ordained with patience, being aware necessity doth front the universe with an invincible gesture."

"And I said in underbreath — All our life is mixed with death, — And who knoweth which is best? And I smiled to think God's greatness flowed around our incompleteness, — Round our restlessness, His rest."

"And I smiled to think God's greatness flowed around our incompleteness, Round our restlessness His rest."

"And if God choose I shall but love thee better after death."

"And kings crept out again to feel the sun."

"And lilies are still lilies, pulled by smutty hands, though spotted from their white."

"And lilies white, prepared to touch the whitest thought, nor soil it much, of dreamer turned to lover."