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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Helen Shin

on 23 January 2014

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Transcript of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Starting from age fourteen, Elizabeth developed a lung ailment that haunted her for the rest of her life. Doctors continuously treated her with morphine, which she was to take until her death. Despite her condition, Elizabeth taught herself Hebrew throughout her teenage years so that she could read the Old Testament. Browning had a passionate enthusiasm for her Christian faith as religion was significant in that period. She was active in the Bible and Missionary Societies of her church.
<Poet's Background>
"Beloved, My Beloved, when I think..." by Elizabeth Browning
By:Josiah Laney, Helen Shin, Ryan Roh
Beloved, my Beloved, when I think...
Beloved, my Beloved, when I think
That thou wast in the world a year ago,
What time I sat alone here in the snow
And saw no footprint, heard the silence sink
No moment at thy voice, but, link by link,
Went counting all my chains as if that so
They never could fall off at any blow
Struck by thy possible hand,---why, thus I drink
Of life's great cup of wonder! Wonderful,
Never to feel thee thrill the day or night
With personal act or speech,---nor ever cull
Some prescience of thee with the blossoms white
Thou sawest growing! Atheists are as dull,
Who cannot guess God's prescience out of sight.
The sestet of this poem is when she says that she has found her "god" and the wonders of what he holds. In the sestet, the symbols/images that she uses is the "great cup of wonder" which shows that she felt relieved of her "chains" and when "blossoms white" which refers to heart slowly opening up to the light.
Structure and Imagery
The imagery that is shown here is how the author uses her personal life problems as chains that cannot "fall off at any blows" along with what Robert's prescence gives her such as his "possible hand" to save her from her problems and also the joy or his "great cup of wonder" that he gives her. Another thing to show is how she use a wintering setting to emphasize her cold heart.
Scenario and Purpose
The main scenario of this poem is how the poet is reminiscing on her past and becoming annoyed when she compares it to her present self. This is displayed by how she is re-insights her loneliness and all of her previous problems, she emphasizes her appreciation for her paradise and the wonders it held for her.
The purpose of this poem is to illustrate the significance of love that unexpectedly became the solution for the poet's conflicts in which seemed almost impossible, in her eyes, to do. She realizes her lover's importance in her life as she starts to worship him as her God who decides her happiness in her life and how her love for him relieved her from her chains and not her faith in God.
The ocave of this poem is how Elizabeth Barrett is recalling on her misery before she met the love of her life, Robert Browning. This is evident as the poet portrays her past as a silent winter also revealing her loneliness. She also describes her internal struggles as her "chains" as she emphasizes how they cannot be easily be taken away.
The theme of this poem is mainly about faith gained in love compared to the faith people have for God. The poet shows a strong sense of gratefulness toward her new God rather than her religion that she was faithful to which shows a sense of irony.
This poem follows the famous Petrarchan sonnet style in which consist of a sestet and an octave. This poem uses abba and cdcdcd. The octave mainly describes her bitter past and the sestet reveals her new-found happiness in which she thanks her freedom to her new God. Browning breaks the rhyme scheme consistently enough for it to only contribute to defining the tone of the sonnet. Her intentional breaks of the iambs can also lead to the conclusion that she feels a rebellious way towards, not the structure literally but the socially acceptable act of believing in God because she believes she has found "her god".
Elizabeth Browning entails an obsessive love story in which she had become so desperate for a heroic figure to come and free her from her emotions that she began to idolize the first thing that did so. During the late 1800s, religion was a major factor in everyday life, with that understanding, the conclusion that because of the traumatic events that played out in her life, she put her faith in anything that she felt benefited her physically and emotionally. This poem is Browning's way of explaining her happiness with her new found god, someone to look up to. She hints to the idea of her husband having superhuman powers throughout the poem as she references him as her "beloved" and uses figurative language to embody her praise for him.
Browning writes this poem from the perspective of her future self in which she is looking back on her past. The octave presents her beginning to get very frustrated with her previous self because she was unable to see the possibility of finding happiness or joy due to the situation that she felt was beyond fixing. She states the "time she sat alone [there] in the snow] and saw no footprint" (Browning). Browning is commenting on her inability to notice something that has always been lingering around her, she is ultimately implicating by the statement before that she was very imbecilic to not realize that this man, who is now her husband, had been out wandering in the world long before she became very desperate and long after. She explains to the reader that she had been overly invested in her pain in which clouded her brain with emotions and sorrowful negative thoughts of eternal suffering that she never even pondered the hopeful possibility of love or anything else in life that could bring her happiness. Browning later goes to say in the sestet that "Atheists are as dull,/who cannot guess God's presence out of sight"(browning). Browning writes figuratively when she references religion rather it is her way of idolizing her husband and displaying her foolishness.
The tone that is portrayed in this sonnet is cold and distant and also warm. This can be shown as the first half of the poem, which is the octave, has a very dark and lonely tone. The second half illustrates a very warm tone that is used towards her husband. The poet embeds these tones in order to show the kind of a person she was before when she had no one by her side and the type of person she is now with her "god" . She reveals joyous and grateful whereas when she was alone she had simply given up on thinking that her problems cannot be taken away.
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