I would be remiss to let April pass without acknowledging National Poetry Month. Poetry has had a huge impact on my development as a reader and as a writer. I love poetry. I love a writer’s ability to say so much with so few words. I love the way emotions are conveyed in poetry in ways that no other medium is able to recreate.
Yesterday, I sat in the sun and drank too much coffee and at too much pastry and read my way through this book of sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. (I followed it up with The Alienist which is definitely about murder and not love poems because of the person I am.)
It’s been a long time since I’ve explored Browning’s work. I know, she’s always remembered for “How Do I Love Thee?” but she had so much more to offer. One of my personal favorites of hers is her 22nd Sonnet.
When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curvèd point,—what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think. In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Belovèd,—where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.
It’s elegant. It’s simple. There’s something so beautiful about the opening line “when our two souls stand up erect and strong.” Nobody writes like this anymore, especially in prose. This is poetry writing at its finest.
It’s enchanting. It’s kind of haunting in a way.
Her word choice is ethereal. She speaks of the heavens. She speaks of angels and of wings that turn to flame. She speaks of an eternal and enviable love.
Happy National Poetry Month! May it be filled with verse and beauty.
The Plucky Reader