Sunday 10 May 2015


2015-19  Elizabeth Barrett Browning - "Earth's crammed with heaven!"

Elizabeth Barrett Browning [1806-1861]
Elizabeth Barrett Browning [1806 – 1861] was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era. She began writing poetry at the age of four and at twelve wrote an epic poem The Battle of Marathon, in Homeric styleHer poetry was widely popular in both Britain and the United States during her lifetime.   

The courtship and marriage between Robert Browning and Elizabeth were carried out secretly as she and her siblings were convinced that their father would disapprove. Six years his elder and an invalid, she could not believe that the vigorous and worldly Robert Browning really loved her as much as he professed. After a private marriage at St. Marylebone Parish Church, they honeymooned in Paris. Browning then imitated his hero Shelley by spiriting his wife off to Italy, which became their home almost continuously until her death.

Her humane and liberal point of view manifests itself in her poems aimed at redressing many forms of social injustice, such as the slave trade in America and the labor of children in the mines and the mills of England. Among her most popular works may be mentioned "The Cry of the Children" [1843], "How Do I Love Thee?" ["Sonnet 43 in the "Sonnets from the Portugese"] [1845] and Aurora Leigh, a verse-novel [wherein occurs the "Earth's crammed with heaven" [1856]. 

From ‘Aurora Leigh’
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

And truly, I reiterate, nothing’s small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim;
And (glancing on my own thin, veinèd wrist),
In such a little tremor of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude.

Earth's crammed with Heaven


From ‘The Cry of Children’
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,
      Ere the sorrow comes with years ?
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers, —
      And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows ;
   The young birds are chirping in the nest ;
The young fawns are playing with the shadows ;
   The young flowers are blowing toward the west—
But the young, young children, O my brothers,
      They are weeping bitterly !
They are weeping in the playtime of the others,
      In the country of the free.


How do I love thee
from ‘The Sonnets from the Portugese'
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
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.

Sonnet 43: "How do I love thee?" EBB [Click Here] 4:32 min


YouTube Audio: The Cry of the Children EBB [Click Here] 9:22 min



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