It’s the month of the dead. Let’s think about love.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43, 1845
One of the reasons I love this poem, aside from the fact that’s it’s an amazing declaration of love from a wonderful real life love story, is because I taught this in a high school English class once, and a boy told me, “I would kill to have a girl say that to me.” When you get high school boys loving poetry, you’ve written a good poem.
But my favorite Barrett poem is still Sonnet 14:
“If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love’s sake only.
Do not say, “I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day”—
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry:
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.”
Or as some dude once put it, “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds . . . ” (Sonnet 116.)