Friday, March 27, 2015

Poetry Analysis: Sonnet from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

by M. J. Joachim

First time he kiss’d me, he but only kiss’d
The fingers of this hand wherewith I write; 
And ever since, it grew more clean and white,
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its “Oh, list,”
When angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second pass’d in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half miss’d
Half falling on the hair. Oh, beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love’s own crown, 
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed, 
I have been proud, and said, “My love, my own!”


Courtship, anticipation, flirtation, devotion and love transcend the Sonnet from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Three kisses, each more intense than the last capture the woman’s heart.

This is poem of society, culture and proper etiquette. Ladies are treated delicately and with the utmost respect. Gentlemen pursue a woman’s countenance. Hers is to respond with favor and perhaps a bit of gratitude, or not.

In this poem, the lady is swept away into the world of love, breathless and dreamy, waiting patiently for love to be fulfilled.

The lady no longer wears amethyst jewels on the hand that was kiss’d. Symbolically, I think, of royalty, because of the color purple and its gem. The second kiss was its own reward, an anointing of love. Indeed, she was chosen and chooses this developing bond. The third kiss is perfection, again a royal hue, and it is this amazing kiss that fully steals her heart, allowing her to declare her love in return.

Thank you so much for visiting Writing Tips today. Please share your thoughts about my analysis, your own analogy or anything else you’d like to say in the comments.

M. J.

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