Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Saint Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine was an actual martyr. Here is a link to the Carmelite shrine of Saint Valentine, in Dublin, Ireland.

This morning I was perusing Michelle Lovric's exquisite anthology Love Letters and found a line from a letter of Elizabeth Barrett Browning to her husband Robert Browning: "You have lifted up my soul into the light of your soul, and I am not ever likely to mistake it for the common daylight." Beautiful. People really knew how to express affection in those days. I then went in search of her poems, still incomparable after so many years. Here is the most famous one:

Poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese


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 everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
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.



Anonymous said...

One of the most beautiful love poems of all time!

I was reading GK Chesterton's biography of Robert Browning, and he actually raises him up to a saint, almost! What a remarkable man of great character he was, and that he fell in love with Elizabeth's soul, despite her fragile and ill body, and literally rescued her from her insane father -- he is as real a romance novel hero as any living man could get!

A happy Valentine's day to you and dear hubby and little E! I hear it is cold there today--perfect snuggle weather!

elena maria vidal said...

And to you, too, dear! Yes, it is cold and snowing here. Two feet, at least.

Have you ever seen the film "The Barretts of Wimpole street," about Elizabeth and Robert? It stars Jennifer Jones who was in the "Song of Bernadette." I need to add it to my Favorite Films list.

Anonymous said...

No, I haven't even heard of that old film, it sounds marvelous! Yet another one to add to my "wish" list!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, "The Barrets of Wimpole Street" was a powerful film depicting the twisted authoritarianism of a Victorian age parent. However, films of that nautre encouraged rebellion in me as a teenager to any parental authority, and likely affected others of my era in the same way. I am from the 'goody goody', generation of the 50's, but we fomented the rebellion that exploded on the cultural seen in the 60's.

Anonymous said...

I can't picture it being Jennifer Jones in the Barretts of Wimpole Street. Are you sure about that?

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, it was she, with Bill Travers as Robert Browning. Norma Shearer played in the 1937 version.