Poetic Spotlight: Change upon Change

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, image care of Wikimedia Commons

I know I’ve been bad…all week and no poetics for you. What can I say? Packing’s certainly taken its toll on my time, and the remainder’s been filled with parting meals with friends, last minute work assignments, and the like. Rare have been the moments where I could just sit and breathe. This morning has presented one such opportunity, however, so while it’s not one of my own, I’d like to continue our new tradition of “Poem of the Week” with a piece by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Browning was one of the most accomplished and prominent poets of the Victorian era, and wife to the equally famous Robert Browning. Over the years, she has inspired many other famous poets as well…Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson among them. Today, keeping in pace with all the hustle and bustle about here, and all the changes coming to life at the moment, I share with you her work, “Change upon Change.”

Five months ago the stream did flow,
The lilies bloomed within the sedge,
And we were lingering to and fro,
Where none will track thee in this snow,
Along the stream, beside the hedge.
Ah, Sweet, be free to love and go!
For if I do not hear thy foot,
The frozen river is as mute,
The flowers have dried down to the root:
And why, since these be changed since May,
Shouldst thou change less than they.

And slow, slow as the winter snow
The tears have drifted to mine eyes;
And my poor cheeks, five months ago
Set blushing at thy praises so,
Put paleness on for a disguise.
Ah, Sweet, be free to praise and go!
For if my face is turned too pale,
It was thine oath that first did fail, —
It was thy love proved false and frail, —
And why, since these be changed enow,
Should I change less than thou.”

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning


3 thoughts on “Poetic Spotlight: Change upon Change

  1. happy packing and moving….and can’t wait…smiles
    i like that there were at least a few women that had some influence in poetry at this time because i think it was more or less dominated by men…or maybe i’m wrong..?

  2. A nice poem, thanks for the share, change less or more, and by how much, always to ponder upon.
    good luck with the packing

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