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Friday, March 08, 2013

Poetry Friday--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The anniversary of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's birth in 1806 occurred on Wednesday. I don't know about you, but I'm most familiar with her "Sonnet 43," more commonly known as "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..." This poem, oft-read at marriage ceremonies, is a tribute to her husband, renowned poet, Robert Browning. They were married for 15 years until her death in 1861.

I thought I'd share a lesser known, and less weighty poem, with you today. (Dare I say, it's funny?) This one is from Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, edited by Billy Collins [821 BRI].
Ode to the Swallow

Thou indeed, little Swallow,
    A sweet yearly comer.
    Art building a hollow
    New nest every summer.
    And straight dost depart
    Where no gazing can follow.
    Past Memphis, down Nile!
    Ay! but love all the while
    Builds his nest in my heart,
    Through the cold winter-weeks:
    And as one Love takes flight.
    Comes another, O Swallow,
    In an egg warm and white,
    And another is callow.
    And the large gaping beaks
    Chirp all day and all night:
    And the Loves who are older
    Help the young and the poor Loves,
    And the young Loves grown bolder
    Increase by the score Loves—
    Why, what can be done?
    If a noise comes from one.
Can I bear all this rout of a hundred and more Loves?

My Juicy Little Universe will be hosting this week's Round-Up. I'm happy to see Heidi is back!

Photo by g_kovacs.


  1. How fun this is! I didn't know this EBB poem and thank you for sharing it. (I'll think of it as the spring bird chatter gets chirpier and chirpier each week....)

  2. I'm glad you like it, too! Happy almost spring (said from under a foot of fresh snow)!