Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
Extracts from Aurora Leigh: Marian’s Child
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
                THERE he lay upon his back,
The yearling creature, warm and moist with life
To the bottom of his dimples,—to the ends
Of the lovely tumbled curls about his face;
For since he had been covered over-much        5
To keep him from the light-glare, both his cheeks
Were hot and scarlet as the first live rose
The shepherd’s heart-blood ebbed away into
The faster for his love. And love was here
As instant; in the pretty baby-mouth,        10
Shut close as if for dreaming that it sucked,
The little naked feet, drawn up the way
Of nestled birdlings; everything so soft
And tender,—to the tiny holdfast hands,
Which, closing on a finger into sleep,        15
Had kept the mould of ’t.
                        While we stood there dumb,
For oh, that it should take such innocence
To prove just guilt, I thought, and stood there dumb,—
The light upon his eyelids pricked them wide,
And, staring out at us with all their blue,        20
As half perplexed between the angelhood
He had been away to visit in his sleep,
And our most mortal presence, gradually
He saw his mother’s face, accepting it
In change for heaven itself with such a smile        25
As might have well been learnt there,—never moved,
But smiled on, in a drowse of ecstasy,
So happy (half with her and half with heaven)
He could not have the trouble to be stirred,
But smiled and lay there. Like a rose, I said?        30
As red and still indeed as any rose,
That blows in all the silence of its leaves,
Content in blowing to fulfil its life.

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