Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
 
Poems of Home: I. About Children
A Portrait
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
 
 “One name is Elizabeth.”
—BEN JONSON.    

I WILL paint her as I see her.
  Ten times have the lilies blown
  Since she looked upon the sun.
 
And her face is lily-clear,
  Lily-shaped, and dropped in duty        5
  To the law of its own beauty.
 
Oval cheeks encolored faintly,
  Which a trail of golden hair
  Keeps from fading off to air;
 
And a forehead fair and saintly,        10
  Which two blue eyes undershine,
  Like meek prayers before a shrine.
 
Face and figure of a child,—
  Though too calm, you think, and tender,
  For the childhood you would lend her.        15
 
Yet child-simple, undefiled,
  Frank, obedient,—waiting still
  On the turnings of your will.
 
Moving light, as all your things,
  As young birds, or early wheat,        20
  When the wind blows over it.
 
Only, free from flutterings
  Of loud mirth that scorneth measure,—
  Taking love for her chief pleasure.
 
Choosing pleasures, for the rest,        25
  Which come softly,—just as she,
  When she nestles at your knee.
 
Quiet talk she liketh best,
  In a bower of gentle looks,—
  Watering flowers, or reading books.        30
 
And her voice, it murmurs lowly,
  As a silver stream may run,
  Which yet feels, you feel, the sun.
 
And her smile, it seems half holy,
  As if drawn from thoughts more far        35
  Than our common jestings are.
 
And if any poet knew her,
  He would sing of her with falls
  Used in lovely madrigals.
 
And if any painter drew her,        40
  He would paint her unaware
  With a halo round the hair.
 
And if reader read the poem,
  He would whisper, “You have done a
  Consecrated little Una.”        45
 
And a dreamer (did you show him
  That same picture) would exclaim,
  “’T is my angel, with a name!”
 
And a stranger, when he sees her
  In the street even, smileth stilly,        50
  Just as you would at a lily.
 
And all voices that address her
  Soften, sleeken every word,
  As if speaking to a bird.
 
And all fancies yearn to cover        55
  The hard earth whereon she passes,
  With the thymy-scented grasses.
 
And all hearts do pray, “God love her!”—
  Ay, and always, in good sooth,
  We may all be sure HE DOTH.        60
 
 
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