Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
XXXIV. Compensation
‘I thought once how Theocritus had sung’
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
From ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese’

I THOUGHT once how Theocritus had sung
  Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
  Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,        5
  I saw in gradual vision through my tears,
  The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was ’ware,
  So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move        10
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair,
  And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,
‘Guess now who holds thee?’—‘Death’, I said. But, there,
  The silver answer rang—‘Not Death, but Love.’

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