Verse > Anthologies > Hunt and Lee, eds. > The Book of the Sonnet
Hunt and Lee, comps.  The Book of the Sonnet.  1867.
XI. “Can it be right to give what I can give?”
By Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
(From Sonnets from the Portuguese)

CAN it be right to give what I can give?
To let thee sit beneath the fall of tears
As salt as mine, and hear the sighing years
Re-sighing on my lips renunciative
Through those infrequent smiles which fail to live        5
For all thy adjurations? O my fears
That this can scarce be right! We are not peers,
So to be lovers; and I own and grieve
That givers of such gifts as mine are must
Be counted with the ungenerous. Out, alas!        10
I will not soil thy purple with my dust,
Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass,
Nor give thee any love,—which were unjust
Beloved, I only love thee! let it pass.

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