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of such quality that it was published. She made a name for herself
among the world of poets. In 1845, after her 38th birthday, a poet six
years younger than her, by the name of Robert Browning, wrote to
her, and asked if he could visit. Her spirit was willing, but her flesh
was weak, and she was reluctant to let any man see her frail and
tortured body. He was insistent, however, and so the day came when
he entered her darkened room.
The light of love altered the darkness of her life almost instantly.
They began to write letters to each other, and her health took a
sudden positive turn. She wrote later that love drew her gently back
from the gates of death. Her father fought this love, and forced them
to carry on their friendship in secrecy. After a year of this, with a
friends help, she stole away, and was married to Robert Browning.
Her father never forgave her, and they never met again.
Her wedded life was a taste of heaven. Love lifted her from 20
years in bed to a life of adventure with her husband. They went to
Italy, and together wrote great poetry. She bore Robert a son, and
she became famous for the poetry her love inspired. One day she
handed him a little pile of poems and said, "Read these, if you don't
like them tear them up." These were the now famous Sonnets From
the Portuguese. It is said of them, "No purer expression of a heart on
fire with love has ever been written." The most famous of all is this
one which introduces us to our subject.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to depths and bredth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quite need, by sun and candle light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.