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Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Poems [Paperback]

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 4.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 2005 142092575X 978-1420925753
Referring to her olive-skinned complexion Robert Browning called his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "his little Portuguese." It is from this nickname that the title "Sonnets from the Portuguese" is derived. Sonnets from the Portuguese, a series of love poems from Elizabeth to her husband, is combined here with a collection of 60 of her other poems.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Digireads.com (1 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142092575X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420925753
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.7 x 0.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,256,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars romance in a book 13 April 2009
By Zandain
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sonnets from the Portugese by E.B.Browning

quiet words of romance:
- perfect for a picnic
- an evening by the fireplace
- sharing emotions with the one you love
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't worry, there might be a female laureate next century 19 Jun 2012
By Paul-John Ramos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Long before there was a writer named Carol Ann Duffy, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a prime candidate for Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. Equally famous for her relationship with Robert Browning as for her work, Barrett Browning was taken seriously in a field that would remain dominated by men until the 20th century. She was mentioned on terms equal with contemporaries like her husband and William Wordsworth and was considered for Wordsworth's position as laureate before Tennyson was selected. The United Kingdom would wait another 160 years before a woman finally received the title.

In fairness, Elizabeth Browning was never in particularly good health as an adult and would die of an unidentified illness just eleven years after Tennyson's appointment. This makes her accomplishments as a poet all the more remarkable, as she dealt with physical complications, conflicts with her father, and personal tragedies to create a body of work that is still widely read today. Though propped to a degree by recent feminist critics who value the message of her poems more than the actual craft behind them, Browning's work is invigorated by a bright emotionalism, respect for the poetic conventions of her age, and a wide social awareness.

'Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Poems' is a Dover Publications overview of Barrett Browning's shorter work, choosing verse from the different turns of her life in 51 pages. Edited by Stanley Appelbaum as part of the Dover Thrift Editions series, Browning is featured in a thoughtful volume that maps romantic, spiritual, and social concerns beginning with 'The Seraphim and Other Poems,' her first mature collection published in 1838. We are given a variety of Browning's poems in chronological order, finishing with her 'Last Poems' collection of 1862.

Browning's poetry, combining periods of reflection with fast responses to events of the day, offers the best and worst of early Victorian writing. She was very much an artist of her time, creating intense verse that touches upon public and private life. 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' is probably her best-known verse in short form, a cycle of 44 sonnets reflecting her turbulent love affair with Robert. The cycle makes up a focal point for this book and shows Elizabeth at her truly best. These sonnets, besides their moving sincerity, offer constantly-changing imagery and a wealth of poetic resource.

Other poems, such as those dedicated to her spaniel Flush ('To Flush, My Dog'), the Greek god Pan ('A Musical Instrument'), and French author George Sand, show Browning's ability to widen the Victorian framework of strict meter and rhyme, much of it using iambic pentameter. Her respect for poets like Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, and Coleridge (not to mention Dante and the Greeks) is also readily apparent.

Browning, like many of her generation, wrote verse in the heat of a moment. A deep feeling of social responsibility led her to write on current events with varying results. Topical poetry can be tied to emotional extremes of the given subject and make for bad poetry years later. While 'The Forced Recruit' is a powerful scene drawn from the Italians' fight against Austria in 1859, critics often shake their heads at 'The Cry of the Children' (on child labor) and 'A Curse for a Nation' (regarding slavery), which are too caught up in their political message to be overly concerned with art. The book includes these lesser-quality poems to capture the extent of Browning's social activism, though they are far from her better efforts.

At the height of her talents, Browning is a poet who still delights readers and cannot be ignored if someone has respect for good writing. Much of her poetry was well ahead of itself, some fifty years before the women's movement took any significant shape. This Dover collection is a low-priced introduction ($2.00 cover price) whose author continues to fascinate.

The volume is useful for newcomers to Browning's poetry or those looking for a quick brush-up. All of the poems offered are complete and Dover did not fall into the trap of excerpting from larger works that cannot be appreciated without their full text. Unfortunately, there are no introductions or footnotes for the poems; any references to social or personal situations not made clear in the verse will require a separate lookup. But plenty of poems, including 'Sonnets from the Portuguese,' are based in common feelings and require no lookup at all.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very explicit and moving love 1 May 2005
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
These poems were written by Elizabeth Barret Browning for her husband, the poet Robert Browning. They were not meant to be published but they have become her most well- known work. They contain one of the finest love poems ever written, the much anthologized , " How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." and other poems reflecting her love for her husband and her views on life.

The poems are written in a very explicit and clear way,in a style which had great appeal to the common reader of their day. And despite a certain archaic quality in the diction they speak to us today.

Here is one example.

"If thou must love me , let it be for naught,

Except for love's sake only. Do not say,

"I love her for her smile-her look- her way

Of speaking gently- for a trick of thought

That falls in well with mine, and certes brought

A sense of pleasant ease on such aday"-

For these things in themselves. Beloved, may

Be changed, or change for thee- and love, so wrought,

May be unwrought so. Neither love me for

Thine own dear pity 's wiping my cheeks dry-

A creature might forget to wep, who bore

Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!

But love me for love's sake , that evermore

Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity."

The early death of Elizabeth Barrett Browning underlines the intense and tragic quality of her and her husband's great love.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dover Thrift Editions 16 Mar 2006
By J. Barrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dover Thrift Editions are the college student's [and teacher purchasing en masse] best friends. While they tend to lack footnotes, they do include thoughtful, decent introductions. Recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely 14 Aug 2013
By jcapone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wanted a small version to carry. The poems are beautiful. I read them when I need a pick me up and the pocketsize is just right.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice selection 31 May 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I do not like many 19th-century English poets, but Elizabeth Barrett Browning is one that I do. Her Sonnets from the Portuguese are some of the most honest love poems I have read, and the other poems in this selection are a good reminder that she tackled many social issues as well. However, as a dog person, my favorite poem has to be To Flush, My Dog, a tribute to her faithful companion.
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