Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18

On March 18, 1846 Miss Barrett is almost as obscure as Browning, but not quite:

Ah well—we shall see. Only remember that it is not my fault if I throw the double sixes, and if you, on [some sun-shiny day, (a day too late to help yourself) stand face to face with a milkwhite unicorn.] Ah—do not be angry. It is ungrateful of me to write so—I put a line through it to prove I have a conscience after all. I know that you love me, and I know it so well that I was reproaching myself severely not long ago, for seeming to love your love more than you. Let me tell you how I proved that, or seemed. For ever so long, you remember, I have been talking finely about giving you up for your good and so on. Which was sincere as far as the words went—but oh, the hypocrisy of our souls!—of mine, for instance! 'I would give you up for your good'—but when I pressed upon myself the question whether (if I had the power) I would consent to make you willing to be given up, by throwing away your love into the river, in a ring like Charlemagne's, ... why I found directly that I would throw myself there sooner. I could not do it in fact—I shrank from the test. A very pitiful virtue of generosity, is your Ba's! Still, it is not possible, I think, that she should 'love your love more than you.' There must be a mistake in the calculation somewhere—a figure dropt. It would be too bad for her!
...let us talk of it a little on Thursday. On Monday I forgot.
...It is my last word till Thursday's first. A fine queen you have, by the way!—a queen Log, whom you had better leave in the bushes! Witness our hand....

A footnote note from Kintner explains that in a fable the frogs requested a king from Zeus who produces a log and when they protest against the log, he provides a stork.
Browning often referred to EBB as a unicorn perhaps based on the Donne poem "The Perfume" which was about a jealous father with an imprisoned daughter. This imagery also builds on the myth of the hunt for the unicorn, which Browning uses to form his response:

Indeed, dearest, you shall not have last word as you think,—all the 'risk' shall not be mine, neither; how can I, in the event, throw ambs-ace (is not that the old word?) and not peril your stakes too, when once we have common stock and are partners? When I see the unicorn and grieve proportionately, do you mean to say you are not going to grieve too, for my sake? And if so—why, you clearly run exactly the same risk,—must,—unless you mean to rejoice in my sorrow! So your chance is my chance; my success your success, you say, and my failure, your failure, will you not say? You see, you see, Ba, my own—own! What do you think frightened me in your letter for a second or two? You write 'Let us talk on Thursday ... Monday I forgot'—which I read,—'no, not on Thursday—I had forgotten! It is to be Monday when we meet next'!—whereat
... as a goose
In death contracts his talons close,
as Hudibras sings—I clutched the letter convulsively—till relief came."

1 comment:

  1. She is in love and knows that her protests that it won't work are futile. She won't let go of it. He won't let go of it either.