Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17

April 17, 1846 brings words of love from Browning after Miss Barrett has informed him that she has gone out and purchased a new bonnet. He is excited because he sees that she is moving toward taking the big step forward:

"...the bonnet is bought! And you pretend not to know I would walk barefoot till I dropped, if so I might attain to the sight of you, and it--do let me say, for gratitude's sake--it is like the sign of spring in Shelley's Prometheus--
'When mild winds shake the elder-brake,
And the wandering herdsmen know
That the white thorn soon will blow':
--that the flower of my life will blow!"

And he addresses the need for them to coordinate their responses to any inquiries from their mutual friend and ally:

"...I spoke about Mr. Kenyon,--because I never would in my life take a step for myself--(if that could be)--apart from your good--without being by you where possible--much more, therefore in a matter directly concerning you,--rather than me,-did I want you opinion as to the course more proper, in the event of &c. I do not think it likely he will speak, or I shall have to answer..but if that did happen, and you were not at hand, my own dearest,--how I should be grieved if, answering wrongly, I give you annoyance!--Here I seem to understand your wish"

Mr. Kenyon is on Miss Barrrett's mind as well:

"Today Mr. Kenyon came, spectacles & all. He sleeps in those spectacles now, I think. Well, & the first question was..'Have you seen Mr. Browning? And what did he come for again, pray?' 'Why I suppose,' said I, 'for the bad reason my visitors have in general, when they come to see me'--then very quickly I asked about 'Luria', & if he had read it & what he thought of it--upon which the whole pomegranate was pulled out of his pocket, & he began to talk like the agreeable man he can be when he doesn't ask questions & look discerningly through spectacles...We talked & talked--And then he put the book into his pocket to carry it away to some friend of his, unnamed: and we had some conversation about poets in general & their way of living, of Wordsworth and Coleridge...I like to hear Mr. Kenyon talk of the gods and how he used to sit within the thunder-peal. Presently leaning up against the chimney piece--he said quietly..'Do you not think..oh, I am sure I need not ask you..in fact I know your thoughts of it..but how strikingly upright & loyal in all his ways & acts Mr. Browning is!..how impeccable as a gentleman' &c. &c. and so on & on..I do not tell you any more, because I should be tired perhaps..(do you understand?..) & this is not the first time, nor second, nor third time that he has spoken of you personally, so..& as no man could use more reverent language of another."

If Kenyon is saying this about Browning to Miss Barrett, what did he say to Browning about Miss Barrett? He praised her to the moon as well. They came together at his suggestion and based on his perception of their finer qualities. Matchmaker to the poets.

She ends with a reminiscence:

"Do you remember when you wrote first to me 'May God bless you & me in that!' It was before we met. Can you guess what I thought?--I have the whole effect in my memory distinctly. I felt with a bitter feeling, that it was quite a pity to throw away such beautiful words out of the window into the dark...Well, I am glad in looking back..yes, glad..glad to be certain at my heart, that I did not assume anything..stretch out my hand for anything..dearest!..
It is always when one is asleep that the dream-angels come. Watchers see nothing but ghosts."

She is very wise. And perhaps a little melancholy.

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