Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19

April 19, 1846 Browning continues to comment on Miss Barrett's letter of April 17:

"Just now I read again your last note for a particular purpose of thinking about the end of it..where you say, as you have said so many times, 'that your hand was not stretched out to the good--it came to you sleeping'--etc. I wanted to try and find out and be able to explain to myself, and perhaps to you, why the wrongness in you should be so exquisitely dear to me, dear as the rightness, or dearer, inasmuch as it is the topmost grace of all, seen latest on leaving the contemplation of the others, and first on returning to them------because, Ba, that adorable spirit in all these phrases,--what I should adore without their embodiment in these phrases,--which fall into my heart and stay there,--that strange unconsciousness of how the love account really stands between us,--who was giver altogether and who taker,--and, by consequence, what is the befitting virtue for each of us, a generous disposition to forgetfulness on the giver's part, as of everlasting remembrance and gratitude on the other--this unconsciousness is wrong, my heart's darling, strangely wrong by the contrast with your marvelous apprehension on other points, every other point I am capable of following you to: I solemnly assure you I cannot imagine any point of view wherein I ought to appear to any rational creature the benefitting party and you the benefitted--nor any matter in which I can be supposed to be even magnanimous,--(so that it might be said, 'there, is a sacrifice'--'that, is to be borne with' &c)--none where such a supposition is not degrading to me, dishonoring and affronting. I know you, my Ba,--not because you are my Ba, but thro' the best exercise of whatever power in me you too often praise, I know--that you are immeasurably my superior,--while you talk most eloquently and affectingly to me, I know and could prove you are as much my Poet as my Mistress; if I suspected it before I knew you, personally, how is it with me NOW? I feel it every day, I tell myself every day it is so. Yet you do not feel or know it--for you to write thus to me. Well,--and this is what I meant to say from the beginning of the letter, I love your inability to feel it in spite of right and justice and rationality. I would,--I will, at a moment's notice, give you back your golden words, and lie under your mind supremacy as I take unutterable delight in doing under your eye, your hand....But I did not mean to try and explain what is unexplainable after all--(tho' I wisely said I would try and explain!) You seem to me altogether...(if you think my words sounded like flattery, here shall come at the end--anything but that!)--you do seem, my precious Ba, too entirely mine this minute,--my heart's, my senses', my soul's precise ['the beautiful, the true, the good'*] to last!--Too perfect for that! the true power with the ignorance of it,--the real hold of my heart, as you can hold this letter,--yet the fear with it that you may 'vex me' by a word,--'make me angry.' Well,--if one must see an end of all perfection--still, to know one was privileged to see it...."

*rough translation from Browning's Greek

Well, what can one say about this letter? What was in Miss Barrett that brought out this all encompassing love and worship from Browning? This was no mere exercise of wooing. He could have wooed any woman in London with words like these. An heiress would have been a more promising target for a penniless poet. These words would have been wasted on a self-confident woman of the world. These words were perfect for a moral woman who could not see her self worth. The effect they have on Miss Barrett may be difficult to predict. Will her wonderful wit save her from his overpowering words; will she admit that she is pretty darn spectacular and it's about time someone noticed? Or will she cringe and hide her head? He is going to see her tomorrow at Wimpole Street. We will have to wait for April 21 to see what her reaction is to this latest salvo of love.

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