Sonnets from the Portuguese - I
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
   I thought once how Theocritus had sung
   Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
   Who each one in a gracious hand appears
   To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
5   And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
   I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
   The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
   Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
   A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
10   So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
   Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
   And a voice said in mastery, while I strove, -
   "Guess now who holds thee!" -
   "Death," I said,
15   But, there,
   The silver answer rang, "Not death, but Love."
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