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Sonnets From The Portuguese Sonnet 21 Analysis Essay


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Sonnet 21 - Say over again, and yet once over again Analysis



Author:poem of Elizabeth Barrett BrowningType:poemViews: 82


XXI

Say over again, and yet once over again,
That thou dost love me. Though the word repeated
Should seem 'a cuckoo-song,' as thou dost treat it,
Remember, never to the hill or plain,
Valley and wood, without her cuckoo-strain
Comes the fresh Spring in all her green completed.
Beloved, I, amid the darkness greeted
By a doubtful spirit-voice, in that doubt's pain
Cry, 'Speak once more—thou lovest! 'Who can fear
Too many stars, though each in heaven shall roll,
Too many flowers, though each shall crown the year?
Say thou dost love me, love me, love me—toll
The silver iterance!—only minding, Dear,
To love me also in silence with thy soul.

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnets from the Portuguese

I once thought the title meant that Browning had translated these poems from some Portuguese poets.  The title actually refers to Robert Browning's nickname for her.  She was short & had a dark complexion, so he called her "My little Portuguese."

(http://web.archive.org/web/20000305075620/http://ccis09.baylor.edu/Library/LibDepts/ABL/EBB.html)

#21

  • She wants him to tell her he loves her until it sounds like "a cuckoo song."  The cuckoo's song has two meanings.
    1. It is repetitive.
    2. The cuckoo reproduces by sneaking its eggs into the nest of some other species & destroying its eggs.  The parents unwittingly raise the step-children as their own.  Therefore, the man who heard the cuckoo's cry was being warned that his wife was being unfaithful & her children weren't his.  He had been "cuckholded."  (This is what the cuckhoo clock means.  It warns men to watch their wives 24 hours a day.)
    Line 14 - He should truly love her in his soul as well.  That makes the repetition true.

#22
  • She's so happy on earth with him that she doesn't want or need heaven.
  • They should embrace their mortality.
#32
  • The theme of this sonnet - "Will you still love me tomorrow?"
  • Line 8 "Worn viol" - She was middle-aged when they fell in love.  Thought he'd want a younger man.
  • He brought her back to life.  Perfect music can come from a worn out instrument in the right hands.  His are the right hands.
#43
  • She loves him a lot. (1 - 1000, 2 - 1000, 3 - 1000)
  • Lines 1-4.  She loves him in the realm of ecstasy.
  • Lines 5-10.  She loves him in the realm of the ordinary & everyday.
  • Lines 12-13. The love & devotion that faded when she lost her religious beliefs have come back centered on him.