'De Profundis' by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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The face, which, duly as the sun,
Rose up for me with life begun,
To mark all bright hours of the day
With hourly love, is dimmed away—
And yet my days go on, go on.


The tongue which, like a stream, could run
Smooth music from the roughest stone,
And every morning with ' Good day'
Make each day good, is hushed away,
And yet my days go on, go on.


The heart which, like a staff, was one
For mine to lean and rest upon,
The strongest on the longest day
With steadfast love, is caught away,
And yet my days go on, go on.


And cold before my summer's done,
And deaf in Nature's general tune,
And fallen too low for special fear,
And here, with hope no longer here,
While the tears drop, my days go on.


The world goes whispering to its own,
‘This anguish pierces to the bone;’
And tender friends go sighing round,
‘What love can ever cure this wound ?'
My days go on, my days go on.


The past rolls forward on the sun
And makes all night. O dreams begun,
Not to be ended! Ended bliss,
And life that will not end in this!
My days go on, my days go on.


Breath freezes on my lips to moan:
As one alone, once not alone,
I sit and knock at Nature's door,
Heart-bare, heart-hungry, very poor,
Whose desolated days go on.


I knock and cry, —Undone, undone!
Is there no help, no comfort, —none?
No gleaning in the wide wheat plains
Where others drive their loaded wains?
My vacant days go on, go on.


This Nature, though the snows be down,
Thinks kindly of the bird of June:
The little red hip on the tree
Is ripe for such. What is for me,
Whose days so winterly go on?


No bird am I, to sing in June,
And dare not ask an equal boon.
Good nests and berries red are Nature's
To give away to better creatures, —
And yet my days go on, go on.


I ask less kindness to be done, —
Only to loose these pilgrim shoon,
(Too early worn and grimed) with sweet
Cool deadly touch to these tired feet.
Till days go out which now go on.


Only to lift the turf unmown
From off the earth where it has grown,
Some cubit-space, and say ‘Behold,
Creep in, poor Heart, beneath that fold,
Forgetting how the days go on.’


What harm would that do? Green anon
The sward would quicken, overshone
By skies as blue; and crickets might
Have leave to chirp there day and night
While my new rest went on, went on.


From gracious Nature have I won
Such liberal bounty? may I run
So, lizard-like, within her side,
And there be safe, who now am tried
By days that painfully go on?


—A Voice reproves me thereupon,
More sweet than Nature's when the drone
Of bees is sweetest, and more deep
Than when the rivers overleap
The shuddering pines, and thunder on.


God's Voice, not Nature's! Night and noon
He sits upon the great white throne
And listens for the creatures' praise.
What babble we of days and days?
The Day-spring He, whose days go on.


He reigns above, He reigns alone;
Systems burn out and have his throne;
Fair mists of seraphs melt and fall
Around Him, changeless amid all,
Ancient of Days, whose days go on.


He reigns below, He reigns alone,
And, having life in love forgone
Beneath the crown of sovran thorns,
He reigns the Jealous God. Who mourns
Or rules with Him, while days go on?


By anguish which made pale the sun,
I hear Him charge his saints that none
Among his creatures anywhere
Blaspheme against Him with despair,
However darkly days go on.


Take from my head the thorn-wreath brown!
No mortal grief deserves that crown.
O supreme Love, chief misery,
The sharp regalia are for Thee
Whose days eternally go on!


For us, —whatever's undergone,
Thou knowest, willest what is done,
Grief may be joy misunderstood;
Only the Good discerns the good.
I trust Thee while my days go on.


Whatever's lost, it first was won;
We will not struggle nor impugn.
Perhaps the cup was broken here,
That Heaven's new wine might show more clear.
I praise Thee while my days go on.


I praise Thee while my days go on;
I love Thee while my days go on:
Through dark and dearth, through fire and frost,
With emptied arms and treasure lost,
I thank Thee while my days go on.


And having in thy life-depth thrown
Being and suffering (which are one),
As a child drops his pebble small
Down some deep well, and hears it fall
Smiling—so I. THY DAYS GO ON.

Editor 1 Interpretation

De Profundis by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: A Deep Dive into the Depths of Human Emotion

Are you ready to explore the depths of human emotion with me? Are you ready to dive into the shadows of despair and emerge with a greater understanding of the human condition? Then let us embark on a journey through the hauntingly beautiful poem De Profundis by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Who was Elizabeth Barrett Browning?

Before we begin, let us first take a moment to appreciate the brilliance of the poetess behind this masterpiece. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an English poet of the Victorian era, born in 1806 in Durham, England. She was a prolific writer, known for her works such as Sonnets from the Portuguese and Aurora Leigh. Her poetry often dealt with themes of love, politics, and social justice.

Browning's life was not without hardship. She suffered from a chronic illness that left her bedridden for much of her life, and she also faced opposition to her relationship with Robert Browning, the man she would eventually marry. Despite these challenges, she continued to write and create beautiful works of art that have stood the test of time.

What is De Profundis about?

Now, let us turn our attention to De Profundis. The title of the poem is Latin for "from the depths," and it is a phrase that appears frequently in the Bible, particularly in the Book of Psalms. The poem is divided into three parts, each of which explores a different aspect of human emotion.

In the first part of the poem, Browning describes the depths of despair and the pain of longing for something that seems unattainable. She writes:

Oh, there are voices from the deeps of life So full of restless longing, nothing less Than is love's utter self, that, like a knife, Doth cut my soul asunder from its peace.

The imagery here is vivid and powerful. Browning compares the voices from the deeps of life to a knife that cuts her soul asunder from its peace. This is a common theme throughout the poem - the idea that the depths of human emotion can be both beautiful and devastating.

In the second part of the poem, Browning explores the idea of redemption and the power of love to heal. She writes:

Yet, in the deeps of life, a sacred voice Is heard, that blends with our complaining cry And gives the mourner, mourning for his sin, Endless repentance, endless power to try.

Here, Browning suggests that even in the midst of despair and pain, there is a sacred voice that can bring comfort and healing. This voice is associated with repentance and the power to try again, suggesting that redemption is possible even in the depths of human suffering.

Finally, in the third part of the poem, Browning explores the idea of transformation and the power of love to change us. She writes:

Oh, life is deeper than thy deepest sea! Manhood is larger than its narrowest bound! Vain are the thousand creeds that move men's hearts, Unutterably vain; Worthless as withered weeds, Or idlest froth amid the boundless main, To waken doubt in one possessing faith.

Here, Browning suggests that life is infinitely deep and that manhood (or humanity) is larger than its narrowest bound. She also criticizes the creeds and beliefs that divide us, suggesting that they are vain and worthless in the face of the boundless power of love.

What makes De Profundis a masterpiece?

So, what makes De Profundis a masterpiece? There are several factors that contribute to its enduring appeal.

First and foremost, the poem is beautifully written. Browning's use of imagery and language is masterful, and her ability to convey complex emotions in a few short lines is truly remarkable.

Second, the poem is deeply insightful. Browning's exploration of human emotion is profound and nuanced, and her ability to capture the complexity of the human experience is unparalleled.

Finally, the poem is timeless. Although it was written in the 19th century, its themes and insights are just as relevant today as they were then. The depths of human emotion are universal, and De Profundis speaks to the human condition in a way that transcends time and place.

In conclusion, De Profundis is a masterpiece of poetry that explores the depths of human emotion with insight, beauty, and timelessness. It is a testament to the brilliance of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and a reminder of the power of language to capture the essence of the human experience. So, let us dive into the depths with her and emerge with a greater understanding of ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

De Profundis, written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. This poem is a reflection of the author's personal struggles and her deep emotions. It is a powerful piece of literature that has touched the hearts of many readers over the years.

The title of the poem, De Profundis, is a Latin phrase that means "out of the depths." This phrase is taken from Psalm 130, which is a prayer for forgiveness and redemption. The use of this phrase in the title of the poem sets the tone for the entire piece. It suggests that the author is writing from a place of deep pain and sorrow, and that she is seeking redemption and forgiveness.

The poem is divided into two parts. The first part is a reflection on the author's personal struggles and her feelings of despair. The second part is a prayer for redemption and forgiveness.

In the first part of the poem, the author describes her feelings of despair and hopelessness. She talks about how she feels like she is drowning in her own sorrow and how she longs for someone to rescue her. She describes her pain as a "wilderness" and a "darkness" that she cannot escape from.

The author also talks about her struggles with faith. She questions whether God is listening to her prayers and whether he cares about her suffering. She describes her faith as a "broken reed" that cannot support her.

Despite her struggles, the author does not give up hope. She talks about how she still believes in the power of love and how it can heal even the deepest wounds. She also talks about how she longs for the day when she will be reunited with her loved ones who have passed away.

In the second part of the poem, the author turns to prayer. She asks God for forgiveness and redemption. She acknowledges her own faults and asks for the strength to overcome them. She also asks for the strength to forgive those who have wronged her.

The author's prayer is a powerful expression of her faith. She acknowledges that she cannot overcome her struggles on her own and that she needs God's help. She also acknowledges that forgiveness is a key part of healing and that she needs to forgive others in order to move forward.

Overall, De Profundis is a powerful poem that speaks to the human experience of pain, despair, and hope. It is a reminder that even in our darkest moments, we can find hope and redemption through faith and love. The poem is a testament to the power of literature to touch the hearts of readers and to inspire them to seek a better life.

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