Sonnets From The Portuguese I

I THOUGHT once how Theocritus had sung
   Of the sweet years, the dear and wish'd-for years,
   Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals old or young:
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,
   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. But there
   The silver answer rang--'Not Death, but Love.'

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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