Skip to main content
site header image

Composition II Mr. Rafalowski Annotated Bibliography Tuesday-Thursday 8 AM: Vania Comer

Finding Books in the JSCC Library

Finding Magazine and Journal Articles in the JSCC Library

Background Information that helped me

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Biography)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born at Coxhoe Hall,Durham. She was the oldest of 12 children of Edward Moulton Barrett. As a child, Elizabeth Barrett was very intelligent, she spent most if her time studying languages, reading literature, philosophy,history, and writing verse.When her family moved to London in 1835, Elizabeth met John Kenyon, who introduced literary figures to her. In 1838, Elizabeth visited Torquay to recuperate from a serious illness. During this time, her older brother,Edward was drowned. This accident had a major impact on her health. After returning to London in 1841, Elizabeth continued her literary works despite her condition, she managed to publish Poems that brought fame to her in 1844.Soon after this period, Elizabeth Barrett met Robert Browning in 1845. The two fell in love but due to her father's jealousy, they secretly conducted a courtship. In 1846, they were married without her father's consent. Edward Barrett never forgave Elizabeth. Robert and Elizabeth Browning moved to Italy were they settled in Florence. There son was born in 1849. In 1850, Elizabeth published a second volume of Poems.Thes included the famous Sonnets of the Portuguese, recording her romance with Robert Browning.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Biography II)

Elizabeth Barrett, the oldest child of Edward and Mary Moulton Barrett, was well established as a Victorian poet long before she met Robert Browning. Elizabeth was an experimental writer. She wrote ballads, political odes, allegories, sonnets, and poetic dramas. She also published essays in literary criticism and translations of Greek poetry.Elizabeth Barrett spent most of her childhood reading as well as schooling herself in the classics. Some of her juvenilia's include The Battle of Marathon​ (published at the age of fourteen), ​An Essay on Mind: With other Poems, Prometheus Bound: ​and ​Miscellaneous Poems. Elizabeth's first mature collection, ​The Cry of the Children,​was a famous plea to the social consciences of the Victorian middle classes. Between the years 1838 and 1844, Barrett was considered an invalid, however she continued to write literary works during this time. Robert Browning began correspondence with her in 1845. The following year, she secretly ran away from her father to marry Browning. The two moved and settled in Florence, Italy. In 1850, she published Poems​. This included Sonnets of the Portuguese,​a sequence of love-lyrics written during her courtship. Incorporated in these poems was the famous poems 'How do I Love Thee? Let me count the ways',and 'The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point'. Elizabeth gave birth to their son, also known as Pen, at the age of forty-three.  

Overview "If Thou Must Love Me"

"If Thou Must Love Me" is the title of Sonnet 14 of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet of the Portuguese​. This sonnet sequence was part of a two-volume collection titled Poems: New Edition (published in 1850). The forty-four love poems included in Sonnets of the Portuguese​ were written for Robert Browning during their courtship and early days of marriage. These poems record the early days of their relationship, her hesitance to get married due to her poor health, and because of her father's decision to be against their marriage. The work remains highly regarded in the collections of love poetry in English literature. "If Thou Must Love Me" is an address made towards Robert Browning. Elizabeth emphasizes that if he must love her, it should only be for the reason of love. In the poem, Elizabeth makes her message clear being that she does not want Browning to love her for her smile, the way she looks, her manner of speaking, or her way of thinking in accordance to his. Throughout the poem, she continues to let Browning know that her physical appearance or the way she does things could change over time.Therefore, the love for these things could come to an end. Elizabeth also urges him not to love her out of pity. However, she wants him to love her for the sake of love so that his love for her will always be there.

An Overview of "Sonnet 43" (Brent Goodman)

In this review of Sonnet 43, Brent Goodman explains how Elizabeth Barrett Browning's way of expressing her love for Robert Browning was convincing in her poetic writing. He starts by stating that Barrett Browning broke some of the boundaries that authors tend to use when writing sonnets. This may have reflected her secret marriage, her years of fighting poor health, and her father's way of over protecting. Goodman says that in "Sonnet 43," Elizabeth Browning used traditional well as untraditional ways to express her secret love for her husband. Goodman notices that although Mrs.Browning starts the sonnet with the question,"How Do I Love Thee? ," she follows with an answer in the next line. She continues this pattern of writing throughout the sonnet. Although the traditional sonnets use iambic pentameter,which is five stressed syllables and five unstressed syllables for each line, Barrett Browning uses an accent on the first word, and then using two unaccented beats before the stress again. Afterwards, she flows back into the traditional rhythm for the rest of the line.Brent Goodman also established that Elizabeth Browning's rhythm for each line matches the mood or subject manner of that line. The enjambment at the beginning and end of this sonnet refers to something that keeps slipping out of grasp. Goodman emphasized how the speaker used some of her religious upbringing to desricbe her love for her husband. The words that the author uses to express her feelings for her husband exemplifies that she is writing from a point of view that she is against the odds.Brent Goodman stated that Elizabeth Barrett used slant rhyme within the last six lines of this poem. Goodman also points out that Barrett Browning's reference to death at the end of the poem represents that a person can be so in love that the end of life does not mean the end of love. 

An Overview of "Sonnet 43" (David Kelly)

In this review David Kelly, discusses the criticisms of both present day as well as Barrett Browning's day of "Sonnet 43". Kelly starts by saying that the way Elizabeth uses 'thee' in her poem expresses her language of love for her husband. In present day we would not use this world unless we are referring to a wedding or a graduation. Although Elizabeth and Robert really loved each other, they tried to keep their love in a disguise so that the others would not know that the messages behind the  'Sonnets From The Portuguese'  was about them. Further in the article, Kelly mentions that other critics noticed how Barrett Browning's poetry tended to have a different form of rhyming. Many critics disliked Elizabeth's use of double rhyming.Kelly also mentions that although many readers and non-readers are aware of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poetry but it tends to have small influence on the modern reader. Just as Elizabeth had the freedom to change in the way that she wrote poetry, we are now starting to value freedom over structure. David Kelly went on to say that one day we will have the perfect balance as Elizabeth Barrett Browning represented in her work.

EBB "The Face of All the World"

In this review Marion Couthouy, discusses the benefits of the effects of love through Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnet 7, "The Face of All the World." In the beginning of the review, Elizabeth has become aware that she was lacking love as a young child. Due to the difficulties she experienced as a young child with her health, she thought that she was going to just die. As she grew older she came to realize that it was love that saved her from death.Couthouy informs us that through this sonnet Elizabeth explains to us that her whole world changed when she met Robert Browning. At first Barrett Browning did not think that she would survive life, however love changed all of that.Couthouy stated," Love was to her a true revelation, a sunrise of the spirit ."

EBB love poetry

In this article, Dorothy Mermin emphasizes Elizabeth Barrett Browning's nontraditional way of conveying her love for her husband. During the Victorian period, it was traditional for a male to express his desire for a female through his literary works. Mermin stated, "There seems then something awkward, inartistic, merely personal when the woman undertakes to love, to speak, to look at the man." In this quote, Mermin recognizes that Barrett Browning speaks about her love and desire for Robert Browning. She acknowledged how Barrett Browning accepted the influence of men in her life. For instance her father, from whom she received her literary instinct, her brother, whom she loved and obtained masculine learning in classical literature and languages, and her Greek mentor, Hugh Stuart Boyd.Through this influence, Elizabeth Browning came to the knowledge that she could think beyond what males learned. For example, she went against her father's wish by marrying Robert Browning. Despite the odds in society, Elizabeth Barrett Browning continued to uniquely and freely communicate her love for Robert Browning through her actions and literary works. 

EBB Love's Measurement

Margaret Reynolds elaborates on the way Elizabeth Barrett Browning measures love through the lines of her poetry. Sonnet 43 ​is an example of her measurement. In the poem, Barrett Browning tells Robert Browning that she loves him "to the depth, breadth, and height." Through these words, Elizabeth Browning exemplifies a "count" to measure how much she loves her husband. Within her poems, Sonnets of the Portuguese​, Elizabeth Browning portrays a sense of imagery by describing the love between her and Robert Browning. In the lines of her poetry, Barrett Browning reveals the true measure of love: " the face of all the world is changed, I think, / Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul ..."; "And wilt thou have me fashion into speech / The love I bear thee ..."; "If thou must love me, let it be for nought / Except for love's sake only..."; "When our two souls stand up erect and strong ..."; "How do I love thee? let me count the ways. ..." On September 12, 1846, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning expressed their love for one another at St. Marylebone Church. With only five people present, it was during this moment that Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning knew what they were to one another. After viewing the Brownings love, and Barrett Browning's poetry demonstrating their romance, this is a true measure of what romantic love looks like.

Books I found to be useful

My Topic

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Marital Love)