Sonnets from the Portuguese: Overview
The sonnets from Sonnets from the Portuguese were originally not supposed to be published, but Robert insisted. There are moments of certain embarrassment throughout the poems. The poems are written about love from a series of different perspectives. Browning’s speaker is mostly set as a “’wandering singer’ whose status is lowly beside the ‘princely’ other”. “In the 14th sonnet, the speaker refuses to become the simultaneously exalted and subordinate object of patriarchal construction.” Browning, in this poem, when she says “for loves sake only”, means for a possible equality in the relationship. In sonnet XXII, the speaker is willing to become a muse instead of a writer for the benefit of her lover. Throughout the sonnets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning expresses her many different emotions towards love, some in a more beautiful way than others, but amazing all the same. In the opening line of Sonnet 43, “How do I live thee? Let me count the ways,” she uses the “ways” given here throughout each sonnet, making Sonnets from the Portuguese such an achievement. The fact that these poems were not at first intended to be published, shows that these have more meaning to Elizabeth than other poems of hers, such as the ones she strictly wrote for a career.