Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Her poems and her son
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a famous poet. The following is her most famous poem, How do I love thee.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
How good are her poems? Well, you can judge for yourself. How come she became so famous? She was from a rich family. She advocated the correct political causes. She also had a famous love story. I really don’t know.
She married pretty late and only had one son in her forties. As the only son from a famous family, her son was well protected, perhaps too well protected. A visitor once described this boy,
I never saw such a boy as this before; so slender, fragile, and spirit-like, – not as if he were actually in ill health, but as if he had little or nothing to do with human flesh and blood. His face is very pretty and most intelligent, and exceedingly like his mother's. He is nine years old, and seems at once less childlike and less manly than would befit that age. I should not quite like to be the father of such a boy, and should fear to stake so much interest and affection on him as he cannot fail to inspire. I wonder what is to become of him, – whether he will ever grow to be a man, – whether it is desirable that he should. His parents ought to turn their whole attention to making him robust and earthly, and to giving him a thicker scabbard to sheathe his spirit in.
In those days, only the kids from rich families got spoiled. Today, most kids in rich countries get spoiled.