Elizabeth Barrett Browning

(6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861 / Durham / England)

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Sonnet 14 - If thou must love me, let it be for nought


XIV

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'—
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • * Sunprincess * (12/9/2013 10:34:00 PM)

    these first lines are beautifully written
    ~If thou must love me, let it be for nought
    Except for love's sake only.~ (Report) Reply

  • Kay Staley (12/9/2013 9:08:00 AM)

    Typical sonnet with 14 lines and shaky rhyme scheme. Would have good imagery if we still talked like that and understand he restraints of emotions people in those days were forced to have. The author is demanding to be loved for love's sake not superfluous things that people are often loved for. This type of love is desired so it will always be, because the poem implies that being loved for other things will allow the love to fade away. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Brookes (12/9/2012 5:26:00 AM)

    What a beautiful poem this is and I think the poet is saying you should love unconditionally for all the other things looks, sweet nothings and material things are superficial and are empty and are conditional those things. Unconditional love is the deeper love that endures all the vissitudes of life and not dependent on looks or material wealth. Childish you may think it Mr Straw but its the only kind worth having. (Report) Reply

  • Deborah Cromer (12/9/2009 10:58:00 AM)

    Elizabeth believed in true love. Robert believed in Elizabeth. They had so much love between the two of them. The power and force of pure love created from them both, can be found in their poetry. Elizabeth captured Robert's heart with her writing. He loved her before he ever even met her. This poem and these words are incredible. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (12/9/2009 7:08:00 AM)

    This is a pretty meaningless poem. It is a poem of one who is extremely doubful of her self-worth. Unconditional love is only given to babies - we love them whatever. Adult love is always conditional, and should be. If you love someone for no reason, then there is no reason for them to do anything to earn that love. Even God's love is conditional in the end. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (12/9/2009 1:47:00 AM)

    Love for love's sake is the best policy of life one should adopt forever in life to enjoy true joy and peace and develop to the best one can in this world! Hats off to Elizabeth Barrett Browning for this grand policy of love and for all to follow so! (Report) Reply

  • Shiela Marie Anunciacion (11/9/2009 12:47:00 PM)

    This is one of my favorite sonnets and Elizabeth Barrett Browning is one of my favorite authors! !

    this sonnet shows how Elizabeth wanted her husband to love her despite all her flaws and all. Elizabeth is handicapped, but still her husband, Robert Browning, loved her as she is. this can show how true love was achieved...

    I wish someone could love me as written in this poem... >sigh< (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (12/9/2008 8:23:00 AM)

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 14 is a Petrarchan sonnet divided into an octave and a sestet rhyming abbaabba cdcdcd. The turn after the 8th line begins 'Neither love me for /Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry, ' concluding with lines that resolve the problem set forth in the octave. The poet lists all the behaviors that will not stand the test of time, such as her beauty or her mannerisms, the way she smiles or the ways she agrees with her lover, all these may diminish and fade.with the passage of time.

    In the sestet she declines love based on sympathy or pity for her plight, which may disappear as they grow to know each other's strengths and frailties. In other words, you may become bored with me, or forgetful and ignore my needs! Best that you base our love on an ideal that is eternal in nature. A powerful argument for a love that is everlasting and truly spiritual.

    Yes, 'everyone yearns 4 this kinda love' as one reader put it in mangled English. Well, almost everyone like Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett who lived a celebrated life together in Italy and England. (Report) Reply

  • Duncan Wyllie (12/9/2007 5:55:00 AM)

    Such a fine way of writing, but the message is so much more than just words on paper,
    it is offering a beautiful way of being
    Thankyou for this one PH,
    Love duncan X (Report) Reply

  • Navin , (2/23/2005 12:31:00 AM)

    Thats a great poem the truest of true love, love without charms or harms, Its pure, eternal (Report) Reply

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