Sonnets Portuguese: Sonnets from the Portuguese was written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning between 1845 and 1846. It is a collection of forty-four love sonnets for her future husband Robert Browning.
The love poems express doubt and fear. However, as the sonnets progress, it describes her love for Robert Browning and how she overcomes her inhibitions to love him fully and truly.
In the beginning, she was not planning on publishing any of this. However, after Robert’s insistence, she published them in 1850. the title is with reference to the nickname Robert has for Elizabeth, ‘my little Portuguese’.
Sonnets from the Portuguese Analysis
In the sonnets, there is a will idolize the poet’s lover and make him the object of adulation. The poems are a representation of what love is for a woman. These sonnets are one of the very first love poems by a woman who is in a position of authority.
She writes with an ‘I’ which is unheard of for women of the Victorian times. The poems gained a lot of following during Barrett-Browning’s lifetime and after too. The Sonnet 43 is one of the most popular sonnets and is seen as an example of true love.
The tone of the poem is seen a very dark and gloomy with an almost morbid sensitivity to it. However, the tone slowly changes as the sonnets progress. This can also draw parallels to Browning’s life.
Due to her frail health, she was said that she will die an early death. However, with the entrance of Robert Browning in her life, it became much better and this was reflected in her sonnets dedicated to her then future husband.
The Petrarchan Sonnet resonates with a pastoral setting with the voice of the poet speaking to her husband. hence the speaker and the listener can be imagined. There is no stylization of herself as the male as it is often the case with female writers. Browning has achieved what any woman in the Victorian era yearns for and that is love.
Poems By Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The sonnets have a pastoral setting. She invokes nature in the majority of her poems. This can be because it is considered that the purity of nature can be equated to love. Another reason her sonnets can be considered to have pastoral settings is that of her reference to Theocritus who is an ancient Greek poet. He developed the concept of a pastoral setting.
Another place discussed in the sonnets is Venice. Venice is considered a romantic city rich in culture. This comes in contrast with the pastoral setting of the countryside to a city buzzing with activity.
In one of her sonnets, she calls a mirror as Venice-glass. This can imply to Murano glass which was manufactured in Venice. With references to Rialto, a marketplace, and a theatre district, it shows how the poet has the innocence and naivety of the countryside but the grooming and refinement of a city.
Sonnet 43 Analysis
Sonnet 43 is one of the most popular sonnets in this collection. In the love poem, which is written in iambic pentameter, speaks of the unrequited love of the poet for her husband. The poem expresses an intense feeling of love and desire for Robert Browning.
The love here is described on a spiritual level. In this poem, there is no doubt, fear or hesitation which was evident in the earlier poems of the series. In the ninth line, she says that she loves him with an intense suffering, equating to Christ on the cross and that she will love him even after death.
Sonnets are most of the time love poems. Originally sonnet in Italian, the poets often used to write sonnets in Italian to express their love. Sometimes, the themes also revolved around religion or politics. Sonnets are always part of a series.