Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Extracts from Aurora Leigh: Aurora’s Home
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
 
I HAD a little chamber in the house,
As green as any privet-hedge a bird
Might choose to build in, though the nest itself
Could show but dead brown sticks and straws; the walls
Were green, the carpet was pure green, the straight        5
Small bed was curtained greenly, and the folds
Hung green about the window which let in
The out-door world with all its greenery.
You could not push your head out and escape
A dash of dawn-dew from the honey-suckle,        10
But so you were baptized into the grace
And privilege of seeing….
                        First, the lime,
(I had enough there, of the lime, be sure,—
My morning-dream was often hummed away
By the bees in it); past the lime, the lawn,        15
Which, after sweeping broadly round the house,
Went trickling through the shrubberies in a stream
Of tender turf, and wore and lost itself
Among the acacias, over which you saw
The irregular line of elms by the deep lane        20
Which stopped the grounds and dammed the overflow
Of arbutus and laurel. Out of sight
The lane was; sunk so deep, no foreign tramp
Nor drover of wild ponies out of Wales
Could guess if lady’s hall or tenant’s lodge        25
Dispensed such odours,—though his stick well-crooked
Might reach the lowest trail of blossoming briar
Which dipped upon the wall. Behind the elms,
And through their tops, you saw the folded hills
Striped up and down with hedges (burly oaks        30
Projecting from the line to show themselves)
Through which my cousin Romney’s chimney smoked
As still as when a silent month in frost
Breathes, showing where the woodlands hid Leigh Hall;
While, far above, a jut of table-land,        35
A promontory without water stretched,—
You could not catch it if the days were thick,
Or took it for a cloud; but, otherwise,
The vigorous sun would catch it up at eve
And use it for an anvil till he had filled        40
The shelves of heaven with burning thunderbolts,
Protesting against night and darkness:—then,
When all his setting trouble was resolved
To a trance of passive glory, you might see
In apparition on the golden sky        45
(Alas, my Giotto’s background!) the sheep run
Along the fine clear outline, small as mice
That run along a witch’s scarlet thread.
 
 
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