Elizabeth Barrett Browning








The next longest poem to the 'Drama of Exile' in the collection, is the 'Vision of Poets,' in which I have endeavoured to indicate the necessary relations of genius to suffering and self-sacrifice. In the eyes of the living generation, the poet is at once a richer and poorer man than he used to be; he wears better broadcloth, but speaks no more oracles: and the evil of this social incrustation over a great idea, is eating deeper [XII] and more fatally into our literature, than either readers or writers may apprehend fully. I have attempted to express in this poem my view of the mission of the poet, of the self-abnegation implied in it, of the great work involved in it, of the duty and glory of what Balzac has beautifully and truly called "la patience angélique du génie;" and of the obvious truth, above all, that if knowledge is power, suffering should be acceptable as a part of knowledge. It is enough to say of the other poems, that scarcely one of them is unambitious of an object and a significance.

Since my 'Seraphim' was received by the public with more kindness than its writer had counted on, I dare not rely on having put away the faults with which that volume abounded and was mildly reproached. Something indeed I may hope to have retrieved, because some progress in mind and in art every active thinker and honest writer must consciously or unconsciously make, with the progress of existence and experience: and, in some sort — since "we learn in suffering what we teach in song," — my songs may be fitter to teach. But if it were not presumptuous [XIII] language on the lips of one to whom life is more than usually uncertain, my favourite wish for this work would be, that it be received by the public as a step in the right track, towards a future indication of more value and acceptability. I would fain do better, — and I feel as if I might do better: I aspire to do better. It is no new form of the nympholepsy of poetry, that my ideal should fly before me: — and if I cry out too hopefully at sight of the white vesture receding between the cypresses, let me be blamed gently if justly. In any case, while my poems are full of faults, — as I go forward to my critics and confess, — they have my heart and life in them, — they are not empty shells. If it must be said of me that I have contributed immemorable verses to the many rejected by the age, it cannot at least be said that I have done so in a light and irresponsible spirit. Poetry has been as serious a thing to me as life itself; and life has been a very serious thing: there has been no playing at skittles for me in either. I never mistook pleasure for the final cause of poetry; nor leisure, for the hour of the poet. I have done my work, so far, as work, — not [XIV] as mere hand and head work, apart from the personal being, — but as the completest expression of that being, to which I could attain, — and as work I offer it to the public, — feeling its short-comings more deeply than any of my readers, because measured from the height of my aspiration, — but feeling also that the reverence and sincerity with which the work was done, should give it some protection with the reverent and sincere.





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Poems.
In Two Volumes.
Vol. I. London: Moxon 1844, S. V-XIV.

Unser Auszug: S. XI-XIV.

URL: https://archive.org/details/poemsofelizabeth01browrich
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/102500016
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007469089

Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).





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Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer