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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnets from the Portuguese: Sonnet IX

Can it be right to give what I can give?

To let thee sit beneath the fall of tears

As salt as mine, and hear the sighing years

Re-sighing on my lips renunciative

Through those infrequent smiles which fail to live

For all thy adjurations? O my fears,

That this can scarce be right! We are not peers

So to be lovers; and I own, and grieve,

That givers of such gifts as mine are, must

Be counted with the ungenerous. Out, alas!

I will not soil thy purple with my dust,

Nor breathe my poison on thy Venice-glass,

Nor give thee any love—which were unjust.

Beloved, I only love thee! let it pass.