What can I give thee back, O liberal
And princely giver, who hast brought the gold
And purple of thine heart, unstained, untold,
And laid them on the outside of the wall
For such as I to take or leave withal,
In unexpected largesse? am I cold,
Ungrateful, that for these most mainfold
High gifts, I render nothing back at all?
Not so; not cold, – but very poor instead.
Ask God who knows. For frequent tears have run
The colours from my life, and left so dead
And pale a stuff, it were not fitly done
To give the same as pillow to thy head.
Go farther! let it serve to trample on.
– text transcribed from Phoebe Anna Traquair's manuscript.
Folio 9 from Phoebe Anna Traquair's illuminated copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 'Sonnets from the Portuguese', 1892-1897
Library reference: MS.8127, f.9