Pardon, oh pardon, that my soul should make
Of all that strong divineness which I know
For thine and thee, an image only so
Formed of the sand, and fit to shift and break.
It is that distant years which did not take
Thy sovranty, recoiling with a blow,
Have forced my swimming brain to undergo
Their doubt and dread, and blindly to forsake
Thy purity of likeness and distort
Thy worthiest love to a worthless counterfeit.
As if a shipwrecked Pagan, safe in port,
His guardian sea-god to commemorate,
Should set a sculptured porpoise, gills a-snort
And vibrant tail, within the temple gate.
– text transcribed from Phoebe Anna Traquair's manuscript.
Folio 38 from Phoebe Anna Traquair's illuminated copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 'Sonnets from the Portuguese', 1892-1897
Library reference: MS.8127, f.38