Phoebe Anna Traquair

'Sonnets from the Portuguese'

Sonnet 1

I thought once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years, the deaf and wished-for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals old or young;
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was ware,
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove, –
Guess who now hold these! – "Death," I said. But there
The silver answer rang. – "Not Death, but Love."

– text transcribed from Phoebe Anna Traquair's manuscript.

Folio 2 from Phoebe Anna Traquair's illuminated copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 'Sonnets from the Portuguese', 1892-1897
Library reference: MS.8127, f.2
Date: 1892

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