SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE
SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE
SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE
SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE
SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE

SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE

(London: Printed at the Chiswick Press for George Bell and Sons, 1898).

FIRST OF THE EDITION WITH THESE DECORATIONS. The author’s most famous book presented in a lovely binding. Barrett Browning was initially hesitant to publish the poems, believing they were too personal. However, her husband Robert Browning insisted they were the best sequence of English-language sonnets since Shakespeare's time and urged her to publish them. To offer the couple some privacy, she decided to publish them as if they were translations of foreign sonnets. She initially planned to title the collection "Sonnets translated from the Bosnian", but Browning proposed that she claim their source was Portuguese, probably because of her admiration for Camões and Robert's nickname for her: "my little Portuguese". The title is also a reference to Les Lettres Portugaises (1689).
Browning’s poetry was critically and publicly acclaimed while she was alive; she was considered Wordsworth’s successor as Poet Laureate upon his death. However, Browning’s very advanced ideas will appeal to readers of this generation. Browning was sympathetic to the ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft, politically progressive in her views and in the literary realm, transformed poetic style and content. Thus, her work is by no means a mere curiosity but rather representative of the highest literary and intellectual achievements.

One of her most famous poems, from SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE:

Number 43

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and Ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise;
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith;
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
. Item #32342

First edition thus. Illustrated throughout with decorated borders and capital letters by J.A. Duncan and Christopher Dean, decorated title page and printed on fine heavy paper. Small 8vo, handsomely bound by Riviere and Son in elaborately decorated full crushed honey morocco, the covers ruled with double fillet lines in gilt, upper cover with an all over design in art nouveau style incorporating a floral motif, the spine panel lettered in gilt, marbled endleaves, double gilt ruled turnovers. [viii], 44, 1] pp. A handsome copy, internally very well prserved, the binding showing a bit of light rubbing at the tips, minor age mellowing, front hinge starting.

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Price: $115.00