Elizabeth Barrett Browing and A Man’s Requirements
I do consider myself a fair man when it comes to the opposite sex; most of the time, which is the very reason why I chose this poem. I don’t assume to know the meaning of it particularly because of the era it was written. Today though, I think any woman writing this may very well be sticking two fingers up to men. And good on them I say!
Its the last verse that gives it away. You can almost hear the sarcastic undertone as she’s writing. It could be the prelude to a ‘I want a divorce dear’; sweet.
Then again it maybe that Elizabeth was trying to tell her husband something as it is said that during the years of her marriage to Robert Browning, her literary reputation far surpassed that of her poet-husband. When visitors came to their home she was always the greater attraction.
Regardless of any meaning though I hope you enjoy.
A Man’s Requirements
Love me Sweet, with all thou art,
Feeling, thinking, seeing;
Love me in the lightest part,
Love me in full being.
Love me with thine open youth
In its frank surrender;
With the vowing of thy mouth,
With its silence tender.
Love me with thine azure eyes,
Made for earnest granting;
Taking colour from the skies,
Can Heaven’s truth be wanting?
Love me with their lids, that fall
Snow-like at first meeting;
Love me with thine heart, that all
Neighbours then see beating.
Love me with thine hand stretched out
Love me with thy loitering foot,—
Hearing one behind it.
Love me with thy voice, that turns
Sudden faint above me;
Love me with thy blush that burns
When I murmur Love me!
Love me with thy thinking soul,
Break it to love-sighing;
Love me with thy thoughts that roll
On through living—dying.
Love me when in thy gorgeous airs,
When the world has crowned thee;
Love me, kneeling at thy prayers,
With the angels round thee.
Love me pure, as musers do,
Up the woodlands shady:
Love me gaily, fast and true
As a winsome lady.
Through all hopes that keep us brave,
Farther off or nigher,
Love me for the house and grave,
And for something higher.
Thus, if thou wilt prove me, Dear,
Woman’s love no fable.
I will love thee—half a year—
As a man is able.