Sonnets from the Portuguese i

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I THOUGHT once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years the dear and wish'd-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 5
I saw in gradual vision through my tears
The sweet sad years the melancholy years¡ª
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 10
Behind me and drew me backward by the hair;
And a voice said in mastery while I strove
'Guess now who holds thee?'¡ª'Death ' I said. But there
The silver answer rang¡ª'Not Death but Love.'

© Elizabeth Barrett Browning