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Sonnets from the Portuguese

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,	
  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 now who holds thee?’—‘Death,’ I said. But there	 	
  The silver answer rang—‘Not Death, but Love.’
Elizabeth Barrett Browning [1806–1861]