Elizabeth Barrett Browning

(6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861 / Durham / England)

Comfort - Poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

SPEAK low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet
From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low
Lest I should fear and fall, and miss Thee so
Who art not missed by any that entreat.
Speak to mo as to Mary at thy feet !
And if no precious gums my hands bestow,
Let my tears drop like amber while I go
In reach of thy divinest voice complete
In humanest affection -- thus, in sooth,
To lose the sense of losing. As a child,
Whose song-bird seeks the wood for evermore
Is sung to in its stead by mother's mouth
Till, sinking on her breast, love-reconciled,
He sleeps the faster that he wept before.

Comments about Comfort by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  • (11/5/2016 11:43:00 PM)

    He sleeps the fatest that he wept before.
    Marvelous conceptualization and so is the whole poem. Thanks for sharing it here.
    (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • (4/29/2016 5:38:00 AM)

    Total surrender of soul to the god seems to be the theme the poem carries and it is marvelously expressed. (Report) Reply

  • (1/22/2016 5:53:00 AM)

    Lovely poem indeed.

    Please correct mo to me (line 5) .
    I have also seen this poem punctuated differently- do we have an editio princeps?
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/22/2016 5:50:00 AM)

    Line 5: mo should be me. (Report) Reply

  • Rosie Bourget (1/8/2016 10:13:00 AM)

    Great job about comfort. (Report) Reply

  • Jean Chirco (6/14/2015 6:51:00 AM)

    Lifeless cold and mindless speaks, robotic voice where no heart beats.
    Words mechanically uttered, void spirit of thought, born of human heart when wrought.
    Better a breathing woman gives sweet voice, to heartfelt strains of mindful choice.
    (Report) Reply

  • Paul Sebastian (5/22/2014 9:02:00 AM)

    A great poem, amongst others, loved by poets through the ages. I enjoyed reading this poem.
    It made me think of these words, by St. Augustine, Our hearts do not rest unless it rest in Thee.
    (Report) Reply

  • Dawn Fuzan (5/13/2014 6:06:00 PM)

    I like this one (Report) Reply

  • Francis Lynch (5/13/2014 9:15:00 AM)

    Her separation from her Spiritual youth acmes with How Do I Love Thee. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Jani (5/13/2014 4:47:00 AM)

    I like her uneque style (Report) Reply

  • (5/13/2013 11:39:00 PM)

    I love Elizabeth Browning and quite happily review her works but now anytime I try to review others works or check anything I'm forced to poem of the day. As calmly as possible (annoying!) (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Patrick (5/13/2012 8:43:00 PM)

    Its interesting how she maneuvers from her position relating to the desire to hear her savior, from then moving to that of the child, reading Terrance George Craddocks detailed synopsis Browning was definitely looking for peace in a difficult time. (Report) Reply

  • Hanin Hussam Shalabiah (5/13/2012 11:43:00 AM)

    nice one................. i like it (Report) Reply

  • (5/13/2012 10:20:00 AM)

    aww cute.... I like it (Report) Reply

  • Juan Olivarez (5/13/2010 3:55:00 PM)

    As usual Mr. Craddock has hit the nail on the proverbial head. Such meticulous and laborious observations are what makes him the cream of this web site. I myself understand the poem fairly well and i understand it because i know about mrs. Brownings illnesses that kept her bed ridden and in delicate condition for most of her life. And like most readers i also think that she was the best half of the Brownings poetical duet. (Report) Reply

  • (5/13/2010 8:10:00 AM)

    Comfort by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a personal devotional poem and is endearing in the soft sincere address she uses to her Saviour as if a bedside prayer. It is as if she takes comfort from her ill health and Mother’s early death by replacing her loss with a child’s love for Christ. The ‘precious gums’ is almost certainly bdellium gum, an aromatic resin mentioned at Genesis 2.12 and Numbers 11: 7. The lines ‘And if no precious gums my hands bestow,
    Let my tears dropp like amber while I go’
    could be a reference to Matthew 26: 7-13 and Mark 14: 3-9. Or the lines are a direct reference to Luke 7: 37-39 or John 12.3-8 which begins “Mary, therefore, took a pound of perfumed oil, genuine nard, very costly, and she greased the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet dry with her hair...”
    The next line ‘In reach of thy divinest voice complete’ could be Elizabeth explaining why she learned Hebrew to read The Old Testament, the Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures in Hebrew, to attain a greater understanding of Christ. The cost of these mentioned perfumed oils is excessive, extremely expensive. Μ uron was usually made of myrrh. Nard or spikenard is a fragrant oil made from the root and spike of the nard plant of northern India. Nard would have cost a year’s pay for an average laborer. The point Elizabeth is actually making is sometimes as Jesus said great sacrifice must be made. Elizabeth is proclaiming the depth of her own devotion ‘In humanest affection’, her own “Gospel of applied Christianity', with her tears and reach directed at completing what she believes is the true meaning of the message of ‘divinest voice’ as applied to the world she lives in. With the words ‘To lose the sense of losing. As a child,
    Whose song-bird seeks the wood for evermore’ I believe Elizabeth is stating that a Christian must release their slaves, which always long for freedom just as a caged song-bird does. Her own popularity during her lifetime was increased by her stands against social injustice, including slavery and child labour. Her views may have been effected because her father Edward Moulton-Barrett, an emigrant from Jamaica, had made most of his fortune from slave labour on his Jamaican sugar plantations. The poem ‘Comfort’ perfectly fits Browning’s belief that 'Christ's religion is essentially poetry—poetry glorified.” It is interesting to note that all her causes succeeded, the slaves were freed, child labour outlawed, the Italians won independence. The poem ‘Comfort’ encompasses Elizabeth’s belief as expressed in her writing that “We want the sense of the saturation of Christ's blood upon the souls of our poets, that it may cry through them in answer to the ceaseless wail of the Sphinx of our humanity, expounding agony into renovation.” Emily Dickinson understood her better than the Victorians, Elizabeth Browning was a woman of achievement.
    (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (5/13/2010 3:41:00 AM)

    Gentle comfort how it should be is well expressed in this poem indeed! (Report) Reply

  • (5/13/2009 6:24:00 AM)

    Poem is full of compassion and sorrow, mixed with a mother's love for her child, in reference to Mary in the words. Touches on the Davine, with comfort and solace from Jesus. Brownings devotion to faith, is strongly expressed in the words. The Bible on the kitchen table, with family members being read, in that era of time, was the focus point of many, many families. Sharp contrast to todays times. (Report) Reply

  • (5/13/2008 11:35:00 AM)

    Browning has written an Italian (Petrachan) sonnet which follows the
    strict form prescribed. She divides 14 lines into an octave (eight lines)
    and a sestet (six lines) , which rhyme ABBA ABBA / CDE CDE. The
    octave states the burden of the poem, in this case, a desire for the
    soothing voice of Christ to comfort the speaker. The sestet solaces
    the speaker's yearning with a solution like that of a mother's love for
    her child, which provides comfort to the max.

    The apostrophe to Christ in the opening lines seeks mercy and solace like
    that which Jesus bestowed on Mary when she wept at the foot of the cross
    on Calvary. His words comforted Mary then. The simile 'as a child' likens
    the speaker to both a songbird in its nest and an infant at its mother's breast

    Quite an accomplished poem written in the strict limitations of an Italian
    sonnet. No way does the error in printing make this a bit of a laugh. Learn
    to ignore the obvious mistakes made by a careless typesetter, and read
    with a mind open to appreciation! .
    (Report) Reply

  • (5/13/2006 7:54:00 PM)

    Agree with Connie re the printing errors. Makes the poem a bit of a laugh rather than a serious comment about faith. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: child, song, mother, fear, lost, children, sleep

Poem Submitted: Saturday, May 12, 2001

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