Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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

Sonnet 14 - If Thou Must Love Me, Let It Be For Nought - Poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'—
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.

Form: Sonnet

Comments about Sonnet 14 - If Thou Must Love Me, Let It Be For Nought by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  • (10/22/2018 12:37:00 PM)

    Tis a very beautiful display of affection yet many don't know why i cry even though thy am shy (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (6/26/2018 10:39:00 AM)

    All the things are difficult before easy (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • (2/8/2018 8:08:00 AM)

    For John (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Chinedu Dike (1/14/2017 7:41:00 PM)

    Beautiful portrayal of the essence of true love - a mighty spiritual experience that affects one profoundly. (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • James Corro (5/25/2016 8:24:00 PM)

    Love the person because you love him/her, not because of pity and attraction. Then, this gives the meaning of forever. (Report)Reply

    8 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • (4/29/2016 5:36:00 AM)

    Clarity of saying of love with beautiful expressions. (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • (4/30/2015 2:55:00 PM)

    Love is not a choice, it's a compulsion. If you can explain your love by giving reasons for it then it is decision. Decisions are more easily changed than feelings. We control our decisions. Our feelings control us. (Report)Reply

    22 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • (12/9/2014 7:52:00 AM)

    Love only for love's sake that is all. The great poem from the great poetic mind. (Report)Reply

    16 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • (12/9/2013 10:34:00 PM)

    these first lines are beautifully written
    ~If thou must love me, let it be for nought
    Except for love's sake only.~

    23 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • (12/9/2013 10:52:00 AM)

    This poem has such a beautiful meaning to it (Report)Reply

    17 person liked.
    11 person did not like.
  • (12/9/2013 9:08:00 AM)

    Typical sonnet with 14 lines and shaky rhyme scheme. Would have good imagery if we still talked like that and understand he restraints of emotions people in those days were forced to have. The author is demanding to be loved for love's sake not superfluous things that people are often loved for. This type of love is desired so it will always be, because the poem implies that being loved for other things will allow the love to fade away. (Report)Reply

    23 person liked.
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  • Bernard Snyder (12/9/2013 1:00:00 AM)

    Such a warm and lovely expression! I love it! (Report)Reply

    13 person liked.
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  • Paul Brookes (12/9/2012 5:26:00 AM)

    What a beautiful poem this is and I think the poet is saying you should love unconditionally for all the other things looks, sweet nothings and material things are superficial and are empty and are conditional those things. Unconditional love is the deeper love that endures all the vissitudes of life and not dependent on looks or material wealth. Childish you may think it Mr Straw but its the only kind worth having. (Report)Reply

    29 person liked.
    13 person did not like.
  • (12/9/2012 5:06:00 AM)

    Awesome! True love really can't be otherwise. (Report)Reply

    18 person liked.
    16 person did not like.
  • (12/10/2009 7:26:00 AM)

    'If thou must love me, let it be for nought....'

    18 person liked.
    17 person did not like.
  • Deborah Cromer (12/9/2009 10:58:00 AM)

    Elizabeth believed in true love. Robert believed in Elizabeth. They had so much love between the two of them. The power and force of pure love created from them both, can be found in their poetry. Elizabeth captured Robert's heart with her writing. He loved her before he ever even met her. This poem and these words are incredible. (Report)Reply

    21 person liked.
    21 person did not like.
  • Kevin Straw (12/9/2009 7:08:00 AM)

    This is a pretty meaningless poem. It is a poem of one who is extremely doubful of her self-worth. Unconditional love is only given to babies - we love them whatever. Adult love is always conditional, and should be. If you love someone for no reason, then there is no reason for them to do anything to earn that love. Even God's love is conditional in the end. (Report)Reply

    20 person liked.
    50 person did not like.
  • Ramesh T A (12/9/2009 1:47:00 AM)

    Love for love's sake is the best policy of life one should adopt forever in life to enjoy true joy and peace and develop to the best one can in this world! Hats off to Elizabeth Barrett Browning for this grand policy of love and for all to follow so! (Report)Reply

    11 person liked.
    23 person did not like.
  • Shiela Marie Anunciacion (11/9/2009 12:47:00 PM)

    This is one of my favorite sonnets and Elizabeth Barrett Browning is one of my favorite authors! !

    this sonnet shows how Elizabeth wanted her husband to love her despite all her flaws and all. Elizabeth is handicapped, but still her husband, Robert Browning, loved her as she is. this can show how true love was achieved...

    I wish someone could love me as written in this poem... >sigh<

    17 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • (12/9/2008 8:23:00 AM)

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 14 is a Petrarchan sonnet divided into an octave and a sestet rhyming abbaabba cdcdcd. The turn after the 8th line begins 'Neither love me for /Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry, ' concluding with lines that resolve the problem set forth in the octave. The poet lists all the behaviors that will not stand the test of time, such as her beauty or her mannerisms, the way she smiles or the ways she agrees with her lover, all these may diminish and fade.with the passage of time.

    In the sestet she declines love based on sympathy or pity for her plight, which may disappear as they grow to know each other's strengths and frailties. In other words, you may become bored with me, or forgetful and ignore my needs! Best that you base our love on an ideal that is eternal in nature. A powerful argument for a love that is everlasting and truly spiritual.

    Yes, 'everyone yearns 4 this kinda love' as one reader put it in mangled English. Well, almost everyone like Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett who lived a celebrated life together in Italy and England.

    16 person liked.
    11 person did not like.
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Read poems about / on: change, smile, love, sonnet, lost

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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