What Can I Give Thee Back, O Liberal by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"What Can I Give Thee Back, O Liberal" is also referred to as "Sonnet VIII" since it was from Sonnets from the Portuguese. In this poem, a man has left her a gift outside a wall and has said that she can either take it or leave it there. It is possible that it is a metaphor for the man's heart. She states at the end that "let it serve to trample on." One can only hope the poor sap wasn't too hurt.
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This fourteen line Petrachan Sonnet is written in iambic pentameter and has the rhyme scheme ABBAABBACDDCDC.
What Can I Give Thee Back, O Liberal What can I give thee back, O liberal And princely giver, who hast brought the gold And purple of thine heart, unstained, untold, And laid them on the outside of the wall For such as I to take or leave withal, In unexpected largesse? am I cold, Ungrateful, that for these most manifold High gifts, I render nothing back at all? Not so; not cold, -but very poor instead. Ask God who knows. For frequent tears have run The colours from my life, and left so dead And pale a stuff, it were not fitly done To give the same as pillow to thy head. Go father! let it serve to trample on. Published in Sonnets From the Portuguese in 1850.
Next: If Thou Must Love Me, Let It Be for Naught
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Victorian, 19th Century