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Grief by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


"Grief" speaks about how each of us deal with grief. She states that deep-hearted men express it by silence, but refrains from telling specifically how others deal with it. However, Browning states that if the dead could cry, they would. Like most of Browning's writings, it's easy to tell that she was passionate about the subject matter. This poem is, most likely, a reference towards how she felt when her brother drowned.

"Grief" is a Petrachan sonnet that consists of fourteen lines with the rhyme scheme ABBAABBACDECDE.



I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless;
That only men incredulous of despair,
Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air
Beat upward to God's throne in loud access
Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness,
In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare
Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare
Of the absolute Heavens. Deep-hearted man, express
Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death--
Most like a monumental statue set
In everlasting watch and moveless woe
Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.
Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet:
If it could weep, it could arise and go.

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Literary Movement
Victorian, 19th Century

Grief, Death, Family, Relationship