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Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett

New Cross, Hatcham, Surrey.
[January 10, 1845]

I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett,---and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write,---whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius, and there a graceful and natural end of the thing.

Since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning and turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me, for in the first flush of delight I thought I would this once get out of my habit of purely passive enjoyment, when I do really enjoy, and thoroughly justify my admiration---perhaps even, as a loyal fellow-craftsman should, try and find fault and do you some little good to be proud of hereafter!---but nothing comes of it all---so into me has it gone, and part of me has it become, this great living poetry of yours, not a flower of which but took root and grew---Oh, how different that is from lying to be dried and pressed flat, and prized highly, and put in a book with a proper account at top and bottom, and shut up and put away . . . and the book called a 'Flora,' besides!

After all, I need not give up the thought of doing that, too, in time; because even now, talking with whoever is worthy, I can give a reason for my faith in one and another excellence, the fresh strange music, the affluent language, the exquisite pathos and true new brave thought; but in this addressing myself to you---your own self, and for the first time, my feeling rises altogether.

I do, as I say, love these books with all my heart---and I love you too. Do you know I was once not very far from seeing---really seeing you? Mr. Kenyon said to me one morning 'Would you like to see Miss Barrett?' then he went to announce me,---then he returned . . you were too unwell, and now it is years ago, and I feel as at some untoward passage in my travels, as if I had been close, so close, to some world's-wonder in chapel or crypt, only a screen to push and I might have entered, but there was some slight, so it now seems, slight and just sufficient bar to admission, and the half-opened door shut, and I went home my thousands of miles, and the sight was never to be?

Well, these Poems were to be, and this true thankful joy and pride with which I feel myself,

Yours ever faithfully,


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