Sonnets From The Portuguese - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Although on a personal level I can't really get in tune with the self-abasing tone of these verses and still less their idealization of love as a spiritual timeless etherean thing, there are quite a few really good passages here, I can see that even on first reading. I liked both the metaphor and the sentiments of XXIX ("I think of thee!---my thoughts do twine and bud..."), and XXXVIII ("First time he kissed me, he only but kissed...") is elegant in structure, use of imagery, and even use of alliteration and assonance. Browning was apparently often ill, and I suppose that the continual concern in these poems with illness and death would be quite understandable if her condition was really serious; the feeling of weakness that she got from that would play together with conventional notions of female feebleness and derivativeness to create the pose she adopts toward her godlike future husband: claiming that she not only gets life and protection from him, but even the merit of her love is only derived from him, since she was only sparked by his declarations. She does at least admit that she was writing verses before this encounter, but of course downplays their merit. The lugubrious negativity could get a bit tiresome, though at least it's expressed with great variety. The divinizing of the loved one is somewhat alarming -- how could anyone live up to it? And if you think that eternal love is a great spiritual merit, wouldn't you feel not only failed but sinful if your love cooled?