Elizabeth Barrett Browning Analysis

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning is one of the most well-known and admired poets of her period. Some of her well-known works include Sonnets from the Portuguese, The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point, A Musical Instrument, and many more. The Sonnet from the Portuguese is an example of an Italian Sonnet, also known as the Petrarchan sonnet. An Italian Sonnet is a sonnet that includes an octave, eight lines, usually following the rhyming scheme abbaabba. Next, the Italian sonnet transitions into a sextet, six lines, which usually follows the rhyming scheme cdcdcd. The Italian Sonnet has 14 lines, additionally, when the sonnet switches from an octave to a sextet the audience usually experience a change of mood or tone in the poem. Sometimes, the tone …show more content…
In the first quatrain, Browning starts to ponder about Theocritus, the creator of bucolic poetry. The audience can also tell that Browning has respect for Theocritus because of the tone. The tone of the first quatrain can be considered appreciative because of the diction. Browning uses words such as thought, sweet, wished, gracious to show that she respects the creator of bucolic poetry. “I thought once how Theocritus had sung.” (Browning, Sonnet 1, Line 1) This quote emphasizes how Browning has admiration for Theocritus because she is trying to mimic her poems after him, by trying to think like him. Overall, the first quatrain has rhyming couplets, with the rhyming scheme abab. The second quatrain has a similar tone and is still appreciative of Theocritus. “And, as I mused it in his antique tongue.” (Browning, Sonnet 1, Line 5) This shows that she is trying to incorporate Theocritus's writing style in her own poems by looking and admiring his poems. However, in the middle of the second quatrain the tone shifts. The rhyming scheme of the sextet is cdcdcd. Browning shifts the tone, in this poem, by changing the diction, or word choice. The readers see that the author uses the words, sad, shadow, death, backward and many more words to modify the poem to have a sad tone. In the sextet, Browning starts to cry and gets pulled by a person that …show more content…
This means that the mood/tone change gives the sonnet more emotion and makes the sonnet more enjoyable for the reader. In the octet, Browning informs the audience that her papers are dead and basically have no emotion. “My letters! All dead paper, mute and white.” (Browning, Sonnet 28, line 1) This quote uses the word dead as symbolism for a paper that is blank and has no emotion. The quote also shows how the author thinks that her papers and sonnets are boring. The rhyming scheme for this octet is abbaabba. Then in the sextet, all the emotions erupt, and that is because of the change in mood. Browning changes the mood in this sextet by enhancing the diction and making the diction more loving and excited. Browning uses the words, future, love, sank, quailed, thundered, in the sextet to make it more intriguing for the reader. In the sextet, the audience learns that browning reads this person’s literature and cries. The rhyming scheme for the sextet is cdcdcd. But, this is a turning point in the poem because of the attitude of the sonnet changes. In the start of the sonnet, she has a discussion about how her sonnets are dead and have no emotion and then after the octet ended she talks about another poet's sonnets and how it moved her to tears. “Dear I love thee; and I sank and quailed,” (Browning, Sonnet 28, Line 9). This shows that she

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