• The William E. Self Library, I auction at Christies

    Sale 2153

    The William E. Self Library, Important English and American Literature

    4 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 30

    BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett. Autograph manuscript, entitled "Sonnet -- VIII Love" ("We cannot live except this mutually..."), N.p., n.d. [ca.1847].

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett. Autograph manuscript, entitled "Sonnet -- VIII Love" ("We cannot live except this mutually..."), N.p., n.d. [ca.1847].

    1 page, 8o (185 x 112mm.)

    The last of a series of eight sonnets, first published in Blackwood's Magazine (May, 1847) and collected in Poems (1850).

    "We cannot live, except thus mutually
    We alternate, aware or unaware,
    The reflex act of life -- and when we bear
    Our virtue outward more impulsively,
    More full of invocation, and to be
    More instantly compellant,...certes, there
    We live most life, whoever breathes most air
    And counts his dying years by sun and sea.
    But when a soul, by choice and conscience, doth
    Throw out his full force on another soul, --
    The conscience and the concentration both
    Make mere life, love. For Life in perfect whole
    And aim consummated, is Love in sooth."

    With several variant readings of interest, and without an additional line added later, reading "As natures magnet -- heat rounds pole with pole." Coley and Kelley, The Browning Collections D494 (with detailed publication history).

    Provenance: Arthur A. Houghton (sale Christie's London, 13 June 1979, lot 68).


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