BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett (1806-1861). Autograph manuscript signed ("Elizabeth Barrett Browning") of the poem "Parting Lovers, Sienna," comprising 75 lines, titled at the head on page 1. 2½ pp., 8vo, written on page 1 ,3 and 4 of a four-page gathering, each stanza numbered by the poet, tipped to a larger sheet at left-hand edge, very minor soiling, otherwise in fine condition.
A DRAFT OF EBB'S "PARTING LOVERS, SIENNA," CELEBRATING THE CAUSE OF ITALIAN REUNIFICATION
A fair copy--probably the example submitted to the publisher--of Browning's fifteen-stanza poem, which first appeared in The Independent (New York) on 21 March 1861 and was collected in Last Poems (1862). The poem poetically interweaves the themes of human love and love of country, specifically evoking the individual sacrifices being made to achieve the independence of Italy. The first stanza rather hauntingly suggests the circumstances of Elizabeth's hidden emotions for Robert: "I love thee, love thee, Giulio -- Some call. me cold, and some demure, And if thou has ever guessed that so I loved thee...well, -- the proof was poor, And no one could be sure..." Stanza 7 reads: "But now that Italy invokes Her young men to go forth and chase The foe or perish...Heroic males the country bears, But daughters give up more than sons...I love thee, love thee, sweetest friend! Now take my sweetest without pause. To help the nation's cause..." The final stanza reiterates the sacrifice of love to the cause of Italian freedom: "And thus of noble Italy We'll both be worthy. Let her show The future how we made her free, Not sparing life, nor Giulio, Nor this...this heart-break. Go!--"
A draft of the work is part of the Pierpont Morgan Library notebook, and the copy used by the 1862 London printers in 1862 is in the Beinecke Library, Yale University. This version varies slightly from the final published version of 1862 in reading "moved" for "stirred" in line 8, and "Hareb's" as opposed to "Sinai's" in line 30.