ANDREA GAZZANIGA "Could it be that heart & life were devastated to make room for you?" --Elizabeth Barrett Barrett to Robert Browning, November 17, 18451 t the end of Sonnets from the Portuguese Elizabeth Barrett likens her thoughts to flowers that have grown into verse, both seeming "as if they grew / In this close room" (Works 2: 44, ll. 34).2 In that phrase, "this close room," she points to two dif ferent, though not entirely separate, spaces: the room she occupies in her father's house, where she has lived, written, and been reawakened by an unexpected love; and the lyric room that is the sonnet itself, the fourteen-line stanza. Her room on Wimpole Street does not merely provide the poet with a space in which to write her sonnets but also becomes an integral part of their construction and an influential force in any experience of reading them; in addition, the experiences these sonnets record is often governed by that physical space. The poet dwells within a room that is figuratively represented as a bower, but the poetic production taking place in that room makes the figurative bower both a literary and a literal one. Speaking within
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: May 22, 2016
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