Thou must Sing Alone

Thou hast thy calling to some palace-floor,

Most gracious singer of high poems! where

The dancers will break footing, from the care

Of watching up thy pregnant lips for more.

And dost thou lift this house’s latch too poor

For hand of thine? and canst thou think and bear

To let thy music drop here unaware

In folds of golden fulness at my door?

Look up and see the casement broken in,

The bats and owlets builders in the roof!

My cricket chirps against thy mandolin.

Hush, call no echo up in further proof

Of desolation! there’s a voice within

That weeps . . . as thou must sing . . . alone, aloof.

- Elizabeth Browning

From: Sonnets from The Portuguese

(Female Poets)    (British Poets)    (Elizabeth Browning Poetry)