What Can I give Thee Back

What can I give thee back, O liberal

And princely giver, who hast brought the gold

And purple of thine heart, unstained, untold,

And laid them on the outside of the wall

For such as I to take or leave withal,

In unexpected largesse? am I cold,

Ungrateful, that for these most manifold

High gifts, I render nothing back at all?

Not so; not cold,–but very poor instead.

Ask God who knows.  For frequent tears have run

The colours from my life, and left so dead

And pale a stuff, it were not fitly done

To give the same as pillow to thy head.

Go farther! let it serve to trample on.

- Elizabeth Browning

From: Sonnets from The Portuguese

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