I Thought Once How Theocritus...

(1991)

"I Thought Once How Theocritus..." is the first song of Libby Larsen's cycle Sonnets From the Portuguese, which sets the text of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

I. "I thought once how Theocritus had sung..."
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


I thought once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was 'ware,
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove, ---
'Guess now who holds thee?' --- 'Death,' I said. But, there,
The silver answer rang, --- 'Not Death, but Love.'


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