The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!
Ah, the elopement!
See, her Daddy din't want her to marry. Nope, already successful, Miss Elizabeth Barrett was a virtual prisoner in her London home.
But young Browning, six years her junior, fell madly in love wif' her rhymes an' schemed to meet her. Their romance blossomed, the pair conspired, a flurry of 574 letters in less than two years...'til at last she fled to the sea, there welcomed by her waitin' lover. Off they dashed to Italy--ah! Of Course! To Italy--the land dreamed of by yearnin' artists an' lovers. First to Pisa, then to Florence where they lived in this lovely villa, now a pensione for travelin' literati. There the had their son Robert "Pen" Browning, an' each played the muse to the other.
This romance an' artistic camaraderie endured a lifetime. Yes, Happy Ever After.
( How different from the ill-fated love of the Highwayman and Bess the Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter. )
I never gave a lock of hair away
Nor plant I it from rose- or myrtle tree
-----Elizabeth Barrett Browning
* * *
Somethin' ya' might not know: Aunty and Uncle eloped too...long long years ago.