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Poetry of the Brownings

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Swedenborgian Online Community

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Poetry of the Brownings

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.


Our two romantics, Robert and Elizabeth Browning, read Swedenborg's Conjugial Love together in Florence early in their marriage. Elizabeth often mentioned reading Swedenborg and she acknowledged his influence in Aurora Leigh (1857).  Robert didn't directly talk about a Swedenborgian influence, but he and Elizabeth were both friends of the English Swedenborgian, Charles Augustus Tulk, and Robert was an early friend of James John Garth Wilkinson. She may have been introduced to Swedenborg by a friend, E.F. Haworth.  In a letter, Browning called herself a Swedenborgian.

Alice Skinner notes that Elizabeth lived out the Swedenborgian values of "uses" in her work. She took on the causes of many who were oppressed. In Aurora Leigh, she "examines the meaning of useful work at length, including a confirmation of the value of simply performing one's everyday tasks." In addition to her social justice themes, her poetry is filled with a celebration of love and references to God.

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