A Hapless Romantic


Often I hear people refer to themselves as a hopeless romantic.  That is either very sad or else they are speaking without paying attention to the meaning of the word hopeless which is defined as “having or offering no hope”.  I am certainly a romantic, but am far from hopeless.  Rather I define myself as a “hapless romantic” (hapness means “not favored by fortune”). 

A heroine of my romantic soul is Elizabeth Barrett who became the wife of Robert Browning in the mid-1800’s.  Some of the passages of her poetry and especially sections of her love letters to Robert during their semi-secret courtship are so very moving to me. Elizabeth had been sickly since her teen years.  Being stuck in her bedroom for days, even weeks,  at a time that served as a catalyst for beginning to write poetry in the first place.  When Robert came along she disbelieved his feelings for her at first.  At around 30 years of age (in those days considered an old maid) she had given up on ever being loved by a man who she in turn loved.  Once she accepted Robert’s feelings as true, the love that flowed from her in words is very beautiful.   Her health improved greatly during their near two decades together.  True love is a great tonic.

So after two failed marriage and lots of heartache, whenever I begin to think I will not love and be loved again I read her words and am inspired.  Hope returns then as does great gratitude for the words she wrote over 160 years ago.  They are so fresh and contemporary the words could have been written not long ago.

August 17, 1846

“… As for happiness – – the words which you use so tenderly are in my heart already, making me happy,… I am happy by you.  Also I may say solemnly, that the greatest proof of love I could give you is to be happy because of you – – and even you cannot judge and see how great a proof that is.  You have lifted my very soul up into the light of your soul, and I am not every likely to mistake it for the common daylight…”

 August 26, 1846 –

“….How I wish for two hearts to love you with, and two lives to give to you, and two souls to bear the weight worthily of all you have given to me.  But if one heart and one life will do… they are yours… I can not give them again…”

  August 27, 1846

“…I thought once that the capacity of happiness was destroyed in me, but you have made it over again… And while you love me so… I will take courage and hope, and believe that such a love may be enough for the happiness of us both…”

 What a beautiful heart Elizabeth Barrett had and her great talent at expressing her feelings of love has, in my opinion, never been bettered.  My thankfulness for her writing is deep.  Also there is much gratitude for her son for publishing the letters she and Robert exchanged.  Thanks Elizabeth for leaving behind the “food” that has helped to nourish and keep my hapless romantic heart alive. 

 Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.  Henry Ward Beecher

2 thoughts on “A Hapless Romantic

  1. Not sure that I knew what a prolific writer you are, James! I enjoyed reading some of your entries. If I were to give thanks for something today, I would surely give thanks for your contributions. The forming of our group has brought imeasurable change and growth in my life. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do in the healing of others’ lives:)

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