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 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."
-elizabeth barrett browning, sonnets from the portugese