You may know Elizabeth Barrett Brownings most often-quoted phrase, but did you know she was a committed Christian with great theological depth that she integrated into her poetry. I'm not much of a poetry-lover, but I developed an appreciation for Barrett Browning several years ago when I visited the museum dedicated to her and her husband Robert Browning at Baylor University. I learned a great deal about her that impressed me.
Fred Sanders celebrates her with this explanation:
Barrett Browning’s greatest hits include the long Aurora Leigh, and the sonnet “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” But she was a relentlessly theological poet throughout her life and in all of her work. Her mind was steeped in Biblical imagery and typology, she read doctrinal treatises for edification....Here is one of her early poems which she called a Hymn.
As the greatest of all sacrifices was required we may be assured that no other would have sufficed
–BOYD’S Essay on the Atonement
How high Thou art! our songs can own
No music Thou couldst stoop to hear
But still the Son’s expiring groan
Is vocal in the Father’s ear.
How pure Thou art! our hands are dyed
With curses red with murder’s hue
But HE hath stretched His hands to hide
The sins that pierced them from thy view
How strong Thou art! we tremble lest
The thunders of thine arm be moved
But HE is lying on thy breast
And thou must clasp thy best Beloved
How kind Thou art! Thou didst not choose
To joy in Him for ever so;
But that embrace thou wilt not lose
For vengeance, didst for love forego!
High God, and pure, and strong, and kind!
The low, the foul, the feeble, spare!
Thy brightness in His face we find–
Behold our darkness only there.