Elizabeth Barrett Browning was the poet of her time. She was an amazing influence for her readers then and for her readers now. Despite the many obstacles that Browning was forced to face and overcome she was able to use her writing as an escape from everything she was confronted with. Not only did Browning contract a disease, which she had trouble recovering from, but she was also forced to deal with not only her mother's death but also two of her brother's deaths, all of which occurred quite close together. However, Browning was still able to write straight from her heart, as well as using her writing as a method of recovery from the anguish she was suffering from. Although for some time it seemed as if she would never truly love a man she eventually fell in love with Robert Browning, the man she married. Browning's father strongly disapproved of the relationship between Elizabeth and Robert and so they were forced to marry in secret. Marriage opened up a whole new category of writing for Browning. She was able to write from the perspective of her own deep and passionate love, but also the passionate love that Robert Browning returned to her, and the love that she felt from him. Furthermore, "A Man's Requirements" is a poem that beautifies the description of what a man loves in a woman or what he hopes to love in a woman. It is a poem that is solely influenced by the love between Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, and the love that encompasses them both, as well as influencing both of their lives, which can be seen through Elizabeth Barrett Browning's writing in "A Man's Requirements.”
"A Man's Requirements" eloquently describes a love that is wished for. It asks for this love in such a sincere way that the readers are able to feel it themselves. It requests a love so strong and so passionate that there are no words to describe it: "With the vowing of thy mouth / With its silence tender/" (ln 7-8). The Browning's had an eternal love between the two of them, although they still had their ups and downs as most relationships do. Robert wrote to Elizabeth to thank her for the volume of poems she published paying tribute to the poets of her time, including Browning. They began visiting each other and soon after Robert proposed, except that Elisabeth turned him down. Robert then realized the easiest way to Elizabeth's heart was through her work and through his, and so this was how he claimed her heart, which was sealed in marriage on September 12th, 1846. Furthermore, "A Man's Requirements" then portrays the loving ways in which Robert Browning claimed Elizabeth's heart, and the love for her that he so passionately held. It shows the ways in which he wished to be loved by Elizabeth, and although it is called "A Man's Requirements" it also portrays the ways in which she hoped to be loved by him. It shows the hope that they both held to be loved fully and completely:
Feeling, thinking, seeing;
Love me in the lightest part,
Love me in full being. (ln 1-4)
It is therefore a poem, which simply describes the type of love that is wished for. It portrays the way in which a man would like to be loved. It is shown simply yet sincerely, and thus the readers are able to feel the love that existed between the Browning's.
It is easily seen that "A Man's Requirements" was written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning with the strong influence of love within her life. Her marriage to Robert Browning allowed her to write with the actual experience of love in her life, and thus she was able to feel the emotions herself and the hopes and wishes for the future. It is obviously easier to write about love when you've actually felt the emotion yourself, and thus once the Browning's met, fell in love, and married they were both able to feel that overwhelming feeling that love fuels within a person. This passion for love is shown within "A Man's Requirements." It portrays a yearning for love through Browning's eloquent phrases and simply put emotions:
Up the woodlands shady:
Love me gaily, fast and true,
As a winsome lady. (ln 33-36)
It is a simple description of the love within herself, and the genuine feelings of a yearning for all that love has to offer a person. The speaker within the poem wants it all. He doesn't just want love in its' simplest form, but he wants all that love has to offer. He wants all the elements and pieces that go along with love and a relationship. Thus, this is why the poem has such a yearning tone within it. The speaker is speaking straight from the heart. He is expressing all his deepest wishes, hopes, and emotions to come forth concerning love, and a love that is meant to be eternal: "Love me with thy thoughts that roll / On through living - dying/" (ln 27-28)
Furthermore, the speaker within "A Man's Requirements" is describing all the elements of love that he wants present in his love and relationship. Each stanza represents a different aspect that he wants to possess. For example, the first stanza talks of loving the person completely: "Love me in full being/" (ln 4). The seventh stanza however talks of loving straight from the soul and within the soul: "Love me with thy thinking soul/" (ln 25). He wants them to possess each other and he wants the love to be eternal, which is also what the soul represents. As well, the ninth stanza describes love in a religious sense. He wants to be loved in a Godly and Heavenly sense: "Love me, kneeling at thy prayers, / With the angels round thee/" (ln 31-32). Finally, the twelfth and concluding stanza speak of his ability to love her as much as he is capable of loving. However, he will only be able to love her fully and completely if she will love him as fully as he wishes to be to loved:
Woman's love no fable,
I will love thee-half a year-
As a man is able. (ln 41-44)
Thus, each stanza within "A Man's Requirements" not only earnestly talks of love with a genuine yet simple tone, evoking the readers' own thoughts of love, but it also reveals each way in which the speaker within the poem longs to be loved by a woman in all the ways in which one is capable of loving.
Another interesting aspect of "A Man's Requirements" is its progression from youth to old age. The poem starts off by speaking of loving with the innocence of youth, and then the second half begins to speak of loving each other always and eternally even after death. For example, the second stanza within the poem has the speaker talking of loving "with thine open youth / In its frank surrender/" (ln 5-6). This means that the speaker wants to be loved with the innocence of youth. Children are portrayed as innocent and sweet, they never let anything hold them back as they have not yet been hurt enough to let themselves be afraid. Children haven't been hurt before in love, and so this line means that to love with the innocence of youth is to love without any reservations, but to love with your full being. Thus, he wants her to love him fully without any reservations and without holding any parts of herself back. Another point that can be associated with the innocence of children is the peacefulness that falling snow conjures up within a person: "that fall / Snow-like at first meeting/" (ln 13-14). This image brings to mind the idea of children because falling snow is so strongly associated with children by not only snow angels, and snowmen, but also the fact that falling snow brings to mind peace and innocence, just as children do. The seventh stanza begins to speak of loving eternally, long past old age. It speaks of not only loving deep into your older years, but loving each other eternally even after death. This point of loving even after death is also reiterated in "Love me for the house and grave/" (ln 39). It is speaking of loving fully within their lives together but also loving each other fully even after he has descended into death and can no longer physically be with her. He wants to be loved completely by her no matter the circumstances, and no matter whether he is alive or not. This is an interesting aspect within the poem because Elizabeth Barrett Browning was such an unhealthy child. She didn't have the happiness and innocence that most children possessed at such young ages. She was forced to deal with the loss of her mother, and quickly afterwards the loss of Hope End the only home she had really ever known. Thus, it is unusual for her to incorporate such happy, sweet, and innocent childhood elements into her poem considering her own troubled childhood. Furthermore, the fact that she speaks of loving eternally within the poem is intriguing regarding the fact that her parents didn't love eternally. It is normal for children to follow in the footsteps of their parents and despite the fact that her father never did become involved with anyone else, he was greatly opposed to her relationship and then marriage to Robert Browning. However, although her father was opposed to the marriage Elizabeth still loved Robert passionately and this can be seen within "A Man's Requirements" through the way in which she speaks of loving eternally. It is only a true love that can remain complete and true even after death.
In addition, although the speaker within the poem is a man, the poem itself portrays Elizabeth Barrett Browning's most intimate thoughts regarding love and what she hopes for from love: "Through all hopes that keep us brave, / Farther off or nigher/" (ln 37-38). This is evident of the hope for a solid foundation to base their love on. The theme of love within Elizabeth Barrett Browning's writing is the symbol for the completeness of love that existed between the Browning's. Browning's' heart, which was so full of love, is where all of her poetry arose from, and is where her true sentiment existed. "A Man's Requirements" describes the type of love that is true and pure, and which is yearned for by most people, however in Browning's' case she actually writes about this yearning, which is fairly evident that she experiences herself. The love that is being spoken of is one in which there is no room for doubt, but all the room in the world for more love: "Love me with thine heart, that all / Neighbours then see beating/" (ln 15-16). Browning portrays an earnest love within "A Man's Requirements", and the earnest love that the speaker talks of sets out to outline every detail that he wants within his relationship and within love. It describes every way that the speaker wants to be loved, and thus describes a complete love in the speakers eyes. Therefore, because this love is outlined through the speakers' eyes and feelings regarding love it is also outlined through Elizabeth Barrett Browning's own needs and desires regarding a strong and steadfast love.
Thus, it is easy to see the influence that Robert Browning had upon Elizabeth Barrett Browning's life. As her love for Robert grew so did her writing, and vice versa. The growth of her writing influenced the growth of her love for Robert Browning. It is easy to see Elizabeth Barrett Browning's progression into a deep and everlasting love within "A Man's Requirements." It was written just four years after the Browning's married, and it is obviously proof of what kept their love so strong, and what aspects of their relationship allowed them to love each other so deeply and passionately. Therefore, Robert Browning had a profound effect on not only Elizabeth Barrett Browning herself, but also her writing, and the themes in which she chose to write about.
SJD - http://voices.yahoo.com/the-influence-love-within-elizabeth-barrett-brownings-336094.html?cat=38
Love, Realistic & Complicated