Sonnets from the Portuguese

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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What metaphors and alliterations are in Sonnet 24 from Sonnets from the Portuguese? How does it relate to other sonnets?

Quick answer:

In this sonnet, the speaker states that because of being enveloped in the love of her beloved which comes from God, the world can do her no harm. In the last part of the sonnet, the speaker says that the love she and her beloved share is watered, rooted in, and protected by heaven. Their love can't be touched by mankind—the wealth it offers is given by God, and only God can, therefore, make them poor by taking it away. Their love is spiritual and from God, and thus safe from worldly harm. A metaphor is a comparison not using the words "like" or "as". Browning compares love to a hand, soft and warm.

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In this sonnet, the speaker states that because of being enveloped in the love of her beloved which comes from God, the world can do her no harm. In the last part of the sonnet, the speaker says that the love she and her beloved share is watered, rooted in, and protected by heaven. Their love can't be touched by mankind—the wealth it offers is given by God, and only God can, therefore, make them poor by taking it away. Their love is spiritual and from God, and thus safe from worldly harm.

A metaphor is a comparison not using the words "like" or "as". Browning compares love to a hand, soft and warm. She compares the way people might try to hurt them to a "stab." She compares their lives to lilies.

Alliteration occurs when the same consonant is used at the beginning of words in close proximity. "Sharpness" and "shut" are alliterative, as are "lilies" and "lives," along with "wordlings," "weak," and "whitely."

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Sonnet 24 is similar to others in the collection of Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese.  Written as part of the collection that is meant to express a deep love to her husband, the sonnet's focus is on the love between both.  The driving force of meaning in the sonnet is the idea that the love shared by these two individuals can serve as a shelter or sanctuary from the pressures and demands of the world.  The opening metaphor of the knife depicts these stresses that lie outside the comforting grasp, which is meant to be the love shared.  This metaphor is continued throughout the poem, most prominently demonstrated when the world "stabs" without any impact on the "lilies of life."  Other examples of alliterations can be seen in the use of words such as "worldings," "weak," and "whitely."

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