(*Quote of the Month)
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.
But only he who sees takes off his shoes.
The rest sit ‘round it and pluck blackberries.
~~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1856,
From the Poem Aurora Leigh
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) was a 19th Century British poet with great influence on both sides of the Atlantic. An outspoken proponent of key social issues in England and the United States, such as the abolition of slavery, and support for women's rights and child labor laws, Barrett Browning's overall work transcended her prolific poetry. Still, both her social conscience and her writing were deeply influenced by her strong Christian faith, believing that Christianity itself was essentially the 'glorified poetry' of God. She became the wife of poet Robert Browning, six years her junior, long after her own career and wide popularity had been established.
Often including literary images in her writing that evoke her love for nature, she may have been influenced by the early stirrings of the Transcendentalist Movement in America, though her initial work preceded it by some years. The quote is taken from her poem Aurora Leigh, in which she unfolds the story of a strong woman writer whose experience roughly parallels her own; of course, the quote also draws an allusion to the Biblical account of Moses at the burning bush, with the character and author inferring that God's presence is more available to us in nature than we often comprehend.
~~ RGM, May 30, 2014