My Kate

(1862) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

She was not as pretty as women I know, And yet all your best made of sunshine and snow Drop to shade, melt to nought in the long-trodden ways, While she's still remembered on warm and cold days— My Kate. Her air had a meaning, her movements a grace; You turned from the fairest to gaze on her face; And when you had once seen her forehead and mouth, You saw as distinctly her soul and her truth— My Kate. Such a blue inner light from her eyelids outbroke, You looked at her silence and fancied she spoke; When she did, so peculiar yet soft was the tone, Though the loudest spoke also, you heard her alone— My Kate. I doubt if she said to you much that could act As a thought or suggestion; she did not attract In the sense of the brilliant or wise; I infer 'Twas her thinking of others made you think of her— My Kate. She never found fault with you, never implied Your wrong by her right; and yet men at her side Grew nobler, girls purer, as through the whole town The children were gladder that pulled at her gown— My Kate. None knelt at her feet confessed lovers in thrall; They knelt more to God than they used—that was all; If you praised her as charming, some asked what you meant, But the charm of her presence was felt when she went— My Kate. The weak and the gentle, the ribald and rude, She took as she found them, and did them all good; It always was so with her—see what you have! She has made the grass greener even here with her grave— My Kate. My dear one!—when thou wast alive with the rest, I held thee the sweetest and loved thee the best: And now thou art dead, shall I not take thy part As thy smiles used to do for thyself, my sweet Heart— My Kate?