My Kate
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.