A sonnet translated by Elizabeth Barrett Browning from Portuguese:

Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers
Plucked in the garden, all the summer through
And winter, and it seemed as if they grew
In this close room, nor missed the sun and showers,
So, in the like name of that love of ours,
Take back these thoughts which here unfolded too,
And which on warm and cold days I withdrew
From my heart’s ground. Indeed, those beds and bowers
Be overgrown with bitter weeds and rue,
And wait thy weeding; yet here’s eglantine,
Here’s ivy!— take them, as I used to do
Thy flowers, and keep them where they shall not pine.
Instruct thine eyes to keep their colours true,
And tell thy soul, their roots are left in mine.

I don't understand the meaning of the word "like" here and of the whole phrase generally. Does "like" here mean "similar"? Similar to what? To flowers? "In the flower-like name of that love of hours"? I don't get it.

1 Answer 1


Like here has a narrower meaning than similar: it means "same".

Its referent is not explicitly present in the first quatrain but imposed retrospectively: it imputes the same motive ("in the ... name of that love of ours") to her lover's action of bringing her flowers and to her own action of unfolding her thoughts, and thus establishes a metaphorical identity of the flowers and thoughts.

You may paraphrase

Even as you brought me flowers in the name of love, I invite you to receive in return ("take back") the thoughts which I withdrew from the ground in which they grew, my heart.

And she extends the metaphor equating her thoughts with flowers (and weeds!) in the third quatrain, which echoes Ophelia's 'mad scene' in Hamlet.

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