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branches ::: Robert Browning

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object:Robert Browning
class:author
subject class:Poetry


--- WIKI
Robert Browning (7 May 1812 12 December 1889) was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of the dramatic monologue made him one of the foremost Victorian poets. His poems are known for their irony, characterization, dark humour, social commentary, historical settings, and challenging vocabulary and syntax. Browning's early career began promisingly, but collapsed. The long poems Pauline and Paracelsus received some acclaim, but in 1840 the difficult Sordello, which was seen as wilfully obscure, brought his poetry into disrepute. His reputation took more than a decade to recover, during which time he moved away from the Shelleyan forms of his early period and developed a more personal style. In 1846, Browning married the older poet Elizabeth Barrett, and went to live in Italy. By the time of her death in 1861, he had published the crucial collection Men and Women. The collection Dramatis Personae and the book-length epic poem The Ring and the Book followed, and made him a leading British poet. He continued to write prolifically, but his reputation today rests largely on the poetry he wrote in this middle period. When Browning died in 1889, he was regarded as a sage and philosopher-poet who through his writing had made contri butions to Victorian social and political discourse. Unusually for a poet, societies for the study of his work were founded while he was still alive. Such Browning Societies remained common in Britain and the United States until the early 20th century.
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now begins generated list of local instances, definitions, quotes, instances in chapters, wordnet info if available and instances among weblinks


OBJECT INSTANCES [0] - TOPICS - AUTHORS - BOOKS - CHAPTERS - CLASSES - SEE ALSO - SIMILAR TITLES

TOPICS
SEE ALSO


AUTH

BOOKS
Browning_-_Poems
Infinite_Library

IN CHAPTERS TITLE

IN CHAPTERS CLASSNAME
1.rb_-_Abt_Vogler
1.rb_-_A_Cavalier_Song
1.rb_-_After
1.rb_-_A_Grammarian's_Funeral_Shortly_After_The_Revival_Of_Learning
1.rb_-_Aix_In_Provence
1.rb_-_A_Light_Woman
1.rb_-_A_Lovers_Quarrel
1.rb_-_Among_The_Rocks
1.rb_-_Andrea_del_Sarto
1.rb_-_An_Epistle_Containing_the_Strange_Medical_Experience_of_Kar
1.rb_-_Another_Way_Of_Love
1.rb_-_Any_Wife_To_Any_Husband
1.rb_-_A_Pretty_Woman
1.rb_-_A_Serenade_At_The_Villa
1.rb_-_A_Toccata_Of_Galuppi's
1.rb_-_A_Womans_Last_Word
1.rb_-_Before
1.rb_-_Bishop_Blougram's_Apology
1.rb_-_Bishop_Orders_His_Tomb_at_Saint_Praxed's_Church,_Rome,_The
1.rb_-_By_The_Fire-Side
1.rb_-_Caliban_upon_Setebos_or,_Natural_Theology_in_the_Island
1.rb_-_Childe_Roland_To_The_Dark_Tower_Came
1.rb_-_Cleon
1.rb_-_Confessions
1.rb_-_Cristina
1.rb_-_De_Gustibus
1.rb_-_Earth's_Immortalities
1.rb_-_Evelyn_Hope
1.rb_-_Fra_Lippo_Lippi
1.rb_-_Garden_Francies
1.rb_-_Holy-Cross_Day
1.rb_-_Home_Thoughts,_from_the_Sea
1.rb_-_How_They_Brought_The_Good_News_From_Ghent_To_Aix
1.rb_-_In_A_Gondola
1.rb_-_In_A_Year
1.rb_-_Incident_Of_The_French_Camp
1.rb_-_In_Three_Days
1.rb_-_Introduction:_Pippa_Passes
1.rb_-_Life_In_A_Love
1.rb_-_Love_Among_The_Ruins
1.rb_-_Love_In_A_Life
1.rb_-_Master_Hugues_Of_Saxe-Gotha
1.rb_-_Meeting_At_Night
1.rb_-_Memorabilia
1.rb_-_Mesmerism
1.rb_-_My_Last_Duchess
1.rb_-_My_Star
1.rb_-_Nationality_In_Drinks
1.rb_-_Never_the_Time_and_the_Place
1.rb_-_Now!
1.rb_-_Old_Pictures_In_Florence
1.rb_-_O_Lyric_Love
1.rb_-_One_Way_Of_Love
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_III_-_Paracelsus
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_II_-_Paracelsus_Attains
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_I_-_Paracelsus_Aspires
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_IV_-_Paracelsus_Aspires
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_V_-_Paracelsus_Attains
1.rb_-_Parting_At_Morning
1.rb_-_Pauline,_A_Fragment_of_a_Question
1.rb_-_Pippa_Passes_-_Part_III_-_Evening
1.rb_-_Pippa_Passes_-_Part_II_-_Noon
1.rb_-_Pippa_Passes_-_Part_I_-_Morning
1.rb_-_Pippa_Passes_-_Part_IV_-_Night
1.rb_-_Pippas_Song
1.rb_-_Popularity
1.rb_-_Porphyrias_Lover
1.rb_-_Prospice
1.rb_-_Protus
1.rb_-_Rabbi_Ben_Ezra
1.rb_-_Respectability
1.rb_-_Rhyme_for_a_Child_Viewing_a_Naked_Venus_in_a_Painting_of_'The_Judgement_of_Paris'
1.rb_-_Soliloquy_Of_The_Spanish_Cloister
1.rb_-_Song
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Fifth
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_First
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Fourth
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Second
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Sixth
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Third
1.rb_-_The_Boy_And_the_Angel
1.rb_-_The_Englishman_In_Italy
1.rb_-_The_Flight_Of_The_Duchess
1.rb_-_The_Glove
1.rb_-_The_Guardian-Angel
1.rb_-_The_Italian_In_England
1.rb_-_The_Laboratory-Ancien_Rgime
1.rb_-_The_Last_Ride_Together
1.rb_-_The_Lost_Leader
1.rb_-_The_Lost_Mistress
1.rb_-_The_Patriot
1.rb_-_The_Pied_Piper_Of_Hamelin
1.rb_-_The_Twins
1.rb_-_Times_Revenges
1.rb_-_Two_In_The_Campagna
1.rb_-_Waring
1.rb_-_Why_I_Am_a_Liberal
1.rb_-_Women_And_Roses
1.rb_-_Youll_Love_Me_Yet

IN CHAPTERS TEXT
1.24_-_Necromancy_and_Spiritism
1.55_-_Money
1.83_-_Epistola_Ultima
1.jk_-_What_The_Thrush_Said._Lines_From_A_Letter_To_John_Hamilton_Reynolds
1.jlb_-_Browning_Decides_To_Be_A_Poet
1.pbs_-_The_Indian_Serenade
1.rb_-_Abt_Vogler
1.rb_-_A_Cavalier_Song
1.rb_-_After
1.rb_-_A_Grammarian's_Funeral_Shortly_After_The_Revival_Of_Learning
1.rb_-_Aix_In_Provence
1.rb_-_A_Light_Woman
1.rb_-_A_Lovers_Quarrel
1.rb_-_Among_The_Rocks
1.rb_-_Andrea_del_Sarto
1.rb_-_An_Epistle_Containing_the_Strange_Medical_Experience_of_Kar
1.rb_-_Another_Way_Of_Love
1.rb_-_Any_Wife_To_Any_Husband
1.rb_-_A_Pretty_Woman
1.rb_-_A_Serenade_At_The_Villa
1.rb_-_A_Toccata_Of_Galuppi's
1.rb_-_A_Womans_Last_Word
1.rb_-_Before
1.rb_-_Bishop_Blougram's_Apology
1.rb_-_Bishop_Orders_His_Tomb_at_Saint_Praxed's_Church,_Rome,_The
1.rb_-_By_The_Fire-Side
1.rb_-_Caliban_upon_Setebos_or,_Natural_Theology_in_the_Island
1.rb_-_Childe_Roland_To_The_Dark_Tower_Came
1.rb_-_Cleon
1.rb_-_Confessions
1.rb_-_Cristina
1.rb_-_De_Gustibus
1.rb_-_Earth's_Immortalities
1.rb_-_Evelyn_Hope
1.rb_-_Fra_Lippo_Lippi
1.rb_-_Garden_Francies
1.rb_-_Holy-Cross_Day
1.rb_-_Home_Thoughts,_from_the_Sea
1.rb_-_How_They_Brought_The_Good_News_From_Ghent_To_Aix
1.rb_-_In_A_Gondola
1.rb_-_In_A_Year
1.rb_-_Incident_Of_The_French_Camp
1.rb_-_In_Three_Days
1.rb_-_Introduction:_Pippa_Passes
1.rb_-_Life_In_A_Love
1.rb_-_Love_Among_The_Ruins
1.rb_-_Love_In_A_Life
1.rb_-_Master_Hugues_Of_Saxe-Gotha
1.rb_-_Meeting_At_Night
1.rb_-_Memorabilia
1.rb_-_Mesmerism
1.rb_-_My_Last_Duchess
1.rb_-_My_Star
1.rb_-_Nationality_In_Drinks
1.rb_-_Never_the_Time_and_the_Place
1.rb_-_Now!
1.rb_-_Old_Pictures_In_Florence
1.rb_-_O_Lyric_Love
1.rb_-_One_Way_Of_Love
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_III_-_Paracelsus
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_II_-_Paracelsus_Attains
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_I_-_Paracelsus_Aspires
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_IV_-_Paracelsus_Aspires
1.rb_-_Paracelsus_-_Part_V_-_Paracelsus_Attains
1.rb_-_Parting_At_Morning
1.rb_-_Pauline,_A_Fragment_of_a_Question
1.rb_-_Pippa_Passes_-_Part_III_-_Evening
1.rb_-_Pippa_Passes_-_Part_II_-_Noon
1.rb_-_Pippa_Passes_-_Part_I_-_Morning
1.rb_-_Pippa_Passes_-_Part_IV_-_Night
1.rb_-_Pippas_Song
1.rb_-_Popularity
1.rb_-_Porphyrias_Lover
1.rb_-_Prospice
1.rb_-_Protus
1.rb_-_Rabbi_Ben_Ezra
1.rb_-_Respectability
1.rb_-_Rhyme_for_a_Child_Viewing_a_Naked_Venus_in_a_Painting_of_'The_Judgement_of_Paris'
1.rb_-_Soliloquy_Of_The_Spanish_Cloister
1.rb_-_Song
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Fifth
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_First
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Fourth
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Second
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Sixth
1.rb_-_Sordello_-_Book_the_Third
1.rb_-_The_Boy_And_the_Angel
1.rb_-_The_Englishman_In_Italy
1.rb_-_The_Flight_Of_The_Duchess
1.rb_-_The_Glove
1.rb_-_The_Guardian-Angel
1.rb_-_The_Italian_In_England
1.rb_-_The_Laboratory-Ancien_Rgime
1.rb_-_The_Last_Ride_Together
1.rb_-_The_Lost_Leader
1.rb_-_The_Lost_Mistress
1.rb_-_The_Patriot
1.rb_-_The_Pied_Piper_Of_Hamelin
1.rb_-_The_Twins
1.rb_-_Times_Revenges
1.rb_-_Two_In_The_Campagna
1.rb_-_Waring
1.rb_-_Why_I_Am_a_Liberal
1.rb_-_Women_And_Roses
1.rb_-_Youll_Love_Me_Yet
1.wby_-_Are_You_Content?

PRIMARY CLASS

author
SIMILAR TITLES
Robert Browning

DEFINITIONS


TERMS STARTING WITH


TERMS ANYWHERE



QUOTES [5 / 5 - 561 / 561]


KEYS (10k)

   5 Robert Browning

NEW FULL DB (2.4M)

  538 Robert Browning
   2 Susanna Kearsley
   2 Harper Lee
   2 Cassandra Clare
   2 Anonymous

1:The best is yet to be.
   ~ Robert Browning,
2:A minute's success pays the failure of years.
   ~ Robert Browning,
3:What I aspired to be and was not, comforts me.
   ~ Robert Browning,
4:And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word! ~ Robert Browning, Porphyria's Lover, (1842),
5:For mark! no sooner was I fairly found
   Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,
   Than, pausing to throw backward a last view
   O'er the safe road, 't was gone; gray plain all round:
   Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound.
   I might go on; nought else remain'd to do.
   ~ Robert Browning, from Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,

*** WISDOM TROVE ***

*** NEWFULLDB 2.4M ***

1:Wander at will, ~ Robert Browning,
2:As if true pride ~ Robert Browning,
3:Hold On. Hope Hard. ~ Robert Browning,
4:Faultless to a fault. ~ Robert Browning,
5:Look not down but up! ~ Robert Browning,
6:The Best Is Yet To Be ~ Robert Browning,
7:The best is yet to be. ~ Robert Browning,
8:Life is an empty dream. ~ Robert Browning,
9:Love is energy of life. ~ Robert Browning,
10:God is the perfect poet. ~ Robert Browning,
11:The peerless cup afloat ~ Robert Browning,
12:Death: the grand perhaps. ~ Robert Browning,
13:I count life just a stuff ~ Robert Browning,
14:Shun death, is my advice. ~ Robert Browning,
15:Silence 'tis awe decrees. ~ Robert Browning,
16:The best is yet to be.
   ~ Robert Browning,
17:All's love, yet all's law. ~ Robert Browning,
18:My sun sets to rise again. ~ Robert Browning,
19:Smiling the boy fell dead. ~ Robert Browning,
20:Truth is within ourselves. ~ Robert Browning,
21:What so wild as words are? ~ Robert Browning,
22:Love is the energy of life. ~ Robert Browning,
23:Thought is the soul of act. ~ Robert Browning,
24:Never the time and the place ~ Robert Browning,
25:Sorrow, the heart must bear, ~ Robert Browning,
26:Truth never hurt the teller. ~ Robert Browning,
27:Who knows most, doubts most. ~ Robert Browning,
28:---all's love, yet all's law. ~ Robert Browning,
29:Graved inside of it, "Italy". ~ Robert Browning,
30:No thought which ever stirred ~ Robert Browning,
31:Truth never hurts the teller. ~ Robert Browning,
32:Earth is crammed with heavens. ~ Robert Browning,
33:Most progress is most failure. ~ Robert Browning,
34:Praise is deeper than the lips ~ Robert Browning,
35:When pain ends, gain ends too. ~ Robert Browning,
36:Open my heart, and you will see ~ Robert Browning,
37:A lion may die of an ass's kick. ~ Robert Browning,
38:And gain is gain, however small. ~ Robert Browning,
39:Good to forgive, Best to forget. ~ Robert Browning,
40:Women hate a debt as men a gift. ~ Robert Browning,
41:All service is the same with God. ~ Robert Browning,
42:Boot, saddle, to horse, and away! ~ Robert Browning,
43:It was roses, roses, all the way, ~ Robert Browning,
44:Talent should minister to genius. ~ Robert Browning,
45:Truth is truth howe'er it strike. ~ Robert Browning,
46:Without love, our earth is a tomb ~ Robert Browning,
47:How good is life, the mere living! ~ Robert Browning,
48:Imperfection means perfection hid. ~ Robert Browning,
49:O lyric love! half angel half bird ~ Robert Browning,
50:But facts are facts and flinch not. ~ Robert Browning,
51:God smiles as He has always smiled; ~ Robert Browning,
52:Ignorance is not innocence but sin. ~ Robert Browning,
53:Make us happy and you make us good. ~ Robert Browning,
54:A man in armor is his armor's slave. ~ Robert Browning,
55:Why stay we on earth except to grow? ~ Robert Browning,
56:A man's reach should exceed his grasp ~ Robert Browning,
57:Have you found your life distasteful? ~ Robert Browning,
58:Man partly is and wholly hopes to be. ~ Robert Browning,
59:Sing, riding 's a joy! For me I ride. ~ Robert Browning,
60:Tis looking downward makes one dizzy. ~ Robert Browning,
61:Why stay on the earth except to grow. ~ Robert Browning,
62:A man in armour is his armour's slave. ~ Robert Browning,
63:Be sure they sleep not whom God needs. ~ Robert Browning,
64:How very hard it is to be a Christian! ~ Robert Browning,
65:Our aspirations are our possibilities. ~ Robert Browning,
66:Still more labyrinthine buds the rose. ~ Robert Browning,
67:I am grown peaceful as old age tonight. ~ Robert Browning,
68:I, painting from myself and to myself, ~ Robert Browning,
69:Never brag, never bluster, never blush. ~ Robert Browning,
70:Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free! ~ Robert Browning,
71:Take away love and our earth is a tomb. ~ Robert Browning,
72:Who knows but the world may end tonight ~ Robert Browning,
73:Again the Cousin's whistle! Go, my Love. ~ Robert Browning,
74:All will be gay when noontide wakes anew ~ Robert Browning,
75:Grow old with me! The best is yet to be. ~ Robert Browning,
76:I do what many dream of, all their lives ~ Robert Browning,
77:Once more on my adventure brave and new. ~ Robert Browning,
78:When is man strong until he feels alone? ~ Robert Browning,
79:Any nose may ravage with impunity a rose. ~ Robert Browning,
80:A pretty woman's worth some pains to see, ~ Robert Browning,
81:A pretty woman's worth some pains to see. ~ Robert Browning,
82:Lofty designs must close in like effects. ~ Robert Browning,
83:No work begun shall ever pause for death. ~ Robert Browning,
84:Our aspirations are our responsibilities. ~ Robert Browning,
85:'Tis an awkward thing to play with souls. ~ Robert Browning,
86:And let them pass, as they will too soon, ~ Robert Browning,
87:I know a mount, the gracious Sun perceives ~ Robert Browning,
88:I think, am sure, a brother's love exceeds ~ Robert Browning,
89:It's like those eerie stories nurses tell, ~ Robert Browning,
90:Of what I call God, And fools call Nature. ~ Robert Browning,
91:Other heights in other lives, God willing. ~ Robert Browning,
92:The best things in life can never be kept; ~ Robert Browning,
93:The past is gained, secure, and on record. ~ Robert Browning,
94:Every one soon or late comes round by Rome. ~ Robert Browning,
95:Good strong thick stupefying incense-smoke! ~ Robert Browning,
96:Motherhood: All love begins and ends there. ~ Robert Browning,
97:Our business was done at the river's brink; ~ Robert Browning,
98:O world, as God has made it! All is beauty. ~ Robert Browning,
99:Stung by the splendour of a sudden thought. ~ Robert Browning,
100:Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise ~ Robert Browning,
101:Any nose
May ravage with impunity a rose. ~ Robert Browning,
102:Best be yourself, imperial, plain, and true. ~ Robert Browning,
103:Death was past, life not come: so he waited. ~ Robert Browning,
104:Earth being so good, would heaven seem best? ~ Robert Browning,
105:God be thanked, the meanest of his creatures ~ Robert Browning,
106:He guides me and the bird. In His good time! ~ Robert Browning,
107:Men are not angels, neither are they brutes. ~ Robert Browning,
108:Oh, to be in England now that April's there. ~ Robert Browning,
109:Since there my past life lies, why alter it? ~ Robert Browning,
110:What joy is better than the news of friends? ~ Robert Browning,
111:Where the heart lies, let the brain lie also ~ Robert Browning,
112:A bitter heart that bides its time and bites. ~ Robert Browning,
113:A minute's success pays the failure of years. ~ Robert Browning,
114:A minute’s success pays the failure of years. ~ Robert Browning,
115:Believeth with the life, the pain shall stop. ~ Robert Browning,
116:God! Thou art love! I build my faith on that. ~ Robert Browning,
117:I felt a strange delight in causing my decay. ~ Robert Browning,
118:I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists. ~ Robert Browning,
119:Oh never star Was lost here but it rose afar. ~ Robert Browning,
120:One taste of the old time sets all to rights. ~ Robert Browning,
121:Such ever was love's way: to rise, it stoops. ~ Robert Browning,
122:The great mind knows the power of gentleness. ~ Robert Browning,
123:Where the heart lies, let the brain lie also. ~ Robert Browning,
124:A minute of success pays for years of failure. ~ Robert Browning,
125:Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be. ~ Robert Browning,
126:Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be. ~ Robert Browning,
127:Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be! ~ Robert Browning,
128:Grow old along with me--the best is yet to be, ~ Robert Browning,
129:Night conceals a world but reveals a universe. ~ Robert Browning,
130:What I aspired to be and was not, comforts me. ~ Robert Browning,
131:When the liquor's out, why clink the cannikin? ~ Robert Browning,
132:Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure. ~ Robert Browning,
133:'Tis well averred, A scientific faith's absurd. ~ Robert Browning,
134:What a thing friendship is - World without end. ~ Robert Browning,
135:A minute's success pays the failure of years.
   ~ Robert Browning,
136:Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years. ~ Robert Browning,
137:One wise man's verdict outweighs all the fools'. ~ Robert Browning,
138:The world and life's too big to pass for a dream ~ Robert Browning,
139:What Youth deemed crystal, Age finds out was dew ~ Robert Browning,
140:God is in his Heaven, all's right with the world. ~ Robert Browning,
141:Man seeks his own good at the whole world's cost. ~ Robert Browning,
142:Measure your mind's height by the shade it casts. ~ Robert Browning,
143:Over my head his arm he flung, Against the world. ~ Robert Browning,
144:What I aspired to be and was not, comforts me.
   ~ Robert Browning,
145:What Youth deemed crystal, Age finds out was dew. ~ Robert Browning,
146:But there are times when patience proves at fault. ~ Robert Browning,
147:Time is counted, not by hours, but by heart-beats. ~ Robert Browning,
148:Art remains the one way possible of speaking truth. ~ Robert Browning,
149:God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world! ~ Robert Browning,
150:Progress is The law of life: man is not Man as yet. ~ Robert Browning,
151:Therefore I summon age / To grant youth's heritage. ~ Robert Browning,
152:Time'swheelsrunsbackor stops: Potterand clayendure. ~ Robert Browning,
153:Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once. ~ Robert Browning,
154:All poetry is putting the infinite within the finite. ~ Robert Browning,
155:No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers, ~ Robert Browning,
156:Things are where things are, and, as fate has willed, ~ Robert Browning,
157:Baik untuk memaafkan, lebih baik lagi untuk melupakan. ~ Robert Browning,
158:Let friend trust friends, and love demand love's like. ~ Robert Browning,
159:Make no more giants, God!But elevate the race at once! ~ Robert Browning,
160:That great brow And the spirit-small hand propping it. ~ Robert Browning,
161:Ambition is not what man does... but what man would do. ~ Robert Browning,
162:Who hears music, feels his solitude
Peopled at once. ~ Robert Browning,
163:Days decrease, / And autumn grows, autumn in everything. ~ Robert Browning,
164:My care is for myself; Myself am whole and sole reality. ~ Robert Browning,
165:The lie was dead And damned, and truth stood up instead. ~ Robert Browning,
166:All poetry is difficult to read - The sense of it anyhow. ~ Robert Browning,
167:Escape me? Never, beloved! While I am I, and you are you. ~ Robert Browning,
168:The best way to excape his ire Is, not to seem too happy. ~ Robert Browning,
169:Truth that peeps Over the glass's edge when dinner's done. ~ Robert Browning,
170:how sad and bad and mad it was - but then, how it was sweet ~ Robert Browning,
171:Would you have your songs endure? Build on the human heart. ~ Robert Browning,
172:On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven a perfect round. ~ Robert Browning,
173:Can we love but on condition that the thing we love must die? ~ Robert Browning,
174:I judge people by what they might be, - not are, nor will be. ~ Robert Browning,
175:In the first is the last, in thy will is my power to believe. ~ Robert Browning,
176:There is no truer truth obtainable by Man than comes of music ~ Robert Browning,
177:Fair or foul the lot apportioned life on earth, we bear alike. ~ Robert Browning,
178:From the sprinkled isles, Lily on lily, that o'erlace the sea. ~ Robert Browning,
179:Must in death your daylight finish? My sun sets to rise again. ~ Robert Browning,
180:Poetry, like love, is something we never truly say goodbye to. ~ Robert Browning,
181:The curious crime, the fine Felicity and flower of wickedness. ~ Robert Browning,
182:There is to truer truth attainable to man than comes of music. ~ Robert Browning,
183:What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop? ~ Robert Browning,
184:When the fight begins within himself, a man's worth something. ~ Robert Browning,
185:Needs there groan a world in anguish just to teach us sympathy? ~ Robert Browning,
186:Open my heart and you will see
Graved inside of it, "Italy". ~ Robert Browning,
187:Day! Faster and more fast. O'er night's brim, day boils at last. ~ Robert Browning,
188:Twere too absurd to slight For the hereafter the todays delight! ~ Robert Browning,
189:There's a new tribunal now higher than God's -The educated man's! ~ Robert Browning,
190:Youth means love, Vows can't change nature, priests are only men. ~ Robert Browning,
191:Aspire, break bounds. Endeavor to be good, and better still, best. ~ Robert Browning,
192:At last awake from life, that insane dream we take for waking now. ~ Robert Browning,
193:God is the perfect poet, Who in his person acts his own creations. ~ Robert Browning,
194:In the morning of the world, When earth was nigher heaven than now. ~ Robert Browning,
195:Lose who may-I still can say, Those who win heaven, blest are they! ~ Robert Browning,
196:On a day like today I am stung by the splendor of a sudden thought. ~ Robert Browning,
197:Pleasure must succeed to pleasure, else past pleasure turns to pain ~ Robert Browning,
198:Be sure that God Ne'er dooms to waste the strength he deigns impart. ~ Robert Browning,
199:Mid the sharp, short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well, ~ Robert Browning,
200:No, when the fight begins within himself, / A man's worth something. ~ Robert Browning,
201:The body sprang At once to the height, and stayed; but the soul,-no! ~ Robert Browning,
202:The great beacon light God sets in all, the conscience of each bosom. ~ Robert Browning,
203:Womanliness means only motherhood;
All love begins and ends there. ~ Robert Browning,
204:Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for? ~ Robert Browning,
205:Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a Heaven for? ~ Robert Browning,
206:This could but have happened once,- And we missed it, lost it forever. ~ Robert Browning,
207:Where the apple reddens never pry - lest we lose our Edens, Eve and I. ~ Robert Browning,
208:Who knows most, doubts most; entertaining hope means recognizing fear. ~ Robert Browning,
209:Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay. ~ Robert Browning,
210:Fail I alone, in words and deeds? Why, all men strive and who succeeds? ~ Robert Browning,
211:The only fault's with time; All men become good creatures: but so slow! ~ Robert Browning,
212:Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for? ~ Robert Browning,
213:Might she have loved me? just as well She might have hated, who can tell! ~ Robert Browning,
214:So, fall asleep love, loved by me... for I know love, I am loved by thee. ~ Robert Browning,
215:Strike when thou wilt, the hour of rest, but let my last days be my best. ~ Robert Browning,
216:Ah, love, - you are my unutterable blessing.....I am in full sunshine now. ~ Robert Browning,
217:He who did well in war just earns the right, To begin doing well in peace. ~ Robert Browning,
218:I hold that a man should strive to the uttermost for his life's set prize. ~ Robert Browning,
219:I know what I want and what I might gain, and yet, how profitless to know. ~ Robert Browning,
220:Only I discern Infinite passion, and the pain Of finite hearts that yearn. ~ Robert Browning,
221:Tis Man's to explore up and down, inch by inch, with the taper his reason. ~ Robert Browning,
222:'Tis only when they spring to Heaven that angels reveal themselves to you. ~ Robert Browning,
223:A face to lose youth for, to occupy age With the dream of, meet death with. ~ Robert Browning,
224:Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or else what's a heaven for? ~ Robert Browning,
225:A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: See all, nor be afraid! ~ Robert Browning,
226:Mothers, wives and maids, These be the tools with which priests manage men. ~ Robert Browning,
227:All June I bound the rose in sheaves, Now, rose by rose, I strip the leaves. ~ Robert Browning,
228:O lyric Love, half angel and half bird. And all a wonder and a wild desire. ~ Robert Browning,
229:O poder do Homem deve exceder o seu alcance. Senão, para que serviria o céu? ~ Robert Browning,
230:The candid incline to surmise of late that the Christian faith proves false. ~ Robert Browning,
231:But little do or can the best of us: That little is achieved through Liberty. ~ Robert Browning,
232:I have lived, And seen God's hand thro a life time, And all was for the best. ~ Robert Browning,
233:The good stars met in your horoscope,
Made you of spirit and fire and dew. ~ Robert Browning,
234:Generations pass while some tree stands, and old families last not three oaks. ~ Robert Browning,
235:When she looked thus, only God and Robert Browning knew what she was likely to say. ~ Harper Lee,
236:Genius has somewhat of the infantine; but of the childish not a touch or taint. ~ Robert Browning,
237:I was made and meant to look for you and wait for you and become yours forever. ~ Robert Browning,
238:To me at least was never evening yet, but seemed far beautifuller than its day. ~ Robert Browning,
239:Just for a handful of silver he left us, Just for a riband to stick in his coat. ~ Robert Browning,
240:So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon, Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon! ~ Robert Browning,
241:God's in His Heaven —  All's right with the world! ~ Robert Browning, Pippa Passes (1841), Part I,
242:If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens. ~ Robert Browning,
243:The devil, that old stager, who leads downward, perhaps, but fiddles all the way! ~ Robert Browning,
244:As is your sort of mind, So is your sort of search: You will find what you desire. ~ Robert Browning,
245:God is seen God In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod. ~ Robert Browning,
246:If you get simple beauty and naught else, you get about the best thing god invents ~ Robert Browning,
247:Let's contend no more, Love, Strive nor weep: All be as before Love, - Only sleep. ~ Robert Browning,
248:Hatred and cark and care, what place have they / In yon blue liberality of heaven?. ~ Robert Browning,
249:If you get simple beauty and naught else, you get about the best thing God invents. ~ Robert Browning,
250:Inscribe all human effort with one word, artistry's haunting curse, the Incomplete! ~ Robert Browning,
251:Is your love for the Lord sufficient to give all your time and talents to his work? ~ Robert Browning,
252:Oh, the little more, and how much it is! And the little less, and what worlds away. ~ Robert Browning,
253:My business is not to remake myself, but to make the absolute best of what God made. ~ Robert Browning,
254:Sappho survives, because we sing her songs; And Eschylus, because we read his plays! ~ Robert Browning,
255:That we devote ourselves to God, is seen In living just as though no God there were. ~ Robert Browning,
256:Who was a queen and loved a poet once
Humpbacked, a dwarf? ah, women can do that! ~ Robert Browning,
257:But how carve way i' the life that lies before, If bent on groaning ever for the past? ~ Robert Browning,
258:grow old with me. the best is yet to be. the last of life for which the first was made. ~ Robert Browning,
259:As is your sort of mind,
So is your sort of search:
You will find what you desire. ~ Robert Browning,
260:Brightest truth, purest trust in the universe, all were for me, in the kiss of one girl. ~ Robert Browning,
261:Love, hope, fear, faith - these make humanity; These are its sign and note and character ~ Robert Browning,
262:Success in marriage is more than finding the right person: it is being the right person. ~ Robert Browning,
263:You should not take a fellow eight years old and make him swear to never kiss the girls. ~ Robert Browning,
264:Love, hope, fear, faith - these make humanity; These are its sign and note and character. ~ Robert Browning,
265:There is nothing so unpardonable as to consent to a senseless, aimless, purposeless life. ~ Robert Browning,
266:grow old with me. the best is yet to be.
the last of life for which the first was made. ~ Robert Browning,
267:In God's good time, Which does not always fall on Saturday When the world looks for wages. ~ Robert Browning,
268:Of what I call God,  And fools call Nature. ~ Robert Browning, The Ring and the Book, The Pope, line 1,073,
269:How strange now, looks the life he makes us lead; So free we seem, so fettered fast we are! ~ Robert Browning,
270:For life, with all its yields of joy and woe Is just a chance o' the prize of learning love. ~ Robert Browning,
271:If all the world is a stage and life is just a play upon it, get me two seats in the stalls. ~ Robert Browning,
272:Thou art my single day, God lends to leaven What were all earth else, with a feel of heaven. ~ Robert Browning,
273:One may do whatever one likes. In art, the only thing is, to make sure that one does like it. ~ Robert Browning,
274:Rejoice that man is hurled, From change to change unceasingly, His soul's wings never furled! ~ Robert Browning,
275:The sad rhyme of the men who proudly clung To their first fault, and withered in their pride. ~ Robert Browning,
276:Outside are the storms and strangers: we — Oh, close, safe, warm sleep I and she, — I and she! ~ Robert Browning,
277:The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life: Try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate! ~ Robert Browning,
278:The heavens and earth stay as they were; my heart Beats as it beat: the truth remains the truth. ~ Robert Browning,
279:The sea heaves up, hangs loaded o'er the land, Breaks there, and buries its tumultuous strength. ~ Robert Browning,
280:T'was a thief said the last kind word to Christ. Christ took the kindness and forgave the theft. ~ Robert Browning,
281:God is the perfect poet,  Who in his person acts his own creations. ~ Robert Browning, Paracelsus (1835), Part II,
282:Desire joy and thank God for it. Renounce it, if need be, for other's sake. That's joy beyond joy. ~ Robert Browning,
283:You never know what life means till you die; even throughout life, tis death that makes life live. ~ Robert Browning,
284:It's wiser being good than bad; It's safer being meek than fierce: It's fitter being sane than mad. ~ Robert Browning,
285:They are perfect; how else?-they shall never change: We are faulty; why not?-we have time in store. ~ Robert Browning,
286:Truth is within ourselves. There is an inmost center in us all, where the truth abides in fullness. ~ Robert Browning,
287:God's justice, tardy though it prove perchance, Rests never on the track until it reach Delinquency. ~ Robert Browning,
288:Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her- Next time, herself!-not the trouble behind her ~ Robert Browning,
289:Shakespeare was of us, Milton was of us, Burns, Shelley, were with us. They watch from their graves! ~ Robert Browning,
290:To do good things in the world, first you must know who you are and what gives meaning to your life. ~ Robert Browning,
291:When I love most, love is disguised. In hate; and when hate is surprised, in love, then I hate most. ~ Robert Browning,
292:What's the earth With all its art, verse, music, worth — Compared with love, found, gained, and kept? ~ Robert Browning,
293:Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for? "Andrea del Sarto" by ROBERT BROWNING ~ Anonymous,
294:Go practice if you please with men and women: leave a child alone for Christ's particular love's sake! ~ Robert Browning,
295:Oh, to be in England Now that April's there, And whoever wakes in England Sees, some morning, unaware. ~ Robert Browning,
296:What's a man's age? He must hurry more, that's all; Cram in a day, what his youth took a year to hold. ~ Robert Browning,
297:O woman-country! wooed not wed, Loved all the more by earth's male-lands, Laid to their hearts instead. ~ Robert Browning,
298:Dear, dead women, with such hair, too--what's become of all the gold Used to hang and brush their bosoms? ~ Robert Browning,
299:Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made ... ~ Robert Browning,
300:What's the earth
With all its art, verse, music, worth —
Compared with love, found, gained, and kept? ~ Robert Browning,
301:Better have failed in the high aim, as I, Than vulgarly in the low aim succeed As, God be thanked! I do not. ~ Robert Browning,
302:If two lives join, there is oft a scar. They are one and one, with a shadowy third; One near one is too far. ~ Robert Browning,
303:Kiss me as if you made believe You were not sure this eve, How my face, your flower, had pursed It's petals up. ~ Robert Browning,
304:"With this same key Shakespeare unlocked his heart" once more! Did Shakespeare? If so, the less Shakespeare he! ~ Robert Browning,
305:But God has a few of us to whom he whispers in the ear; The rest may reason and welcome; 'tis we musicians know. ~ Robert Browning,
306:I give the fight up: let there be an end, a privacy, an obscure nook for me. I want to be forgotten even by God. ~ Robert Browning,
307:We read Robert Browning's poetry. Here we needed no guidance from the professor: the poems themselves were enough. ~ Carl Sandburg,
308:What if all's appearance? Is not outside seeming real as substance inside? Both are facts, so leave me dreaming. ~ Robert Browning,
309:Our interest's on the dangerous edge of things. The honest thief, the tender murderer, the superstitious atheist. ~ Robert Browning,
310:That we devote ourselves to God is seen  In living just as though no God there were. ~ Robert Browning, Paracelsus (1835), Part I,
311:All service ranks the same with God,- With God, whose puppets, best and worst, Are we: there is no last nor first. ~ Robert Browning,
312:The ultimate, angels' law, Indulging every instinct of the soul There where law, life, joy, impulse are one thing! ~ Robert Browning,
313:We find great things are made of little things, And little things go lessening till at last Comes God behind them. ~ Robert Browning,
314:And I have written three books on the soul, Proving absurd all written hitherto, And putting us to ignorance again. ~ Robert Browning,
315:Love, hope, fear, faith—these make humanity; These are its sign and note and character —Robert Browning, Paracelsus ~ Cassandra Clare,
316:How good is man's life, the mere living! How fit to employ all the heart and the soul and the senses forever in joy! ~ Robert Browning,
317:I trust in nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility. Spring shall plant and autumn garner to the end of time. ~ Robert Browning,
318:I give the fight up: let there be an end,
A privacy, an obscure nook for me.
I want to be forgotten even by God. ~ Robert Browning,
319:Love, hope, fear, faith—these make humanity; These are its sign and note and character —Robert Browning, Paracelsus In ~ Cassandra Clare,
320:Why comes temptation but for man to meet And master and make crouch beneath his foot, And so be pedestaled in triumph? ~ Robert Browning,
321:I give the fight up: let there be an end,
A privacy, an obscure nook for me.
I want to be forgotten even by God. ~ Robert Browning,
322:It is the glory and good of Art, That Art remains the one way possible Of speaking truth, to mouths like mine at least. ~ Robert Browning,
323:Of power does Man possess no particle: Of knowledge-just so much as show that still It ends in ignorance on every side. ~ Robert Browning,
324:God made all the creatures and them our love and out fear,
To give sign, we and they are his children, one family here. ~ Robert Browning,
325:This world's no blot for us,
Nor blank; it means intensely, and means good:
To find its meaning is my meat and drink. ~ Robert Browning,
326:Go in thy native innocence, rely On what thou hast of virtue, summon all, For God towards thee hath done his part, do thine. ~ Robert Browning,
327:We mortals cross the ocean of this world Each in his average cabin of a life; The bests not big, the worst yields elbowroom. ~ Robert Browning,
328:In heaven I yearn for knowledge, account all else inanity; On earth I confess an itch for the praise of fools - that's vanity ~ Robert Browning,
329:Just when we are safest, there's a sunset touch,
A fancy from a flower-bell, someone's death,
...
The grand Perhaps! ~ Robert Browning,
330:Oh the wild joys of living! The leaping from rock to rock ... the cool silver shock of the plunge in a pool's living waters. ~ Robert Browning,
331:It is the glory and good of Art
That Art remains the one way possible
Of speaking truth - to mouths like mine, at least. ~ Robert Browning,
332:I find earth not gray but rosy;
Heaven not grim but fair of hue.
Do I stoop? I pluck a posy; Do I stand and stare? All's blue. ~ Robert Browning,
333:What's come to perfection perishes. Things learned on earth we shall practice in heaven; Works done least rapidly Art most cherishes. ~ Robert Browning,
334:When a man's busy, why leisure Strikes him as wonderful pleasure: 'Faith, and at leisure once is he? Straightway he wants to be busy. ~ Robert Browning,
335:White shall not neutralize the black, nor good compensate bad in man, absolve him so; life's business being just the terrible choice. ~ Robert Browning,
336:And inasmuch as feeling, the East's gift, Is quick and transient,- comes, and lo! is gone, While Northern thought is slow and durable. ~ Robert Browning,
337:Finds progress, man's distinctive mark alone, Not God's, and not the beast's; God is, they are, Man partly is, and wholly hopes to be. ~ Robert Browning,
338:That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, lest you should think he never could recapture the first fine careless rapture! ~ Robert Browning,
339:What if we still ride on, we two
With life for ever old yet new,
Changed not in kind but in degree,
The instant made eternity ~ Robert Browning,
340:You call for faith: I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists. The more of doubt, the stronger faith, I say, If faith o'ercomes doubt. ~ Robert Browning,
341:I was ever a fighter, so---one fight more, The best and the last! I would hate that death bandaged my eyes and forbore, and bade me creep past. ~ Robert Browning,
342:When a man’s busy, why, leisure
Strikes him as wonderful pleasure:
‘Faith, and at leisure once is he?
Straightway he wants to be busy. ~ Robert Browning,
343:The moment eternal - just that and no more - When ecstasy's utmost we clutch at the core While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut, and lips meet! ~ Robert Browning,
344:All service is the same with God,  With God, whose puppets, best and worst,  Are we: there is no last nor first. ~ Robert Browning, Pippa Passes (1841), Part IV,
345:Each life unfulfilled, you see; It hangs still, patchy and scrappy: We have not sighed deep, laughed free, Starved, feasted, despaired,—been happy. ~ Robert Browning,
346:The power of the night, the press of the storm, the post of the foe; where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form, yet, the strong man must go. ~ Robert Browning,
347:What a name! Was it love or praise? Speech half-asleep or song half-awake? I must learn Spanish, one of these days, Only for that slow sweet name's sake. ~ Robert Browning,
348:But what if I fail of my purpose here? It is but to keep the nerves at strain, to dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall, and baffled, get up and begin again. ~ Robert Browning,
349:Italy, my Italy! Queen Mary's saying serves for me (When fortune's malice Lost her Calais): "Open my heart, and you will see Graved inside of it 'Italy.'" ~ Robert Browning,
350:One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, never doubted clouds would break, never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph. ~ Robert Browning,
351:A people is but the attempt of many To rise to the completer life of one; And those who live as models for the mass Are singly of more value than they all. ~ Robert Browning,
352:The trouble that most of us find with the modern matched sets of clubs is that they don't really seem to know any more about the game than the old ones did. ~ Robert Browning,
353:Though Rome's gross yoke Drops off, no more to be endured, Her teaching is not so obscured By errors and perversities, That no truth shines athwart the lies. ~ Robert Browning,
354:Each life unfulfilled, you see;
It hangs still, patchy and scrappy:
We have not sighed deep, laughed free,
Starved, feasted, despaired,—been happy. ~ Robert Browning,
355:My whole life long I learn'd to love,
This hour my utmost art I prove.
And speak my passion—— heaven or hell?
She will not give me heaven? 'Tis well! ~ Robert Browning,
356:There are those who believe something, and therefore will tolerate nothing; and on the other hand, those who tolerate everything, because they believe nothing. ~ Robert Browning,
357:I say, the acknowledgment of God in ChristAccepted by thy reason, solves for theeAll questions in the earth and out of it,And has so far advanced thee to be wise. ~ Robert Browning,
358:Life with all it yields of joy and woe,
And hope and fear,
Is just our chance o’ the prize of learning love,
How love might be, hath been indeed, and is. ~ Robert Browning,
359:What a name! Was it love or praise?
Speech half-asleep or song half-awake?
I must learn Spanish, one of these days,
Only for that slow sweet name's sake. ~ Robert Browning,
360:Rhyme for a Child Viewing a Naked Venus in a Painting of “The Judgement of Paris”

He gazed and gazed and gazed and gazed,
Amazed, amazed, amazed, amazed. ~ Robert Browning,
361:There are three ways of learning golf: by study, which is the most wearisome; by imitation, which is the most fallacious; and by experience, which is the most bitter. ~ Robert Browning,
362:All we have gained then by our unbelief Is a life of doubt diversified by faith, For one of faith diversified by doubt: We called the chess-board white-we call it black. ~ Robert Browning,
363:In this world, who can do a thing, will not; And who would do it, cannot, I perceive: Yet the will's somewhat — somewhat, too, the power — And thus we half-men struggle. ~ Robert Browning,
364:I want to know a butcher paints, A baker rhymes for his pursuit, Candlestick-maker much acquaints His soul with song, or, haply mute, Blows out his brains upon the flute. ~ Robert Browning,
365:Into the street the piper stepped, Smiling first a little smile As if he knew what magic slept In his quiet pipe the while. And the piper advanced And the children followed. ~ Robert Browning,
366:Stand still, true poet that you are! I know you; let me try and draw you. Some night you'll fail us: when afar You rise, remember one man saw you, Knew you, and named a star! ~ Robert Browning,
367:Are there not, dear Michael, Two points in the adventure of the diver,- One, when a beggar he prepares to plunge; One, when a prince he rises with his pearl? Festus, I plunge. ~ Robert Browning,
368:Just when I seemed about to learn!
Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern -
Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn. ~ Robert Browning,
369:In this world, who can do a thing, will not;
And who would do it, cannot, I perceive:
Yet the will's somewhat — somewhat, too, the power —
And thus we half-men struggle. ~ Robert Browning,
370:For I say this is death and the sole death,- When a man's loss comes to him from his gain, Darkness from light, from knowledge ignorance, And lack of love from love made manifest. ~ Robert Browning,
371:Truth is within ourselves…there is an inmost center in us all..where truth abides in fulness--and to know,rather consists in open out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape ~ Robert Browning,
372:Oh, good gigantic smile o' the brown old earth, This autumn morning! How he sets his bones To bask i' the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet. From the ripple to run over in its mirth ~ Robert Browning,
373:Was there nought better than to enjoy? No feat which, done, would make time break, And let us pent-up creatures through Into eternity, our due? No forcing earth teach heaven's employ? ~ Robert Browning,
374:When that passage was written only God and Robert Browning understood it. Now only God understands it. ~ Rudolf Besier, The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1932), act II, p. 66. Robert Browning is speaking.,
375:The common problem, yours, mine, everyone's Is ? not to fancy what were fair in life Provided it could be ? but, finding first What may be, then find how to make it fair Up to our means. ~ Robert Browning,
376:We shall march prospering,-not thro' his presence; Songs may inspirit us,-not from his lyre; Deeds will be done,-while he boasts his quiescence, Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire. ~ Robert Browning,
377:What? Was man made a wheel-work to wind up, And be discharged, and straight wound up anew? No! grown, his growth lasts; taught, he ne'er forgets: May learn a thousand things, not twice the same. ~ Robert Browning,
378:Pippa's Song The year's at the spring The day's at the morn Morning's at seven, The Hill side's dew-pearled The lark's on the wing The snail's on the thorn God's in his heaven- All's right with the world ~ Robert Browning,
379:Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
One task more declin'd, one more foot-path ontrod,
One more devil's triumph and sorrow for angels,
One wrong more to man, one more insult to God! ~ Robert Browning,
380:For thence a paradox Which comforts while it mocks, - Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail: What I aspired to be, And was not, comforts me: A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale. ~ Robert Browning,
381:Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. — Robert Browning ~ Patricia Evans,
382:if my poetry classes taught me anything about this life, it's that you were the ted hughes to my sylvia plath & now he's the robert browning to my elizabeth barrett.- he dropkicked my heart back to life. ~ Amanda Lovelace,
383:Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, 'A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid! ~ Robert Browning,
384:Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
  One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,
One more devils’-triumph and sorrow for angels,
  One wrong more to man, one more insult to God! ~ Robert Browning,
385:For the preacher's merit or demerit, It were to be wished that the flaws were fewer In the earthen vessel, holding treasure, But the main thing is, does it hold good measure Heaven soon sets right all other matters! ~ Robert Browning,
386:The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven—
All's right with the world! ~ Robert Browning,
387:One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, sleep to wake. ~ Robert Browning,
388:Say not "a small event!" Why "small"? Costs it more pain that this ye call A "great event" should come to pass From that? Untwine me from the mass Of deeds which make up life, one deed Power shall fall short in or exceed! ~ Robert Browning,
389:There is an inmost center in us all, where truth abides in fullness;....and, to know, rather consists in opening out a way where the imprisoned splendor may escape, then in effecting entry for a light supposed to be without. ~ Robert Browning,
390:Unless you can love, as the angels may, With the breadth of heaven betwixt you; Unless you can dream that his faith is fast, Through behoving and unbeloving; Unless you can die when the dream is past- Oh, never call it loving! ~ Robert Browning,
391:I walked a mile with Pleasure; She chattered all the way. But left me none the wiser For all she had to say. I walked a mile with Sorrow And ne'er a word said she; But oh, the things I learned from her When Sorrow walked with me! ~ Robert Browning,
392:Then welcome each rebuff That turns earth's smoothness rough, Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand, but go! Be our joys three-parts pain! Strive, and hold cheap the strain; Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe! ~ Robert Browning,
393:There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before; The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound; What was good shall be good, with for evil so much good more; On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven, a perfect round. ~ Robert Browning,
394:The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven
All's right with the world!


~ Robert Browning, Pippas Song
,
395:Out of your whole life give but a moment! All of your life that has gone before, All to come after it, -so you ignore, So you make perfect the present, condense, In a rapture of rage, for perfection's endowment, Thought and feeling and soul and sense. ~ Robert Browning,
396:The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low:
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand. ~ Robert Browning,
397:It 's wiser being good than bad; It 's safer being meek than fierce; It 's fitter being sane than mad. My own hope is, a sun will pierce The thickest cloud earth ever stretched; That after Last returns the First, Though a wide compass round be fetched. ~ Robert Browning,
398:How he lies in his rights of a man! Death has done all death can. And absorbed in the new life he leads, He recks not, he heeds Nor his wrong nor my vengeance; both strike On his senses alike, And are lost in the solemn and strange Surprise of the change. ~ Robert Browning,
399:If you can sit at set of sun And count the deeds that you have done And counting find oneself-denying act, one word That eased the heart of him that heard. One glance most kind, Which fell like sunshine where he went, Then you may count that day well spent. ~ Robert Browning,
400:So, I soberly laid my last plan
To extinguish the man.
Round his creep-hole, with never a break
Ran my fires for his sake;
Over-head, did my thunder combine
With my under-ground mine:
Till I looked from my labour content
To enjoy the event. ~ Robert Browning,
401:O never star Was lost; here We all aspire to heaven and there is heaven Above us. If I stoop Into a dark tremendous sea of cloud, It is but for a time; I press God's lamp Close to my breast; its splendor soon or late Will pierce the gloom. I shall emerge some day. ~ Robert Browning,
402:I dare not so honor my mere wishes and prayers as to put them for a moment beside your noble acts; but this know, I would rather submit to the worst of deaths, so far as pain goes, than have a single dog or cat tortured on the pretence of sparing me a twinge or two. ~ Robert Browning,
403:Out of your whole life give but a moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it, -so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present, condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection's endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense. ~ Robert Browning,
404:I see my way as birds their trackless way. I shall arrive,- what time, what circuit first, I ask not; but unless God send his hail Or blinding fire-balls, sleet or stifling snow, In some time, his good time, I shall arrive: He guides me and the bird. In his good time. ~ Robert Browning,
405:Glad was I when I reached the other bank.
Now for a better country. Vain presage!
Who were the strugglers, what war did they wage,
Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank
soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank
Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage- ~ Robert Browning,
406:My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the working of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby. ~ Robert Browning,
407:I write from a thorough conviction that it is the duty of me, and with the belief that, after every drawback and shortcoming, I do my best, all things considered--that is for me, and, so being, the not being listened to by one human creature would, I hope, in nowise affect me. ~ Robert Browning,
408:we’re made so that we love First when we see them painted, things we have passed Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see; And so they are better, painted – better to us, Which is the same thing. Art was given for that; God uses us to help each other so, Lending our minds out. ~ Robert Browning,
409:Have you found your life distasteful?
My life did and does smack sweet.
Was your youth of pleasure wasteful?
Mine I save and hold complete.
Do your joys with age diminish?
When mine fail me, I'll complain.
Must in death your daylight finish?
My sun sets to rise again. ~ Robert Browning,
410:I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart,
As a man calls for wine before he fights,
I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights,
Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.
Think first, fight afterwards, the soldier’s art:
One taste of the old time sets all to rights. ~ Robert Browning,
411:For, looking up, aware I somehow grew,
’Spite of the dusk, the plain had given place
All round to mountains - with such name to grace
Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view.
How thus they had surprised me - solve it, you!
How to get from them was no clearer case. ~ Robert Browning,
412:I have no little insight into the feelings of furniture, and treat books and prints with a reasonable consideration. How some people use their pictures, for instance, is a mystery to me; very revolting all the same--portraits obliged to face each other for ever--prints put together in portfolios. ~ Robert Browning,
413:The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque,
What penned them there, with all the plain to choose?
No footprint leading to that horrid mews,
None out of it. Mad brewage set to work
Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk
Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews. ~ Robert Browning,
414:I trust in Nature for the stable laws Of beauty and utility. Spring shall plant And Autumn garner to the end of time. I trust in God,-the right shall be the right And other than the wrong, while he endures. I trust in my own soul, that can perceive The outward and the inward,-Nature's good And God's. ~ Robert Browning,
415:Atticus raised his eyebrows in warning. He watched his daughter’s daemon rise and dominate her: her eyebrows, like his, were lifted, the heavy-lidded eyes beneath them grew round, and one corner of her mouth was raised dangerously. When she looked thus, only God and Robert Browning knew what she was likely to say. ~ Harper Lee,
416:For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave, The black minute's at end, And the elements' rage, the fiend voices that rave, Shall dwindle, shall blend, Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain, Then a light, then thy breast, O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again, And with God be the rest! ~ Robert Browning,
417:The rain set early in tonight, The sullen wind was soon awake, It tore the elm-tops down for spite, And did its best to vex the lake: I listened with heart fit to break. When glided in Porphyria; straight She shut the cold out and the storm, And kneeled and made the cheerless grate Blaze up and all the cottage warm. ~ Robert Browning,
418:For mark! no sooner was I fairly found
   Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,
   Than, pausing to throw backward a last view
   O'er the safe road, 't was gone; gray plain all round:
   Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound.
   I might go on; nought else remain'd to do.
   ~ Robert Browning, from Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,
419:Last night I saw you in my sleep:
And how your charm of face was changed!
I asked, 'Some love, some faith you keep?'
You answered, 'Faith gone, love estranged.'
Whereat I woke--- a twofold bliss:
Waking was one, but next there came
This other:"Though I felt, for this,
My heart break, I loved on the same. ~ Robert Browning,
420:Robert Browning's childhood was passed in an unusually serene and happy home. In Development he tells how, at five years of age, he was made to understand the main facts of the Trojan War by his father's clever use of the cat, the dogs, the pony in the stable, and the page-boy, to impersonate the heroes of that ancient conflict. ~ Robert Browning,
421:The rain set early in tonight,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its best to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up and all the cottage warm; ~ Robert Browning,
422:Rats They fought the dogs and killed the cats, And bit the babies in the cradles, And ate the cheeses out of the vats, And licked the soup from the cook's own ladles. Split open the kegs of salted sprats, Made nests inside men's Sunday hats, And even spoiled the women's chats By drowning their speaking With shrieking and squeaking In fifty different sharps and flats. ~ Robert Browning,
423:How well I know what I mean to do When the long dark Autumn evenings come, And where, my soul, is thy pleasant hue? With the music of all thy voices, dumb In life’s November too! I shall be found by the fire, suppose, O’er a great wise book as beseemeth age, While the shutters flap as the cross-wind blows, And I turn the page, and I turn the page, Not verse now, only prose! ~ Robert Browning,
424:That low man seeks a little thing to do, Sees it and does it: This high man, with a great thing to pursue, Dies ere he knows it. That low man goes on adding one to one, His hundred's soon hit: This high man, aiming at a million, Misses an unit. That, has the world here-should he need the next, Let the world mind him! This, throws himself on God, and unperplext Seeking shall find Him. ~ Robert Browning,
425:Rats
They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cook's own ladles.
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women's chats
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats. ~ Robert Browning,
426:When the evening was over Alistair Cooke shook my hand goodbye and held it firmly, saying, ‘This hand you are shaking once shook the hand of Bertrand Russell.’ ‘Wow!’ I said, duly impressed. ‘No, no,’ said Cooke. ‘It goes further than that. Bertrand Russell knew Robert Browning. Bertrand Russell’s aunt danced with Napoleon. That’s how close we all are to history. Just a few handshakes away. Never forget that. ~ Anonymous,
427:How well I know what I mean to do
When the long dark Autumn evenings come,
And where, my soul, is thy pleasant hue?
With the music of all thy voices, dumb
In life’s November too!

I shall be found by the fire, suppose,
O’er a great wise book as beseemeth age,
While the shutters flap as the cross-wind blows,
And I turn the page, and I turn the page,
Not verse now, only prose! ~ Robert Browning,
428:In 1845 — she (Elizabeth Barrett) was almost forty — she began corresponding with Robert Browning, and noted that what most people call love is really a kind of warfare, with one side enjoying all the strategic advantages. Again and again one sees "the growth of power on one side" and "the struggle against it, by means legal & illegal on the other." The best counterattack that women can mount is guerrilla warfare. ~ Peter Gay,
429:When the evening was over Alistair Cooke shook my hand goodbye and held it firmly, saying, 'This hand you are shaking once shook the hand of Bertrand Russell.'
'Wow!' I said, duly impressed.
'No, No,' said Cooke, 'It goes further than that. Bertrand Russell knew Robert Browning. Bertrand Russell's aunt danced with Napoleon. That's how close we all are to history. Just a few handshakes away. Never forget that. ~ Stephen Fry,
430:All the breath and the bloom of the year in the bag of one bee; All the wonder and wealth of the mine in the heart of one gem; In the core of one pearl all the shade and the shine of the sea; Breath and bloom, shade and shine,- wonder, wealth, and-how far above them- Truth, that's brighter than gem, Truth, that's purer than pearl,- Brightest truth, purest trust in the universe- all were for me In the kiss of one girl. ~ Robert Browning,
431:110And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
    Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives—
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing, ~ Robert Browning,
432:And if at whiles the bubble, blown too thin,
Seem nigh on bursting,—if you nearly see
The real world through the false,—what do you see?
Is the old so ruined? You find you ’re in a flock
O’ the youthful, earnest, passionate—genius, beauty,
Rank and wealth also, if you care for these:
And all depose their natural rights, hail you,
(That ’s me, sir) as their mate and yoke-fellow,
Participate in Sludgehood ~ Robert Browning,
433:Paracelsus At times I almost dream I too have spent a life the sages’ way, And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance I perished in an arrogant self-reliance Ages ago; and in that act a prayer For one more chance went up so earnest, so Instinct with better light let in by death, That life was blotted out — not so completely But scattered wrecks enough of it remain, Dim memories, as now, when once more seems The goal in sight again. ~ Robert Browning,
434:Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!
Not for such hopes and fears
Annulling youth's brief years,
Do I remonstrate: folly wide the mark!
Rather I prize the doubt
Low kinds exist without,
Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark.
Poor vaunt of life indeed,
Were man but formed to feed
On joy, to solely seek and find and feast;
Such feasting ended, then
As sure an end to men. ~ Robert Browning,
435:... Such a scribe
you pay and praise for putting life in stones,
Fire into fog, making the past your world.
There's plenty of 'How did you contrive to grasp
The thread which led you through this labyrinth?
How build such solid fabric out of air?
How on so slight foundation found this tale,
Biography, narrative?' or, in other words,
How many lies did it require to make
The portly truth you here present us with? ~ Robert Browning,
436:What does it all mean, poet? Well,
Your brains beat into rhythm, you tell
What we felt only; you expressed
You hold things beautiful the best,
And pace them in rhyme so, side by side.
‘Tis something, nay ‘tis much: but then,
Have you yourself what’s best for men?
Are you—-poor, sick, old ere your time—-
Nearer one whit your own sublime
Than we who never have turned a rhyme?
Sing, riding’s a joy! For me, I ride. ~ Robert Browning,
437:All scientific work is incomplete—whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge. That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have, to postpone action that it appears to demand at a given time. Who knows, asks Robert Browning, but the world may end tonight? True, but on available evidence most of us make ready to commute on the 8:30 next day.9 ~ Naomi Oreskes,
438:You'll love me yet!--and I can tarry
Your love's protracted growing:
June reared that bunch of flowers you carry,
From seeds of April's sowing.

I plant a heartful now: some seed
At least is sure to strike,
And yield--what you'll not pluck indeed,
Not love, but, may be, like.

You'll look at least on love's remains,
A grave's one violet:
Your look?--that pays a thousand pains.
What's death? You'll love me yet! ~ Robert Browning,
439:Ever judge of men by their professions. For though the bright moment of promising is but a moment, and cannot be prolonged, yet if sincere in its moment's extravagant goodness, why, trust it, and know the man by it, I say,- not by his performance; which is half the world's work, interfere as the world needs must with its accidents and circumstances: the profession was purely the man's own. I judge people by what they might be,- not are, nor will be. ~ Robert Browning,
440:That moment she was mine, mine, fair, Perfectly pure and good: I found A thing to do, and all her hair In one long yellow string I wound Three times her little throat around, And strangled her. No pain felt she; I am quite sure she felt no pain. As a shut bud that holds a bee, I warily oped her lids: again Laughed the blue eyes without a stain. And I untightened the next tress About her neck; her cheek once more Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss . . . ~ Robert Browning,
441:There's a line in The Barretts of Wimpole Street - you know, the play - where Elizabeth Barrett is trying to work out the meaning of one of Robert Browning's poems, and she shows it to him, and he reads it and he tells her when he wrote that poem, only God and Robert Browning knew what it meant, and now only God knows. And that's how I feel about studying English. Who knows what the writer was thinking, and why should it matter? I'd rather just read for enjoyment. ~ Susanna Kearsley,
442:Paracelsus

At times I almost dream
I too have spent a life the sages’ way,
And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance
I perished in an arrogant self-reliance
Ages ago; and in that act a prayer
For one more chance went up so earnest, so
Instinct with better light let in by death,
That life was blotted out — not so completely
But scattered wrecks enough of it remain,
Dim memories, as now, when once more seems
The goal in sight again. ~ Robert Browning,
443:The death of a parent, he says to it, is a profoundly lifealtering experience, isn't it? When I was a child, I often had this feeling of God's in his Heaven: All's right with the world—that's Robert Browning. An English poet. But ever since my father died in the last war, I've awakened each morning knowing that I'll never again feel that absolute security. Nothing is ever quite right, is it, after a parent dies? No matter how well things go, something always feels slightly off... ~ Jenna Blum,
444:You'll love me yet!and I can tarry
Your love's protracted growing:
June reared that bunch of flowers you carry
From seeds of April's sowing.

I plant a heartful now: some seed
At least is sure to strike,
And yieldwhat you'll not pluck indeed,
Not love, but, may be, like!

You'll look at least on love's remains,
A grave's one violet:
Your look?that pays a thousand pains.
What's death?You'll love me yet!


~ Robert Browning, Youll Love Me Yet
,
445:All, that I know
Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.


~ Robert Browning, My Star
,
446:That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened the next tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss . . . ~ Robert Browning,
447:Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-west died away;
Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay;
Bluish 'mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay;
In the dimmest North-east distance dawned Gibraltar grand and grey;
"Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?" -say,
Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray,
While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.


~ Robert Browning, Home Thoughts, from the Sea
,
448:I hear you reproach, "But delay was best, For their end was a crime." Oh, a crime will do As well, I reply, to serve for a test As a virtue golden through and through, Sufficient to vindicate itself And prove its worth at a moment's view! . . . . . . Let a man contend to the uttermost For his life's set prize, be it what it will! The counter our lovers staked was lost As surely as if it were lawful coin; And the sin I impute to each frustrate ghost Is-the unlit lamp and the ungirt loin, Though the end in sight was a vice, I say. ~ Robert Browning,
449:I.

Nay but you, who do not love her,
Is she not pure gold, my mistress?
Holds earth aught-speak truth-above her?
Aught like this tress, see, and this tress,
And this last fairest tress of all,
So fair, see, ere I let it fall?

II.

Because, you spend your lives in praising;
To praise, you search the wide world over:
Then why not witness, calmly gazing,
If earth holds aught-speak truth-above her?
Above this tress, and this, I touch
But cannot praise, I love so much!


~ Robert Browning, Song
,
450:I.
The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed in the slushy sand.

II.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!


~ Robert Browning, Meeting At Night
,
451:Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
And did he stop and speak to you
And did you speak to him again?
How strange it seems and new!

But you were living before that,
And also you are living after;
And the memory I started at-
My starting moves your laughter.

I crossed a moor, with a name of its own
And a certain use in the world no doubt,
Yet a hand's-breadth of it shines alone
'Mid the blank miles round about:

For there I picked up on the heather
And there I put inside my breast
A moulted feather, an eagle-feather!
Well, I forget the rest.


~ Robert Browning, Memorabilia
,
452:Now dumb is he who waked the world to speak, And voiceless hangs the world beside his bier, Our words are sobs, our cry or praise a tear: We are the smitten mortal, we the weak. We see a spirit on earth's loftiest peak Shine, and wing hence the way he makes more clear: See a great Tree of Life that never sere Dropped leaf for aught that age or storms might wreak; Such ending is not death: such living shows What wide illumination brightness sheds From one big heart,—to conquer man's old foes: The coward, and the tyrant, and the force Of all those weedy monsters raising heads When Song is muck from springs of turbid source. —G EORGE M EREDITH. ~ Robert Browning,
453:"Why?" Because all I haply can and do,
All that I am now, all I hope to be,
Whence comes it save from fortune setting free
Body and soul the purpose to pursue,
God traced for both? If fetters, not a few,
Of prejudice, convention, fall from me,
These shall I bid meneach in his degree
Also God-guidedbear, and gayly, too?

But little do or can the best of us:
That little is achieved through Liberty.
Who, then, dares hold, emancipated thus,
His fellow shall continue bound? Not I,
Who live, love, labour freely, nor discuss
A brother's right to freedom. That is "Why."


~ Robert Browning, Why I Am a Liberal
,
454:Take the cloak from his face, and at first
Let the corpse do its worst!

How he lies in his rights of a man!
Death has done all death can.
And, absorbed in the new life he leads,
He recks not, he heeds
Nor his wrong nor my vengeance; both strike
On his senses alike,
And are lost in the solemn and strange
Surprise of the change.
Ha, what avails death to erase
His offence, my disgrace?
I would we were boys as of old
In the field, by the fold:
His outrage, God's patience, man's scorn
Were so easily borne!

I stand here now, he lies in his place:
Cover the face!


~ Robert Browning, After
,
455:I love to read, but all through school I hated it when books were pulled apart and analyzed. Winnie-the-pooh as a political allegory, that sort of thing. It never really worked for me. There's a line in The Barretts of Wimpole Street - you know, the play - where Elizabeth Barrett is trying to work out the meaning of one of Robert Browning's poems, and she shows it to him, and he reads it and he tells her that when he wrote that poem, only God and Robert Browning knew what it meant and now only God knows. And that's how I feel about studying English. Who knows what the writer was thinking, and why should it matter? I'd rather just read for enjoyment."

'The Winter Sea ~ Susanna Kearsley,
456:All June, I bound the rose in sheaves.
Now, rose by rose, I strip the leaves,
And strew them where Pauline may pass.
She will not turn aside? Alas!
Let them lie. Suppose they die?
The chance was they might take her eye.

How many a month I strove to suit
These stubborn fingers to the lute!
To-day I venture all I know.
She will not hear my music? So!
Break the string -- fold music's wing.
Suppose Pauline had bade me sing!

My whole life long I learned to love. This hour my utmost art I prove And speak my passion. -- Heaven or hell? She will not give me heaven? 'Tis well! Lose who may -- I still can say, Those who win heaven, blest are they. ~ Robert Browning,
457:FAME.

See, as the prettiest graves will do in time,
Our poet's wants the freshness of its prime;
Spite of the sexton's browsing horse, the sods
Have struggled through its binding osier rods;
Headstone and half-sunk footstone lean awry,
Wanting the brick-work promised by-and-by;
How the minute grey lichens, plate o'er plate,
Have softened down the crisp-cut name and date!

LOVE.

So, the year's done with
(Love me for ever!)
All March begun with,
April's endeavour;
May-wreaths that bound me
June needs must sever;
Now snows fall round me,
Quenching June's fever-
(Love me for ever!)


~ Robert Browning, Earth's Immortalities
,
458:Out of your whole life give but a moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it, so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present, condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection's endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense,
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me
Me, sure that, despite of time future, time past,
This tick of life-time's one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet,
The moment eternal just that and no more
When ecstasy's utmost we clutch at the core,
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut, and lips meet!


~ Robert Browning, Now!
,
459:I.

Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her-
Next time, herself!-not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch's perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew:
Yon looking-glass gleaned at the wave of her feather.

II.

Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune-
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! She goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,-who cares?
But 'tis twilight, you see,-with such suites to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!


~ Robert Browning, Love In A Life
,
460:I.

All June I bound the rose in sheaves.
Now, rose by rose, I strip the leaves
And strew them where Pauline may pass.
She will not turn aside? Alas!
Let them lie. Suppose they die?
The chance was they might take her eye.

II.

How many a month I strove to suit
These stubborn fingers to the lute!
To-day I venture all I know.
She will not hear my music? So!
Break the string; fold music's wing:
Suppose Pauline had bade me sing!

III.

My whole life long I learned to love.
This hour my utmost art I prove
And speak my passion-heaven or hell?
She will not give me heaven? 'Tis well!
Lose who may-I still can say,
Those who win heaven, blest are they!


~ Robert Browning, One Way Of Love
,
461:Life In Love

Escape me?
Never---
Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
So long as the world contains us both,
Me the loving and you the loth
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear:
It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here?
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall,
And, baffled, get up and begin again,---
So the chace takes up one's life ' that's all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound
At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope goes to ground
Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
I shape me---
Ever
Removed! ~ Robert Browning,
462:Oh, good gigantic smile o' the brown old earth,
  This autumn morning! How he sets his bones
To bask i' the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet
For the ripple to run over in its mirth;
  Listening the while, where on the heap of stones
The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet.
That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true;
  Such is life's trial, as old earth smiles and knows.
If you loved only what were worth your love,
Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you:
  Make the low nature better by your throes!
Give earth yourself, go up for gain above!
Composition date is unknown - the above date represents the first publication date.
The lyrical form of this poem is abcabc.



~ Robert Browning, Among The Rocks
,
463:Escape me?
Never-
Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
So long as the world contains us both,
Me the loving and you the loth
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear:
It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here?
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall,
And, baffled, get up and begin again,-
So the Chase takes up one's life ' that's all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound
At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope goes to ground
Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
I shape me-
Ever
Removed!


~ Robert Browning, Life In A Love
,
464:I CALL on those that call me son,
Grandson, or great-grandson,
On uncles, aunts, great-uncles or great-aunts,
To judge what I have done.
Have I, that put it into words,
Spoilt what old loins have sent?
Eyes spiritualised by death can judge,
I cannot, but I am not content.
He that in Sligo at Drumcliff
Set up the old stone Cross,
That red-headed rector in County Down,
A good man on a horse,
Sandymount Corbets, that notable man
Old William pollexfen,
The smuggler Middleton, Butlers far back,
Half legendary men.
Infirm and aged I might stay
In some good company,
I who have always hated work,
Smiling at the sea,
Or demonstrate in my own life
What Robert Browning meant
By an old hunter talking with Gods;
But I am not content.

~ William Butler Yeats, Are You Content?
,
465:Bhagat Singh revered Lajpat Rai as a leader. But he would not spare even Lajpat Rai, when, during the last years of his life, Lajpat Rai turned to communal politics. He then launched a political-ideological campaign against him. Because Lajpat Rai was a respected leader, he would not publicly use harsh words of criticism against him. And so he printed as a pamphlet Robert Browning’s famous poem, ‘The Lost Leader,’ in which Browning criticizes Wordsworth for turning against liberty. The poem begins with the line ‘Just for a handful of silver he left us.’ A few more of the poem’s lines were:
‘We shall march prospering, not thro’ his presence;
Songs may inspirit us, not from his lyre,’ and
‘Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more.’

There was not one word of criticism of Lajpat Rai. Only, on the front cover, he printed Lajpat Rai’s photograph! ~ Bipan Chandra,
466:I.

All's over, then: does truth sound bitter
As one at first believes?
Hark, 'tis the sparrows' good-night twitter
About your cottage eaves!

II.

And the leaf-buds on the vine are woolly,
I noticed that, to-day;
One day more bursts them open fully
-You know the red turns grey.

III.

To-morrow we meet the same then, dearest?
May I take your hand in mine?
Mere friends are we,-well, friends the merest
Keep much that I resign:

IV.

For each glance of the eye so bright and black,
Though I keep with heart's endeavour,-
Your voice, when you wish the snowdrops back,
Though it stay in my soul for ever!-

V.

Yet I will but say what mere friends say,
Or only a thought stronger;
I will hold your hand but as long as all may,
Or so very little longer!


~ Robert Browning, The Lost Mistress
,
467:Tis solace making baubles, ay, and sport.
Himself peeped late, eyed Prosper at his books
Careless and lofty, lord now of the isle:
Vexed, 'stitched a book of broad leaves, arrow-shaped,
Wrote thereon, he knows what, prodigious words;
Has peeled a wand and called it by a name;
Weareth at whiles for an enchanter's robe
The eyed skin of a supple oncelot;
And hath an ounce sleeker than youngling mole,
A four-legged serpent he makes cower and couch,
Now snarl, now hold its breath and mind his eye,
And saith she is Miranda and my wife:
'Keeps for his Ariel a tall pouch-bill crane
He bids go wade for fish and straight disgorge;
Also a sea-beast, lumpish, which he snared,
Blinded the eyes of, and brought somewhat tame,
And split its toe-webs, and now pens the drudge
In a hole o' the rock and calls him Caliban;
A bitter heart that bides its time and bites. ~ Robert Browning,
468:No sketches first, no studies, that's long past:
I do what many dream of, all their lives,
--Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do,
And fail in doing. I could count twenty such
On twice your fingers, and not leave this town,
Who strive--you don't know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,--
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter)--so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged.
There burns a truer light of God in them,
In their vexed beating stuffed and stopped-up brain,
Heart, or whate'er else, than goes on to prompt
This low-pulsed forthright craftsman's hand of mine.
Their works drop groundward, but themselves, I know,
Reach many a time a heaven that's shut to me,
Enter and take their place there sure enough,
Though they come back and cannot tell the world. ~ Robert Browning,
469:I.

Dear, had the world in its caprice
Deigned to proclaim ``I know you both,
``Have recognized your plighted troth,
Am sponsor for you: live in peace!''-
How many precious months and years
Of youth had passed, that speed so fast,
Before we found it out at last,
The world, and what it fears?

II.

How much of priceless life were spent
With men that every virtue decks,
And women models of their sex,
Society's true ornament,-
Ere we dared wander, nights like this,
Thro' wind and rain, and watch the Seine,
And feel the Boulevart break again
To warmth and light and bliss?

III.

I know! the world proscribes not love;
Allows my finger to caress
Your lips' contour and downiness,
Provided it supply a glove.
The world's good word!-the Institute!
Guizot receives Montalembert!
Eh? Down the court three lampions flare:
Put forward your best foot!


~ Robert Browning, Respectability
,
470:Never the time and the place
   And the loved one all together!
This pathhow soft to pace!
   This Maywhat magic weather!
Where is the loved one's face?
In a dream that loved one's face meets mine,
   But the house is narrow, the place is bleak
Where, outside, rain and wind combine
   With a furtive ear, if I strive to speak,
   With a hostile eye at my flushing cheek,
With a malice that marks each word, each sign!
O enemy sly and serpentine,
Uncoil thee from the waking man!
   Do I hold the Past
   Thus firm and fast
Yet doubt if the Future hold I can?
This path so soft to pace shall lead
Thro' the magic of May to herself indeed!
Or narrow if needs the house must be,
Outside are the storms and strangers: we
Oh, close, safe, warm sleep I and she,
I and she!
NOTES



Form:
irregularly rhyming



~ Robert Browning, Never the Time and the Place
,
471:The poet Robert Browning caused considerable consternation by including the word twat in one of his poems, thinking it an innocent term. The work was Pippa Passes, written in 1841 and now remembered for the line "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world." But it also contains this disconcerting passage:

Then owls and bats

Cowls and twats

Monks and nuns in a cloister's moods,

Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!

Browning had apparently somewhere come across the word twat--which meant precisely the same then as it does now--but pronounced it with a flat a and somehow took it to mean a piece of headgear for nuns. The verse became a source of twittering amusement for generations of schoolboys and a perennial embarrassment to their elders, but the word was never altered and Browning was allowed to live out his life in wholesome ignorance because no one could think of a suitably delicate way of explaining his mistake to him. ~ Bill Bryson,
472:``Give'' and ``It-shall-be-given-unto-you.''

I.

Grand rough old Martin Luther
Bloomed fables-flowers on furze,
The better the uncouther:
Do roses stick like burrs?

II.

A beggar asked an alms
One day at an abbey-door,
Said Luther; but, seized with qualms,
The abbot replied, ``We're poor!

III.

``Poor, who had plenty once,
``When gifts fell thick as rain:
``But they give us nought, for the nonce,
``And how should we give again?''

IV.

Then the beggar, ``See your sins!
``Of old, unless I err,
``Ye had brothers for inmates, twins,
``Date and Dabitur.

V.

``While Date was in good case
``Dabitur flourished too:
``For Dabitur's lenten face
``No wonder if Date rue.

VI.

``Would ye retrieve the one?
``Try and make plump the other!
``When Date's penance is done,
``Dabitur helps his brother.

VII.

``Only, beware relapse!''
The Abbot hung his head.
This beggar might be perhaps
An angel, Luther said.


~ Robert Browning, The Twins
,
473:I.

Let's contend no more, Love,
Strive nor weep:
All be as before, Love,
-Only sleep!

II.

What so wild as words are?
I and thou
In debate, as birds are,
Hawk on bough!

III.

See the creature stalking
While we speak!
Hush and hide the talking,
Cheek on cheek!

IV.

What so false as truth is,
False to thee?
Where the serpent's tooth is
Shun the tree-

V.

Where the apple reddens
Never pry-
Lest we lose our Edens,
Eve and I.

VI.

Be a god and hold me
With a charm!
Be a man and fold me
With thine arm!

VII.

Teach me, only teach, Love
As I ought
I will speak thy speech, Love,
Think thy thought-

VIII.

Meet, if thou require it,
Both demands,
Laying flesh and spirit
In thy hands.

IX.

That shall be to-morrow
Not to-night:
I must bury sorrow
Out of sight:

X

-Must a little weep, Love,
(Foolish me!)
And so fall asleep, Love,
Loved by thee.

192
~ Robert Browning, A Womans Last Word
,
474:Round the cape of a sudden came the sea,
And the sun looked over the mountain's rim:
And straight was a path of gold for him,
And the need of a world of men for me.

Like (1) 0
Home-Thoughts, From Abroad
I.

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England-now!!

II.

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops-at the bent spray's edge-
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
-Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!


~ Robert Browning, Parting At Morning
,
475:I.
I arise from dreams of thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low,
And the stars are shining bright
I arise from dreams of thee,
And a spirit in my feet
Hath led me who knows how?
To thy chamber window, Sweet!

II.
The wandering airs they faint
On the dark, the silent stream
The champak odors fail
Like sweet thoughts in a dream;
The nightingale's complaint,
It dies upon her heart;
As I must on thine,
Oh, beloved as thou art!

III.
O lift me from the grass!
I die! I faint! I fail!
Let thy love in kisses rain
On my lips and eyelids pale.
My cheek is cold and white, alas!
My heart beats loud and fast;
Oh! press it to thine own again,
Where it will break at last.
Published, with the title, "Song written for an Indian Air", in "The Liberal", 2, 1822. Reprinted ("Lines to an Indian Air") by Mrs. Shelley, "Posthumous Poems", 1824. The poem is included in the Harvard manuscript book, and there is a description by Robert Browning of an autograph copy presenting some variations from the text of 1824.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Indian Serenade
,
476:O' Lyric Love, half angel and half bird,
And all a wonder and a wild desire,
Boldest of hearts that ever braved the sun,
Took sanctuary within the holier blue,
And sang a kindred soul out to his face,
Yet human at the red-ripe of the heart
When the first summons from the darkling earth
Reached thee amid thy chambers, blanched their blue,
And bared them of the gloryto drop down,
To toil for man, to suffer or to die,
This is the same voice: can thy soul know change?
Hail then, and hearken from the realms of help!
Never may I commence my song, my due
To God who best taught song by gift of thee,
Except with bent head and beseeching hand
That still, despite the distance and the dark,
What was, again may be; some interchange
Of grace, some splendor once thy very thought,
Some benediction anciently thy smile:
Never conclude, but raising hand and head
Thither where eyes, that cannot reach, yet yearn
For all hope, all sustainment, all reward,
Their upmost up and on,so blessing back
In those thy realms of help, that heaven thy home,
Some whiteness which, I judge, thy face makes proud,
Some wanness where, I think, thy foot may fall!


~ Robert Browning, O Lyric Love
,
477:I.

June was not over
   Though past the fall,
And the best of her roses
   Had yet to blow,
   When a man I know
(But shall not discover,
   Since ears are dull,
And time discloses)
Turned him and said with a man's true air,
Half sighing a smile in a yawn, as 'twere,-
``If I tire of your June, will she greatly care?''

II.

Well, dear, in-doors with you!
   True! serene deadness
Tries a man's temper.
   What's in the blossom
   June wears on her bosom?
Can it clear scores with you?
   Sweetness and redness.
Eadem semper!
Go, let me care for it greatly or slightly!
If June mend her bower now, your hand left unsightly
By plucking the roses,-my June will do rightly.

III.

And after, for pastime,
   If June be refulgent
With flowers in completeness,
   All petals, no prickles,
   Delicious as trickles
Of wine poured at mass-time,-
   And choose One indulgent
To redness and sweetness:
Or if, with experience of man and of spider,
June use my June-lightning, the strong insect-ridder,
And stop the fresh film-work,-why, June will consider.


~ Robert Browning, Another Way Of Love
,
478:Kentish Sir Byng stood for his King,
  Bidding the crop-headed Parliament swing:
  And, pressing a troop unable to stoop
  And see the rogues flourish and honest folk droop,
  Marched them along, fifty score strong,
  Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song.
  God for King Charles! Pym and such carles
  To the Devil that prompts 'em their treasonous parles!
  Cavaliers, up! Lips from the cup,
Hands from the pasty, nor bite take nor sup
Till you're

   (Chorus)
    Marching along, fifty-score strong,
    Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song.

  Hampden to hell, and his obsequies' knell.
Serve Hazelrig, Fiennes, and young Harry as well!
England, good cheer! Rupert is near!
Kentish and loyalists, keep we not here

   (Chorus)
    Marching along, fifty-score strong,
    Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song?

  Then, God for King Charles! Pym and his snarls
To the Devil that pricks on such pestilent carles!
Hold by the right, you double your might;
So, onward to Nottingham, fresh for the fight,

   (Chorus)
    March we along, fifty-score strong,
    Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song!


~ Robert Browning, A Cavalier Song
,
479:In these red labyrinths of London
I find that I have chosen
the strangest of all callings,
save that, in its way, any calling is strange.
Like the alchemist
who sought the philosopher's stone
in quicksilver,
I shall make everyday words
the gambler's marked cards, the common coin
give off the magic that was their
when Thor was both the god and the din,
the thunderclap and the prayer.
In today's dialect
I shall say, in my fashion, eternal things:
I shall try to be worthy
of the great echo of Byron.
This dust that I am will be invulnerable.
If a woman shares my love
my verse will touch the tenth sphere of the concentric heavens;
if a woman turns my love aside
I will make of my sadness a music,
a full river to resound through time.
I shall live by forgetting myself.
I shall be the face I glimpse and forget,
I shall be Judas who takes on
the divine mission of being a betrayer,
I shall be Caliban in his bog,
I shall be a mercenary who dies
without fear and without faith,
I shall be Polycrates, who looks in awe
upon the seal returned by fate.
I will be the friend who hates me.
The persian will give me the nightingale, and Rome the sword.
Masks, agonies, resurrections
will weave and unweave my life,
and in time I shall be Robert Browning.

~ Jorge Luis Borges, Browning Decides To Be A Poet
,
480:AN OLD STORY.

I.

It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.

II.

The air broke into a mist with bells,
The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.
Had I said, ``Good folk, mere noise repels-
But give me your sun from yonder skies!''
They had answered, ``And afterward, what else?''

III.

Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
To give it my loving friends to keep!
Nought man could do, have I left undone:
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.

IV.

There's nobody on the house-tops now-
Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
At the Shambles' Gate-or, better yet,
By the very scaffold's foot, I trow.

V.

I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year's misdeeds.

VI.

Thus I entered, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
``Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
``Me?''-God might question; now instead,
'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.


~ Robert Browning, The Patriot
,
481:What is he buzzing in my ears?
   "Now that I come to die,
Do I view the world as a vale of tears?"
   Ah, reverend sir, not I!

  What I viewed there once, what I view again
   Where the physic bottles stand
On the table's edge,is a suburb lane,
   With a wall to my bedside hand.

  That lane sloped, much as the bottles do,
  From a house you could descry
O'er the garden-wall; is the curtain blue
  Or green to a healthy eye?

To mine, it serves for the old June weather
  Blue above lane and wall;
And that farthest bottle labelled "Ether"
  Is the house o'ertopping all.

At a terrace, somewhere near the stopper,
  There watched for me, one June,
A girl: I know, sir, it's improper,
  My poor mind's out of tune.

Only, there was a way you crept
  Close by the side, to dodge
Eyes in the house, two eyes except:
  They styled their house "The Lodge."

What right had a lounger up their lane?
  But, by creeping very close,
With the good wall's help,their eyes might strain
  And stretch themselves to Oes,

Yet never catch her and me together,
  As she left the attic, there,
By the rim of the bottle labelled "Ether,"
  And stole from stair to stair,

And stood by the rose-wreathed gate. Alas,
  We loved, sirused to meet:
How sad and bad and mad it was
  But then, how it was sweet!
  


~ Robert Browning, Confessions
,
482:I.

You know, we French stormed Ratisbon:
A mile or so away,
On a little mound, Napoleon
Stood on our storming-day;
With neck out-thrust, you fancy how,
Legs wide, arms locked behind,
As if to balance the prone brow
Oppressive with its mind.

II.

Just as perhaps he mused ``My plans
``That soar, to earth may fall,
``Let once my army-leader Lannes
``Waver at yonder wall,''-
Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew
A rider, bound on bound
Full-galloping; nor bridle drew
Until he reached the mound.

III.

Then off there flung in smiling joy,
And held himself erect
By just his horse's mane, a boy:
You hardly could suspect-
(So tight he kept his lips compressed,
Scarce any blood came through)
You looked twice ere you saw his breast
Was all but shot in two.

IV.

``Well,'' cried he, ``Emperor, by God's grace
``We've got you Ratisbon!
``The Marshal's in the market-place,
``And you'll be there anon
``To see your flag-bird flap his vans
``Where I, to heart's desire,
``Perched him!'' The chief's eye flashed; his plans
Soared up again like fire.

V.

The chief's eye flashed; but presently
Softened itself, as sheathes
A film the mother-eagle's eye
When her bruised eaglet breathes;
``You're wounded!'' ``Nay,'' the soldier's pride
Touched to the quick, he said:
``I'm killed, Sire!'' And his chief beside
Smiling the boy fell dead.


~ Robert Browning, Incident Of The French Camp
,
483:I.

So, I shall see her in three days
And just one night, but nights are short,
Then two long hours, and that is morn.
See how I come, unchanged, unworn!
Feel, where my life broke off from thine,
How fresh the splinters keep and fine,-
Only a touch and we combine!

II.

Too long, this time of year, the days!
But nights, at least the nights are short.
As night shows where ger one moon is,
A hand's-breadth of pure light and bliss,
So life's night gives my lady birth
And my eyes hold her! What is worth
The rest of heaven, the rest of earth?

III.

O loaded curls, release your store
Of warmth and scent, as once before
The tingling hair did, lights and darks
Outbreaking into fairy sparks,
When under curl and curl I pried
After the warmth and scent inside,
Thro' lights and darks how manifold-
The dark inspired, the light controlled
As early Art embrowns the gold.

IV.

What great fear, should one say, ``Three days
``That change the world might change as well
``Your fortune; and if joy delays,
``Be happy that no worse befell!''
What small fear, if another says,
``Three days and one short night beside
``May throw no shadow on your ways;
``But years must teem with change untried,
``With chance not easily defied,
``With an end somewhere undescried.''
No fear!-or if a fear be born
This minute, it dies out in scorn.
Fear? I shall see her in three days
And one night, now the nights are short,
Then just two hours, and that is morn.


~ Robert Browning, In Three Days
,
484:I.

Just for a handful of silver he left us,
Just for a riband to stick in his coat-
Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
Lost all the others she lets us devote;
They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
So much was theirs who so little allowed:
How all our copper had gone for his service!
Rags-were they purple, his heart had been proud!
We that had loved him so, followed him, honoured him,
Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,
Learned his great language, caught his clear accents,
Made him our pattern to live and to die!
Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us,
Burns, Shelley, were with us,-they watch from their graves!
He alone breaks from the van and the free-men,
-He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!

II.

We shall march prospering,-not thro' his presence;
Songs may inspirit us,-not from his lyre;
Deeds will be done,-while he boasts his quiescence,
Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire:
Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
One task more declined, one more foot-path untrod,
One more devils'-triumph and sorrow for angels,
One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!
Life's night begins: let him never come back to us!
There would be doubt, hesitation and pain,
Forced praise on our part-the glimmer of twilight,
Never glad confident morning again!
Best fight on well, for we taught him-strike gallantly,
Menace our heart ere we master his own;
Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us,
Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne!


~ Robert Browning, The Lost Leader
,
485:Fear death?to feel the fog in my throat,
    The mist in my face,
  When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
    I am nearing the place,
  The power of the night, the press of the storm,
    The post of the foe;
  Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
    Yet the strong man must go:
  For the journey is done and the summit attained,
   And the barriers fall,
Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
   The reward of it all.
I was ever a fighter, soone fight more,
   The best and the last!
I would hate that death bandaged my eyes and forbore,
   And bade me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers
   The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
   Of pain, darkness and cold.
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,
   The black minute's at end,
And the elements' rage, the fiend-voices that rave,
   Shall dwindle, shall blend,
Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain,
   Then a light, then thy breast,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
   And with God be the rest!
1.
Written in the autumn of 1861, a few months after Mrs.
Browning's death. First published in the Atlantic Monthly
of June 1864 ; also in Men and Women, 1864.

Prospice: the Latin imperative of prospicio.
look forward, look ahead.
7.
The Arch Fear: Death.
15.
bandaged: a reference to the practice of bandaging the
eyes of those who are to be executed by shooting.
19.
arrears: Browning implies that he has had less of


~ Robert Browning, Prospice
,
486:I.

Your ghost will walk, you lover of trees,
(If our loves remain)
In an English lane,
By a cornfield-side a-flutter with poppies.
Hark, those two in the hazel coppice-
A boy and a girl, if the good fates please,
Making love, say,-
The happier they!
Draw yourself up from the light of the moon,
And let them pass, as they will too soon,
With the bean-flowers' boon,
And the blackbird's tune,
And May, and June!

II.

What I love best in all the world
Is a castle, precipice-encurled,
In a gash of the wind-grieved Apennine
Or look for me, old fellow of mine,
(If I get my head from out the mouth
O' the grave, and loose my spirit's bands,
And come again to the land of lands)-
In a sea-side house to the farther South,
Where the baked cicala dies of drouth,
And one sharp tree-'tis a cypress-stands,
By the many hundred years red-rusted,
Rough iron-spiked, ripe fruit-o'ercrusted,
My sentinel to guard the sands
To the water's edge. For, what expands
Before the house, but the great opaque
Blue breadth of sea without a break?
While, in the house, for ever crumbles
Some fragment of the frescoed walls,
From blisters where a scorpion sprawls.
A girl bare-footed brings, and tumbles
Down on the pavement, green-flesh melons,
And says there's news to-day-the king
Was shot at, touched in the liver-wing,
Goes with his Bourbon arm in a sling:
-She hopes they have not caught the felons.
Italy, my Italy!
Queen Mary's saying serves for me-
(When fortune's malice
Lost her-Calais)-
Open my heart and you will see
Graved inside of it, ``Italy.''
Such lovers old are I and she:
So it always was, so shall ever be!


~ Robert Browning, De Gustibus
,
487:I.

My heart sank with our Claret-flask,
Just now, beneath the heavy sedges
That serve this Pond's black face for mask
And still at yonder broken edges
O' the hole, where up the bubbles glisten,
After my heart I look and listen.

II.

Our laughing little flask, compelled
Thro' depth to depth more bleak and shady;
As when, both arms beside her held,
Feet straightened out, some gay French lady
Is caught up from life's light and motion,
And dropped into death's silent ocean!

-

Up jumped Tokay on our table,
Like a pygmy castle-warder,
Dwarfish to see, but stout and able,
Arms and accoutrements all in order;
And fierce he looked North, then, wheeling South,
Blew with his bugle a challenge to Drouth,
Cocked his flap-hat with the tosspot-feather,
Twisted his thumb in his red moustache,
Jingled his huge brass spurs together,
Tightened his waist with its Buda sash,
And then, with an impudence nought could abash,
Shrugged his hump-shoulder, to tell the beholder,
For twenty such knaves he should laugh but the bolder:
And so, with his sword-hilt gallantly jutting,
And dexter-hand on his haunch abutting,
Went the little man, Sir Ausbruch, strutting!

-

Here's to Nelson's memory!
'Tis the second time that I, at sea,
Right off Cape Trafalgar here,
Have drunk it deep in British Beer.
Nelson for ever-any time
Am I his to command in prose or rhyme!
Give me of Nelson only a touch,
And I save it, be it little or much:
Here's one our Captain gives, and so
Down at the word, by George, shall it go!
He says that at Greenwich they point the beholder
To Nelson's coat, ``still with tar on the shoulder:
``For he used to lean with one shoulder digging,
``Jigging, as it were, and zig-zag-zigging
``Up against the mizen-rigging!''


~ Robert Browning, Nationality In Drinks
,
488:O thou whose face hath felt the Winter's wind,
Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in mist
And the black elm tops 'mong the freezing stars,
To thee the spring will be a harvest-time.
O thou, whose only book has been the light
Of supreme darkness which thou feddest on
Night after night when Phoebus was away,
To thee the Spring shall be a triple morn.
O fret not after knowledge -- I have none,
And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
O fret not after knowledge -- I have none,
And yet the Evening listens. He who saddens
At thought of idleness cannot be idle,
And he's awake who thinks himself asleep.
'In an undated letter to Reynolds bearing the postmark "Hampstead, Feb. 19, 1818" (Life, Letters &c., 1848, Volume 1, page 87), occurs the passage --

"I was led into these thoughts, my dear Reynolds, by the beauty of the morning operating on a sense of idleness. I have not read any books -- the morning said I was right -- I had no idea but of the morning, and the thrush said I was right, seeming to say,"--

and these fourteen lines of blank verse follow immediately on the word 'say', so that the title I have ventured to give to the lines accords at all events with the facts. Keats seems to have been really writing in a kind of spiritual parallelism with the thrush's song : it will be noted that line 5 repeats the form of line 1, line 8 of line 4, while lines 11 and 12 are a still closer repetition of lines 9 and 10; so that the poem follows in a sense the thrush's method of repetition. A later poet, perhaps a closer and more conscious observer than Keats, namely Robert Browning, says of the same bird in his 'Home--Thoughts from Abroad' --
"That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first line careless rapture!"'
~ Poetical Works of John Keats, ed. H. Buxton Forman, Crowell publ. 1895. by owner. provided at no charge for educational purposes
~ John Keats, What The Thrush Said. Lines From A Letter To John Hamilton Reynolds
,
489:I.

I dream of a red-rose tree.
And which of its roses three
Is the dearest rose to me?

II.

Round and round, like a dance of snow
In a dazzling drift, as its guardians, go
Floating the women faded for ages,
Sculptured in stone, on the poet's pages.
Then follow women fresh and gay,
Living and loving and loved to-day.
Last, in the rear, flee the multitude of maidens,
Beauties yet unborn. And all, to one cadence,
They circle their rose on my rose tree.

III.

Dear rose, thy term is reached,
Thy leaf hangs loose and bleached:
Bees pass it unimpeached.

IV.

Stay then, stoop, since I cannot climb,
You, great shapes of the antique time!
How shall I fix you, fire you, freeze you,
Break my heart at your feet to please you?
Oh, to possess and be possessed!
Hearts that beat 'neath each pallid breast!
Once but of love, the poesy, the passion,
Drink but once and die!-In vain, the same fashion,
They circle their rose on my rose tree.

V.

Dear rose, thy joy's undimmed,
Thy cup is ruby-rimmed,
Thy cup's heart nectar-brimmed.

VI.

Deep, as drops from a statue's plinth
The bee sucked in by the hyacinth,
So will I bury me while burning,
Quench like him at a plunge my yearning,
Eyes in your eyes, lips on your lips!
Fold me fast where the cincture slips,
Prison all my soul in eternities of pleasure,
Girdle me for once! But no-the old measure,
They circle their rose on my rose tree.

VII.

Dear rose without a thorn,
Thy bud's the babe unborn:
First streak of a new morn.

VIII.

Wings, lend wings for the cold, the clear!
What is far conquers what is near.
Roses will bloom nor want beholders,
Sprung from the dust where our flesh moulders.
What shall arrive with the cycle's change?
A novel grace and a beauty strange.
I will make an Eve, be the artist that began her,
Shaped her to his mind!-Alas! in like manner
They circle their rose on my rose tree.

~ Robert Browning, Women And Roses
,
490:I.

Never any more,
While I live,
Need I hope to see his face
As before.
Once his love grown chill,
Mine may strive:
Bitterly we re-embrace,
Single still.

II.

Was it something said,
Something done,
Vexed him? was it touch of hand,
Turn of head?
Strange! that very way
Love begun:
I as little understand
Love's decay.

III.

When I sewed or drew,
I recall
How he looked as if I sung,
-Sweetly too.
If I spoke a word,
First of all
Up his cheek the colour sprang,
Then he heard.

IV.

Sitting by my side,
At my feet,
So he breathed but air I breathed,
Satisfied!
I, too, at love's brim
Touched the sweet:
I would die if death bequeathed
Sweet to him.

V.

``Speak, I love thee best!''
He exclaimed:
``Let thy love my own foretell!''
I confessed:
``Clasp my heart on thine
``Now unblamed,
``Since upon thy soul as well
``Hangeth mine!''

VI.

Was it wrong to own,
Being truth?
Why should all the giving prove
His alone?
I had wealth and ease,
Beauty, youth:
Since my lover gave me love,
I gave these.

VII.

That was all I meant,
-To be just,
And the passion I had raised,
To content.
Since he chose to change
Gold for dust,
If I gave him what he praised
Was it strange?

VIII.

Would he loved me yet,
On and on,
While I found some way undreamed
-Paid my debt!
Gave more life and more,
Till, all gone,
He should smile ``She never seemed
``Mine before.

IX.

``What, she felt the while,
``Must I think?
``Love's so different with us men!''
He should smile:
``Dying for my sake-
``White and pink!
``Can't we touch these bubbles then
``But they break?''

X.

Dear, the pang is brief,
Do thy part,
Have thy pleasure! How perplexed
Grows belief!
Well, this cold clay clod
Was man's heart:
Crumble it, and what comes next?
Is it God?


~ Robert Browning, In A Year
,
491:I.

Let them fight it out, friend! things have gone too far.
God must judge the couple: leave them as they are
-Whichever one's the guiltless, to his glory,
And whichever one the guilt's with, to my story!

II.

Why, you would not bid men, sunk in such a slough,
Strike no arm out further, stick and stink as now,
Leaving right and wrong to settle the embroilment,
Heaven with snaky hell, in torture and entoilment?

III.

Who's the culprit of them? How must he conceive
God-the queen he caps to, laughing in his sleeve,
`` 'Tis but decent to profess oneself beneath her:
``Still, one must not be too much in earnest, either!''

IV.

Better sin the whole sin, sure that God observes;
Then go live his life out! Life will try his nerves,
When the sky, which noticed all, makes no disclosure,
And the earth keeps up her terrible composure.

V.

Let him pace at pleasure, past the walls of rose,
Pluck their fruits when grape-trees graze him as he goes!
For he 'gins to guess the purpose of the garden,
With the sly mute thing, beside there, for a warden.

VI.

What's the leopard-dog-thing, constant at his side,
A leer and lie in every eye of its obsequious hide?
When will come an end to all the mock obeisance,
And the price appear that pays for the misfeasance?

VII.

So much for the culprit. Who's the martyred man?
Let him bear one stroke more, for be sure he can!
He that strove thus evil's lump with good to leaven,
Let him give his blood at last and get his heaven!

VIII.

All or nothing, stake it! Trust she God or no?
Thus far and no farther? farther? be it so!
Now, enough of your chicane of prudent pauses,
Sage provisos, sub-intents and saving-clauses!

IX.

Ah, ``forgive'' you bid him? While God's champion lives,
Wrong shall be resisted: dead, why, he forgives.
But you must not end my friend ere you begin him;
Evil stands not crowned on earth, while breath is in him.

X.

Once more-Will the wronger, at this last of all,
Dare to say, ``I did wrong,'' rising in his fall?
No?-Let go then! Both the fighters to their places!
While I count three, step you back as many paces!


~ Robert Browning, Before
,
492:The rain set early in tonight,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me — she
Too weak, for all her heart's endeavor,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me forever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could tonight's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last l knew
Porphyria worshiped me: surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string l wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And l untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said aword! ~ Robert Browning,
493:The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me-she
Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

3
~ Robert Browning, Porphyrias Lover
,
494:I.

That was I, you heard last night,
When there rose no moon at all,
Nor, to pierce the strained and tight
Tent of heaven, a planet small:
Life was dead and so was light.

II.

Not a twinkle from the fly,
Not a glimmer from the worm;
When the crickets stopped their cry,
When the owls forbore a term,
You heard music; that was I.

III.

Earth turned in her sleep with pain,
Sultrily suspired for proof:
In at heaven and out again,
Lightning!-where it broke the roof,
Bloodlike, some few drops of rain.

IV.

What they could my words expressed,
O my love, my all, my one!
Singing helped the verses best,
And when singing's best was done,
To my lute I left the rest.

V.

So wore night; the East was gray,
White the broad-faced hemlock-flowers:
There would be another day;
Ere its first of heavy hours
Found me, I had passed away.

VI.

What became of all the hopes,
Words and song and lute as well?
Say, this struck you-``When life gropes
``Feebly for the path where fell
``Light last on the evening slopes,

VII.

``One friend in that path shall be,
``To secure my step from wrong;
``One to count night day for me,
``Patient through the watches long,
``Serving most with none to see.''

VIII.

Never say-as something bodes-
``So, the worst has yet a worse!
``When life halts 'neath double loads,
``Better the taskmaster's curse
``Than such music on the roads!

IX.

``When no moon succeeds the sun,
``Nor can pierce the midnight's tent
``Any star, the smallest one,
``While some drops, where lightning rent,
``Show the final storm begun-

X.

``When the fire-fly hides its spot,
``When the garden-voices fail
``In the darkness thick and hot,-
``Shall another voice avail,
``That shape be where these are not?

XI.

``Has some plague a longer lease,
``Proffering its help uncouth?
``Can't one even die in peace?
``As one shuts one's eyes on youth,
``Is that face the last one sees?''

XII.

Oh how dark your villa was,
Windows fast and obdurate!
How the garden grudged me grass
Where I stood-the iron gate
Ground its teeth to let me pass!


~ Robert Browning, A Serenade At The Villa
,
495:I.

I wonder do you feel to-day
As I have felt since, hand in hand,
We sat down on the grass, to stray
In spirit better through the land,
This morn of Rome and May?

II.

For me, I touched a thought, I know,
Has tantalized me many times,
(Like turns of thread the spiders throw
Mocking across our path) for rhymes
To catch at and let go.

III.

Help me to hold it! First it left
The yellowing fennel, run to seed
There, branching from the brickwork's cleft,
Some old tomb's ruin: yonder weed
Took up the floating wet,

IV.

Where one small orange cup amassed
Five beetles,-blind and green they grope
Among the honey-meal: and last,
Everywhere on the grassy slope
I traced it. Hold it fast!

V.

The champaign with its endless fleece
Of feathery grasses everywhere!
Silence and passion, joy and peace,
An everlasting wash of air-
Rome's ghost since her decease.

VI.

Such life here, through such lengths of hours,
Such miracles performed in play,
Such primal naked forms of flowers,
Such letting nature have her way
While heaven looks from its towers!

VII.

How say you? Let us, O my dove,
Let us be unashamed of soul,
As earth lies bare to heaven above!
How is it under our control
To love or not to love?

VIII.

I would that you were all to me,
You that are just so much, no more.
Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free!
Where does the fault lie? What the core
O' the wound, since wound must be?

IX.

I would I could adopt your will,
See with your eyes, and set my heart
Beating by yours, and drink my fill
At your soul's springs,-your part my part
In life, for good and ill.

X.

No. I yearn upward, touch you close,
Then stand away. I kiss your cheek,
Catch your soul's warmth,-I pluck the rose
And love it more than tongue can speak-
Then the good minute goes.

XI.

Already how am I so far
Out of that minute? Must I go
Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
Onward, whenever light winds blow,
Fixed by no friendly star?

XII.

Just when I seemed about to learn!
Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern-
Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.
Herb with yellow flowers and seeds supposed
to be medicinal.


~ Robert Browning, Two In The Campagna
,
496:I.

Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead!
Sit and watch by her side an hour.
That is her book-shelf, this her bed;
She plucked that piece of geranium-flower,
Beginning to die too, in the glass;
Little has yet been changed, I think:
The shutters are shut, no light may pass
Save two long rays thro' the hinge's chink.

II.

Sixteen years old, when she died!
Perhaps she had scarcely heard my name;
It was not her time to love; beside,
Her life had many a hope and aim,
Duties enough and little cares,
And now was quiet, now astir,
Till God's hand beckoned unawares,-
And the sweet white brow is all of her.

III.

Is it too late then, Evelyn Hope?
What, your soul was pure and true,
The good stars met in your horoscope,
Made you of spirit, fire and dew-
And, just because I was thrice as old
And our paths in the world diverged so wide,
Each was nought to each, must I be told?
We were fellow mortals, nought beside?

IV.

No, indeed! for God above
Is great to grant, as mighty to make,
And creates the love to reward the love:
I claim you still, for my own love's sake!
Delayed it may be for more lives yet,
Through worlds I shall traverse, not a few:
Much is to learn, much to forget
Ere the time be come for taking you.

V.

But the time will come,-at last it will,
When, Evelyn Hope, what meant (I shall say)
In the lower earth, in the years long still,
That body and soul so pure and gay?
Why your hair was amber, I shall divine,
And your mouth of your own geranium's red-
And what you would do with me, in fine,
In the new life come in the old one's stead.

VI.

I have lived (I shall say) so much since then,
Given up myself so many times,
Gained me the gains of various men,
Ransacked the ages, spoiled the climes;
Yet one thing, one, in my soul's full scope,
Either I missed or itself missed me:
And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope!
What is the issue? let us see!

VII.

I loved you, Evelyn, all the while.
My heart seemed full as it could hold?
There was place and to spare for the frank young smile,
And the red young mouth, and the hair's young gold.
So, hush,-I will give you this leaf to keep:
See, I shut it inside the sweet cold hand!
There, that is our secret: go to sleep!
You will wake, and remember, and understand.


~ Robert Browning, Evelyn Hope
,
497:I.

So far as our story approaches the end,
Which do you pity the most of us three?-
My friend, or the mistress of my friend
With her wanton eyes, or me?

II.

My friend was already too good to lose,
And seemed in the way of improvement yet,
When she crossed his path with her hunting-noose
And over him drew her net.

III.

When I saw him tangled in her toils,
A shame, said I, if she adds just him
To her nine-and-ninety other spoils,
The hundredth for a whim!

IV.

And before my friend be wholly hers,
How easy to prove to him, I said,
An eagle's the game her pride prefers,
Though she snaps at a wren instead!

V.

So, I gave her eyes my own eyes to take,
My hand sought hers as in earnest need,
And round she turned for my noble sake,
And gave me herself indeed.

VI.

The eagle am I, with my fame in the world,
The wren is he, with his maiden face.
-You look away and your lip is curled?
Patience, a moment's space!

VII.

For see, my friend goes shaling and white;
He eyes me as the basilisk:
I have turned, it appears, his day to night,
Eclipsing his sun's disk.

VIII.

And I did it, he thinks, as a very thief:
``Though I love her-that, he comprehends-
``One should master one's passions, (love, in chief)
``And be loyal to one's friends!''

IX.

And she,-she lies in my hand as tame
As a pear late basking over a wall;
Just a touch to try and off it came;
'Tis mine,-can I let it fall?

X.

With no mind to eat it, that's the worst!
Were it thrown in the road, would the case assist?
'Twas quenching a dozen blue-flies' thirst
When I gave its stalk a twist.

XI.

And I,-what I seem to my friend, you see:
What I soon shall seem to his love, you guess:
What I seem to myself, do you ask of me?
No hero, I confess.

XII.

'Tis an awkward thing to play with souls,
And matter enough to save one's own:
Yet think of my friend, and the burning coals
He played with for bits of stone!

XIII.

One likes to show the truth for the truth;
That the woman was light is very true:
But suppose she says,-Never mind that youth!
What wrong have I done to you?

XIV.

Well, any how, here the story stays,
So far at least as I understand;
And, Robert Browning, you writer of plays,
Here's a subject made to your hand!


~ Robert Browning, A Light Woman
,
498:I.
Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly,
May gaze thro' these faint smokes curling whitely,
As thou pliest thy trade in this devil's-smithy-
Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?

II.
He is with her, and they know that I know
Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow
While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear
Empty church, to pray God in, for them!-I am here.

III
Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste,
Pound at thy powder,-I am not in haste!
Better sit thus, and observe thy strange things,
Than go where men wait me and dance at the King's.

IV
That in the mortar-you call it a gum?
Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come!
And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue,
Sure to taste sweetly,-is that poison too?

V
Had I but all of them, thee and thy treasures,
What a wild crowd of invisible pleasures!
To carry pure death in an earring, a casket,
A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basket!

VI
Soon, at the King's, a mere lozenge to give,
And Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live!
But to light a pastile, and Elise, with her head
And her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead!

VII
Quick-is it finished? The colour's too grim!
Why not soft like the phial's, enticing and dim?
Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir,
And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer!

VIII
What a drop! She's not little, no minion like me!
That's why she ensnared him: this never will free
The soul from those masculine eyes,-Say, ``no!''
To that pulse's magnificent come-and-go.

IX
For only last night, as they whispered, I brought
My own eyes to bear on her so, that I thought
Could I keep them one half minute fixed, she would fall
Shrivelled; she fell not; yet this does it all!

X
Not that I bid you spare her the pain;
Let death be felt and the proof remain:
Brand, burn up, bite into its grace-
He is sure to remember her dying face!

XI
Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose;
It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close;
The delicate droplet, my whole fortune's fee!
If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me?

XII
Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill,
You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will!
But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings
Ere I know it-next moment I dance at the King's!


~ Robert Browning, The Laboratory-Ancien Rgime
,
499:I've a Friend, over the sea;
I like him, but he loves me.
It all grew out of the books I write;
They find such favour in his sight
That he slaughters you with savage looks
Because you don't admire my books.
He does himself though,-and if some vein
Were to snap to-night in this heavy brain,
To-morrow month, if I lived to try,
Round should I just turn quietly,
Or out of the bedclothes stretch my hand
Till I found him, come from his foreign land
To be my nurse in this poor place,
And make my broth and wash my face
And light my fire and, all the while,
Bear with his old good-humoured smile
That I told him ``Better have kept away
``Than come and kill me, night and day,
``With, worse than fever throbs and shoots,
``The creaking of his clumsy boots.''
I am as sure that this he would do
As that Saint Paul's is striking two.
And I think I rather woe is me!
-Yes, rather would see him than not see,
If lifting a hand could seat him there
Before me in the empty chair
To-night, when my head aches indeed,
And I can neither think nor read
Nor make these purple fingers hold
The pen; this garret's freezing cold!

And I've a Lady-there he wakes,
The laughing fiend and prince of snakes
Within me, at her name, to pray
Fate send some creature in the way
Of my love for her, to be down-torn,
Upthrust and outward-borne,
So I might prove myself that sea
Of passion which I needs must be!
Call my thoughts false and my fancies quaint
And my style infirm and its figures faint,
All the critics say, and more blame yet,
And not one angry word you get.
But, please you, wonder I would put
My cheek beneath that lady's foot
Rather than trample under mine
The laurels of the Florentine,
And you shall see how the devil spends
A fire God gave for other ends!
I tell you, I stride up and down
This garret, crowned with love's best crown,
And feasted with love's perfect feast,
To think I kill for her, at least,
Body and soul and peace and fame,
Alike youth's end and manhood's aim,
-So is my spirit, as flesh with sin,
Filled full, eaten out and in
With the face of her, the eyes of her,
The lips, the little chin, the stir
Of shadow round her month; and she
-I'll tell you,-calmly would decree
That I should roast at a slow fire,
If that would compass her desire
And make her one whom they invite
To the famous ball to-morrow night.

There may be heaven; there must be hell;
Meantime, there is our earth here-well!


~ Robert Browning, Times Revenges
,
500:I.

She should never have looked at me
If she meant I should not love her!
There are plenty men, you call such,
I suppose she may discover
All her soul to, if she pleases,
And yet leave much as she found them:
But I'm not so, and she knew it
When she fixed me, glancing round them,

II.

What? To fix me thus meant nothing?
But I can't tell (there's my weakness)
What her look said!-no vile cant, sure,
About ``need to strew the bleakness
``Of some lone shore with its pearl-seed.
``That the sea feels''-no strange yearning
``That such souls have, most to lavish
``Where there's chance of least returning.''

III.

Oh, we're sunk enough here, God knows!
But not quite so sunk that moments,
Sure tho' seldom, are denied us,
When the spirit's true endowments
Stand out plainly from its false ones,
And apprise it if pursuing
Or the right way or the wrong way,
To its triumph or undoing.

IV.

There are flashes struck from midnights,
There are fire-flames noondays kindle,
Whereby piled-up honours perish,
Whereby swollen ambitions dwindle,
While just this or that poor impulse,
Which for once had play unstifled,
Seems the sole work of a life-time
That away the rest have trifled.

V.

Doubt you if, in some such moment,
As she fixed me, she felt clearly,
Ages past the soul existed,
Here an age 'tis resting merely,
And hence fleets again for ages,
While the true end, sole and single,
It stops here for is, this love-way,
With some other soul to mingle?

VI.

Else it loses what it lived for,
And eternally must lose it;
Better ends may be in prospect,
Deeper blisses (if you choose it),
But this life's end and this love-bliss
Have been lost here. Doubt you whether
This she felt as, looking at me,
Mine and her souls rushed together?

VII.

Oh, observe! Of course, next moment,
The world's honours, in derision,
Trampled out the light for ever:
Never fear but there's provision
Of the devil's to quench knowledge
Lest we walk the earth in rapture!
-Making those who catch God's secret
Just so much more prize their capture!

VIII.

Such am I: the secret's mine now!
She has lost me, I have gained her;
Her soul's mine: and thus, grown perfect,
I shall pass my life's remainder.
Life will just hold out the proving
Both our powers, alone and blended:
And then, come next life quickly!
This world's use will have been ended.


~ Robert Browning, Cristina
,
501:My Last Duchess

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—(which I have not)—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
—E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me! ~ Robert Browning,
502: FERRARA

That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fr Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
``Fr Pandolf'' by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Fr Pandolf chanced to say ``Her mantle laps
``Over my lady's wrist too much,'' or ``Paint
``Must never hope to reproduce the faint
``Half-flush that dies along her throat:'' such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart-how shall I say?-too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace-all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,-good! but thanked
Somehow-I know not how-as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech-(which I have not)-to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, ``Just this
``Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
``Or there exceed the mark''-and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
-E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

69
~ Robert Browning, My Last Duchess
,
503:I.

That fawn-skin-dappled hair of hers,
   And the blue eye
   Dear and dewy,
And that infantine fresh air of hers!

II.

To think men cannot take you, Sweet,
   And enfold you,
   Ay, and hold you,
And so keep you what they make you, Sweet!

III

You like us for a glance, you know-
   For a word's sake
   Or a sword's sake,
All's the same, whate'er the chance, you know.

IV.

And in turn we make you ours, we say-
   You and youth too,
   Eyes and mouth too,
All the face composed of flowers, we say.

V.

All's our own, to make the most of, Sweet-
   Sing and say for,
   Watch and pray for,
Keep a secret or go boast of, Sweet!

VI.

But for loving, why, you would not, Sweet,
   Though we prayed you,
   Paid you, brayed you
in a mortar-for you could not, Sweet!

VII.

So, we leave the sweet face fondly there:
   Be its beauty
   Its sole duty!
Let all hope of grace beyond, lie there!

VIII.

And while the face lies quiet there,
   Who shall wonder
   That I ponder
A conclusion? I will try it there.

IX.

As,-why must one, for the love foregone,
   Scout mere liking?
   Thunder-striking
Earth,-the heaven, we looked above for, gone!

X.

Why, with beauty, needs there money be,
   Love with liking?
   Crush the fly-king
In his gauze, because no honey-bee?

XI.

May not liking be so simple-sweet,
   If love grew there
   'Twould undo there
All that breaks the cheek to dimples sweet?

XII.

Is the creature too imperfect,
   Would you mend it
   And so end it?
Since not all addition perfects aye!

XIII.

Or is it of its kind, perhaps,
   Just perfection-
   Whence, rejection
Of a grace not to its mind, perhaps?

XIV.

Shall we burn up, tread that face at once
   Into tinder,
   And so hinder
Sparks from kindling all the place at once?

XV.

Or else kiss away one's soul on her?
   Your love-fancies!
   -A sick man sees
Truer, when his hot eyes roll on her!

XVI.

Thus the craftsman thinks to grace the rose,-
   Plucks a mould-flower
   For his gold flower,
Uses fine things that efface the rose:

XVII.

Rosy rubies make its cup more rose,
   Precious metals
   Ape the petals,-
Last, some old king locks it up, morose!

XVIII.

Then how grace a rose? I know a way!
   Leave it, rather.
   Must you gather?
Smell, kiss, wear it-at last, throw away!

259
~ Robert Browning, A Pretty Woman
,
504:Among these latter busts we count by scores,
Half-emperors and quarter-emperors,
Each with his bay-leaf fillet, loose-thonged vest,
Loricand low-browed Gorgon on the breast,-
One loves a baby face, with violets there,
Violets instead of laurel in the hair,
As those were all the little locks could bear.

Now read here. ``Protus ends a period
``Of empery beginning with a god;
``Born in the porphyry chamber at Byzant,
``Queens by his cradle, proud and ministrant:
``And if he quickened breath there, 'twould like fire
``Pantingly through the dim vast realm transpire.
``A fame that he was missing spread afar:
``The world from its four corners, rose in war,
``Till he was borne out on a balcony
``To pacify the world when it should see.
``The captains ranged before him, one, his hand
``Made baby points at, gained the chief command.
``And day by day more beautiful he grew
``In shape, all said, in feature and in hue,
``While young Greek sculptors, gazing on the child,
``Because with old Greek sculptore reconciled.
``Already sages laboured to condense
``In easy tomes a life's experience:
``And artists took grave counsel to impart
``In one breath and one hand-sweep, all their art-
``To make his graces prompt as blossoming
``Of plentifully-watered palms in spring:
``Since well beseems it, whoso mounts the throne,
``For beauty, knowledge, strength, should stand alone,
``And mortals love the letters of his name.''

-Stop! Have you turned two pages? Still the same.
New reign, same date. The scribe goes on to say
How that same year, on such a month and day,
``John the Pannonian, groundedly believed
``A Blacksmith's ****, whose hard hand reprieved
``The Empire from its fate the year before,-
``Came, had a mind to take the crown, and wore
``The same for six years (during which the Huns
``Kept off their fingers from us), till his sons
``Put something in his liquor''-and so forth.
Then a new reign. Stay-``Take at its just worth''
(Subjoins an annotator) ``what I give
``As hearsay. Some think, John let Protus live
``And slip away. 'Tis said, he reached man's age
``At some blind northern court; made, first a page,
``Then tutor to the children; last, of use
``About the hunting-stables. I deduce
``He wrote the little tract `On worming dogs,'
``Whereof the name in sundry catalogues
``Is extant yet. A Protus of the race
``Is rumoured to have died a monk in Thrace,-
``And if the same, he reached senility.''

Here's John the Smith's rough-hammered head. Great eye,
Gross jaw and griped lips do what granite can
To give you the crown-grasper. What a man!


~ Robert Browning, Protus
,
505:I.

Gr-r-r-there go, my heart's abhorrence!
Water your damned flower-pots, do!
If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,
God's blood, would not mine kill you!
What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming?
Oh, that rose has prior claims-
Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
Hell dry you up with its flames!

II.

At the meal we sit together:
Salve tibi! I must hear
Wise talk of the kind of weather,
Sort of season, time of year:
Not a plenteous cork-crop: scarcely
Dare we hope oak-galls, I doubt:
What's the Latin name for ``parsley''?
What's the Greek name for Swine's Snout?

III.

Whew! We'll have our platter burnished,
Laid with care on our own shelf!
With a fire-new spoon we're furnished,
And a goblet for ourself,
Rinsed like something sacrificial
Ere 'tis fit to touch our chaps-
Marked with L. for our initial!
(He-he! There his lily snaps!)

IV.

Saint, forsooth! While brown Dolores
Squats outside the Convent bank
With Sanchicha, telling stories,
Steeping tresses in the tank,
Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs,
-Can't I see his dead eye glow,
Bright as 'twere a Barbary corsair's?
(That is, if he'd let it show!)

V.

When he finishes refection,
Knife and fork he never lays
Cross-wise, to my recollection,
As do I, in Jesu's praise.
I the Trinity illustrate,
Drinking watered orange-pulp-
In three sips the Arian frustrate;
While he drains his at one gulp.

VI.

Oh, those melons? If he's able
We're to have a feast! so nice!
One goes to the Abbot's table,
All of us get each a slice.
How go on your flowers? None double
Not one fruit-sort can you spy?
Strange!-And I, too, at such trouble,
Keep them close-nipped on the sly!

VII.

There's a great text in Galatians,
Once you trip on it, entails
Twenty-nine distinct damnations,
One sure, if another fails:
If I trip him just a-dying,
Sure of heaven as sure can be,
Spin him round and send him flying
Off to hell, a Manichee?

VIII.

Or, my scrofulous French novel
On grey paper with blunt type!
Simply glance at it, you grovel
Hand and foot in Belial's gripe:
If I double down its pages
At the woeful sixteenth print,
When he gathers his greengages,
Ope a sieve and slip it in't?

IX.

Or, there's Satan!-one might venture
Pledge one's soul to him, yet leave
Such a flaw in the indenture
As he'd miss till, past retrieve,
Blasted lay that rose-acacia
We're so proud of! Hy, Zy, Hine
'St, there's Vespers! Plena grati
Ave, Virgo! Gr-r-r-you swine!


~ Robert Browning, Soliloquy Of The Spanish Cloister
,
506:I.

Stand still, true poet that you are!
I know you; let me try and draw you.
Some night you'll fail us: when afar
You rise, remember one man saw you,
Knew you, and named a star!

II.

My star, God's glow-worm! Why extend
That loving hand of his which leads you
Yet locks you safe from end to end
Of this dark world, unless he needs you,
just saves your light to spend?

III.

His clenched hand shall unclose at last,
I know, and let out all the beauty:
My poet holds the future fast,
Accepts the coming ages' duty,
Their present for this past.

IV.

That day, the earth's feast-master's brow
Shall clear, to God the chalice raising;
``Others give best at first, but thou
``Forever set'st our table praising,
``Keep'st the good wine till now!''

V.

Meantime, I'll draw you as you stand,
With few or none to watch and wonder:
I'll say-a fisher, on the sand
By Tyre the old, with ocean-plunder,
A netful, brought to land.

VI.

Who has not heard how Tyrian shells
Enclosed the blue, that dye of dyes
Whereof one drop worked miracles,
And coloured like Astarte's eyes
Raw silk the merchant sells?

VII.

And each bystander of them all
Could criticize, and quote tradition
How depths of blue sublimed some pall
-To get which, pricked a king's ambition
Worth sceptre, crown and ball.

VIII.

Yet there's the dye, in that rough mesh,
The sea has only just o'erwhispered!
Live whelks, each lip's beard dripping fresh,
As if they still the water's lisp heard
Through foam the rock-weeds thresh.

IX.

Enough to furnish Solomon
Such hangings for his cedar-house,
That, when gold-robed he took the throne
In that abyss of blue, the Spouse
Might swear his presence shone

X.

Most like the centre-spike of gold
Which burns deep in the blue-bell's womb,
What time, with ardours manifold,
The bee goes singing to her groom,
Drunken and overbold.

XI.

Mere conchs! not fit for warp or woof!
Till cunning come to pound and squeeze
And clarify,-refine to proof
The liquor filtered by degrees,
While the world stands aloof.

XII.

And there's the extract, flasked and fine,
And priced and saleable at last!
And Hobbs, Nobbs, Stokes and Nokes combine
To paint the future from the past,
Put blue into their line.

XIII.

Hobbs hints blue,-Straight he turtle eats:
Nobbs prints blue,-claret crowns his cup:
Nokes outdares Stokes in azure feats,-
Both gorge. Who fished the murex up?
What porridge had John Keats?
The Syrian Venus.

Molluscs from which the famous Tyrian
*  purple dye was obtained.


~ Robert Browning, Popularity
,
507:A PICTURE AT FANO.

I.

Dear and great Angel, wouldst thou only leave
That child, when thou hast done with him, for me!
Let me sit all the day here, that when eve
Shall find performed thy special ministry,
And time come for departure, thou, suspending
Thy flight, mayst see another child for tending,
Another still, to quiet and retrieve.

II.

Then I shall feel thee step one step, no more,
From where thou standest now, to where I gaze,
-And suddenly my head is covered o'er
With those wings, white above the child who prays
Now on that tomb-and I shall feel thee guarding
Me, out of all the world; for me, discarding
Yon heaven thy home, that waits and opes its door.

III.

I would not look up thither past thy head
Because the door opes, like that child, I know,
For I should have thy gracious face instead,
Thou bird of God! And wilt thou bend me low
Like him, and lay, like his, my hands together,
And lift them up to pray, and gently tether
Me, as thy lamb there, with thy garment's spread?

IV.

If this was ever granted, I would rest
My bead beneath thine, while thy healing hands
Close-covered both my eyes beside thy breast,
Pressing the brain, which too much thought expands,
Back to its proper size again, and smoothing
Distortion down till every nerve had soothing,
And all lay quiet, happy and suppressed.

V.

How soon all worldly wrong would be repaired!
I think how I should view the earth and skies
And sea, when once again my brow was bared
After thy healing, with such different eyes.
O world, as God has made it! All is beauty:
And knowing this, is love, and love is duty.
What further may be sought for or declared?

VI.

Guercino drew this angel I saw teach
(Alfred, dear friend!)-that little child to pray,
Holding the little hands up, each to each
Pressed gently,-with his own head turned away
Over the earth where so much lay before him
Of work to do, though heaven was opening o'er him,
And he was left at Fano by the beach.

VII.

We were at Fano, and three times we went
To sit and see him in his chapel there,
And drink his beauty to our soul's content
-My angel with me too: and since I care
For dear Guercino's fame (to which in power
And glory comes this picture for a dower,
Fraught with a pathos so magnificent)-

VIII.

And since he did not work thus earnestly
At all times, and has else endured some wrong-
I took one thought his picture struck from me,
And spread it out, translating it to song.
My love is here. Where are you, dear old friend?
How rolls the Wairoa at your world's far end?
This is Ancona, yonder is the sea.


~ Robert Browning, The Guardian-Angel
,
508:The Invitation: To Tom Hughes
Come away with me, Tom,
Term and talk are done;
My poor lads are reaping,
Busy every one.
Curates mind the parish,
Sweepers mind the court;
We'll away to Snowdon
For our ten days' sport;
Fish the August evening
Till the eve is past,
Whoop like boys, at pounders
Fairly played and grassed.
When they cease to dimple,
Lunge, and swerve, and leap,
Then up over Siabod,
Choose our nest, and sleep.
Up a thousand feet, Tom,
Round the lion's head,
Find soft stones to leeward
And make up our bed.
Eat our bread and bacon,
Smoke the pipe of peace,
And, ere we be drowsy,
Give our boots a grease.
Homer's heroes did so,
Why not such as we?
What are sheets and servants?
Superfluity!
Pray for wives and children
Safe in slumber curled,
Then to chat till midnight
O'er this babbling worldOf the workmen's college,
Of the price of grain,
Of the tree of knowledge,
Of the chance of rain;
If Sir A. goes Romeward,
If Miss B. sings true,
If the fleet comes homeward,
95
If the mare will do,Anything and everythingUp there in the sky
Angels understand us,
And no 'saints' are by.
Down, and bathe at day-dawn,
Tramp from lake to lake,
Washing brain and heart clean
Every step we take.
Leave to Robert Browning
Beggars, fleas, and vines;
Leave to mournful Ruskin
Popish Apennines,
Dirty Stones of Venice
And his Gas-lamps SevenWe've the stones of Snowdon
And the lamps of heaven.
Where's the mighty credit
In admiring Alps?
Any goose sees 'glory'
In their 'snowy scalps.'
Leave such signs and wonders
For the dullard brain,
As aesthetic brandy,
Opium and cayenne.
Give me Bramshill common
(St. John's harriers by),
Or the vale of Windsor,
England's golden eye.
Show me life and progress,
Beauty, health, and man;
Houses fair, trim gardens,
Turn where'er I can.
Or, if bored with 'High Art,'
And such popish stuff,
One's poor ear need airing,
Snowdon's high enough.
While we find God's signet
Fresh on English ground,
Why go gallivanting
With the nations round?
Though we try no ventures
96
Desperate or strange;
Feed on commonplaces
In a narrow range;
Never sought for Franklin
Round the frozen Capes;
Even, with Macdougall, {295}
Bagged our brace of apes;
Never had our chance, Tom,
In that black Redan;
Can't avenge poor Brereton
Out in Sakarran;
Tho' we earn our bread, Tom,
By the dirty pen,
What we can we will be,
Honest Englishmen.
Do the work that's nearest,
Though it's dull at whiles,
Helping, when we meet them,
Lame dogs over stiles;
See in every hedgerow
Marks of angels' feet,
Epics in each pebble
Underneath our feet;
Once a year, like schoolboys,
Robin-Hooding go,
Leaving fops and fogies
A thousand feet below.
Eversley, August 1856.
~ Charles Kingsley,
509:I.

Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles,
Miles and miles
On the solitary pastures where our sheep
Half-asleep
Tinkle homeward thro' the twilight, stray or stop
As they crop-
Was the site once of a city great and gay,
(So they say)
Of our country's very capital, its prince
Ages since
Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
Peace or war.

II.

Now,-the country does not even boast a tree,
As you see,
To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills
From the hills
Intersect and give a name to, (else they run
Into one)
Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires
Up like fires
O'er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall
Bounding all,
Made of marble, men might march on nor be pressed,
Twelve abreast.

III.

And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass
Never was!
Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o'erspreads
And embeds
Every vestige of the city, guessed alone,
Stock or stone-
Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe
Long ago;
Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame
Struck them tame;
And that glory and that shame alike, the gold
Bought and sold.

IV.

Now,-the single little turret that remains
On the plains,
By the caper overrooted, by the gourd
Overscored,
While the patching houseleek's head of blossom winks
Through the chinks-
Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time
Sprang sublime,
And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced
As they raced,
And the monarch and his minions and his dames
Viewed the games.

V.

And I know, while thus the quiet-coloured eve
Smiles to leave
To their folding, all our many-tinkling fleece
In such peace,
And the slopes and rills in undistinguished grey
Melt away-
That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair
Waits me there
In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul
For the goal,
When the king looked, where she looks now, breathless, dumb
Till I come.

VI.

But he looked upon the city, every side,
Far and wide,
All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades'
Colonnades,
All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts,-and then,
All the men!
When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand,
Either hand
On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace
Of my face,
Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech
Each on each.

VII.

In one year they sent a million fighters forth
South and North,
And they built their gods a brazen pillar high
As the sky,
Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force-
Gold, of course.
Oh heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
Earth's returns
For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in,
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
Love is best.


~ Robert Browning, Love Among The Ruins
,
510:Morning, evening, noon and night,
``Praise God!; sang Theocrite.

Then to his poor trade he turned,
Whereby the daily meal was earned.

Hard he laboured, long and well;
O'er his work the boy's curls fell.

But ever, at each period,
He stopped and sang, ``Praise God!''

Then back again his curls he threw,
And cheerful turned to work anew.

Said Blaise, the listening monk, ``Well done;
``I doubt not thou art heard, my son:

``As well as if thy voice to-day
``Were praising God, the Pope's great way.

``This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome
``Praises God from Peter's dome.''

Said Theocrite, ``Would God that I
``Might praise him, that great way, and die!''

Night passed, day shone,
And Theocrite was gone.

With God a day endures alway,
A thousand years are but a day.

God said in heaven, ``Nor day nor night
``Now brings the voice of my delight.''

Then Gabriel, like a rainbow's birth,
Spread his wings and sank to earth;

Entered, in flesh, the empty cell,
Lived there, and played the craftsman well;

And morning, evening, noon and night,
Praised God in place of Theocrite.

And from a boy, to youth he grew:
The man put off the stripling's hue:

The man matured and fell away
Into the season of decay:

And ever o'er the trade he bent,
And ever lived on earth content.

(He did God's will; to him, all one
If on the earth or in the sun.)

God said, ``A praise is in mine ear;
``There is no doubt in it, no fear:

``So sing old worlds, and so
``New worlds that from my footstool go.

``Clearer loves sound other ways:
``I miss my little human praise.''

Then forth sprang Gabriel's wings, off fell
The flesh disguise, remained the cell.

'Twas Easter Day: he flew to Rome,
And paused above Saint Peter's dome.

In the tiring-room close by
The great outer gallery,

With his holy vestments dight,
Stood the new Pope, Theocrite:

And all his past career
Came back upon him clear,

Since when, a boy, he plied his trade,
Till on his life the sickness weighed;

And in his cell, when death drew near,
An angel in a dream brought cheer:

And rising from the sickness drear
He grew a priest, and now stood here.

To the East with praise he turned,
And on his sight the angel burned.

``I bore thee from thy craftsman's cell
``And set thee here; I did not well.

``Vainly I left my angel-sphere,
``Vain was thy dream of many a year.

``Thy voice's praise seemed weak; it dropped-
``Creation's chorus stopped!

``Go back and praise again
``The early way, while I remain.

``With that weak voice of our disdain,
``Take up creation's pausing strain.

``Back to the cell and poor employ:
``Resume the craftsman and the boy!''

Theocrite grew old at home;
A new Pope dwelt in Peter's dome.

One vanished as the other died:
They sought God side by side.


~ Robert Browning, The Boy And the Angel
,
511:I.
My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the workings of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.

II.
What else should he be set for, with his staff?
What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
All travellers who might find him posted there,
And ask the road? I guessed what skull-like laugh
Would break, what crutch 'gin write my epitaph
For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare.

III.
If at his counsel I should turn aside
Into that ominous tract which, all agree,
Hides the Dark Tower. Yet acquiescingly
I did turn as he pointed, neither pride
Now hope rekindling at the end descried,
So much as gladness that some end might be.

IV.
For, what with my whole world-wide wandering,
What with my search drawn out through years, my hope
Dwindled into a ghost not fit to cope
With that obstreperous joy success would bring,
I hardly tried now to rebuke the spring
My heart made, finding failure in its scope.

V.
As when a sick man very near to death
Seems dead indeed, and feels begin and end
The tears and takes the farewell of each friend,
And hears one bit the other go, draw breath
Freelier outside, ('since all is o'er,' he saith
And the blow fallen no grieving can amend;')

VI.
When some discuss if near the other graves
be room enough for this, and when a day
Suits best for carrying the corpse away,
With care about the banners, scarves and staves
And still the man hears all, and only craves
He may not shame such tender love and stay.

VII.
Thus, I had so long suffered in this quest,
Heard failure prophesied so oft, been writ
So many times among 'The Band' to wit,
The knights who to the Dark Tower's search addressed
Their steps - that just to fail as they, seemed best,
And all the doubt was now - should I be fit?

VIII.
So, quiet as despair I turned from him,
That hateful cripple, out of his highway
Into the path he pointed. All the day
Had been a dreary one at best, and dim
Was settling to its close, yet shot one grim
Red leer to see the plain catch its estray.

IX.
For mark! No sooner was I fairly found
Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,
Than, pausing to throw backwards a last view
O'er the safe road, 'twas gone; grey plain all round;
Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound.
I might go on, naught else remained to do.

X.
So on I went. I think I never saw
Such starved ignoble nature; nothing throve:
For flowers - as well expect a cedar grove!
But cockle, spurge, according to their law
Might propagate their kind with none to awe,
You'd think; a burr had been a treasure trove.

XI.
No! penury, inertness and grimace,
In some strange sort, were the land's portion. 'See
Or shut your eyes,' said Nature peevishly,
It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:
Tis the Last Judgement's fire must cure this place
Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free. ~ Robert Browning,
512:XXIV.
And more than that - a furlong on - why, there!
What bad use was that engine for, that wheel,
Or brake, not wheel - that harrow fit to reel
Men's bodies out like silk? With all the air
Of Tophet's tool, on earth left unaware
Or brought to sharpen its rusty teeth of steel.

XXV.
Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood,
Next a marsh it would seem, and now mere earth
Desperate and done with; (so a fool finds mirth,
Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood
Changes and off he goes!) within a rood -
Bog, clay and rubble, sand, and stark black dearth.

XXVI.
Now blotches rankling, coloured gay and grim,
Now patches where some leanness of the soil's
Broke into moss, or substances like boils;
Then came some palsied oak, a cleft in him
Like a distorted mouth that splits its rim
Gaping at death, and dies while it recoils.

XXVII.
And just as far as ever from the end!
Naught in the distance but the evening, naught
To point my footstep further! At the thought,
A great black bird, Apollyon's bosom friend,
Sailed past, not best his wide wing dragon-penned
That brushed my cap - perchance the guide I sought.

XXVIII.
For, looking up, aware I somehow grew,
Spite of the dusk, the plain had given place
All round to mountains - with such name to grace
Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view.
How thus they had surprised me - solve it, you!
How to get from them was no clearer case.

XXIX.
Yet half I seemed to recognise some trick
Of mischief happened to me, God knows when -
In a bad dream perhaps. Here ended, then
Progress this way. When, in the very nick
Of giving up, one time more, came a click
As when a trap shuts - you're inside the den.

XXX.
Burningly it came on me all at once,
This was the place! those two hills on the right,
Crouched like two bulls locked horn in horn in fight;
While to the left a tall scalped mountain ... Dunce,
Dotard, a-dozing at the very nonce,
After a life spent training for the sight!

XXXI.
What in the midst lay but the Tower itself?
The round squat turret, blind as the fool's heart,
Built of brown stone, without a counterpart
In the whole world. The tempest's mocking elf
Points to the shipman thus the unseen shelf
He strikes on, only when the timbers start.

XXXII.
Not see? because of night perhaps? - why day
Came back again for that! before it left
The dying sunset kindled through a cleft:
The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay,
Chin upon hand, to see the game at bay, -
Now stab and end the creature - to the heft!'

XXXIII.
Not hear? When noise was everywhere! it tolled
Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
Of all the lost adventurers, my peers -
How such a one was strong, and such was bold,
And such was fortunate, yet each of old
Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years.

XXXIV.
There they stood, ranged along the hillsides, met
To view the last of me, a living frame
For one more picture! In a sheet of flame
I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,
And blew. 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came. ~ Robert Browning,
513:I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;
I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
`Good speed!' cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;
' Speed!' echoed the wall to us galloping through;
Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;
I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,
Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near
Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;
At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see;
At Dffeld,'twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime,
So, Joris broke silence with, ``Yet there is time!''

At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare thro' the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
With resolute shoulders, each hutting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray:

And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye's black intelligence,-ever that glance
O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance!
And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon
His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, ``Stay spur!
``Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her,
``We'll remember at Aix''-for one heard the quick wheeze
Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees,
And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;
The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;
Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,
And `Gallop,'' gasped Joris, `for Aix is in sight!''

`How they'll greet us!''-and all in a moment his roan
Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.

Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall,
Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;
Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good,
Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.

And all I remember is-friends flocking round
As I sat with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.


~ Robert Browning, How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix
,
514:I.

Oh Galuppi, Baldassaro, this is very sad to find!
I can hardly misconceive you; it would prove me deaf and blind;
But although I take your meaning, 'tis with such a heavy mind!

II.

Here you come with all your music, and here's all the good it brings.
What, they lived once thus at Venice where the merchants were the kings,
Where Saint Mark's is, where the Doges used to wed the sea with rings?

III.

Ay, because the sea's the street there; and 'tis arched by what you call
Shylock's bridge with houses on it, where they kept the carnival:
I was never out of England-it's as if I saw it all.

IV.

Did young people take their pleasure when the sea was warm in May?
Balls and masks begun at midnight, burning ever to mid-day,
When they made up fresh adventures for the morrow, do you say?

V.

Was a lady such a lady, cheeks so round and lips so red,-
On her neck the small face buoyant, like a bell-flower on its bed,
O'er the breast's superb abundance where a man might base his head?

VI.

Well, and it was graceful of them-they'd break talk off and afford
-She, to bite her mask's black velvet-he, to finger on his sword,
While you sat and played Toccatas, stately at the clavichord?

VII.
What? Those lesser thirds so plaintive, sixths diminished, sigh on sigh,
Told them something? Those suspensions, those solutions-``Must we die?''
Those commiserating sevenths-``Life might last! we can but try!''

VIII.

``Were you happy?''-``Yes.''-``And are you still as happy?''-``Yes. And you?''
-``Then, more kisses!''-``Did I stop them, when a million seemed so few?''
Hark, the dominant's persistence till it must be answered to!

IX.

So, an octave struck the answer. Oh, they praised you, I dare say!
``Brave Galuppi! that was music! good alike at grave and gay!
``I can always leave off talking when I hear a master play!''

X.

Then they left you for their pleasure: till in due time, one by one,
Some with lives that came to nothing, some with deeds as well undone,
Death stepped tacitly and took them where they never see the sun.

XI.

But when I sit down to reason, think to take my stand nor swerve,
While I triumph o'er a secret wrung from nature's close reserve,
In you come with your cold music till I creep thro' every nerve.

XII.

Yes, you, like a ghostly cricket, creaking where a house was burned:
``Dust and ashes, dead and done with, Venice spent what Venice earned.
``The soul, doubtless, is immortal-where a soul can be discerned.

XIII.

``Yours for instance: you know physics, something of geology,
``Mathematics are your pastime; souls shall rise in their degree;
``Butterflies may dread extinction,-you'll not die, it cannot be!

XIV.

``As for Venice and her people, merely born to bloom and drop,
``Here on earth they bore their fruitage, mirth and folly were the crop:
``What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?

XV.

``Dust and ashes!'' So you creak it, and I want the heart to scold.
Dear dead women, with such hair, too-what's become of all the gold
Used to hang and brush their bosoms? I feel chilly and grown old.
Galuppi was a famous Italian composer of


~ Robert Browning, A Toccata Of Galuppi's
,
515:XII.
If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk
Above its mates, the head was chopped, the bents
Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents
In the dock's harsh swarth leaves, bruised as to baulk
All hope of greenness? Tis a brute must walk
Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents.

XIII.
As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair
In leprosy; thin dry blades pricked the mud
Which underneath looked kneaded up with blood.
One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare,
Stood stupified, however he came there:
Thrust out past service from the devil's stud!

XIV.
Alive? he might be dead for aught I knew,
With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain.
And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane;
Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;
I never saw a brute I hated so;
He must be wicked to deserve such pain.

XV.
I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart,
As a man calls for wine before he fights,
I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights,
Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.
Think first, fight afterwards, the soldier's art:
One taste of the old time sets all to rights.

XVI.
Not it! I fancied Cuthbert's reddening face
Beneath its garniture of curly gold,
Dear fellow, till I almost felt him fold
An arm to mine to fix me to the place,
The way he used. Alas, one night's disgrace!
Out went my heart's new fire and left it cold.

XVII.
Giles then, the soul of honour - there he stands
Frank as ten years ago when knighted first,
What honest man should dare (he said) he durst.
Good - but the scene shifts - faugh! what hangman hands
Pin to his breast a parchment? His own bands
Read it. Poor traitor, spit upon and curst!

XVIII.
Better this present than a past like that:
Back therefore to my darkening path again!
No sound, no sight as far as eye could strain.
Will the night send a howlet or a bat?
I asked: when something on the dismal flat
Came to arrest my thoughts and change their train.

XIX.
A sudden little river crossed my path
As unexpected as a serpent comes.
No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms;
This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath
For the fiend's glowing hoof - to see the wrath
Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes.

XX.
So petty yet so spiteful! All along,
Low scrubby alders kneeled down over it;
Drenched willows flung them headlong in a fit
Of mute despair, a suicidal throng:
The river which had done them all the wrong,
Whate'er that was, rolled by, deterred no whit.

XXI.
Which, while I forded - good saints, how I feared
To set my foot upon a dead man's cheek,
Each step, of feel the spear I thrust to seek
For hollows, tangled in his hair or beard!
- It may have been a water-rat I speared,
But, ugh! it sounded like a baby's shriek.

XXII.
Glad was I when I reached the other bank.
Now for a better country. Vain presage!
Who were the strugglers, what war did they wage,
Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank
soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank
Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage -

XXIII.
The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque,
What penned them there, with all the plain to choose?
No footprint leading to that horrid mews,
None out of it. Mad brewage set to work
Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk
Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews. ~ Robert Browning,
516:I.

All I believed is true!
I am able yet
All I want, to get
By a method as strange as new:
Dare I trust the same to you?

II.

If at night, when doors are shut,
And the wood-worm picks,
And the death-watch ticks,
And the bar has a flag of smut,
And a cat's in the water-butt-

III.

And the socket floats and flares,
And the house-beams groan,
And a foot unknown
Is surmised on the garret-stairs,
And the locks slip unawares-

IV.

And the spider, to serve his ends,
By a sudden thread,
Arms and legs outspread,
On the table's midst descends,
Comes to find, God knows what friends!-

V.

If since eve drew in, I say,
I have sat and brought
(So to speak) my thought
To bear on the woman away,
Till I felt my hair turn grey-

VI.

Till I seemed to have and hold,
In the vacancy
'Twixt the wall and me,
From the hair-plait's chestnut gold
To the foot in its muslin fold-

VII.

Have and hold, then and there,
Her, from head to foot,
Breathing and mute,
Passive and yet aware,
In the grasp of my steady stare-

VIII.

Hold and have, there and then,
All her body and soul
That completes my whole,
All that women add to men,
In the clutch of my steady ken-

IX.

Having and holding, till
I imprint her fast
On the void at last
As the sun does whom he will
By the calotypist's skill-

X.

Then,-if my heart's strength serve,
And through all and each
Of the veils I reach
To her soul and never swerve,
Knitting an iron nerve-

XI.

Command her soul to advance
And inform the shape
Which has made escape
And before my countenance
Answers me glance for glance-

XII.

I, still with a gesture fit
Of my hands that best
Do my soul's behest,
Pointing the power from it,
While myself do steadfast sit-

XIII.

Steadfast and still the same
On my object bent,
While the hands give vent
To my ardour and my aim
And break into very flame-

XIV.

Then I reach, I must believe,
Not her soul in vain,
For to me again
It reaches, and past retrieve
Is wound in the toils I weave;

XV.

And must follow as I require,
As befits a thrall,
Bringing flesh and all,
Essence and earth-attire,
To the source of the tractile fire:

XVI.

Till the house called hers, not mine,
With a growing weight
Seems to suffocate
If she break not its leaden line
And escape from its close confine.

XVII.

Out of doors into the night!
On to the maze
Of the wild wood-ways,
Not turning to left nor right
From the pathway, blind with sight-

XVIII.

Making thro' rain and wind
O'er the broken shrubs,
'Twixt the stems and stubs,
With a still, composed, strong mind,
Nor a care for the world behind-

XIX.

Swifter and still more swift,
As the crowding peace
Doth to joy increase
In the wide blind eyes uplift
Thro' the darkness and the drift!

XX.

While I-to the shape, I too
Feel my soul dilate
Nor a whit abate,
And relax not a gesture due,
As I see my belief come true.

XXI.

For, there! have I drawn or no
Life to that lip?
Do my fingers dip
In a flame which again they throw
On the cheek that breaks a-glow?

XXII.

Ha! was the hair so first?
What, unfilleted,
Made alive, and spread
Through the void with a rich outburst,
Chestnut gold-interspersed?

XXTII.

Like the doors of a casket-shrine,
See, on either side,
Her two arms divide
Till the heart betwixt makes sign,
Take me, for I am thine!

XXIV.

``Now-now''-the door is heard!
Hark, the stairs! and near-
Nearer-and here-
``Now!'' and at call the third
She enters without a word.

XXV.

On doth she march and on
To the fancied shape;
It is, past escape,
Herself, now: the dream is done
And the shadow and she are one.

XXVI.

First I will pray. Do Thou
That ownest the soul,
Yet wilt grant control
To another, nor disallow
For a time, restrain me now!

XXVII.

I admonish me while I may,
Not to squander guilt,
Since require Thou wilt
At my hand its price one day
What the price is, who can say?


~ Robert Browning, Mesmerism
,
517:I.

I said-Then, dearest, since 'tis so,
Since now at length my fate I know,
Since nothing all my love avails,
Since all, my life seemed meant for, fails,
Since this was written and needs must be-
My whole heart rises up to bless
Your name in pride and thankfulness!
Take back the hope you gave,-I claim
-Only a memory of the same,
-And this beside, if you will not blame,
Your leave for one more last ride with me.

II.

My mistress bent that brow of hers;
Those deep dark eyes where pride demurs
When pity would be softening through,
Fixed me, a breathing-while or two,
With life or death in the balance: right!
The blood replenished me again;
My last thought was at least not vain:
I and my mistress, side by side
Shall be together, breathe and ride,
So, one day more am I deified.
Who knows but the world may end tonight?

III.

Hush! if you saw some western cloud
All billowy-bosomed, over-bowed
By many benedictions-sun's
And moon's and evening-star's at once-
And so, you, looking and loving best,
Conscious grew, your passion drew
Cloud, sunset, moonrise, star-shine too,
Down on you, near and yet more near,
Till flesh must fade for heaven was here!-
Thus leant she and lingered-joy and fear!
Thus lay she a moment on my breast.

IV.

Then we began to ride. My soul
Smoothed itself out, a long-cramped scroll
Freshening and fluttering in the wind.
Past hopes already lay behind.
What need to strive with a life awry?
Had I said that, had I done this,
So might I gain, so might I miss.
Might she have loved me? just as well
She might have hated, who can tell!
Where had I been now if the worst befell?
And here we are riding, she and I.

V.

Fail I alone, in words and deeds?
Why, all men strive and who succeeds?
We rode; it seemed my spirit flew,
Saw other regions, cities new,
As the world rushed by on either side.
I thought,-All labour, yet no less
Bear up beneath their unsuccess.
Look at the end of work, contrast
The petty done, the undone vast,
This present of theirs with the hopeful past!
I hoped she would love me; here we ride.

VI.

What hand and brain went ever paired?
What heart alike conceived and dared?
What act proved all its thought had been?
What will but felt the fleshly screen?
We ride and I see her bosom heave.
There's many a crown for who can reach,
Ten lines, a statesman's life in each!
The flag stuck on a heap of bones,
A soldier's doing! what atones?
They scratch his name on the Abbey-stones.
My riding is better, by their leave.

VII.

What does it all mean, poet? Well,
Your brains beat into rhythm, you tell
What we felt only; you expressed
You hold things beautiful the best,
And pace them in rhyme so, side by side.
'Tis something, nay 'tis much: but then,
Have you yourself what's best for men?
Are you-poor, sick, old ere your time-
Nearer one whit your own sublime
Than we who never have turned a rhyme?
Sing, riding's a joy! For me, I ride.

VIII.

And you, great sculptor-so, you gave
A score of years to Art, her slave,
And that's your Venus, whence we turn
To yonder girl that fords the burn!
You acquiesce, and shall I repine?
What, man of music, you grown grey
With notes and nothing else to say,
Is this your sole praise from a friend,
``Greatly his opera's strains intend,
``Put in music we know how fashions end!''
I gave my youth; but we ride, in fine.

IX.

Who knows what's fit for us? Had fate
Proposed bliss here should sublimate
My being-had I signed the bond-
Still one must lead some life beyond,
Have a bliss to die with, dim-descried.
This foot once planted on the goal,
This glory-garland round my soul,
Could I descry such? Try and test!
I sink back shuddering from the quest.
Earth being so good, would heaven seem best?
Now, heaven and she are beyond this ride.

X.

And yet-she has not spoke so long!
What if heaven be that, fair and strong
At life's best, with our eyes upturned
Whither life's flower is first discerned,
We, fixed so, ever should so abide?
What if we still ride on, we two
With life for ever old yet new,
Changed not in kind but in degree,
The instant made eternity,-
And heaven just prove that I and she
Ride, ride together, for ever ride?


~ Robert Browning, The Last Ride Together
,
518:I.

Christ God who savest man, save most
Of men Count Gismond who saved me!
Count Gauthier, when he chose his post,
Chose time and place and company
To suit it; when he struck at length
My honour, 'twas with all his strength.

II.

And doubtlessly ere he could draw
All points to one, he must have schemed!
That miserable morning saw
Few half so happy as I seemed,
While being dressed in queen's array
To give our tourney prize away.

III.

I thought they loved me, did me grace
To please themselves; 'twas all their deed;
God makes, or fair or foul, our face;
If showing mine so caused to bleed
My cousins' hearts, they should have dropped
A word, and straight the play had stopped.

IV.

They, too, so beauteous! Each a queen
By virtue of her brow and breast;
Not needing to be crowned, I mean,
As I do. E'en when I was dressed,
Had either of them spoke, instead
Of glancing sideways with still head!

V.

But no: they let me laugh, and sing
My birthday song quite through, adjust
The last rose in my garland, fling
A last look on the mirror, trust
My arms to each an arm of theirs,
And so descend the castle-stairs-

VI.

And come out on the morning-troop
Of merry friends who kissed my cheek,
And called me queen, and made me stoop
Under the canopy-(a streak
That pierced it, of the outside sun,
Powdered with gold its gloom's soft dun)-

VII.

And they could let me take my state
And foolish throne amid applause
Of all come there to celebrate
My queen's-day-Oh I think the cause
Of much was, they forgot no crowd
Makes up for parents in their shroud!

VIII.

However that be, all eyes were bent
Upon me, when my cousins cast
Theirs down; 'twas time I should present
The victor's crown, but there, 'twill last
No long time the old mist again
Blinds me as then it did. How vain!

IX,

See! Gismond's at the gate, in talk
With his two boys: I can proceed.
Well, at that moment, who should stalk
Forth boldly-to my face, indeed-
But Gauthier, and he thundered ``Stay!''
And all stayed. ``Bring no crowns, I say!

X.

``Bring torches! Wind the penance-sheet
``About her! Let her shun the chaste,
``Or lay herself before their feet!
``Shall she whose body I embraced
``A night long, queen it in the day?
``For honour's sake no crowns, I say!''

XI.

I? What I answered? As I live,
I never fancied such a thing
As answer possible to give.
What says the body when they spring
Some monstrous torture-engine's whole
Strength on it? No more says the soul.

XII.

Till out strode Gismond; then I knew
That I was saved. I never met
His face before, but, at first view,
I felt quite sure that God had set
Himself to Satan; who would spend
A minute's mistrust on the end?

XIII.

He strode to Gauthier, in his throat
Gave him the lie, then struck his mouth
With one back-handed blow that wrote
In blood men's verdict there. North, South,
East, West, I looked. The lie was dead,
And damned, and truth stood up instead.

XIV.

This glads me most, that I enjoyed
The heart of the joy, with my content
In watching Gismond unalloyed
By any doubt of the event:
God took that on him-I was bid
Watch Gismond for my part: I did.

XV.

Did I not watch him while he let
His armourer just brace his greaves,
Rivet his hauberk, on the fret
The while! His foot my memory leaves
No least stamp out, nor how anon
He pulled his ringing gauntlets on.

XVI.

And e'en before the trumpet's sound
Was finished, prone lay the false knight,
Prone as his lie, upon the ground:
Gismond flew at him, used no sleight
O' the sword, but open-breasted drove,
Cleaving till out the truth he clove.

XVII.

Which done, he dragged him to my feet
And said ``Here die, but end thy breath
``In full confession, lest thou fleet
``From my first, to God's second death!
``Say, hast thou lied?'' And, ``I have lied
``To God and her,'' he said, and died.

XVIII.

Then Gismond, kneeling to me, asked
-What safe my heart holds, though no word
Could I repeat now, if I tasked
My powers forever, to a third
Dear even as you are. Pass the rest
Until I sank upon his breast.

XIX.

Over my head his arm he flung
Against the world; and scarce I felt
His sword (that dripped by me and swung)
A little shifted in its belt:
For he began to say the while
How South our home lay many a mile.

XX.

So 'mid the shouting multitude
We two walked forth to never more
Return. My cousins have pursued
Their life, untroubled as before
I vexed them. Gauthier's dwelling-place
God lighten! May his soul find grace!

XXI.

Our elder boy has got the clear
Great brow; tho' when his brother's black
Full eye slows scorn, it . . . Gismond here?
And have you brought my tercel*
back?
I just was telling Adela
How many birds it struck since May.
*
A male of the peregrine falcon.


~ Robert Browning, Aix In Provence
,
519:I.

Oh, what a dawn of day!
How the March sun feels like May!
  All is blue again
  After last night's rain,
And the South dries the hawthorn-spray.
  Only, my Love's away!
I'd as lief that the blue were grey,

II.

Runnels, which rillets swell,
Must be dancing down the dell,
With a foaming head
On the beryl bed
Paven smooth as a hermit's cell;
Each with a tale to tell,
Could my Love but attend as well.

III.

Dearest, three months ago!
When we lived blocked-up with snow,-
When the wind would edge
In and in his wedge,
In, as far as the point could go-
Not to our ingle, though,
Where we loved each the other so!

IV.

Laughs with so little cause!
We devised games out of straws.
We would try and trace
One another's face
In the ash, as an artist draws;
Free on each other's flaws,
How we chattered like two church daws!

V.

What's in the `Times''?-a scold
At the Emperor deep and cold;
He has taken a bride
To his gruesome side,
That's as fair as himself is bold:
There they sit ermine-stoled,
And she powders her hair with gold.

VI.

Fancy the Pampas' sheen!
Miles and miles of gold and green
Where the sunflowers blow
In a solid glow,
And-to break now and then the screen-
Black neck and eyeballs keen,
Up a wild horse leaps between!

VII.

Try, will our table turn?
Lay your hands there light, and yearn
Till the yearning slips
Thro' the finger-tips
In a fire which a few discern,
And a very few feel burn,
And the rest, they may live and learn!

VIII.

Then we would up and pace,
For a change, about the place,
Each with arm o'er neck:
'Tis our quarter-deck,
We are seamen in woeful case.
Help in the ocean-space!
Or, if no help, we'll embrace.

IX.

See, how she looks now, dressed
In a sledging-cap and vest!
'Tis a huge fur cloak-
Like a reindeer's yoke
Falls the lappet along the breast:
Sleeves for her arms to rest,
Or to hang, as my Love likes best.

X.

Teach me to flirt a fan
As the Spanish ladies can,
Or I tint your lip
With a burnt stick's tip
And you turn into such a man!
Just the two spots that span
Half the bill of the young male swan.

XI.

Dearest, three months ago
When the mesmerizer Snow
With his hand's first sweep
Put the earth to sleep:
'Twas a time when the heart could show
All-how was earth to know,
'Neath the mute hand's to-and-fro?

XII.

Dearest, three months ago
When we loved each other so,
Lived and loved the same
Till an evening came
When a shaft from the devil's bow
Pierced to our ingle-glow,
And the friends were friend and foe!

XIII.

Not from the heart beneath-
'Twas a bubble born of breath,
Neither sneer nor vaunt,
Nor reproach nor taunt.
See a word, how it severeth!
Oh, power of life and death
In the tongue, as the Preacher saith!

XIV.

Woman, and will you cast
For a word, quite off at last
Me, your own, your You,-
Since, as truth is true,
I was You all the happy past-
Me do you leave aghast
With the memories We amassed?

XV.

Love, if you knew the light
That your soul casts in my sight,
How I look to you
For the pure and true
And the beauteous and the right,-
Bear with a moment's spite
When a mere mote threats the white!

XVI.

What of a hasty word?
Is the fleshly heart not stirred
By a worm's pin-prick
Where its roots are quick?
See the eye, by a fly's foot blurred-
Ear, when a straw is heard
Scratch the brain's coat of curd!

XVII.

Foul be the world or fair
More or less, how can I care?
'Tis the world the same
For my praise or blame,
And endurance is easy there.
Wrong in the one thing rare-
Oh, it is hard to bear!

XVIII.

Here's the spring back or close,
When the almond-blossom blows:
We shall have the word
In a minor third
There is none but the cuckoo knows:
Heaps of the guelder-rose!
I must bear with it, I suppose.

XIX.

Could but November come,
Were the noisy birds struck dumb
At the warning slash
Of his driver's-lash-
I would laugh like the valiant Thumb
Facing the castle glum
And the giant's fee-faw-fum!

XX.

Then, were the world well stripped
Of the gear wherein equipped
We can stand apart,
Heart dispense with heart
In the sun, with the flowers unnipped,-
Oh, the world's hangings ripped,
We were both in a bare-walled crypt!

XXI.

Each in the crypt would cry
``But one freezes here! and why?
``When a heart, as chill,
``At my own would thrill
``Back to life, and its fires out-fly?
``Heart, shall we live or die?
``The rest. . . . settle by-and-by!''

XXII.

So, she'd efface the score,
And forgive me as before.
It is twelve o'clock:
I shall hear her knock
In the worst of a storm's uproar,
I shall pull her through the door,
I shall have her for evermore!


~ Robert Browning, A Lovers Quarrel
,
520:I. THE FLOWER'S NAME

Here's the garden she walked across,
Arm in my arm, such a short while since:
Hark, now I push its wicket, the moss
Hinders the hinges and makes them wince!
She must have reached this shrub ere she turned,
As back with that murmur the wicket swung;
For she laid the poor snail, my chance foot spurned,
To feed and forget it the leaves among.

II.

Down this side of the gravel-walk
She went while her rope's edge brushed the box:
And here she paused in her gracious talk
To point me a moth on the milk-white phlox.
Roses, ranged in valiant row,
I will never think that she passed you by!
She loves you noble roses, I know;
But yonder, see, where the rock-plants lie!

III.

This flower she stopped at, finger on lip,
Stooped over, in doubt, as settling its claim;
Till she gave me, with pride to make no slip,
Its soft meandering Spanish name:
What a name! Was it love or praise?
Speech half-asleep or song half-awake?
I must learn Spanish, one of these days,
Only for that slow sweet name's sake.

IV.

Roses, if I live and do well,
I may bring her, one of these days,
To fix you fast with as fine a spell,
Fit you each with his Spanish phrase;
But do not detain me now; for she lingers
There, like sunshine over the ground,
And ever I see her soft white fingers
Searching after the bud she found.

V.

Flower, you Spaniard, look that you grow not,
Stay as you are and be loved for ever!
Bud, if I kiss you 'tis that you blow not:
Mind, the shut pink mouth opens never!
For while it pouts, her fingers wrestle,
Twinkling the audacious leaves between,
Till round they turn and down they nestle-
Is not the dear mark still to be seen?

VI.

Where I find her not, beauties vanish;
Whither I follow ber, beauties flee;
Is there no method to tell her in Spanish
June's twice June since she breathed it with me?
Come, bud, show me the least of her traces,
Treasure my lady's lightest footfall!
-Ah, you may flout and turn up your faces-
Roses, you are not so fair after all!
II. SIBRANDUS SCHAFNABURGENSIS.

Plague take all your pedants, say I!
He who wrote what I hold in my hand,
Centuries back was so good as to die,
Leaving this rubbish to cumber the land;
This, that was a book in its time,
Printed on paper and bound in leather,
Last month in the white of a matin-prime
Just when the birds sang all together.

II.

Into the garden I brought it to read,
And under the arbute and laurustine
Read it, so help me grace in my need,
From title-page to closing line.
Chapter on chapter did I count,
As a curious traveller counts Stonehenge;
Added up the mortal amount;
And then proceeded to my revenge.

III.

Yonder's a plum-tree with a crevice
An owl would build in, were he but sage;
For a lap of moss, like a fine pont-levis
In a castle of the Middle Age,
Joins to a lip of gum, pure amber;
When he'd be private, there might he spend
Hours alone in his lady's chamber:
Into this crevice I dropped our friend.

IV.

Splash, went he, as under he ducked,
-At the bottom, I knew, rain-drippings stagnate:
Next, a handful of blossoms I plucked
To bury him with, my bookshelf's magnate;
Then I went in-doors, brought out a loaf,
Half a cheese, and a bottle of Chablis;
Lay on the grass and forgot the oaf
Over a jolly chapter of Rabelais.

V.

Now, this morning, betwixt the moss
And gum that locked our friend in limbo,
A spider had spun his web across,
And sat in the midst with arms akimbo:
So, I took pity, for learning's sake,
And, de profundis, accentibus ltis,
Cantate! quoth I, as I got a rake;
And up I fished his delectable treatise.

VI.

Here you have it, dry in the sun,
With all the binding all of a blister,
And great blue spots where the ink has run,
And reddish streaks that wink and glister
O'er the page so beautifully yellow:
Oh, well have the droppings played their tricks!
Did he guess how toadstools grow, this fellow?
Here's one stuck in his chapter six!

VII.

How did he like it when the live creatures
Tickled and toused and browsed him all over,
And worm, slug, eft, with serious features,
Came in, each one, for his right of trover?
-When the water-beetle with great blind deaf face
Made of her eggs the stately deposit,
And the newt borrowed just so much of the preface
As tiled in the top of his black wife's closet?

VIII.

All that life and fun and romping,
All that frisking and twisting and coupling,
While slowly our poor friend's leaves were swamping
And clasps were cracking and covers suppling!
As if you bad carried sour John Knox
To the play-house at Paris, Vienna or Munich,
Fastened him into a front-row box,
And danced off the ballet with trousers and tunic.

IX.

Come, old martyr! What, torment enough is it?
Back to my room shall you take your sweet self.
Good-bye, mother-beetle; husband-eft, sufficit!
See the snug niche I have made on my shelf!
A.'s book shall prop you up, B.'s shall cover you,
Here's C. to be grave with, or D. to be gay,
And with E. on each side, and F. right over you,
Dry-rot at ease till the Judgment-day!


~ Robert Browning, Garden Francies
,
521:Let us begin and carry up this corpse,
    Singing together.
  Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes
    Each in its tether
  Sleeping safe on the bosom of the plain,
    Cared-for till cock-crow:
  Look out if yonder be not day again
   Rimming the rock-row!
  That's the appropriate country; there, man's thought,
   Rarer, intenser,
Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought,
   Chafes in the censer.
Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop;
   Seek we sepulture
On a tall mountain, citied to the top,
   Crowded with culture!
All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels;
   Clouds overcome it;
No! yonder sparkle is the citadel's
   Circling its summit.
Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights:
   Wait ye the warning?
Our low life was the level's and the night's;
   He's for the morning.
Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head,
   'Ware the beholders!
This is our master, famous, calm and dead,
   Borne on our shoulders.

  Sleep, crop and herd! sleep, darkling thorpe and croft,
   Safe from the weather!
He, whom we convoy to his grave aloft,
   Singing together,
He was a man born with thy face and throat,
   Lyric Apollo!
Long he lived nameless: how should spring take note
   Winter would follow?
Till lo, the little touch, and youth was gone!
   Cramped and diminished,
Moaned he, "New measures, other feet anon!
   My dance is finished"?
No, that's the world's way: (keep the mountain-side,
   Make for the city!)
He knew the signal, and stepped on with pride
   Over men's pity;
Left play for work, and grappled with the world
   Bent on escaping:
"What's in the scroll," quoth he, "thou keepest furled
   Show me their shaping,
Theirs who most studied man, the bard and sage,
   Give!"So, he gowned him,
Straight got by heart that book to its last page:
   Learned, we found him.
Yea, but we found him bald too, eyes like lead,
   Accents uncertain:
"Time to taste life," another would have said,
   "Up with the curtain!"
This man said rather, "Actual life comes next?
   Patience a moment!
Grant I have mastered learning's crabbed text,
   Still there's the comment.
Let me know all! Prate not of most or least,
   Painful or easy!
Even to the crumbs I'd fain eat up the feast,
   Ay, nor feel queasy."
Oh, such a life as he resolved to live,
   When he had learned it,
When he had gathered all books had to give!
   Sooner, he spurned it.
Image the whole, then execute the parts
   Fancy the fabric
Quite, ere you build, ere steel strike fire from quartz,
   Ere mortar dab brick!

  (Here's the town-gate reached: there's the market-place
   Gaping before us.)
Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace
   (Hearten our chorus!)
That before living he'd learn how to live
   No end to learning:
Earn the means firstGod surely will contrive
   Use for our earning.
Others mistrust and say, "But time escapes:
   Live now or never!"
He said, "What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes!
   Man has Forever."
Back to his book then: deeper drooped his head:
   Calculus racked him:
Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead:
   Tussis attacked him.
"Now, master, take a little rest!"not he!
   (Caution redoubled
Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly!)
   Not a whit troubled,
Back to his studies, fresher than at first,
   Fierce as a dragon
He (soul-hydroptic with a sacred thirst)
   Sucked at the flagon.
Oh, if we draw a circle premature,
   Heedless of far gain,
Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure
   Bad is our bargain!
Was it not great? did not he throw on God,
   (He loves the burthen)
God's task to make the heavenly period
   Perfect the earthen?
Did not he magnify the mind, show clear
   Just what it all meant?
He would not discount life, as fools do here,
   Paid by instalment.
He ventured neck or nothingheaven's success
   Found, or earth's failure:
"Wilt thou trust death or not?" He answered "Yes:
   Hence with life's pale lure!"
That low man seeks a little thing to do,
   Sees it and does it:
This high man, with a great thing to pursue,
   Dies ere he knows it.
That low man goes on adding one to one,
   His hundred's soon hit:
This high man, aiming at a million,
   Misses an unit.
That, has the world hereshould he need the next,
   Let the world mind him!
This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed
   Seeking shall find him.
So, with the throttling hands of death at strife,
   Ground he at grammar;
Still, thro' the rattle, parts of speech were rife:
   While he could stammer
He settled Hoti's businesslet it be!
   Properly based Oun
Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De,
   Dead from the waist down.
Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place:
   Hail to your purlieus,
All ye highfliers of the feathered race,
   Swallows and curlews!
Here's the top-peak; the multitude below
   Live, for they can, there:
This man decided not to Live but Know
   Bury this man there?
Herehere's his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form,
   Lightnings are loosened,
Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm,
   Peace let the dew send!
Lofty designs must close in like effects:
   Loftily lying,
Leave himstill loftier than the world suspects,
   Living and dying.


~ Robert Browning, A Grammarian's Funeral Shortly After The Revival Of Learning
,
522:Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity!
  Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back?
  Nephewssons mine . . . ah God, I know not! Well
  She, men would have to be your mother once,
  Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was!
  What's done is done, and she is dead beside,
  Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since,
  And as she died so must we die ourselves,
  And thence ye may perceive the world's a dream.
  Life, how and what is it? As here I lie
  In this state-chamber, dying by degrees,
  Hours and long hours in the dead night, I ask
  Do I live, am I dead?" Peace, peace seems all.
  Saint Praxed's ever was the church for peace;
  And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought
  With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know:
  Old Gandolf cozened me, despite my care;
  Shrewd was that snatch from out the corner South
  He graced his carrion with, God curse the same!
  Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence
  One sees the pulpit o' the epistle-side,
  And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats,
  And up into the aery dome where live
  The angels, and a sunbeam's sure to lurk
  And I shall fill my slab of basalt there,
  And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest,
  With those nine columns round me, two and two,
  The odd one at my feet where Anselm stands:
  Peach-blossom marble all, the rare, the ripe
  As fresh-poured red wine of a mighty pulse.
  Old Gandolf with his paltry onion-stone,
  Put me where I may look at him! True peach,
  Rosy and flawless: how I earned the prize!
  Draw close: that conflagration of my church
  What then? So much was saved if aught were missed!
  My sons, ye would not be my death? Go dig
  The white-grape vineyard where the oil-press stood,
  Drop water gently till the surface sink,
  And if ye find . . . Ah God, I know not, I!
  Bedded in store of rotten fig-leaves soft,
  And corded up in a tight olive-frail,
  Some lump, ah God, of lapis lazuli,
  Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape,
  Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast
  Sons, all have I bequeathed you, villas, all,
  That brave Frascati villa with its bath,
  So, let the blue lump poise between my knees,
  Like God the Father's globe on both His hands
  Ye worship in the Jesu Church so gay,
  For Gandolf shall not choose but see and burst!
  Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years:
  Man goeth to the grave, and where is he?
  Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black
  'Twas ever antique-black I meant! How else
  Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath?
  The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me,
  Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so,
  The Saviour at his sermon on the mount,
  Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan
  Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off,
  And Moses with the tables . . . but I know
  Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee,
  Child of my bowels, Anselm? Ah, ye hope
  To revel down my villas while I gasp
  Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine
  Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at!
  Nay, boys, ye love meall of jasper, then!
  'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I grieve.
  My bath must needs be left behind, alas!
  One block, pure green as a pistachio-nut,
  There's plenty jasper somewhere in the world
  And have I not Saint Praxed's ear to pray
  Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts,
  And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs?
  That's if ye carve my epitaph aright,
  Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word,
  No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second line
  Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his need!
  And then how I shall lie through centuries,
  And hear the blessed mutter of the mass,
  And see God made and eaten all day long,
  And feel the steady candle-flame, and taste
  Good strong thick stupefying incense-smoke!
  For as I lie here, hours of the dead night,
  Dying in state and by such slow degrees,
  I fold my arms as if they clasped a crook,
  And stretch my feet forth straight as stone can point,
  And let the bedclothes, for a mortcloth, drop
  Into great laps and folds of sculptor's-work:
  And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange thoughts
  Grow, with a certain humming in my ears,
  About the life before I lived this life,
  And this life too, popes, cardinals and priests,
  Saint Praxed at his sermon on the mount,
  Your tall pale mother with her talking eyes,
   And new-found agate urns as fresh as day,
   And marble's language, Latin pure, discreet,
   Aha, ELUCESCEBAT quoth our friend?
  No Tully, said I, Ulpian at the best!
  Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage.
  All lapis, all, sons! Else I give the Pope
  My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart?
  Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick,
  They glitter like your mother's for my soul,
  Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze,
  Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase
  With grapes, and add a vizor and a Term,
  And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx
  That in his struggle throws the thyrsus down,
  To comfort me on my entablature
  Whereon I am to lie till I must ask
  "Do I live, am I dead?" There, leave me, there!
  For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude
  To deathye wish itGod, ye wish it! Stone
  Gritstone, a-crumble! Clammy squares which sweat
  As if the corpse they keep were oozing through
  And no more lapis to delight the world!
  Well, go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there,
  But in a row: and, going, turn your backs
  Ay, like departing altar-ministrants,
  And leave me in my church, the church for peace,
  That I may watch at leisure if he leers
  Old Gandolf, at me, from his onion-stone,
  As still he envied me, so fair she was!


~ Robert Browning, Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church, Rome, The
,
523:That second time they hunted me
From hill to plain, from shore to sea,
And Austria, hounding far and wide
Her blood-hounds thro' the country-side,
Breathed hot and instant on my trace,-
I made six days a hiding-place
Of that dry green old aqueduct
Where I and Charles, when boys, have plucked
The fire-flies from the roof above,
Bright creeping thro' the moss they love:
-How long it seems since Charles was lost!
Six days the soldiers crossed and crossed
The country in my very sight;
And when that peril ceased at night,
The sky broke out in red dismay
With signal fires; well, there I lay
Close covered o'er in my recess,
Up to the neck in ferns and cress,
Thinking on Metternich our friend,
And Charles's miserable end,
And much beside, two days; the third,
Hunger o'ercame me when I heard
The peasants from the village go
To work among the maize; you know,
With us in Lombardy, they bring
Provisions packed on mules, a string
With little bells that cheer their task,
And casks, and boughs on every cask
To keep the sun's heat from the wine;
These I let pass in jingling line,
And, close on them, dear noisy crew,
The peasants from the village, too;
For at the very rear would troop
Their wives and sisters in a group
To help, I knew. When these had passed,
I threw my glove to strike the last,
Taking the chance: she did not start,
Much less cry out, but stooped apart,
One instant rapidly glanced round,
And saw me beckon from the ground.
A wild bush grows and hides my crypt;
She picked my glove up while she stripped
A branch off, then rejoined the rest
With that; my glove lay in her breast.
Then I drew breath; they disappeared:
It was for Italy I feared.

An hour, and she returned alone
Exactly where my glove was thrown.
Meanwhile came many thoughts: on me
Rested the hopes of Italy.
I had devised a certain tale
Which, when 'twas told her, could not fail
Persuade a peasant of its truth;
I meant to call a freak of youth
This hiding, and give hopes of pay,
And no temptation to betray.
But when I saw that woman's face,
Its calm simplicity of grace,
Our Italy's own attitude
In which she walked thus far, and stood,
Planting each naked foot so firm,
To crush the snake and spare the worm-
At first sight of her eyes, I said,
``I am that man upon whose head
``They fix the price, because I hate
``The Austrians over us: the State
``Will give you gold-oh, gold so much!-
``If you betray me to their clutch,
``And be your death, for aught I know,
``If once they find you saved their foe.
``Now, you must bring me food and drink,
``And also paper, pen and ink,
``And carry safe what I shall write
``To Padua, which you'll reach at night
``Before the duomo shuts; go in,
``And wait till Tenebr begin;
``Walk to the third confessional,
``Between the pillar and the wall,
``And kneeling whisper, Whence comes peace?
``Say it a second time, then cease;
``And if the voice inside returns,
``From Christ and Freedom; what concerns
``The cause of Peace?-for answer, slip
``My letter where you placed your lip;
``Then come back happy we have done
``Our mother service-I, the son,
``As you the daughter of our land!''

Three mornings more, she took her stand
In the same place, with the same eyes:
I was no surer of sun-rise
That of her coming. We conferred
Of her own prospects, and I heard
She had a lover-stout and tall,
She said-then let her eyelids fall,
``He could do much''-as if some doubt
Entered her heart,-then, passing out,
``She could not speak for others, who
``Had other thoughts; herself she knew:''
And so she brought me drink and food.
After four days, the scouts pursued
Another path; at last arrived
The help my Paduan friends contrived
To furnish me: she brought the news.
For the first time I could not choose
But kiss her hand, and lay my own
Upon her head-``This faith was shown
``To Italy, our mother; she
``Uses my hand and blesses thee.''
She followed down to the sea-shore;
I left and never saw her more.

How very long since I have thought
Concerning-much less wished for-aught
Beside the good of Italy,
For which I live and mean to die!
I never was in love; and since
Charles proved false, what shall now convince.
My inmost heart I have a friend?
However, if I pleased to spend
Real wishes on myself-say, three-
I know at least what one should be.
I would grasp Metternich until
I felt his red wet throat distil
In blood thro' these two hands. And next,
-Nor much for that am I perplexed-
Charles, perjured traitor, for his part,
Should die slow of a broken heart
Under his new employer. Last
-Ah, there, what should I wish? For fast
Do I grow old and out of strength.
If I resolved to seek at length
My father's house again, how scared
They all would look, and unprepared!
My brothers live in Austria's pay
-Disowned me long ago, men say;
And all my early mates who used
To praise me so-perhaps induced
More than one early step of mine-
Are turning wise: while some opine
``Freedom grows license,'' some suspect
``Haste breeds delay,'' and recollect
They always said, such premature
Beginnings never could endure!
So, with a sullen ``All's for best,''
The land seems settling to its rest.
I think then, I should wish to stand
This evening in that dear, lost land,
Over the sea the thousand miles,
And know if yet that woman smiles
With the calm smile; some little farm
She lives in there, no doubt: what harm
If I sat on the door-side bench,
And, while her spindle made a trench
Fantastically in the dust,
Inquired of all her fortunes-just
Her children's ages and their names,
And what may be the husband's aims
For each of them. I'd talk this out,
And sit there, for an hour about,
Then kiss her hand once more, and lay
Mine on her head, and go my way.

So much for idle wishing-how
It steals the time! To business now.


~ Robert Browning, The Italian In England
,
524:I.

My love, this is the bitterest, that thou-
Who art all truth, and who dost love me now
As thine eyes say, as thy voice breaks to say-
Shouldst love so truly, and couldst love me still
A whole long life through, had but love its will,
Would death that leads me from thee brook delay.

II.

I have but to be by thee, and thy hand
Will never let mine go, nor heart withstand
The beating of my heart to reach its place.
When shall I look for thee and feel thee gone?
When cry for the old comfort and find none?
Never, I know! Thy soul is in thy face.

III.

Oh, I should fade-'tis willed so! Might I save,
Gladly I would, whatever beauty gave
Joy to thy sense, for that was precious too.
It is not to be granted. But the soul
Whence the love comes, all ravage leaves that whole;
Vainly the flesh fades; soul makes all things new.

IV.

It would not be because my eye grew dim
Thou couldst not find the love there, thanks to Him
Who never is dishonoured in the spark
He gave us from his fire of fires, and bade
Remember whence it sprang, nor be afraid
While that burns on, though all the rest grow dark.

V.

So, how thou wouldst be perfect, white and clean
Outside as inside, soul and soul's demesne
Alike, this body given to show it by!
Oh, three-parts through the worst of life's abyss,
What plaudits from the next world after this,
Couldst thou repeat a stroke and gain the sky!

VI.

And is it not the bitterer to think
That, disengage our hands and thou wilt sink
Although thy love was love in very deed?
I know that nature! Pass a festive day,
Thou dost not throw its relic-flower away
Nor bid its music's loitering echo speed.

VII.

Thou let'st the stranger's glove lie where it fell;
If old things remain old things all is well,
For thou art grateful as becomes man best
And hadst thou only heard me play one tune,
Or viewed me from a window, not so soon
With thee would such things fade as with the rest.

VIII.

I seem to see! We meet and part; 'tis brief;
The book I opened keeps a folded leaf,
The very chair I sat on, breaks the rank
That is a portrait of me on the wall-
Three lines, my face comes at so slight a call:
And for all this, one little hour to thank!

IX.

But now, because the hour through years was fixed,
Because our inmost beings met and mixed,
Because thou once hast loved me-wilt thou dare
Say to thy soul and Who may list beside,
``Therefore she is immortally my bride;
``Chance cannot change my love, nor time impair.

X.

``So, what if in the dusk of life that's left,
``I, a tired traveller of my sun bereft,
Look from my path when, mimicking the same,
``The fire-fly glimpses past me, come and gone?
``-Where was it till the sunset? where anon
``It will be at the sunrise! What's to blame?''

XI.

Is it so helpful to thee? Canst thou take
The mimic up, nor, for the true thing's sake,
Put gently by such efforts at a beam?
Is the remainder of the way so long,
Thou need'st the little solace, thou the strong
Watch out thy watch, let weak ones doze and dream!

XII.

-Ah, but the fresher faces! ``Is it true,''
Thou'lt ask, ``some eyes are beautiful and new?
``Some hair,-how can one choose but grasp such wealth?
``And if a man would press his lips to lips
``Fresh as the wilding hedge-rose-cup there slips
``The dew-drop out of, must it be by stealth?

XIII.

``It cannot change the love still kept for Her,
``More than if such a picture I prefer
``Passing a day with, to a room's bare side:
The painted form takes nothing she possessed,
Yet, while the Titian's Venus lies at rest,
A man looks. Once more, what is there to chide?''

XIV.

So must I see, from where I sit and watch,
My own self sell myself, my hand attach
Its warrant to the very thefts from me-
Thy singleness of soul that made me proud,
Thy purity of heart I loved aloud,
Thy man's-truth I was bold to bid God see!

XV.

Love so, then, if thou wilt! Give all thou canst
Away to the new faces-disentranced,
(Say it and think it) obdurate no more:
Re-issue looks and words from the old mint,
Pass them afresh, no matter whose the print
Image and superscription once they bore

XVI.

Re-coin thyself and give it them to spend,-
It all comes to the same thing at the end,
Since mine thou wast, mine art and mine shalt be,
Faithful or faithless, scaling up the sum
Or lavish of my treasure, thou must come
Back to the heart's place here I keep for thee!

XVII.

Only, why should it be with stain at all?
Why must I, 'twixt the leaves of coronal,
Put any kiss of pardon on thy brow?
Why need the other women know so much,
And talk together, ``Such the look and such
``The smile he used to love with, then as now!''

XVIII.

Might I die last and show thee! Should I find
Such hardship in the few years left behind,
If free to take and light my lamp, and go
Into thy tomb, and shut the door and sit,
Seeing thy face on those four sides of it
The better that they are so blank, I know!

XIX.

Why, time was what I wanted, to turn o'er
Within my mind each look, get more and more
By heart each word, too much to learn at first;
And join thee all the fitter for the pause
'Neath the low doorway's lintel. That were cause
For lingering, though thou calledst, if I durst!

XX.

And yet thou art the nobler of us two
What dare I dream of, that thou canst not do,
Outstripping my ten small steps with one stride?
I'll say then, here's a trial and a task-
Is it to bear?-if easy, I'll not ask:
Though love fail, I can trust on in thy pride.

XXI.

Pride?-when those eyes forestall the life behind
The death I have to go through!-when I find,
Now that I want thy help most, all of thee!
What did I fear? Thy love shall hold me fast
Until the little minute's sleep is past
And I wake saved.-And yet it will not be!


~ Robert Browning, Any Wife To Any Husband
,
525:Would that the structure brave, the manifold music I build,
   Bidding my organ obey, calling its keys to their work,
Claiming each slave of the sound, at a touch, as when Solomon willed
   Armies of angels that soar, legions of demons that lurk,
Man, brute, reptile, fly,alien of end and of aim,
   Adverse, each from the other heaven-high, hell-deep removed,
Should rush into sight at once as he named the ineffable Name,
   And pile him a palace straight, to pleasure the princess he loved!

  Would it might tarry like his, the beautiful building of mine,
  This which my keys in a crowd pressed and importuned to raise!
Ah, one and all, how they helped, would dispart now and now combine,
  Zealous to hasten the work, heighten their master his praise!
And one would bury his brow with a blind plunge down to hell,
  Burrow awhile and build, broad on the roots of things,
Then up again swim into sight, having based me my palace well,
  Founded it, fearless of flame, flat on the nether springs.

And another would mount and march, like the excellent minion he was,
  Ay, another and yet another, one crowd but with many a crest,
Raising my rampired walls of gold as transparent as glass,
  Eager to do and die, yield each his place to the rest:
For higher still and higher (as a runner tips with fire,
  When a great illumination surprises a festal night
Outlining round and round Rome's dome from space to spire)
  Up, the pinnacled glory reached, and the pride of my soul was in sight.

In sight? Not half! for it seemed, it was certain, to match man's birth,
  Nature in turn conceived, obeying an impulse as I;
And the emulous heaven yearned down, made effort to reach the earth,
  As the earth had done her best, in my passion, to scale the sky:
Novel splendours burst forth, grew familiar and dwelt with mine,
  Not a point nor peak but found and fixed its wandering star;
Meteor-moons, balls of blaze: and they did not pale nor pine,
  For earth had attained to heaven, there was no more near nor far.

Nay more; for there wanted not who walked in the glare and glow,
  Presences plain in the place; or, fresh from the Protoplast,
Furnished for ages to come, when a kindlier wind should blow,
  Lured now to begin and live, in a house to their liking at last;
Or else the wonderful Dead who have passed through the body and gone,
  But were back once more to breathe in an old world worth their new:
What never had been, was now; what was, as it shall be anon;
  And what is,shall I say, matched both? for I was made perfect too.

All through my keys that gave their sounds to a wish of my soul,
  All through my soul that praised as its wish flowed visibly forth,
All through music and me! For think, had I painted the whole,
  Why, there it had stood, to see, nor the process so wonder-worth:
Had I written the same, made versestill, effect proceeds from cause,
  Ye know why the forms are fair, ye hear how the tale is told;
It is all triumphant art, but art in obedience to laws,
  Painter and poet are proud in the artist-list enrolled:

But here is the finger of God, a flash of the will that can,
  Existent behind all laws, that made them and, lo, they are!
And I know not if, save in this, such gift be allowed to man,
  That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, but a star.
Consider it well: each tone of our scale in itself is nought;
  It is everywhere in the worldloud, soft, and all is said:
Give it to me to use! I mix it with two in my thought:
  And, there! Ye have heard and seen: consider and bow the head!

Well, it is gone at last, the palace of music I reared;
  Gone! and the good tears start, the praises that come too slow;
For one is assured at first, one scarce can say that he feared,
  That he even gave it a thought, the gone thing was to go.
Never to be again! But many more of the kind
  As good, nay, better, perchance: is this your comfort to me?
To me, who must be saved because I cling with my mind
  To the same, same self, same love, same God: ay, what was, shall be.

Therefore to whom turn I but to thee, the ineffable Name?
  Builder and maker, thou, of houses not made with hands!
What, have fear of change from thee who art ever the same?
  Doubt that thy power can fill the heart that thy power expands?
There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before;
  The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;
What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
  On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven, a perfect round.

All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist;
  Not its semblance, but itself; no beauty, nor good, nor power
Whose voice has gone forth, but each survives for the melodist
  When eternity affirms the conception of an hour.
The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
  The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky,
Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard;
  Enough that he heard it once: we shall hear it by and by.

And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence
  For the fulness of the days? Have we withered or agonized?
Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue thence?
  Why rushed the discords in, but that harmony should be prized?
Sorrow is hard to bear, and doubt is slow to clear,
  Each sufferer says his say, his scheme of the weal and woe:
But God has a few of us whom he whispers in the ear;
  The rest may reason and welcome; 'tis we musicians know.

Well, it is earth with me; silence resumes her reign:
  I will be patient and proud, and soberly acquiesce.
Give me the keys. I feel for the common chord again,
  Sliding by semitones till I sink to the minor,yes,
And I blunt it into a ninth, and I stand on alien ground,
  Surveying awhile the heights I rolled from into the deep;
Which, hark, I have dared and done, for my resting-place is found,
  The C Major of this life: so, now I will try to sleep.
  

~ Robert Browning, Abt Vogler
,
526:[An imaginary composer.]

I.

Hist, but a word, fair and soft!
Forth and be judged, Master Hugues!
Answer the question I've put you so oft:
What do you mean by your mountainous fugues?
See, we're alone in the loft,-

II.

I, the poor organist here,
Hugues, the composer of note,
Dead though, and done with, this many a year:
Let's have a colloquy, something to quote,
Make the world prick up its ear!

III.

See, the church empties apace:
Fast they extinguish the lights.
Hallo there, sacristan! Five minutes' grace!
Here's a crank pedal wants setting to rights,
Baulks one of holding the base.

IV.

See, our huge house of the sounds,
Hushing its hundreds at once,
Bids the last loiterer back to his bounds!
O you may challenge them, not a response
Get the church-saints on their rounds!

V.

(Saints go their rounds, who shall doubt?
-March, with the moon to admire,
Up nave, down chancel, turn transept about,
Supervise all betwixt pavement and spire,
Put rats and mice to the rout-

VI.

Aloys and Jurien and Just-
Order things back to their place,
Have a sharp eye lest the candlesticks rust,
Rub the church-plate, darn the sacrament-lace,
Clear the desk-velvet of dust.)

VII.

Here's your book, younger folks shelve!
Played I not off-hand and runningly,
Just now, your masterpiece, hard number twelve?
Here's what should strike, could one handle it cunningly:
HeIp the axe, give it a helve!

VIII.

Page after page as I played,
Every bar's rest, where one wipes
Sweat from one's brow, I looked up and surveyed,
O'er my three claviers yon forest of pipes
Whence you still peeped in the shade.

IX.

Sure you were wishful to speak?
You, with brow ruled like a score,
Yes, and eyes buried in pits on each cheek,
Like two great breves, as they wrote them of yore,
Each side that bar, your straight beak!

X.

Sure you said-``Good, the mere notes!
``Still, couldst thou take my intent,
``Know what procured me our Company's votes-
``A master were lauded and sciolists shent,
``Parted the sheep from the goats!''

XI.

Well then, speak up, never flinch!
Quick, ere my candle's a snuff
-Burnt, do you see? to its uttermost inch-
I believe in you, but that's not enough:
Give my conviction a clinch!

XII.

First you deliver your phrase
-Nothing propound, that I see,
Fit in itself for much blame or much praise-
Answered no less, where no answer needs be:
Off start the Two on their ways.

XIII.

Straight must a Third interpose,
Volunteer needlessly help;
In strikes a Fourth, a Fifth thrusts in his nose,
So the cry's open, the kennel's a-yelp,
Argument's hot to the close.

XIV.

One dissertates, he is candid;
Two must discept,has distinguished;
Three helps the couple, if ever yet man did;
Four protests; Five makes a dart at the thing wished:
Back to One, goes the case bandied.

XV.

One says his say with a difference
More of expounding, explaining!
All now is wrangle, abuse, and vociferance;
Now there's a truce, all's subdued, self-restraining :
Five, though, stands out all the stiffer hence.

XVI.

One is incisive, corrosive:
Two retorts, nettled, curt, crepitant;
Three makes rejoinder, expansive, explosive;
Four overbears them all, strident and strepitant,
Five O Danaides, O Sieve!

XVII.

Now, they ply axes and crowbars;
Now, they prick pins at a tissue
Fine as a skein of the casuist Escobar's
Worked on the bone of a lie. To what issue?
Where is our gain at the Two-bars?

XVIII.

Est fuga, volvitur rota.
On we drift: where looms the dim port?
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, contribute their quota;
Something is gained, if one caught but the import-
Show it us, Hugues of Saxe-Gotha!

XIX.

What with affirming, denying,
Holding, risposting, subjoining,
All's like it's like for an instance I'm trying
There! See our roof, its gilt moulding and groining
Under those spider-webs lying!

XX.

So your fugue broadens and thickens,
Greatens and deepens and lengthens,
Till we exclaim-``But where's music, the dickens?
``Blot ye the gold, while your spider-web strengthens
``-Blacked to the stoutest of tickens?''

XXI.

I for man's effort am zealous:
Prove me such censure unfounded!
Seems it surprising a lover grows jealous-
Hopes 'twas for something, his organ-pipes sounded,
Tiring three boys at the bellows?

XXII.

Is it your moral of Life?
Such a web, simple and subtle,
Weave we on earth here in impotent strife,
Backward and forward each throwing his shuttle,
Death ending all with a knife?

XXIII.

Over our heads truth and nature-
Still our life's zigzags and dodges,
Ins and outs, weaving a new legislature-
God's gold just shining its last where that lodges,
Palled beneath man's usurpature.

XXIV.

So we o'ershroud stars and roses,
Cherub and trophy and garland;
Nothings grow something which quietly closes
Heaven's earnest eye: not a glimpse of the far land
Gets through our comments and glozes.

XXV.

Ah but traditions, inventions,
(Say we and make up a visage)
So many men with such various intentions,
Down the past ages, must know more than this age!
Leave we the web its dimensions!

XXVI.

Who thinks Hugues wrote for the deaf,
Proved a mere mountain in labour?
Better submit; try again; what's the clef?
'Faith, 'tis no trifle for pipe and for tabor-
Four flats, the minor in F.

XXVII.

Friend, your fugue taxes the finger
Learning it once, who would lose it?
Yet all the while a misgiving will linger,
Truth's golden o'er us although we refuse it-
Nature, thro' cobwebs we string her.

XXVIII.

Hugues! I advise Me Pn
(Counterpoint glares like a Gorgon)
Bid One, Two, Three, Four, Five, clear the arena!
Say the word, straight I unstop the full-organ,
Blare out the mode Palestrina.

XXIX.

While in the roof, if I'm right there,
Lo you, the wick in the socket!
Hallo, you sacristan, show us a light there!
Down it dips, gone like a rocket.
What, you want, do you, to come unawares,
Sweeping the church up for first morning-prayers,
And find a poor devil has ended his cares
At the foot of your rotten-runged rat-riddled stairs?
Do I carry the moon in my pocket?

A fugue is a short melody.
Keyboard of organ.
A note in music.
The daughters of Danaus, condemned to pour water
into a sieve.
The Spanish casuist, so severely mauled by Pascal.
A closely woven fabric.


~ Robert Browning, Master Hugues Of Saxe-Gotha
,
527:ON WHICH THE JEWS WERE FORCED TO
ATTEND AN ANNUAL CHRISTIAN SERMON
IN ROME.

[``Now was come about Holy-Cross Day,
and now must my lord preach his first sermon
to the Jews: as it was of old cared for in tine
merciful bowels of the Church, that, so to
speak, a crumb at least from her conspicuous
table here in Rome should be, though but
once yearly, cast to the famishing dogs, under-trampled
and bespitten-upon beneath the feet
of the guests. And a moving sight in truth,
this, of so many of the besotted blind restif
and ready-to-perish Hebrews! now maternally
brought-nay (for He saith, `Compel them
to come in') haled, as it were, by the head and
hair, and against their obstinate hearts, to partake
of the heavenly grace. What awakening,
what striving with tears, what working of a
yeasty conscience! Nor was my lord wanting
to himself on so apt an occasion; witness
the abundance of conversions which did incontinently
reward him: though not to my
lord be altogether the glory.''-Diary by the
Bishop's Secretary, 1600.]

What the Jews really said, on thus being
driven to church, was rather to this effect:-

I.

Fee, faw, fum! bubble and squeak!
Blessedest Thursday's the fat of the week.
Rumble and tumble, sleek and rough,
Stinking and savoury, simug and gruff,
Take the church-road, for the bell's due chime
Gives us the summons-'tis sermon-time!

II.

Bob, here's Barnabas! Job, that's you?
Up stumps Solomon-bustling too?
Shame, man! greedy beyond your years
To handsel the bishop's shaving-shears?
Fair play's a jewel! Leave friends in the lurch?
Stand on a line ere you start for the church!

III.

Higgledy piggledy, packed we lie,
Rats in a hamper, swine in a stye,
Wasps in a bottle, frogs in a sieve,
Worms in a carcase, fleas in a sleeve.
Hist! square shoulders, settle your thumbs
And buzz for the bishop-here he comes.

IV.

Bow, wow, wow-a bone for the dog!
I liken his Grace to an acorned hog.
What, a boy at his side, with the bloom of a lass,
To help and handle my lord's hour-glass!
Didst ever behold so lithe a chine?
His cheek hath laps like a fresh-singed swine.

V.

Aaron's asleep-shove hip to haunch,
Or somebody deal him a dig in the paunch!
Look at the purse with the tassel and knob,
And the gown with the angel and thingumbob!
What's he at, quotha? reading his text!
Now you've his curtsey-and what comes next?

VI.

See to our converts-you doomed black dozen-
No stealing away-nor cog nor cozen!
You five, that were thieves, deserve it fairly;
You seven, that were beggars, will live less sparely;
You took your turn and dipped in the hat,
Got fortune-and fortune gets you; mind that!

VII.

Give your first groan-compunction's at work;
And soft! from a Jew you mount to a Turk.
Lo, Micah,-the selfsame beard on chin
He was four times already converted in!
Here's a knife, clip quick-it's a sign of grace-
Or he ruins us all with his hanging-face.

VIII.

Whom now is the bishop a-leering at?
I know a point where his text falls pat.
I'll tell him to-morrow, a word just now
Went to my heart and made me vow
I meddle no more with the worst of trades-
Let somebody else pay his serenades.

IX.

Groan all together now, whee-hee-hee!
It's a-work, it's a-work, ah, woe is me!
It began, when a herd of us, picked and placed,
Were spurred through the Corso, stripped to the waist;
Jew brutes, with sweat and blood well spent
To usher in worthily Christian Lent.

X.

It grew, when the hangman entered our bounds,
Yelled, pricked us out to his church like hounds:
It got to a pitch, when the hand indeed
Which gutted my purse would throttle my creed:
And it overflows when, to even the odd,
Men I helped to their sins help me to their God.

XI.

But now, while the scapegoats leave our flock,
And the rest sit silent and count the clock,
Since forced to muse the appointed time
On these precious facts and truths sublime,-
Let us fitly ennploy it, under our breath,
In saying Ben Ezra's Song of Death.

XII.

For Rabbi Ben Ezra, the night he died,
Called sons and sons' sons to his side,
And spoke, ``This world has been harsh and strange;
``Something is wrong: there needeth a change.
``But what, or where? at the last or first?
``In one point only we sinned, at worst.

XIII.

``The Lord will have mercy on Jacob yet,
``And again in his border see Israel set.
``When Judah beholds Jerusalem,
``The stranger-seed shall be joined to them:
``To Jacob's House shall the Gentiles cleave.
``So the Prophet saith and his sons believe.

XIV.

``Ay, the children of the chosen race
``Shall carry and bring them to their place:
``In the land of the Lord shall lead the same,
``Bondsmen and handmaids. Who shall blame,
``When the slaves enslave, the oppressed ones o'er
``The oppressor triumph for evermore?

XV.

``God spoke, and gave us the word to keep,
``Bade never fold the hands nor sleep
``'Mid a faithless world,-at watch and ward,
``Till Christ at the end relieve our guard.
``By His servant Moses the watch was set:
``Though near upon cock-crow, we keep it yet.

XVI.

``Thou! if thou wast He, who at mid-watch came,
``By the starlight, naming a dubious name!
``And if, too heavy with sleep-too rash
``With fear-O Thou, if that martyr-gash
``Fell on Thee coming to take thine own,
``And we gave the Cross, when we owed the Throne-

XVII.

``Thou art the Judge. We are bruised thus.
``But, the Judgment over, join sides with us!
``Thine too is the cause! and not more thine
``Than ours, is the work of these dogs and swine,
``Whose life laughs through and spits at their creed!
``Who maintain Thee in word, and defy Thee in deed!

XVIII.

``We withstood Christ then? Be mindful how
``At least we withstand Barabbas now!
``Was our outrage sore? But the worst we spared,
``To have called these-Christians, had we dared!
``Let defiance to them pay mistrust of Thee,
``And Rome make amends for Calvary!

XIX.

``By the torture, prolonged from age to age,
``By the infamy, Israel's heritage,
``By the Ghetto's plague, by the garb's disgrace,
``By the badge of shame, by the felon's place,
``By the branding-tool, the bloody whip,
``And the summons to Christian fellowship,-

XX.

``We boast our proof that at least the Jew
``Would wrest Christ's name from the Devil's crew.
``Thy face took never so deep a shade
``But we fought them in it, God our aid!
``A trophy to bear, as we marchs, thy band,
``South, East, and on to the Pleasant Land!''

[Pope Gregory XVI. abolished this bad
business of the Sermon.-R. B.]


~ Robert Browning, Holy-Cross Day
,
528:Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

Not that, amassing flowers,
Youth sighed "Which rose make ours,
Which lily leave and then as best recall?"
Not that, admiring stars,
It yearned "Nor Jove, nor Mars;
Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!"

Not for such hopes and fears
Annulling youth's brief years,
Do I remonstrate: folly wide the mark!
Rather I prize the doubt
Low kinds exist without,
Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark.

Poor vaunt of life indeed,
Were man but formed to feed
On joy, to solely seek and find and feast:
Such feasting ended, then
As sure an end to men;
Irks care the crop-full bird? Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast?

Rejoice we are allied
To That which doth provide
And not partake, effect and not receive!
A spark disturbs our clod;
Nearer we hold of God
Who gives, than of His tribes that take, I must believe.

Then, welcome each rebuff
That turns earth's smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe!

For thence,a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks,
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be,
And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale.

What is he but a brute
Whose flesh has soul to suit,
Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play?
To man, propose this test
Thy body at its best,
How far can that project thy soul on its lone way?

Yet gifts should prove their use:
I own the Past profuse
Of power each side, perfection every turn:
Eyes, ears took in their dole,
Brain treasured up the whole;
Should not the heart beat once "How good to live and learn?"

Not once beat "Praise be Thine!
I see the whole design,
I, who saw power, see now love perfect too:
Perfect I call Thy plan:
Thanks that I was a man!
Maker, remake, complete,I trust what Thou shalt do!"

For pleasant is this flesh;
Our soul, in its rose-mesh
Pulled ever to the earth, still yearns for rest;
Would we some prize might hold
To match those manifold
Possessions of the brute,gain most, as we did best!

Let us not always say,
"Spite of this flesh to-day
I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole!"
As the bird wings and sings,
Let us cry "All good things
Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul!"

Therefore I summon age
To grant youth's heritage,
Life's struggle having so far reached its term:
Thence shall I pass, approved
A man, for aye removed
From the developed brute; a god though in the germ.

And I shall thereupon
Take rest, ere I be gone
Once more on my adventure brave and new:
Fearless and unperplexed,
When I wage battle next,
What weapons to select, what armour to indue.

Youth ended, I shall try
My gain or loss thereby;
Leave the fire ashes, what survives is gold:
And I shall weigh the same,
Give life its praise or blame:
Young, all lay in dispute; I shall know, being old.

For note, when evening shuts,
A certain moment cuts
The deed off, calls the glory from the grey:
A whisper from the west
Shoots"Add this to the rest,
Take it and try its worth: here dies another day."

So, still within this life,
Though lifted o'er its strife,
Let me discern, compare, pronounce at last,
This rage was right i' the main,
That acquiescence vain:
The Future I may face now I have proved the Past."

For more is not reserved
To man, with soul just nerved
To act to-morrow what he learns to-day:
Here, work enough to watch
The Master work, and catch
Hints of the proper craft, tricks of the tool's true play.

As it was better, youth
Should strive, through acts uncouth,
Toward making, than repose on aught found made:
So, better, age, exempt
From strife, should know, than tempt
Further. Thou waitedst age: wait death nor be afraid!
Enough now, if the Right
And Good and Infinite
Be named here, as thou callest thy hand thine own
With knowledge absolute,
Subject to no dispute
From fools that crowded youth, nor let thee feel alone.

Be there, for once and all,
Severed great minds from small,
Announced to each his station in the Past!
Was I, the world arraigned,
Were they, my soul disdained,
Right? Let age speak the truth and give us peace at last!

Now, who shall arbitrate?
Ten men love what I hate,
Shun what I follow, slight what I receive;
Ten, who in ears and eyes
Match me: we all surmise,
They this thing, and I that: whom shall my soul believe?

Not on the vulgar mass
Called "work," must sentence pass,
Things done, that took the eye and had the price;
O'er which, from level stand,
The low world laid its hand,
Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice:

But all, the world's coarse thumb
And finger failed to plumb,
So passed in making up the main account;
All instincts immature,
All purposes unsure,
That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount:

Thoughts hardly to be packed
Into a narrow act,
Fancies that broke through language and escaped;
All I could never be,
All, men ignored in me,
This, I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped.

Ay, note that Potter's wheel,
That metaphor! and feel
Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay,
Thou, to whom fools propound,
When the wine makes its round,
"Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!"

Fool! All that is, at all,
Lasts ever, past recall;
Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
What entered into thee,
That was, is, and shall be:
Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.

He fixed thee mid this dance
Of plastic circumstance,
This Present, thou, forsooth, wouldst fain arrest:
Machinery just meant
To give thy soul its bent,
Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed.

What though the earlier grooves,
Which ran the laughing loves
Around thy base, no longer pause and press?
What though, about thy rim,
Skull-things in order grim
Grow out, in graver mood, obey the sterner stress?

Look not thou down but up!
To uses of a cup,
The festal board, lamp's flash and trumpet's peal,
The new wine's foaming flow,
The Master's lips a-glow!
Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what need'st thou with earth's wheel?

But I need, now as then,
Thee, God, who mouldest men;
And since, not even while the whirl was worst,
Did I,to the wheel of life
With shapes and colours rife,
Bound dizzily,mistake my end, to slake Thy thirst:

So, take and use Thy work:
Amend what flaws may lurk,
What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim!
My times be in Thy hand!
Perfect the cup as planned!
Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!


~ Robert Browning, Rabbi Ben Ezra
,
529:(PETER RONSARD loquitur.)

``Heigho!'' yawned one day King Francis,
``Distance all value enhances!
``When a man's busy, why, leisure
``Strikes him as wonderful pleasure:
`` 'Faith, and at leisure once is he?
``Straightway he wants to be busy.
``Here we've got peace; and aghast I'm
``Caught thinking war the true pastime.
``Is there a reason in metre?
``Give us your speech, master Peter!''
I who, if mortal dare say so,
Ne'er am at loss with my Naso,
``Sire,'' I replied, ``joys prove cloudlets:
``Men are the merest Ixions''-
Here the King whistled aloud, ``Let's
``-Heigho-go look at our lions!''
Such are the sorrowful chances
If you talk fine to King Francis.

And so, to the courtyard proceeding,
Our company, Francis was leading,
Increased by new followers tenfold
Before be arrived at the penfold;
Lords, ladies, like clouds which bedizen
At sunset the western horizon.
And Sir De Lorge pressed 'mid the foremost
With the dame he professed to adore most.
Oh, what a face! One by fits eyed
Her, and the horrible pitside;
For the penfold surrounded a hollow
Which led where the eye scarce dared follow,
And shelved to the chamber secluded
Where Bluebeard, the great lion, brooded.
The King bailed his keeper, an Arab
As glossy and black as a scarab,

And bade him make sport and at once stir
Up and out of his den the old monster.
They opened a hole in the wire-work
Across it, and dropped there a firework,
And fled: one's heart's beating redoubled;
A pause, while the pit's mouth was troubled,
The blackness and silence so utter,
By the firework's slow sparkling and sputter;
Then earth in a sudden contortion
Gave out to our gaze her abortion.
Such a brute! Were I friend Clement Marot
(Whose experience of nature's but narrow,
And whose faculties move in no small mist
When he versifies David the Psalmist)
I should study that brute to describe you
Illim Juda Leonem de Tribu.
One's whole blood grew curdling and creepy
To see the black mane, vast and heapy,
The tail in the air stiff and straining,
The wide eyes, nor waxing nor waning,
As over the barrier which bounded
His platform, and us who surrounded
The barrier, they reached and they rested
On space that might stand him in best stead:
For who knew, he thought, what the amazement,
The eruption of clatter and blaze meant,
And if, in this minute of wonder,
No outlet, 'mid lightning and thunder,
Lay broad, and, his shackles all shivered,
The lion at last was delivered?
Ay, that was the open sky o'erhead!
And you saw by the flash on his forehead,
By the hope in those eyes wide and steady,
He was leagues in the desert already,
Driving the flocks up the mountain,
Or catlike couched hard by the fountain
To waylay the date-gathering negress:
So guarded he entrance or egress.
``How he stands!'' quoth the King: ``we may well swear,
(``No novice, we've won our spurs elsewhere
``And so can afford the confession,)
``We exercise wholesome discretion
``In keeping aloof from his threshold;
``Once hold you, those jaws want no fresh hold,
``Their first would too pleasantly purloin
``The visitor's brisket or surloin:
``But who's he would prove so fool-hardy?
``Not the best man of Marignan, pardie!''

The sentence no sooner was uttered,
Than over the rails a glove flattered,
Fell close to the lion, and rested:
The dame 'twas, who flung it and jested
With life so, De Lorge had been wooing
For months past; he sat there pursuing
His suit, weighing out with nonchalance
Fine speeches like gold from a balance.

Sound the trumpet, no true knight's a tarrier!
De Lorge made one leap at the barrier,
Walked straight to the glove,-while the lion
Neer moved, kept his far-reaching eye on
The palm-tree-edged desert-spring's sapphire,
And the musky oiled skin of the Kaffir,-
Picked it up, and as calmly retreated,
Leaped back where the lady was seated,
And full in the face of its owner
Flung the glove.

``Your heart's queen, you dethrone her?
``So should I!''-cried the King-``'twas mere vanity,
``Not love, set that task to humanity!''
Lords and ladies alike turned with loathing
From such a proved wolf in sheep's clothing.

Not so, I; for I caught an expression
In her brow's undisturbed self-possession
Amid the Court's scoffing and merriment,-
As if from no pleasing experiment
She rose, yet of pain not much heedful
So long as the process was needful,-
As if she had tried in a crucible,
To what ``speeches like gold'' were reducible,
And, finding the finest prove copper,
Felt the smoke in her face was but proper;
To know what she had not to trust to,
Was worth all the ashes and dust too.
She went out 'mid hooting and laughter;
Clement Marot stayed; I followed after,
And asked, as a grace, what it all meant?
If she wished not the rash deed's recalment?
``For I''-so I spoke-``am a poet:
``Human nature,-behoves that I know it!''

She told me, ``Too long had I heard
``Of the deed proved alone by the word:
``For my love-what De Lorge would not dare!
``With my scorn-what De Lorge could compare!
``And the endless descriptions of death
``He would brave when my lip formed a breath,
``I must reckon as braved, or, of course,
``Doubt his word-and moreover, perforce,
``For such gifts as no lady could spurn,
``Must offer my love in return.
``When I looked on your lion, it brought
``All the dangers at once to my thought,
``Encountered by all sorts of men,
``Before he was lodged in his den,-
``From the poor slave whose club or bare hands
``Dug the trap, set the snare on the sands,
``With no King and no Court to applaud,
``By no shame, should he shrink, overawed,
``Yet to capture the creature made shift,
``That his rude boys might laugh at the gift,
``-To the page who last leaped o'er the fence
``Of the pit, on no greater pretence
``Than to get back the bonnet he dropped,
``Lest his pay for a week should be stopped.
``So, wiser I judged it to make
``One trial what `death for my sake'
``Really meant, while the power was yet mine,
``Than to wait until time should define
``Such a phrase not so simply as I,
``Who took it to mean just `to die.'
``The blow a glove gives is but weak:
``Does the mark yet discolour my cheek?
``But when the heart suffers a blow,
``Will the pain pass so soon, do you know?''

I looked, as away she was sweeping,
And saw a youth eagerly keeping
As close as he dared to the doorway.
No doubt that a noble should more weigh
His life than befits a plebeian;
And yet, had our brute been Nemean-
(I judge by a certain calm fervour
The youth stepped with, forward to serve her)
-He'd have scarce thought you did him the worst turn
If you whispered ``Friend, what you'd get, first earn!''
And when, shortly after, she carried
Her shame from the Court, and they married,
To that marriage some happiness, maugre
The voice of the Court, I dared augur.

For De Lorge, he made women with men vie,
Those in wonder and praise, these in envy;
And in short stood so plain a head taller
That he wooed and won how do you call her?
The beauty, that rose in the sequel
To the King's love, who loved her a week well.
And 'twas noticed he never would honour
De Lorge (who looked daggers upon her)
With the easy commission of stretching
His legs in the service, and fetching
His wife, from her chamber, those straying
Sad gloves she was always mislaying,
While the King took the closet to chat in,-
But of course this adventure came pat in.
And never the King told the story,
How bringing a glove brought such glory,
But the wife smiled-``His nerves are grown firmer:
``Mine he brings now and utters no murmur.''

Venienti occurrite morbo!
With which moral I drop my theorbo.
A beetle.


~ Robert Browning, The Glove
,
530:He sings.

I send my heart up to thee, all my heart
In this my singing.
For the stars help me, and the sea bears part;
The very night is clinging
Closer to Venice' streets to leave one space
Above me, whence thy face
May light my joyous heart to thee its dwelling-place.

She speaks.

Say after me, and try to say
My very words, as if each word
Came from you of your own accord,
In your own voice, in your own way:
``This woman's heart and soul and brain
``Are mine as much as this gold chain
``She bids me wear; which'' (say again)
``I choose to make by cherishing
``A precious thing, or choose to fling
``Over the boat-side, ring by ring.''
And yet once more say no word more!
Since words are only words. Give o'er!

Unless you call me, all the same,
Familiarly by my pet name,
Which if the Three should hear you call,
And me reply to, would proclaim
At once our secret to them all.
Ask of me, too, command me, blame-
Do, break down the partition-wall
'Twixt us, the daylight world beholds
Curtained in dusk and splendid folds!
What's left but-all of me to take?
I am the Three's: prevent them, slake
Your thirst! 'Tis said, the Arab sage,
In practising with gems, can loose
Their subtle spirit in his cruce
And leave but ashes: so, sweet mage,
Leave them my ashes when thy use
Sucks out my soul, thy heritage!

He sings.

I.

Past we glide, and past, and past!
What's that poor Agnese doing
Where they make the shutters fast?
Grey Zanobi's just a-wooing
To his couch the purchased bride:
Past we glide!

II.

Past we glide, and past, and past!
Why's the Pucci Palace flaring
Like a beacon to the blast?
Guests by hundreds, not one caring
If the dear host's neck were wried:
Past we glide!

She sings.

I.

The moth's kiss, first!
Kiss me as if you made believe
You were not sure, this eve,
How my face, your flower, had pursed
Its petals up; so, here and there
You brush it, till I grow aware
Who wants me, and wide ope I burst.

II.

The bee's kiss, now!
Kiss me as if you entered gay
My heart at some noonday,
A bud that dares not disallow
The claim, so all is rendered up,
And passively its shattered cup
Over your head to sleep I bow.

He sings.

I.

What are we two?
I am a Jew,
And carry thee, farther than friends can pursue,
To a feast of our tribe;
Where they need thee to bribe
The devil that blasts them unless he imbibe
Thy Scatter the vision for ever! And now,
As of old, I am I, thou art thou!

II.

Say again, what we are?
The sprite of a star,
I lure thee above where the destinies bar
My plumes their full play
Till a ruddier ray
Than my pale one announce there is withering away
Some Scatter the vision for ever! And now,
As of old, I am I, thou art thou!

He muses.

Oh, which were best, to roam or rest?
The land's lap or the water's breast?
To sleep on yellow millet-sheaves,
Or swim in lucid shallows just
Eluding water-lily leaves,
An inch from Death's black fingers, thrust
To lock you, whom release he must;
Which life were best on Summer eves?

He speaks, musing.

Lie back; could thought of mine improve you?
From this shoulder let there spring
A wing; from this, another wing;
Wings, not legs and feet, shall move you!
Snow-white must they spring, to blend
With your flesh, but I intend
They shall deepen to the end,
Broader, into burning gold,
Till both wings crescent-wise enfold
Your perfect self, from 'neath your feet
To o'er your head, where, lo, they meet
As if a million sword-blades hurled
Defiance from you to the world!

Rescue me thou, the only real!
And scare away this mad ideal
That came, nor motions to depart!
Thanks! Now, stay ever as thou art!

Still he muses.

I.

What if the Three should catch at last
Thy serenader? While there's cast
Paul's cloak about my head, and fast
Gian pinions me, himself has past
His stylet thro' my back; I reel;
And is it thou I feel?

II.

They trail me, these three godless knaves,
Past every church that saints and saves,
Nor stop till, where the cold sea raves
By Lido's wet accursed graves,
They scoop mine, roll me to its brink,
And on thy breast I sink

She replies, musing.

Dip your arm o'er the boat-side, elbow-deep,
As I do: thus: were death so unlike sleep,
Caught this way? Death's to fear from flame or steel,
Or poison doubtless; but from water-feel!

Go find the bottom! Would you stay me? There!
Now pluck a great blade of that ribbon-grass
To plait in where the foolish jewel was,
I flung away: since you have praised my hair,
'Tis proper to be choice in what I wear.

He speaks.

Row home? must we row home? Too surely
Know I where its front's demurely
Over the Giudecca piled;
Window just with window mating,
Door on door exactly waiting,
All's the set face of a child:
But behind it, where's a trace
Of the staidness and reserve,
And formal lines without a curve,
In the same child's playing-face?
No two windows look one way
O'er the small sea-water thread
Below them. Ah, the autumn day
I, passing, saw you overhead!
First, out a cloud of curtain blew,
Then a sweet cry, and last came you-
To catch your lory that must needs
Escape just then, of all times then,
To peck a tall plant's fleecy seeds,
And make me happiest of men.
I scarce could breathe to see you reach
So far back o'er the balcony
To catch him ere he climbed too high
Above you in the Smyrna peach
That quick the round smooth cord of gold,
This coiled hair on your head, unrolled,
Fell down you like a gorgeous snake
The Roman girls were wont, of old,
When Rome there was, for coolness' sake
To let lie curling o'er their bosoms.
Dear lory,*
may his beak retain
Ever its delicate rose stain
As if the wounded lotus-blossoms
Had marked their thief to know again!

Stay longer yet, for others' sake
Than mine! What should your chamber do?
-With all its rarities that ache
In silence while day lasts, but wake
At night-time and their life renew,
Suspended just to pleasure you
Who brought against their will together
These objects, and, while day lasts, weave
Around them such a magic tether
That dumb they look: your harp, believe,
With all the sensitive tight strings
Which dare not speak, now to itself
Breathes slumberously, as if some elf
Went in and out the chords, his wings
Make murmur wheresoe'er they graze,
As an angel may, between the maze
Of midnight palace-pillars, on
And on, to sow God's plagues, have gone
Through guilty glorious Babylon.
And while such murmurs flow, the nymph
Bends o'er the harp-top from her shell
As the dry limpet for the lymph
Come with a tune be knows so well.
And how your statues' hearts must swell!
And how your pictures must descend
To see each other, friend with friend!
Oh, could you take them by surprise,
You'd find Schidone's eager Duke
Doing the quaintest courtesies
To that prim saint by Haste-thee-Luke!
And, deeper into her rock den,
Bold Castelfranco's Magdalen
You'd find retreated from the ken
Of that robed counsel-keeping Ser-
As if the Tizian thinks of her,
And is not, rather, gravely bent
On seeing for himself what toys
Are these, his progeny invent,
What litter now the board employs
Whereon he signed a document
That got him murdered! Each enjoys
Its night so well, you cannot break
The sport up, so, indeed must make
More stay with me, for others' sake.

She speaks.

I.

To-morrow, if a harp-string, say,
Is used to tie the jasmine back
That overfloods my room with sweets,
Contrive your Zorzi somehow meets
My Zanze! If the ribbon's black,
The Three are watching: keep away!

II.

Your gondola-let Zorzi wreathe
A mesh of water-weeds about
its prow, as if he unaware
Had struck some quay or bridge-foot stair!
That I may throw a paper out
As you and he go underneath.

There's Zanze's vigilant taper; safe are we.
Only one minute more to-night with me?
Resume your past self of a month ago!
Be you the bashful gallant, I will be
The lady with the colder breast than snow.
Now bow you, as becomes, nor touch my hand
More than I touch yours when I step to land,
And say, ``All thanks, Siora!''-
Heart to heart
And lips to lips! Yet once more, ere we part,
Clasp me and make me thine, as mine thou art!
[He is surprised, and stabbed.
It was ordained to be so, sweet!-and best
Comes now, beneath thine eyes, upon thy breast.
Still kiss me! Care not for the cowards! Care
Only to put aside thy beauteous hair
My blood will hurt! The Three, I do not scorn
To death, because they never lived: but I
Have lived indeed, and so-(yet one more kiss)-can die!


~ Robert Browning, In A Gondola
,
531:New Year's Day at Asolo in the Trevisan

Scene.A large mean airy chamber. A girl, Pippa, from the Silk-mills, springing out of bed.
Day!
Faster and more fast,
O'er night's brim, day boils at last:
Boils, pure gold, o'er the cloud-cup's brim
Where spurting and suppressed it lay,
For not a froth-flake touched the rim
Of yonder gap in the solid gray
Of the eastern cloud, an hour away;
But forth one wavelet, then another, curled,
Till the whole sunrise, not to be suppressed,
Rose, reddened, and its seething breast
Flickered in bounds, grew gold, then overflowed the world.
Oh, Day, if I squander a wavelet of thee,
A mite of my twelve hours' treasure,
The least of thy gazes or glances,
(Be they grants thou art bound to or gifts above measure)
One of thy choices or one of thy chances,
(Be they tasks God imposed thee or freaks at thy pleasure)
My Day, if I squander such labour or leisure,
Then shame fall on Asolo, mischief on me!
Thy long blue solemn hours serenely flowing,
Whence earth, we feel, gets steady help and good
Thy fitful sunshine-minutes, coming, going,
As if earth turned from work in gamesome mood
All shall be mine! But thou must treat me not
As prosperous ones are treated, those who live
At hand here, and enjoy the higher lot,
In readiness to take what thou wilt give,
And free to let alone what thou refusest;
For, Day, my holiday, if thou ill-usest
Me, who am only Pippa,old-year's sorrow,
Cast off last night, will come again to-morrow:
Whereas, if thou prove gentle, I shall borrow
Sufficient strength of thee for new-year's sorrow.
All other men and women that this earth
Belongs to, who all days alike possess,
Make general plenty cure particular dearth,
Get more joy one way, if another, less:
Thou art my single day, God lends to leaven
What were all earth else, with a feel of heaven,
Sole light that helps me through the year, thy sun's!
Try now! Take Asolo's Four Happiest Ones
And let thy morning rain on that superb
Great haughty Ottima; can rain disturb
Her Sebald's homage? All the while thy rain
Beats fiercest on her shrub-house window-pane,
He will but press the closer, breathe more warm
Against her cheek; how should she mind the storm?
And, morning past, if mid-day shed a gloom
O'er Jules and Phene,what care bride and groom
Save for their dear selves? 'T is their marriage-day;
And while they leave church and go home their way,
Hand clasping hand, within each breast would be
Sunbeams and pleasant weather spite of thee.
Then, for another trial, obscure thy eve
With mist,will Luigi and his mother grieve
The lady and her child, unmatched, forsooth,
She in her age, as Luigi in his youth,
For true content? The cheerful town, warm, close
And safe, the sooner that thou art morose,
Receives them. And yet once again, outbreak
In storm at night on Monsignor, they make
Such stir about,whom they expect from Rome
To visit Asolo, his brothers' home,
And say here masses proper to release
A soul from pain,what storm dares hurt his peace?
Calm would he pray, with his own thoughts to ward
Thy thunder off, nor want the angels' guard.
But Pippajust one such mischance would spoil
Her day that lightens the next twelvemonth's toil
At wearisome silk-winding, coil on coil!
And here I let time slip for nought!
Aha, you foolhardy sunbeam, caught
With a single splash from my ewer!
You that would mock the best pursuer,
Was my basin over-deep?
One splash of water ruins you asleep,
And up, up, fleet your brilliant bits
Wheeling and counterwheeling,
Reeling, broken beyond healing:
Now grow together on the ceiling!
That will task your wits.
Whoever it was quenched fire first, hoped to see
Morsel after morsel flee
As merrily, as giddily . . .
Meantime, what lights my sunbeam on,
Where settles by degrees the radiant cripple?
Oh, is it surely blown, my martagon?
New-blown and ruddy as St. Agnes' nipple,
Plump as the flesh-bunch on some Turk bird's poll!
Be sure if corals, branching 'neath the ripple
Of ocean, bud there,fairies watch unroll
Such turban-flowers; I say, such lamps disperse
Thick red flame through that dusk green universe!
I am queen of thee, floweret!
And each fleshy blossom
Preserve I not(safer
Than leaves that embower it,
Or shells that embosom)
From weevil and chafer?
Laugh through my pane then; solicit the bee;
Gibe him, be sure; and, in midst of thy glee,
Love thy queen, worship me!
Worship whom else? For am I not, this day,
Whate'er I please? What shall I please to-day?
My morn, noon, eve and nighthow spend my day?
To-morrow I must be Pippa who winds silk,
The whole year round, to earn just bread and milk:
But, this one day, I have leave to go,
And play out my fancy's fullest games;
I may fancy all dayand it shall be so
That I taste of the pleasures, am called by the names
Of the Happiest Four in our Asolo!
See! Up the hill-side yonder, through the morning,
Some one shall love me, as the world calls love:
I am no less than Ottima, take warning!
The gardens, and the great stone house above,
And other house for shrubs, all glass in front,
Are mine; where Sebald steals, as he is wont,
To court me, while old Luca yet reposes:
And therefore, till the shrub-house door uncloses,
I . . . what now?give abundant cause for prate
About meOttima, I meanof late,
Too bold, too confident she'll still face down
The spitefullest of talkers in our town.
How we talk in the little town below!
But love, love, lovethere's better love, I know!
This foolish love was only day's first offer;
I choose my next love to defy the scoffer:
For do not our Bride and Bridegroom sally
Out of Possagno church at noon?
Their house looks over Orcana valley:
Why should not I be the bride as soon
As Ottima? For I saw, beside,
Arrive last night that little bride
Saw, if you call it seeing her, one flash
Of the pale snow-pure cheek and black bright tresses,
Blacker than all except the black eyelash;
I wonder she contrives those lids no dresses!
So strict was she, the veil
Should cover close her pale
Pure cheeksa bride to look at and scarce touch,
Scarce touch, remember, Jules! For are not such
Used to be tended, flower-like, every feature,
As if one's breath would fray the lily of a creature?
A soft and easy life these ladies lead:
Whiteness in us were wonderful indeed.
Oh, save that brow its virgin dimness,
Keep that foot its lady primness,
Let those ankles never swerve
From their exquisite reserve,
Yet have to trip along the streets like me,
All but naked to the knee!
How will she ever grant her Jules a bliss
So startling as her real first infant kiss?
Oh, nonot envy, this!
Not envy, sure!for if you gave me
Leave to take or to refuse,
In earnest, do you think I'd choose
That sort of new love to enslave me?
Mine should have lapped me round from the beginning;
As little fear of losing it as winning:
Lovers grow cold, men learn to hate their wives,
And only parents' love can last our lives.
At eve the Son and Mother, gentle pair,
Commune inside our turret: what prevents
My being Luigi? While that mossy lair
Of lizards through the winter-time is stirred
With each to each imparting sweet intents
For this new-year, as brooding bird to bird
(For I observe of late, the evening walk
Of Luigi and his mother, always ends
Inside our ruined turret, where they talk,
Calmer than lovers, yet more kind than friends)
Let me be cared about, kept out of harm,
And schemed for, safe in love as with a charm;
Let me be Luigi! If I only knew
What was my mother's facemy father, too!
Nay, if you come to that, best love of all
Is God's; then why not have God's love befall
Myself as, in the palace by the Dome,
Monsignor?who to-night will bless the home
Of his dead brother; and God bless in turn
That heart which beats, those eyes which mildly burn
With love for all men! I, to-night at least,
Would be that holy and beloved priest.
Now wait!even I already seem to share
In God's love: what does New-year's hymn declare?
What other meaning do these verses bear?
All service ranks the same with God:
If now, as formerly he trod
Paradise, his presence fills
Our earth, each only as God wills
Can workGod's puppets, best and worst,
Are we; there is no last nor first.
Say not "a small event!" Why "small"?
Costs it more pain that this, ye call
A "great event," should come to pass,
Than that? Untwine me from the mass
Of deeds which make up life, one deed
Power shall fall short in or exceed!
And more of it, and more of it!oh yes
I will pass each, and see their happiness,
And envy nonebeing just as great, no doubt,
Useful to men, and dear to God, as they!
A pretty thing to care about
So mightily, this single holiday!
But let the sun shine! Wherefore repine?
With thee to lead me, O Day of mine,
Down the grass path grey with dew,
Under the pine-wood, blind with boughs,
Where the swallow never flew
Nor yet cicala dared carouse
No, dared carouse!
[She enters the street]


~ Robert Browning, Introduction: Pippa Passes
,
532:I.
What's become of Waring
Since he gave us all the slip,
Chose land-travel or seafaring,
Boots and chest or staff and scrip,
Rather than pace up and down
Any longer London town?

  II.

Who'd have guessed it from his lip
Or his brow's accustomed bearing,
On the night he thus took ship
Or started landward?-litt le caring
For us, it seems, who supped together
(Friends of his too, I remember)
And walked home thro' the merry weather,
The snowiest in all December.
I left his arm that night myself
For what's-his-name' s, the new prose-poet
Who wrote the book there, on the shelf-
How, forsooth, was I to know it
If Waring meant to glide away
Like a ghost at break of day?
Never looked he half so gay!

  III.

He was prouder than the devil:
How he must have cursed our revel!
Ay and many other meetings,
Indoor visits, outdoor greetings,
As up and down he paced this London,
With no work done, but great works undone,
Where scarce twenty knew his name.
Why not, then, have earlier spoken,
Written, bustled? Who's to blame
If your silence kept unbroken?
``True, but there were sundry jottings,
``Stray-leaves, fragments, blurts and blottings,
``Certain fixst steps were achieved
``Already which''-(is that your meaning?)
``Had well borne out whoe'er believed
``In more to come!'' But who goes gleaning
Hedgeside chance-glades, while full-sheaved
Stand cornfields by him? Pride, o'erweening
Pride alone, puts forth such claims
O'er the day's distinguished names.

  IV.

Meantime, how much I loved him,
I find out now I've lost him.
I who cared not if I moved him,
Who could so carelessly accost him,
Henceforth never shall get free
Of his ghostly company,
His eyes that just a little wink
As deep I go into the merit
Of this and that distinguished spirit-
His cheeks' raised colour, soon to sink,
As long I dwell on some stupendous
And tremendous (Heaven defend us!)
Monstr'-inform'- ingens-horrend-o us
Demoniaco-seraph ic
Penman's latest piece of graphic.
Nay, my very wrist grows warm
With his dragging weight of arm.
E'en so, swimmingly appears,
Through one's after-supper musings,
Some lost lady of old years
With her beauteous vain endeavour
And goodness unrepaid as ever;
The face, accustomed to refusings,
We, puppies that we were Oh never
Surely, nice of conscience, scrupled
Being aught like false, forsooth, to?
Telling aught but honest truth to?
What a sin, had we centupled
Its possessor's grace and sweetness
No! she heard in its completeness
Truth, for truth's a weighty matter,
And truth, at issue, we can't flatter!
Well, 'tis done with; she's exempt
From damning us thro' such a sally;
And so she glides, as down a valley,
Taking up with her contempt,
Past our reach; and in, the flowers
Shut her unregarded hours.

  V.

Oh, could I have him back once more,
This Waring, but one half-day more!
Back, with the quiet face of yore,
So hungry for acknowledgment
Like mine! I'd fool him to his bent.
Feed, should not he, to heart's content?
I'd say, ``to only have conceived,
``Planned your great works, apart from progress,
``Surpasses little works achieved!''
I'd lie so, I should be believed.
I'd make such havoc of the claims
Of the day's distinguished names
To feast him with, as feasts an ogress
Her feverish sharp-toothed gold-crowned child!
Or as one feasts a creature rarely
Captured here, unreconciled
To capture; and completely gives
its pettish humours license, barely
Requiring that it lives.

  VI.

Ichabod, Ichabod,
The glory is departed!
Travels Waring East away?
Who, of knowledge, by hearsay,
Reports a man upstarted
Somewhere as a god,
Hordes grown European-hearted ,
Millions of the wild made tame
On a sudden at his fame?
In Vishnu-land what Avatar?
Or who in Moscow, toward the Czar,
With the demurest of footfalls
Over the Kremlin's pavement bright
With serpentine and syenite,

Steps, with five other Generals
That simultaneously take snuff,
For each to have pretext enough
And kerchiefwise unfold his sash
Which, softness' self, is yet the stuff
To hold fast where a steel chain snaps,
And leave the grand white neck no gash?
Waring in Moscow, to those rough
Cold northern natures born perhaps,
Like the lambwhite maiden dear
From the circle of mute kings
Unable to repress the tear,
Each as his sceptre down he flings,
To Dian's fane at Taurica,
Where now a captive priestess, she alway
Mingles her tender grave Hellenic speech
With theirs, tuned to the hailstone-beaten beach
As pours some pigeon, from the myrrhy lands
Rapt by the whirlblast to fierce Scythian strands
Where breed the swallows, her melodious cry
Amid their barbarous twitter!
In Russia? Never! Spain were fitter!
Ay, most likely 'tis in Spain
That we and Waring meet again
Now, while he turns down that cool narrow lane
Into the blackness, out of grave Madrid
All fire and shine, abrupt as when there's slid
Its stiff gold blazing pall
From some black coffin-lid.
Or, best of all,
I love to think
The leaving us was just a feint;
Back here to London did he slink,
And now works on without a wink
Of sleep, and we are on the brink
Of something great in fresco-pain:
Some garret's ceiling, walls and floor,
Up and down and o'er and o'er
He splashes, as none splashed before
Since great Caldera Polidore.

Or Music means this land of ours
Some favour yet, to pity won
By Purcell from his Rosy Bowers,-
``Give me my so-long promised son,
``Let Waring end what I begun!''
Then down he creeps and out he steals
Only when the night conceals
His face; in Kent 'tis cherry-time,
Or hops are picking: or at prime
Of March he wanders as, too happy,
Years ago when he was young,
Some mild eve when woods grew sappy
And the early moths had sprung
To life from many a trembling sheath
Woven the warm boughs beneath;
While small birds said to themselves
What should soon be actual song,
And young gnats, by tens and twelves,
Made as if they were the throng
That crowd around and carry aloft
The sound they have nursed, so sweet and pure,
Out of a myriad noises soft,
Into a tone that can endure
Amid the noise of a July noon
When all God's creatures crave their boon,
All at once and all in tune,
And get it, happy as Waring then,
Having first within his ken
What a man might do with men:
And far too glad, in the even-glow,
To mix with the world he meant to take
Into his hand, he told you, so-
And out of it his world to make,
To contract and to expand
As he shut or oped his hand.
Oh Waring, what's to really be?
A clear stage and a crowd to see!
Some Garrick, say, out shall not he
The heart of Hamlet's mystery pluck?
Or, where most unclean beasts are rife,
Some Junius-am I right?-shall tuck
His sleeve, and forth with flaying-knife!
Some Chatterton shall have the luck
Of calling Rowley into life!
Some one shall somehow run a muck
With this old world for want of strife
Sound asleep. Contrive, contrive
To rouse us, Waring! Who's alive?
Our men scarce seem in earnest now.
Distinguished names!-but 'tis, somehow,
As if they played at being names
Still more distinguished, like the games
Of children. Turn our sport to earnest
With a visage of the sternest!
Bring the real times back, confessed
Still better than our very best!
II.

I.

``When I last saw Waring''
(How all turned to him who spoke!
You saw Waring? Truth or joke?
In land-travel or sea-faring?)

  II.

``We were sailing by Triest
``Where a day or two we harboured:
``A sunset was in the West,
``When, looking over the vessel's side,
``One of our company espied
``A sudden speck to larboard.
``And as a sea-duck flies and swims
``At once, so came the light craft up,
``With its sole lateen sail that trims
``And turns (the water round its rims
``Dancing, as round a sinking cup)
``And by us like a fish it curled,
``And drew itself up close beside,
``Its great sail on the instant furled,
``And o'er its thwarts a shrill voice cried,
``(A neck as bronzed as a Lascar's)
`` `Buy wine of us, you English Brig?
`` `Or fruit, tobacco and cigars?
`` `A pilot for you to Triest?
`` `Without one, look you ne'er so big,
`` `They'll never let you up the bay!
`` `We natives should know best.'
``I turned, and `just those fellows' way,'
``Our captain said, `The 'long-shore thieves
`` `Are laughing at us in their sleeves.'

III.

``In truth, the boy leaned laughing back;
``And one, half-hidden by his side
``Under the furled sail, soon I spied,
``With great grass hat and kerchief black,
``Who looked up with his kingly throat,
``Said somewhat, while the other shook
``His hair back from his eyes to look
``Their longest at us; then the boat,
``I know not how, turned sharply round,
``Laying her whole side on the sea
``As a leaping fish does; from the lee
``Into the weather, cut somehow
``Her sparkling path beneath our bow
``And so went off, as with a bound,
``Into the rosy and golden half
``O' the sky, to overtake the sun
``And reach the shore, like the sea-calf
``Its singing cave; yet I caught one
``Glance ere away the boat quite passed,
``And neither time nor toil could mar
``Those features: so I saw the last
``Of Waring!''-You? Oh, never star
Was lost here but it rose afar!
Look East, where whole new thousands are!
In Vishnu-land what Avatar?
[Mr. Alfred Domett, C.M.G., author of
Ranolf and Amohia, ``full of descriptions of
New Zealand scenery.]
Egyptian granite.

~ Robert Browning, Waring
,
533:I.

My first thought was, he lied in every word,
That hoary cripple, with malicious eye
Askance to watch the working of his lie
On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford
Suppression of the glee, that pursed and scored
Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.

II.

What else should he be set for, with his staff?
What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
All travellers who might find him posted there,
And ask the road? I guessed what skull-like laugh
Would break, what crutch 'gin write my epitaph
For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare,

III.

If at his counsel I should turn aside
Into that ominous tract which, all agree,
Hides the Dark Tower. Yet acquiescingly
I did turn as he pointed: neither pride
Nor hope rekindling at the end descried,
So much as gladness that some end might be.

IV.

For, what with my whole world-wide wandering,
What with my search drawn out thro' years, my hope
Dwindled into a ghost not fit to cope
With that obstreperous joy success would bring,
I hardly tried now to rebuke the spring
My heart made, finding failure in its scope.

V.

As when a sick man very near to death
Seems dead indeed, and feels begin and end
The tears and takes the farewell of each friend,
And hears one bid the other go, draw breath
Freelier outside, (``since all is o'er,'' he saith,
``And the blow falIen no grieving can amend;'')

VI.

While some discuss if near the other graves
Be room enough for this, and when a day
Suits best for carrying the corpse away,
With care about the banners, scarves and staves:
And still the man hears all, and only craves
He may not shame such tender love and stay.

VII.

Thus, I had so long suffered in this quest,
Heard failure prophesied so oft, been writ
So many times among ``The Band''-to wit,
The knights who to the Dark Tower's search addressed
Their steps-that just to fail as they, seemed best,
And all the doubt was now-should I be fit?

VIII.

So, quiet as despair, I turned from him,
That hateful cripple, out of his highway
Into the path he pointed. All the day
Had been a dreary one at best, and dim
Was settling to its close, yet shot one grim
Red leer to see the plain catch its estray.

IX.

For mark! no sooner was I fairly found
Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,
Than, pausing to throw backward a last view
O'er the safe road, 'twas gone; grey plain all round:
Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound.
I might go on; nought else remained to do.

X.

So, on I went. I think I never saw
Such starved ignoble nature; nothing throve:
For flowers-as well expect a cedar grove!
But cockle, spurge, according to their law
Might propagate their kind, with none to awe,
You'd think; a burr had been a treasure-trove.

XI.

No! penury, inertness and grimace,
In some strange sort, were the land's portion. ``See
``Or shut your eyes,'' said nature peevishly,
``It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:
``'Tis the Last judgment's fire must cure this place,
``Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free.''

XII.

If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk
Above its mates, the head was chopped; the bents
Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents
In the dock's harsh swarth leaves, bruised as to baulk
All hope of greenness?'tis a brute must walk
Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents.

XIII.

As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair
In leprosy; thin dry blades pricked the mud
Which underneath looked kneaded up with blood.
One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare,
Stood stupefied, however he came there:
Thrust out past service from the devil's stud!

XIV.

Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,
With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain,
And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane;
Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;
I never saw a brute I hated so;
He must be wicked to deserve such pain.

XV.

I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart.
As a man calls for wine before he fights,
I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights,
Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.
Think first, fight afterwards-the soldier's art:
One taste of the old time sets all to rights.

XVI.

Not it! I fancied Cuthbert's reddening face
Beneath its garniture of curly gold,
Dear fellow, till I almost felt him fold
An arm in mine to fix me to the place,
That way he used. Alas, one night's disgrace!
Out went my heart's new fire and left it cold.

XVII.

Giles then, the soul of honour-there he stands
Frank as ten years ago when knighted first.
What honest man should dare (he said) he durst.
Good-but the scene shifts-faugh! what hangman hands
Pin to his breast a parchment? His own bands
Read it. Poor traitor, spit upon and curst!

XVIII.

Better this present than a past like that;
Back therefore to my darkening path again!
No sound, no sight as far as eye could strain.
Will the night send a howlet or a bat?
I asked: when something on the dismal flat
Came to arrest my thoughts and change their train.

XIX.

A sudden little river crossed my path
As unexpected as a serpent comes.
No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms;
This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath
For the fiend's glowing hoof-to see the wrath
Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes.

XX.

So petty yet so spiteful! All along,
Low scrubby alders kneeled down over it;
Drenched willows flung them headlong in a fit
Of route despair, a suicidal throng:
The river which had done them all the wrong,
Whate'er that was, rolled by, deterred no whit.

XXI.

Which, while I forded,-good saints, how I feared
To set my foot upon a dead man's cheek,
Each step, or feel the spear I thrust to seek
For hollows, tangled in his hair or beard!
-It may have been a water-rat I speared,
But, ugh! it sounded like a baby's shriek.

XXII.

Glad was I when I reached the other bank.
Now for a better country. Vain presage!
Who were the strugglers, what war did they wage,
Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank
Soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank,
Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage-

XXIII.

The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque.
What penned them there, with all the plain to choose?
No foot-print leading to that horrid mews,
None out of it. Mad brewage set to work
Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk
Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews.

XXIV.

And more than that-a furlong on-why, there!
What bad use was that engine for, that wheel,
Or brake, not wheel-that harrow fit to reel
Men's bodies out like silk? with all the air
Of Tophet's tool, on earth left unaware,
Or brought to sharpen its rusty teeth of steel.

XXV.

Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood,
Next a marsh, it would seem, and now mere earth
Desperate and done with; (so a fool finds mirth,
Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood
Changes and off he goes!) within a rood-
Bog, clay and rubble, sand and stark black dearth.

XXVI.

Now blotches rankling, coloured gay and grim,
Now patches where some leanness of the soil's
Broke into moss or substances like boils;
Then came some palsied oak, a cleft in him
Like a distorted mouth that splits its rim
Gaping at death, and dies while it recoils.

XXVII.

And just as far as ever from the end!
Nought in the distance but the evening, nought
To point my footstep further! At the thought,
great black bird, Apollyon's bosom-friend,
Sailed past, nor beat his wide wing dragon-penned
That brushed my cap-perchance the guide I sought.

XXVIII.

For, looking up, aware I somehow grew,
'Spite of the dusk, the plain had given place
All round to mountains-with such name to grace
Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view.
How thus they had surprised me,-solve it, you!
How to get from them was no clearer case.

XXIX.

Yet half I seemed to recognize some trick
Of mischief happened to me, God knows when-
In a bad dream perhaps. Here ended, then,
Progress this way. When, in the very nick
Of giving up, one time more, came a click
As when a trap shuts-you're inside the den!

XXX.

Burningly it came on me all at once,
This was the place! those two hills on the right,
Crouched like two bulls locked horn in horn in fight;
While to the left, a tall scalped mountain Dunce,
Dotard, a-dozing at the very nonce,
After a life spent training for the sight!

XXXI.

What in the midst lay but the Tower itself?
The round squat turret, blind as the fool's heart,
Built of brown stone, without a counter-part
In the whole world. The tempest's mocking elf
Points to the shipman thus the unseen shelf
He strikes on, only when the timbers start.

XXXII.

Not see? because of night perhaps?-why, day
Came back again for that! before it left,
The dying sunset kindled through a cleft:
The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay,
Chin upon hand, to see the game at bay,-
``Now stab and end the creature-to the heft!''

XXXIII.

Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled
Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
Of all the lost adventurers my peers,-
How such a one was strong, and such was bold,
And such was fortunate, yet, each of old
Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years.

XXXIV.

There they stood, ranged along the hill-sides, met
To view the last of me, a living frame
For one more picture! in a sheet of flame
I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,
And blew. ``Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came.''


~ Robert Browning, Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came
,
534:PIANO DI SORRENTO

Fort, Fort, my beloved one,
Sit here by my side,
On my knees put up both little feet!
I was sure, if I tried,
I could make you laugh spite of Scirocco.
Now, open your eyes,
Let me keep you amused till he vanish
In black from the skies,
With telling my memories over
As you tell your beads;
All the Plain saw me gather, I garland
-The flowers or the weeds.

Time for rain! for your long hot dry Autumn
Had net-worked with brown
The white skin of each grape on the bunches,
Marked like a quail's crown,
Those creatures you make such account of,
Whose heads,-speckled white
Over brown like a great spider's back,
As I told you last night,-
Your mother bites off for her supper.
Red-ripe as could be,
Pomegranates were chapping and splitting
In halves on the tree:
And betwixt the loose walls of great flint-stone,
Or in the thick dust
On the path, or straight out of the rock-side,
Wherever could thrust
Some burnt sprig of bold hardy rock-flower
Its yellow face up,
For the prize were great butterflies fighting,
Some five for one cup.
So, I guessed, ere I got up this morning,
What change was in store,
By the quick rustle-down of the quail-nets
Which woke me before
I could open my shutter, made fast
With a bough and a stone,
And look thro' the twisted dead vine-twigs,
Sole lattice that's known.
Quick and sharp rang the rings down the net-poles,
While, busy beneath,
Your priest and his brother tugged at them,
The rain in their teeth.
And out upon all the flat house-roofs
Where split figs lay drying,
The girls took the frails under cover:
Nor use seemed in trying
To get out the boats and go fishing,
For, under the cliff,
Fierce the black water frothed o'er the blind-rock.
No seeing our skiff
Arrive about noon from Amalfi,
-Our fisher arrive
And pitch down his basket before us,
All trembling alive
With pink and grey jellies, your sea-fruit;
You touch the strange lumps,
And mouths gape there, eyes open, all manner
Of horns and of humps,
Which only the fisher looks grave at,
While round him like imps
Cling screaming the children as naked
And brown as his shrimps;
Himself too as bare to the middle
-You see round his neck
The string and its brass coin suspended,
That saves him from wreck.
But to-day not a bout reached Salerno,
So back, to a man,
Came our friends, with whose help in the vineyards
Grape-harvest began.
In the vat, halfway up in our house-side,
Like blood the juice spins,
While your brother all bare-legged is dancing
Till breathless he grins
Dead-beaten in effort on effort
To keep the grapes under,
Since still when he seems all but master,
In pours the fresh plunder
From girls who keep coming and going
With basket on shoulder,
And eyes shut against the rain's driving;
Your girls that are older,-
For under the hedges of aloe,
And where, on its bed
Of the orchard's black mould, the love-apple
Lies pulpy and red,
All the young ones are kneeling and filling
Their laps with the snails
Tempted out by this first rainy weather,-
Your best of regales,
As to-night will be proved to my sorrow,
When, supping in state,
We shall feast our grape-gleaners (two dozen,
Three over one plate)
With lasagne so tempting to swallow
In slippery ropes,
And gourds fried in great purple slices,
That colour of popes.
Meantime, see the grape bunch they've brought you:
The rain-water slips
O'er the heavy blue bloom on each globe
Which the wasp to your lips
Still follows with fretful persistence:
Nay, taste, while awake,
This half of a curd-white smooth cheese-ball
That peels, flake by flake,
Like an onion, each smoother and whiter;
Next, sip this weak wine
From the thin green glass flask, with its stopper,
A leaf of the vine;
And end with the prickly-pear's red flesh
That leaves thro' its juice
The stony black seeds on your pearl-teeth.
Scirocco is loose!
Hark, the quick, whistling pelt of the olives
Which, thick in one's track,
Tempt the stranger to pick up and bite them,
Tho' not yet half black!
How the old twisted olive trunks shudder,
The medlars let fall
Their hard fruit, and the brittle great fig-trees
Snap off, figs and all,
For here comes the whole of the tempest!
No refuge, but creep
Back again to my side and my shoulder,
And listen or sleep.
O how will your country show next week,
When all the vine-boughs
Have been stripped of their foliage to pasture
The mules and the cows?
Last eve, I rode over the mountains;
Your brother, my guide,
Soon left me, to feast on the myrtles
That offered, each side,
Their fruit-balls, black, glossy and luscious,-
Or strip from the sorbs
A treasure, or, rosy and wondrous,
Those hairy gold orbs!
But my mule picked his sure sober path out,
Just stopping to neigh
When he recognized down in the valley
His mates on their way
With the ****s and barrels of water;
And soon we emerged
From the plain, where the woods could scarce follow;
And still as we urged
Our way, the woods wondered, and left us,
As up still we trudged
Though the wild path grew wilder each instant,
And place was e'en grudged
'Mid the rock-chasms and piles of loose stones
Like the loose broken teeth
Of some monster which climbed there to die
From the ocean beneath-
Place was grudged to the silver-grey fume-weed
That clung to the path,
And dark rosemary ever a-dying
That, 'spite the wind's wrath,
So loves the salt rock's face to seaward,
And lentisks
as staunch
To the stone where they root and bear berries,
And what shows a branch
Coral-coloured, transparent, with circlets
Of pale seagreen leaves;
Over all trod my mule with the caution
Of gleaners o'er sheaves,
Still, foot after foot like a lady,
Till, round after round,
He climbed to the top of Calvano,
And God's own profound
Was above me, and round me the mountains,
And under, the sea,
And within me my heart to bear witness
What was and shall be.
Oh, heaven and the terrible crystal!
No rampart excludes
Your eye from the life to be lived
In the blue solitudes.
Oh, those mountains, their infinite movement!
Still moving with you;
For, ever some new head and breast of them
Thrusts into view
To observe the intruder; you see it
If quickly you turn
And before they escape you surprise them.
They grudge you should learn
How the soft plains they look on, lean over
And love (they pretend)
-Cower beneath them, the flat sea-pine crouches,
The wild fruit-trees bend,
E'en the myrtle-leaves curl, shrink and shut:
All is silent and grave:
'Tis a sensual and timorous beauty,
How fair! but a slave.
So, I turned to the sea; and there slumbered
As greenly as ever
Those isles of the siren, your Galli;
No ages can sever
The Three, nor enable their sister
To join them,-halfway
On the voyage, she looked at Ulysses-
No farther to-day,
Tho' the small one, just launched in the wave,
Watches breast-high and steady
From under the rock, her bold sister
Swum halfway already.
Fort, shall we sail there together
And see from the sides
Quite new rocks show their faces, new haunts
Where the siren abides?
Shall we sail round and round them, close over
The rocks, tho' unseen,
That ruffle the grey glassy water
To glorious green?
Then scramble from splinter to splinter,
Reach land and explore,
On the largest, the strange square black turret
With never a door,
Just a loop to admit the quick lizards;
Then, stand there and hear
The birds' quiet singing, that tells us
What life is, so clear?
-The secret they sang to Ulysses
When, ages ago,
He heard and he knew this life's secret
I hear and I know.

Ah, see! The sun breaks o'er Calvano;
He strikes the great gloom
And flutters it o'er the mount's summit
In airy gold fume.
All is over. Look out, see the gipsy,
Our tinker and smith,
Has arrived, set up bellows and forge,
And down-squatted forthwith
To his hammering, under the wall there;
One eye keeps aloof
The urchins that itch to be putting
His jews'-harps to proof,
While the other, thro' locks of curled wire,
Is watching how sleek
Shines the hog, come to share in the windfall
-Chew, abbot's own cheek!
All is over. Wake up and come out now,
And down let us go,
And see the fine things got in order
At church for the show
Of the Sacrament, set forth this evening.
To-morrow's the Feast
Of the Rosary's Virgin, by no means
Of Virgins the least,
As you'll hear in the off-hand discourse
Which (all nature, no art)
The Dominican brother, these three weeks,
Was getting by heart.
Not a pillar nor post but is dizened
With red and blue papers;
All the roof waves with ribbons, each altar
A-blaze with long tapers;
But the great masterpiece is the scaffold
Rigged glorious to hold
All the fiddlers and fifers and drummers
And trumpeters bold,
Not afraid of Bellini nor Auber,
Who, when the priest's hoarse,
Will strike us up something that's brisk
For the feast's second course.
And then will the flaxen-wigged Image
Be carried in pomp
Thro' the plain, while in gallant procession
The priests mean to stomp.
All round the glad church lie old bottles
With gunpowder stopped,
Which will be, when the Image re-enters,
Religiously popped;
And at night from the crest of Calvano
Great bonfires will hang,
On the plain will the trumpets join chorus,
And more poppers bang.
At all events, come-to the garden
As far as the wall;
See me tap with a hoe on the plaster
Till out there shall fall
A scorpion with wide angry nippers!

-``Such trifles!'' you say?
Fort, in my England at home,
Men meet gravely to-day
And debate, if abolishing Corn-laws
Be righteous and wise
-If 'twere proper, Scirocco should vanish
In black from the skies!
The mastic tree (resinous).

~ Robert Browning, The Englishman In Italy
,
535:I.
How well I know what I mean to do
When the long dark autumn-evenings come:
And where, my soul, is thy pleasant hue?
With the music of all thy voices, dumb
In life's November too!

II.

I shall be found by the fire, suppose,
O'er a great wise book as beseemeth age,
While the shutters flap as the cross-wind blows
And I turn the page, and I turn the page,
Not verse now, only prose!

III.

Till the young ones whisper, finger on lip,
``There he is at it, deep in Greek:
``Now then, or never, out we slip
``To cut from the hazels by the creek
``A mainmast for our ship!''

IV.

I shall be at it indeed, my friends:
Greek puts already on either side
Such a branch-work forth as soon extends
To a vista opening far and wide,
And I pass out where it ends.

V.

The outside-frame, like your hazel-trees:
But the inside-archway widens fast,
And a rarer sort succeeds to these,
And we slope to Italy at last
And youth, by green degrees.

VI.

I follow wherever I am led,
Knowing so well the leader's hand:
Oh woman-country, wooed not wed,
Loved all the more by earth's male-lands,
Laid to their hearts instead!

VII.

Look at the ruined chapel again
Half-way up in the Alpine gorge!
Is that a tower, I point you plain,
Or is it a mill, or an iron-forge
Breaks solitude in vain?

VIII.

A turn, and we stand in the heart of things:
The woods are round us, heaped and dim;
From slab to slab how it slips and springs,
The thread of water single and slim,
Through the ravage some torrent brings!

IX.

Does it feed the little lake below?
That speck of white just on its marge
Is Pella; see, in the evening-glow,
How sharp the silver spear-heads charge
When Alp meets heaven in snow!

X.

On our other side is the straight-up rock;
And a path is kept 'twixt the gorge and it
By boulder-stones where lichens mock
The marks on a moth, and small ferns fit
Their teeth to the polished block.

XI.

Oh the sense of the yellow mountain-flowers ,
And thorny balls, each three in one,
The chestnuts throw on our path in showers!
For the drop of the woodland fruit's begun,
These early November hours,

XII.

That crimson the creeper's leaf across
Like a splash of blood, intense, abrupt,
O'er a shield else gold from rim to boss,
And lay it for show on the fairy-cupped
Elf-needled mat of moss,

XIII.

By the rose-flesh mushrooms, undivulged
Last evening-nay, in to-day's first dew
Yon sudden coral nipple bulged,
Where a freaked fawn-coloured flaky crew
Of toadstools peep indulged.

XIV.

And yonder, at foot of the fronting ridge
That takes the turn to a range beyond,
Is the chapel reached by the one-arched bridge
Where the water is stopped in a stagnant pond
Danced over by the midge.

XV.

The chapel and bridge are of stone alike,
Blackish-grey and mostly wet;
Cut hemp-stalks steep in the narrow dyke.
See here again, how the lichens fret
And the roots of the ivy strike!

XVI.

Poor little place, where its one priest comes
On a festa-day, if he comes at all,
To the dozen folk from their scattered homes,
Gathered within that precinct small
By the dozen ways one roams-

XVII.

To drop from the charcoal-burners ' huts,
Or climb from the hemp-dressers' low shed,
Leave the grange where the woodman stores his nuts,
Or the wattled cote where the fowlers spread
Their gear on the rock's bare juts.

XVIII.

It has some pretension too, this front,
With its bit of fresco half-moon-wise
Set over the porch, Art's early wont:
'Tis John in the Desert, I surmise,
But has borne the weather's brunt-

XIX.

Not from the fault of the builder, though,
For a pent-house properly projects
Where three carved beams make a certain show,
Dating-good thought of our architect's-
'Five, six, nine, he lets you know.

XX.

And all day long a bird sings there,
And a stray sheep drinks at the pond at times;
The place is silent and aware;
It has had its scenes, its joys and crimes,
But that is its own affair.

XXI.

My perfect wife, my Leonor,
Oh heart, my own, oh eyes, mine too,
Whom else could I dare look backward for,
With whom beside should I dare pursue
The path grey heads abhor?

XXII.

For it leads to a crag's sheer edge with them;
Youth, flowery all the way, there stops-
Not they; age threatens and they contemn,
Till they reach the gulf wherein youth drops,
One inch from life's safe hem!

XXIII.

With me, youth led I will speak now,
No longer watch you as you sit
Reading by fire-light, that great brow
And the spirit-small hand propping it,
Mutely, my heart knows how-

XXIV.

When, if I think but deep enough,
You are wont to answer, prompt as rhyme;
And you, too, find without rebuff
Response your soul seeks many a time
Piercing its fine flesh-stuff.

XXV.

My own, confirm me! If I tread
This path back, is it not in pride
To think how little I dreamed it led
To an age so blest that, by its side,
Youth seems the waste instead?

XXVI.

My own, see where the years conduct!
At first, 'twas something our two souls
Should mix as mists do; each is sucked
In each now: on, the new stream rolls,
Whatever rocks obstruct.

XXVII.

Think, when our one soul understands
The great Word which makes all things new,
When earth breaks up and heaven expands,
How will the change strike me and you
ln the house not made with hands?

XXVIII.

Oh I must feel your brain prompt mine,
Your heart anticipate my heart,
You must be just before, in fine,
See and make me see, for your part,
New depths of the divine!

XXIX.

But who could have expected this
When we two drew together first
Just for the obvious human bliss,
To satisfy life's daily thirst
With a thing men seldom miss?

XXX.

Come back with me to the first of all,
Let us lean and love it over again,
Let us now forget and now recall,
Break the rosary in a pearly rain,
And gather what we let fall!

XXXI.

What did I say?-that a small bird sings
All day long, save when a brown pair
Of hawks from the wood float with wide wings
Strained to a bell: 'gainst noon-day glare
You count the streaks and rings.

XXXII.

But at afternoon or almost eve
'Tis better; then the silence grows
To that degree, you half believe
It must get rid of what it knows,
Its bosom does so heave.

XXXIII.

Hither we walked then, side by side,
Arm in arm and cheek to cheek,
And still I questioned or replied,
While my heart, convulsed to really speak,
Lay choking in its pride.

XXXIV.

Silent the crumbling bridge we cross,
And pity and praise the chapel sweet,
And care about the fresco's loss,
And wish for our souls a like retreat,
And wonder at the moss.

XXXV.

Stoop and kneel on the settle under,
Look through the window's grated square:
Nothing to see! For fear of plunder,
The cross is down and the altar bare,
As if thieves don't fear thunder.

XXXVI.

We stoop and look in through the grate,
See the little porch and rustic door,
Read duly the dead builder's date;
Then cross the bridge that we crossed before,
Take the path again-but wait!

XXXVII.

Oh moment, one and infinite!
The water slips o'er stock and stone;
The West is tender, hardly bright:
How grey at once is the evening grown-
One star, its chrysolite!

XXXVIII.

We two stood there with never a third,
But each by each, as each knew well:
The sights we saw and the sounds we heard,
The lights and the shades made up a spell
Till the trouble grew and stirred.

XXXIX.

Oh, the little more, and how much it is!
And the little less, and what worlds away!
How a sound shall quicken content to bliss,
Or a breath suspend the blood's best play,
And life be a proof of this!

XL.

Had she willed it, still had stood the screen
So slight, so sure, 'twixt my love and her:
I could fix her face with a guard between,
And find her soul as when friends confer,
Friends-lovers that might have been.

XLI.

For my heart had a touch of the woodland-time,
Wanting to sleep now over its best.
Shake the whole tree in the summer-prime,
But bring to the Iast leaf no such test!
``Hold the last fast!'' runs the rhyme.

XLII.

For a chance to make your little much,
To gain a lover and lose a friend,
Venture the tree and a myriad such,
When nothing you mar but the year can mend:
But a last leaf-fear to touch!

XLIII.

Yet should it unfasten itself and fall
Eddying down till it find your face
At some slight wind-best chance of all!
Be your heart henceforth its dwelling-place
You trembled to forestall!

XLIV.

Worth how well, those dark grey eyes,
That hair so dark and dear, how worth
That a man should strive and agonize,
And taste a veriest hell on earth
For the hope of such a prize!

XIIV.

You might have turned and tried a man,
Set him a space to weary and wear,
And prove which suited more your plan,
His best of hope or his worst despair,
Yet end as he began.

XLVI.

But you spared me this, like the heart you are,
And filled my empty heart at a word.
If two lives join, there is oft a scar,
They are one and one, with a shadowy third;
One near one is too far.

XLVII.

A moment after, and hands unseen
Were hanging the night around us fast
But we knew that a bar was broken between
Life and life: we were mixed at last
In spite of the mortal screen.

XLVIII.

The forests had done it; there they stood;
We caught for a moment the powers at play:
They had mingled us so, for once and good,
Their work was done-we might go or stay,
They relapsed to their ancient mood.

XLIX.

How the world is made for each of us!
How all we perceive and know in it
Tends to some moment's product thus,
When a soul declares itself-to wit,
By its fruit, the thing it does

L.

Be hate that fruit or love that fruit,
It forwards the general deed of man,
And each of the Many helps to recruit
The life of the race by a general plan;
Each living his own, to boot.

LI.

I am named and known by that moment's feat;
There took my station and degree;
So grew my own small life complete,
As nature obtained her best of me-
One born to love you, sweet!

LII.

And to watch you sink by the fire-side now
Back again, as you mutely sit
Musing by fire-light, that great brow
And the spirit-small hand propping it,
Yonder, my heart knows how!

LIII.

So, earth has gained by one man the more,
And the gain of earth must be heaven's gain too;
And the whole is well worth thinking o'er
When autumn comes: which I mean to do
One day, as I said before.


~ Robert Browning, By The Fire-Side
,
536:But do not let us quarrel any more,
  No, my Lucrezia; bear with me for once:
  Sit down and all shall happen as you wish.
  You turn your face, but does it bring your heart?
  I'll work then for your friend's friend, never fear,
  Treat his own subject after his own way,
  Fix his own time, accept too his own price,
  And shut the money into this small hand
  When next it takes mine. Will it? tenderly?
Oh, I'll content him,but to-morrow, Love!
I often am much wearier than you think,
This evening more than usual, and it seems
As ifforgive nowshould you let me sit
Here by the window with your hand in mine
And look a half-hour forth on Fiesole,
Both of one mind, as married people use,
Quietly, quietly the evening through,
I might get up to-morrow to my work
Cheerful and fresh as ever. Let us try.
To-morrow, how you shall be glad for this!
Your soft hand is a woman of itself,
And mine the man's bared breast she curls inside.
Don't count the time lost, neither; you must serve
For each of the five pictures we require:
It saves a model. So! keep looking so
My serpentining beauty, rounds on rounds!
How could you ever prick those perfect ears,
Even to put the pearl there! oh, so sweet
My face, my moon, my everybody's moon,
Which everybody looks on and calls his,
And, I suppose, is looked on by in turn,
While she looksno one's: very dear, no less.
You smile? why, there's my picture ready made,
There's what we painters call our harmony!
A common greyness silvers everything,
All in a twilight, you and I alike
You, at the point of your first pride in me
(That's gone you know),but I, at every point;
My youth, my hope, my art, being all toned down
To yonder sober pleasant Fiesole.
There's the bell clinking from the chapel-top;
That length of convent-wall across the way
Holds the trees safer, huddled more inside;
The last monk leaves the garden; days decrease,
And autumn grows, autumn in everything.
Eh? the whole seems to fall into a shape
As if I saw alike my work and self
And all that I was born to be and do,
A twilight-piece. Love, we are in God's hand.
How strange now, looks the life he makes us lead;
So free we seem, so fettered fast we are!
I feel he laid the fetter: let it lie!
This chamber for exampleturn your head
All that's behind us! You don't understand
Nor care to understand about my art,
But you can hear at least when people speak:
And that cartoon, the second from the door
It is the thing, Love! so such things should be
Behold Madonna!I am bold to say.
  I can do with my pencil what I know,
What I see, what at bottom of my heart
I wish for, if I ever wish so deep
Do easily, toowhen I say, perfectly,
I do not boast, perhaps: yourself are judge,
Who listened to the Legate's talk last week,
And just as much they used to say in France.
At any rate 'tis easy, all of it!
No sketches first, no studies, that's long past:
I do what many dream of, all their lives,
Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do,
And fail in doing. I could count twenty such
On twice your fingers, and not leave this town,
Who striveyou don't know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter)so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged.
There burns a truer light of God in them,
In their vexed beating stuffed and stopped-up brain,
Heart, or whate'er else, than goes on to prompt
This low-pulsed forthright craftsman's hand of mine.
Their works drop groundward, but themselves, I know,
Reach many a time a heaven that's shut to me,
Enter and take their place there sure enough,
Though they come back and cannot tell the world.
My works are nearer heaven, but I sit here.
The sudden blood of these men! at a word
Praise them, it boils, or blame them, it boils too.
I, painting from myself and to myself,
Know what I do, am unmoved by men's blame
Or their praise either. Somebody remarks
Morello's outline there is wrongly traced,
His hue mistaken; what of that? or else,
Rightly traced and well ordered; what of that?
Speak as they please, what does the mountain care?
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for? All is silver-grey,
Placid and perfect with my art: the worse!
I know both what I want and what might gain,
And yet how profitless to know, to sigh
"Had I been two, another and myself,
"Our head would have o'erlooked the world!" No doubt.
Yonder's a work now, of that famous youth
The Urbinate who died five years ago.
('Tis copied, George Vasari sent it me.)
Well, I can fancy how he did it all,
Pouring his soul, with kings and popes to see,
Reaching, that heaven might so replenish him,
Above and through his artfor it gives way;
That arm is wrongly putand there again
A fault to pardon in the drawing's lines,
Its body, so to speak: its soul is right,
He means rightthat, a child may understand.
Still, what an arm! and I could alter it:
But all the play, the insight and the stretch
(Out of me, out of me! And wherefore out?
Had you enjoined them on me, given me soul,
We might have risen to Rafael, I and you!
Nay, Love, you did give all I asked, I think
More than I merit, yes, by many times.
But had youoh, with the same perfect brow,
And perfect eyes, and more than perfect mouth,
And the low voice my soul hears, as a bird
The fowler's pipe, and follows to the snare
Had you, with these the same, but brought a mind!
Some women do so. Had the mouth there urged
"God and the glory! never care for gain.
"The present by the future, what is that?
"Live for fame, side by side with Agnolo!
"Rafael is waiting: up to God, all three!"
I might have done it for you. So it seems:
Perhaps not. All is as God over-rules.
Beside, incentives come from the soul's self;
The rest avail not. Why do I need you?
What wife had Rafael, or has Agnolo?
In this world, who can do a thing, will not;
And who would do it, cannot, I perceive:
Yet the will's somewhatsomewhat, too, the power
And thus we half-men struggle. At the end,
God, I conclude, compensates, punishes.
'Tis safer for me, if the award be strict,
That I am something underrated here,
Poor this long while, despised, to speak the truth.
I dared not, do you know, leave home all day,
For fear of chancing on the Paris lords.
The best is when they pass and look aside;
But they speak sometimes; I must bear it all.
Well may they speak! That Francis, that first time,
And that long festal year at Fontainebleau!
I surely then could sometimes leave the ground,
Put on the glory, Rafael's daily wear,
In that humane great monarch's golden look,
One finger in his beard or twisted curl
Over his mouth's good mark that made the smile,
One arm about my shoulder, round my neck,
The jingle of his gold chain in my ear,
I painting proudly with his breath on me,
All his court round him, seeing with his eyes,
Such frank French eyes, and such a fire of souls
Profuse, my hand kept plying by those hearts,
And, best of all, this, this, this face beyond,
This in the background, waiting on my work,
To crown the issue with a last reward!
A good time, was it not, my kingly days?
And had you not grown restless but I know
'Tis done and past: 'twas right, my instinct said:
Too live the life grew, golden and not grey,
And I'm the weak-eyed bat no sun should tempt
Out of the grange whose four walls make his world.
How could it end in any other way?
You called me, and I came home to your heart.
The triumph wasto reach and stay there; since
I reached it ere the triumph, what is lost?
Let my hands frame your face in your hair's gold,
You beautiful Lucrezia that are mine!
"Rafael did this, Andrea painted that;
"The Roman's is the better when you pray,
"But still the other's Virgin was his wife"
Men will excuse me. I am glad to judge
Both pictures in your presence; clearer grows
My better fortune, I resolve to think.
For, do you know, Lucrezia, as God lives,
Said one day Agnolo, his very self,
To Rafael . . . I have known it all these years . . .
(When the young man was flaming out his thoughts
Upon a palace-wall for Rome to see,
Too lifted up in heart because of it)
"Friend, there's a certain sorry little scrub
"Goes up and down our Florence, none cares how,
"Who, were he set to plan and execute
"As you are, pricked on by your popes and kings,
"Would bring the sweat into that brow of yours!"
To Rafael's!And indeed the arm is wrong.
I hardly dare . . . yet, only you to see,
Give the chalk herequick, thus, the line should go!
Ay, but the soul! he's Rafael! rub it out!
Still, all I care for, if he spoke the truth,
(What he? why, who but Michel Agnolo?
Do you forget already words like those?)
If really there was such a chance, so lost,
Is, whether you'renot gratefulbut more pleased.
Well, let me think so. And you smile indeed!
This hour has been an hour! Another smile?
If you would sit thus by me every night
I should work better, do you comprehend?
I mean that I should earn more, give you more.
See, it is settled dusk now; there's a star;
Morello's gone, the watch-lights show the wall,
The cue-owls speak the name we call them by.
Come from the window, love,come in, at last,
Inside the melancholy little house
We built to be so gay with. God is just.
King Francis may forgive me: oft at nights
When I look up from painting, eyes tired out,
The walls become illumined, brick from brick
Distinct, instead of mortar, fierce bright gold,
That gold of his I did cement them with!
Let us but love each other. Must you go?
That Cousin here again? he waits outside?
Must see youyou, and not with me? Those loans?
More gaming debts to pay? you smiled for that?
Well, let smiles buy me! have you more to spend?
While hand and eye and something of a heart
Are left me, work's my ware, and what's it worth?
I'll pay my fancy. Only let me sit
The grey remainder of the evening out,
Idle, you call it, and muse perfectly
How I could paint, were I but back in France,
One picture, just one morethe Virgin's face,
Not yours this time! I want you at my side
To hear themthat is, Michel Agnolo
Judge all I do and tell you of its worth.
Will you? To-morrow, satisfy your friend.
I take the subjects for his corridor,
Finish the portrait out of handthere, there,
And throw him in another thing or two
If he demurs; the whole should prove enough
To pay for this same Cousin's freak. Beside,
What's better and what's all I care about,
Get you the thirteen scudi for the ruff!
Love, does that please you? Ah, but what does he,
The Cousin! what does he to please you more?

I am grown peaceful as old age to-night.
I regret little, I would change still less.
Since there my past life lies, why alter it?
The very wrong to Francis!it is true
I took his coin, was tempted and complied,
And built this house and sinned, and all is said.
My father and my mother died of want.
Well, had I riches of my own? you see
How one gets rich! Let each one bear his lot.
They were born poor, lived poor, and poor they died:
And I have laboured somewhat in my time
And not been paid profusely. Some good son
Paint my two hundred pictureslet him try!
No doubt, there's something strikes a balance. Yes,
You loved me quite enough. it seems to-night.
This must suffice me here. What would one have?
In heaven, perhaps, new chances, one more chance
Four great walls in the New Jerusalem,
Meted on each side by the angel's reed,
For Leonard, Rafael, Agnolo and me
To coverthe three first without a wife,
While I have mine! Sostill they overcome
Because there's still Lucrezia,as I choose.

Again the Cousin's whistle! Go, my Love.


~ Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto
,
537:I.
Hamlin Town's in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, was a pity.

II.

Rats!
They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women's chats
  By drowning their speaking
  With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

III.

At last the people in a body
To the Town Hall came flocking:
``'Tis clear,'' cried they, ``our Mayor's a noddy;
``And as for our Corporation-sh ocking.
``To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
``For dolts that can't or won't determine
``What's best to rid us of our vermin!
``You hope, because you're old and obese,
``To find in the furry civic robe ease?
``Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking
``To find the remedy we're lacking,
``Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!''
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation.

IV.

An hour they sat in council,
At length the Mayor broke silence:
``For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell,
``I wish I were a mile hence!
``It's easy to bid one rack one's brain-
``I'm sure my poor head aches again,
``I've scratched it so, and all in vain.
``Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!''
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door but a gentle tap?
``Bless us,'' cried the Mayor, ``what's that?''
(With the Corporation as he sat,
Looking little though wondrous fat;
Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister
Than a too-long-opened oyster,
Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous
For a plate of turtle green and glutinous)
``Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?
``Anything like the sound of a rat
``Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!''

V.

``Come in!''-the Mayor cried, looking bigger:
And in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red,
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in;
There was no guessing his kith and kin:
And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire.
Quoth one: ``It's as my great-grandsire,
``Starting up at the Trump of Doom's tone,
``Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!''

VI.

He advanced to the council-table
And, ``Please your honours,'' said he, ``I'm able,
``By means of a secret charm, to draw
``All creatures living beneath the sun,
``That creep or swim or fly or run,
``After me so as you never saw!
``And I chiefly use my charm
``On creatures that do people harm,
``The mole and toad and newt and viper;
``And people call me the Pied Piper.''
(And here they noticed round his neck
A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
To match with his coat of the self-same cheque;
And at the scarf's end hung a pipe;
And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying
As if impatient to be playing
Upon this pipe, as low it dangled
Over his vesture so old-fangled.)
``Yet,'' said he, ``poor piper as I am,
``In Tartary I freed the Cham,
``Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats;
``I eased in Asia the Nizam
``Of a monstrous brood of vampyre-bats:
``And as for what your brain bewilders,
``If I can rid your town of rats
``Will you give me a thousand guilders?''
``One? fifty thousand!''-wa s the exclamation
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.

VII.

Into the street the Piper stept,
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives-
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser,
Wherein all plunged and perished!
-Save one who, stout as Julius Csar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he, the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary:
Which was, ``At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
``I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
``And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
``Into a cider-press's gripe:
``And a moving away of pickle-tub-board s,
``And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboar ds,
``And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks ,
``And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks:
``And it seemed as if a voice
``(Sweeter far than b harp or b psaltery
``Is breathed) called out, `Oh rats, rejoice!
`` `The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
`` `So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
`` `Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!'
``And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon,
``All ready staved, like a great sun shone
``Glorious scarce an inch before me,
``Just as methought it said, `Come, bore me!'
``-I found the Weser rolling o'er me.''

VIII.

You should have heard the Hamelin people
ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple.
``Go,'' cried the Mayor, ``and get long poles,
``Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
``Consult with carpenters and builders,
``And leave in our town not even a trace
``Of the rats!''-when suddenly, up the face
Of the Piper perked in the market-place,
With a, ``First, if you please, my thousand guilders!''

IX.

A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;
So did the Corporation too.
For council dinners made rare havoc
With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock;
And half the money would replenish
Their cellar's biggest butt with Rhenish.
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
With a gipsy coat of red and yellow!
``Beside,'' quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink,
``Our business was done at the river's brink;
``We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
``And what's dead can't come to life, I think.
``So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink
``From the duty of giving you something for drink,
``And a matter of money to put in your poke;
``But as for the guilders, what we spoke
``Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
``Beside, our losses have made us thrifty.
``A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!''

X.

The Piper's face fell, and he cried
``No trifling! I can't wait, beside!
``I've promised to visit by dinnertime
``Bagdat, and accept the prime
``Of the Head-Cook's pottage, all he's rich in,
``For having left, in the Caliph's kitchen,
``Of a nest of scorpions no survivor:
``With him I proved no bargain-driver,
``With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver!
``And folks who put me in a passion
``May find me pipe after another fashion.''

XI.

``How?'' cried the Mayor, ``d'ye think I brook
``Being worse treated than a Cook?
``Insulted by a lazy ribald
``With idle pipe and vesture piebald?
``You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,
``Blow your pipe there till you burst!''

XII.

Once more he stept into the street
And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician's cunning
Never gave the enraptured air)
There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

XIII.

The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by,
-Could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the Piper's back.
But how the Mayor was on the rack,
And the wretched Council's bosoms beat,
As the Piper turned from the High Street
To where the Weser rolled its waters
Right in the way of their sons and daughters!
However be turned from South to West,
And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed,
And after him the children pressed;
Great was the joy in every breast.
``He never can cross that mighty top!
``He's forced to let the piping drop,
``And we shall see our children stop!''
When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say,-
``It's dull in our town since my playmates left!
``I can't forget that I'm bereft
``Of all the pleasant sights they see,
``Which the Piper also promised me.
``For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
``Joining the town and just at hand,
``Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew
``And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
``And everything was strange and new;
``The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
``And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
``And honey-bees had lost their stings,
``And horses were born with eagles' wings:
``And just as I became assured
``My lame foot would be speedily cured,
``The music stopped and I stood still,
``And found myself outside the hill,
``Left alone against my will,
``To go now limping as before,
``And never hear of that country more!''

XIV.

Alas, alas for Hamelin!
There came into many a burgher's pate
A text which says that heaven's gate
Opes to the rich at as easy rate
As the needle's eye takes a camel in!
The mayor sent East, West, North and South,
To offer the Piper, by word of mouth,
Wherever it was men's lot to find him,
Silver and gold to his heart's content,
If he'd only return the way he went,
And bring the children behind him.
But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavour,
And Piper and dancers were gone for ever,
They made a decree that lawyers never
Should think their records dated duly
If, after the day of the month and year,
These words did not as well appear,
``And so long after what happened here
``On the Twenty-second of July,
``Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:''
And the better in memory to fix
The place of the children's last retreat,
They called it, the Pied Piper's Street-
Where any one playing on pipe or tabor
Was sure for the future to lose his labour.
Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern
To shock with mirth a street so solemn;
But opposite the place of the cavern
They wrote the story on a column,
And on the great church-window painted
The same, to make the world acquainted
How their children were stolen away,
And there it stands to this very day.
And I must not omit to say
That in Transylvania there's a tribe
Of alien people who ascribe
The outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbours lay such stress,
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterraneous prison
Into which they were trepanned
Long time ago in a mighty band
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why, they don't understand.

XV.

So, Willy, let me and you be wipers
Of scores out with all men-especially pipers!
And, whether they pipe us free frm rats or frm mice,
If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise!
A CHILD'S STORY.

( Written for, and inscribed to, W. M. the Younger. )


~ Robert Browning, The Pied Piper Of Hamelin
,
538:I.

The morn when first it thunders in March,
The eel in the pond gives a leap, they say:
As I leaned and looked over the aloed arch
Of the villa-gate this warm March day,
No flash snapped, no dumb thunder rolled
In the valley beneath where, white and wide
And washed by the morning water-gold,
Florence lay out on the mountain-side.

II.

River and bridge and street and square
Lay mine, as much at my beck and call,
Through the live translucent bath of air,
As the sights in a magic crystal ball.
And of all I saw and of all I praised,
The most to praise and the best to see
Was the startling bell-tower Giotto raised:
But why did it more than startle me?

III.

Giotto, how, with that soul of yours,
Could you play me false who loved you so?
Some slights if a certain heart endures
Yet it feels, I would have your fellows know!
I' faith, I perceive not why I should care
To break a silence that suits them best,
But the thing grows somewhat hard to bear
When I find a Giotto join the rest.

IV.

On the arch where olives overhead
Print the blue sky with twig and leaf,
(That sharp-curled leaf which they never shed)
'Twixt the aloes, I used to lean in chief,
And mark through the winter afternoons,
By a gift God grants me now and then,
In the mild decline of those suns like moons,
Who walked in Florence, besides her men.

V.

They might chirp and chaffer, come and go
For pleasure or profit, her men alive-
My business was hardly with them, I trow,
But with empty cells of the human hive;
-With the chapter-room, the cloister-porch,
The church's apsis, aisle or nave,
Its crypt, one fingers along with a torch,
Its face set full for the sun to shave.

VI.

Wherever a fresco peels and drops,
Wherever an outline weakens and wanes
Till the latest life in the painting stops,
Stands One whom each fainter pulse-tick pains:
One, wishful each scrap should clutch the brick,
Each tinge not wholly escape the plaster,
-A lion who dies of an ****'s kick,
The wronged great soul of an ancient Master.

VII.

For oh, this world and the wrong it does
They are safe in heaven with their backs to it,
The Michaels and Rafaels, you hum and buzz
Round the works of, you of the little wit!
Do their eyes contract to the earth's old scope,
Now that they see God face to face,
And have all attained to be poets, I hope?
'Tis their holiday now, in any case.

VIII.

Much they reck of your praise and you!
But the wronged great souls-can they be quit
Of a world where their work is all to do,
Where you style them, you of the little wit,
Old Master This and Early the Other,
Not dreaming that Old and New are fellows:
A younger succeeds to an elder brother,
Da Vincis derive in good time from Dellos.

IX.

And here where your praise might yield returns,
And a handsome word or two give help,
Here, after your kind, the mastiff girns
And the puppy pack of poodles yelp.
What, not a word for Stefano there,
Of brow once prominent and starry,
Called Nature's Ape and the world's despair
For his peerless painting? (See Vasari.)

X.

There stands the Master. Study, my friends,
What a man's work comes to! So he plans it,
Performs it, perfects it, makes amends
For the toiling and moiling, and then, sic transit!
Happier the thrifty blind-folk labour,
With upturned eye while the hand is busy,
Not sidling a glance at the coin of their neighbour!
'Tis looking downward that makes one dizzy.

XI.

``If you knew their work you would deal your dole.''
May I take upon me to instruct you?
When Greek Art ran and reached the goal,
Thus much had the world to boast in fructu-
The Truth of Man, as by God first spoken,
Which the actual generations garble,
Was re-uttered, and Soul (which Limbs betoken)
And Limbs (Soul informs) made new in marble.

XII.

So, you saw yourself as you wished you were,
As you might have been, as you cannot be;
Earth here, rebuked by Olympus there:
And grew content in your poor degree
With your little power, by those statues' godhead,
And your little scope, by their eyes' full sway,
And your little grace, by their grace embodied,
And your little date, by their forms that stay.

XIII.

You would fain be kinglier, say, than I am?
Even so, you will not sit like Theseus.
You would prove a model? The Son of Priam
Has yet the advantage in arms' and knees' use.
You're wroth-can you slay your snake like Apollo?
You're grieved-still Niobe's the grander!
You live-there's the Racers' frieze to follow:
You die-there's the dying Alexander.

XIV.

So, testing your weakness by their strength,
Your meagre charms by their rounded beauty,
Measured by Art in your breadth and length,
You learned-to submit is a mortal's duty.
-When I say ``you'' 'tis the common soul,
The collective, I mean: the race of Man
That receives life in parts to live in a whole,
And grow here according to God's clear plan.

XV.

Growth came when, looking your last on them all,
You turned your eyes inwardly one fine day
And cried with a start-What if we so small
Be greater and grander the while than they?
Are they perfect of lineament, perfect of stature?
In both, of such lower types are we
Precisely because of our wider nature;
For time, theirs-ours, for eternity.

XVI.

To-day's brief passion limits their range;
It seethes with the morrow for us and more.
They are perfect-how else? they shall never change:
We are faulty-why not? we have time in store.
The Artificer's hand is not arrested
With us; we are rough-hewn, nowise polished:
They stand for our copy, and, once invested
With all they can teach, we shall see them abolished.

XVII.

'Tis a life-long toil till our lump be leaven-
The better! What's come to perfection perishes.
Things learned on earth, we shall practise in heaven:
Works done least rapidly, Art most cherishes.
Thyself shalt afford the example, Giotto!
Thy one work, not to decrease or diminish,
Done at a stroke, was just (was it not?) ``O!''
Thy great Campanile is still to finish.

XVIII.

Is it true that we are now, and shall be hereafter,
But what and where depend on life's minute?
Hails heavenly cheer or infernal laughter
Our first step out of the gulf or in it?
Shall Man, such step within his endeavour,
Man's face, have no more play and action
Than joy which is crystallized for ever,
Or grief, an eternal petrifaction?

XIX.

On which I conclude, that the early painters,
To cries of ``Greek Art and what more wish you?''-
Replied, ``To become now self-acquainters,
``And paint man man, whatever the issue!
``Make new hopes shine through the flesh they fray,
``New fears aggrandize the rags and tatters:
``To bring the invisible full into play!
``Let the visible go to the dogs-what matters?''

XX.

Give these, I exhort you, their guerdon and glory
For daring so much, before they well did it.
The first of the new, in our race's story,
Beats the last of the old; 'tis no idle quiddit.
The worthies began a revolution,
Which if on earth you intend to acknowledge,
Why, honour them now! (ends my allocution)
Nor confer your degree when the folk leave college.

XXI.

There's a fancy some lean to and others hate-
That, when this life is ended, begins
New work for the soul in another state,
Where it strives and gets weary, loses and wins:
Where the strong and the weak, this world's congeries,
Repeat in large what they practised in small,
Through life after life in unlimited series;
Only the scale's to be changed, that's all.

XXII.

Yet I hardly know. When a soul has seen
By the means of Evil that Good is best,
And, through earth and its noise, what is heaven's serene,-
When our faith in the same has stood the test-
Why, the child grown man, you burn the rod,
The uses of labour are surely done;
There remaineth a rest for the people of God:
And I have had troubles enough, for one.

XXIII.

But at any rate I have loved the season
Of Art's spring-birth so dim and dewy;
My sculptor is Nicolo the Pisan,
My painter-who but Cimabue?
Nor ever was man of them all indeed,
From these to Ghiberti and Ghirlandaio,
Could say that he missed my critic-meed.
So, now to my special grievance-heigh ho!

XXIV.

Their ghosts still stand, as I said before,
Watching each fresco flaked and rasped,
Blocked up, knocked out, or whitewashed o'er:
-No getting again what the church has grasped!
The works on the wall must take their chance;
``Works never conceded to England's thick clime!''
(I hope they prefer their inheritance
Of a bucketful of Italian quick-lime.)

XXV.

When they go at length, with such a shaking
Of heads o'er the old delusion, sadly
Each master his way through the black streets taking,
Where many a lost work breathes though badly-
Why don't they bethink them of who has merited?
Why not reveal, while their pictures dree
Such doom, how a captive might be out-ferreted?
Why is it they never remember me?

XXVI.

Not that I expect the great Bigordi,
Nor Sandro to hear me, chivalric, bellicose;
Nor the wronged Lippino; and not a word I
Say of a scrap of Fr Angelico's:
But are you too fine, Taddeo Gaddi,
To grant me a taste of your intonaco,
Some Jerome that seeks the heaven with a sad eye?
Not a churlish saint, Lorenzo Monaco?

XXVII.

Could not the ghost with the close red cap,
My Pollajolo, the twice a craftsman,
Save me a sample, give me the hap
Of a muscular Christ that shows the draughtsman?
No Virgin by him the somewhat petty,
Of finical touch and tempera crumbly-
Could not Alesso Baldovinetti
Contribute so much, I ask him humbly?

XXVIII.

Margheritone of Arezzo,
With the grave-clothes garb and swaddling barret
(Why purse up mouth and beak in a pet so,
You bald old saturnine poll-clawed parrot?)
Not a poor glimmering Crucifixion,
Where in the foreground kneels the donor?
If such remain, as is my conviction,
The hoarding it does you but little honour.

XXIX.

They pass; for them the panels may thrill,
The tempera grow alive and tinglish;
Their pictures are left to the mercies still
Of dealers and stealers, Jews and the English,
Who, seeing mere money's worth in their prize,
Will sell it to somebody calm as Zeno
At naked High Art, and in ecstasies
Before some clay-cold vile Carlino!

XXX.

No matter for these! But Giotto, you,
Have you allowed, as the town-tongues babble it,-
Oh, never! it shall not be counted true-
That a certain precious little tablet
Which Buonarroti eyed like a lover,-
Was buried so long in oblivion's womb
And, left for another than I to discover,
Turns up at last! and to whom?-to whom?

XXXI.

I, that have haunted the dim San Spirito,
(Or was it rather the Ognissanti?)
Patient on altar-step planting a weary toe!
Nay, I shall have it yet! Detur amanti!
My Koh-i-noor-or (if that's a platitude)
Jewel of Giamschid, the Persian Sofi's eye
So, in anticipative gratitude,
What if I take up my hope and prophesy?

XXXII.

When the hour grows ripe, and a certain dotard
Is pitched, no parcel that needs invoicing,
To the worse side of the Mont Saint Gothard,
We shall begin by way of rejoicing;
None of that shooting the sky (blank cartridge),
Nor a civic guard, all plumes and lacquer,
Hunting Radetzky's soul like a partridge
Over Morello with squib and cracker.

XXXIII.

This time we'll shoot better game and bag 'em hot-
No mere display at the stone of Dante,
But a kind of sober Witanagemot
(Ex: ``Casa Guidi,'' quod videas ante)
Shall ponder, once Freedom restored to Florence,
How Art may return that departed with her.
Go, hated house, go each trace of the Loraine's,
And bring us the days of Orgagna hither!

XXXIV.

How we shall prologize, how we shall perorate,
Utter fit things upon art and history,
Feel truth at blood-heat and falsehood at zero rate,
Make of the want of the age no mystery;
Contrast the fructuous and sterile eras,
Show-monarchy ever its uncouth cub licks
Out of the bear's shape into Chimra's,
While Pure Art's birth is still the republic's.

XXXV.

Then one shall propose in a speech (curt Tuscan,
Expurgate and sober, with scarcely an ``issimo,'')
To end now our half-told tale of Cambuscan,
And turn the bell-tower's alt to altissimo:
And fine as the beak of a young beccaccia
The Campanile, the Duomo's fit ally,
Shall soar up in gold full fifty braccia,
Completing Florence, as Florence Italy.

XXXVI.

Shall I be alive that morning the scaffold
Is broken away, and the long-pent fire,
Like the golden hope of the world, unbaffled
Springs from its sleep, and up goes the spire
While ``God and the People'' plain for its motto,
Thence the new tricolour flaps at the sky?
At least to foresee that glory of Giotto
And Florence together, the first am I!
A sculptor, died 1278.

Died 1455. Designed the bronze gates of the Baptistry at Florence.

A painter, died 1498.

The son of Fr Lippo Lippi. Wronged, because some of his
pictures have been attributed to others.

Died 1366. One of Giotto's pupils and assistants.

Rough cast.

Painter, sculptor, and goldsmith.

Distemper-mixture of water and egg yolk.

Sculptor and architect, died 1313-
All Saints.
A Florentine painter, died 1576.
Tartar king.
A woodcock


~ Robert Browning, Old Pictures In Florence
,
539:Scene.Inside the Palace by the Duomo. Monsignor, dismissing his Attendants.
Monsignor
Thanks, friends, many thanks! I chiefly desire life now, that I may recompense every one of you. Most I know something of already. What, a repast prepared?Benedicto benedicatur . . . ugh, ugh! Where was I? Oh, as you were remarking, Ugo, the weather is mild, very unlike winter-weather: but I am a Sicilian, you know, and shiver in your Julys here. To be sure, when 't was full summer at Messina, as we priests used to cross in procession the great square on Assumption Day, you might see our thickest yellow tapers twist suddenly in two, each like a falling star, or sink down on themselves in a gore of wax. But go, my friends, but go! [To the Intendant]
Not you, Ugo! [The others leave the apartment]
I have long wanted to converse with you, Ugo.

Intendant
Uguccio

Monsignor
. . . 'guccio Stefani, man! of Ascoli, Fermo and Fossombruno;what I do need instructing about, are these accounts of your administration of my poor brother's affairs. Ugh! I shall never get through a third part of your accounts: take some of these dainties before we attempt it, however. Are you bashful to that degree? For me, a crust and water suffice.

Intendant
Do you choose this especial night to question me?

Monsignor
This night, Ugo. You have managed my late brother's affairs since the death of our elder brother: fourteen years and a month, all but three days. On the Third of December, I find him . . .

Intendant
If you have so intimate an acquaintance with your brother's affairs, you will be tender of turning so far back: they will hardly bear looking into, so far back.

Monsignor
Ay, ay, ugh, ugh,nothing but disappointments here below! I remark a considerable payment made to yourself on this Third of December. Talk of disappointments! There was a young fellow here, Jules, a foreign sculptor I did my utmost to advance, that the Church might be a gainer by us both: he was going on hopefully enough, and of a sudden he notifies to me some marvellous change that has happened in his notions of Art. Here's his letter,"He never had a clearly conceived Ideal within his brain till to-day. Yet since his hand could manage a chisel, he has practised expressing other men's Ideals; and, in the very perfection he has attained to, he foresees an ultimate failure: his unconscious hand will pursue its prescribed course of old years, and will reproduce with a fatal expertness the ancient types, let the novel one appear never so palpably to his spirit. There is but one method of escape: confiding the virgin type to as chaste a hand, he will turn painter instead of sculptor, and paint, not carve, its characteristics," strike out, I dare say, a school like Correggio: how think you, Ugo?

Intendant
Is Correggio a painter?

Monsignor
Foolish Jules! and yet, after all, why foolish? He mayprobably willfail egregiously; but if there should arise a new painter, will it not be in some such way, by a poet now, or a musician (spirits who have conceived and perfected an Ideal through some other channel), transferring it to this, and escaping our conventional roads by pure ignorance of them; eh, Ugo? If you have no appetite, talk at least, Ugo!

Intendant
Sir, I can submit no longer to this course of yours. First, you select the group of which I formed one,next you thin it gradually,always retaining me with your smile,and so do you proceed till you have fairly got me alone with you between four stone walls. And now then? Let this farce, this chatter end now: what is it you want with me?

Monsignor
Ugo!

Intendant
From the instant you arrived, I felt your smile on me as you questioned me about this and the other article in those paperswhy your brother should have given me this villa, that podere,and your nod at the end meant,what?

Monsignor
Possibly that I wished for no loud talk here. If once you set me coughing, Ugo!

Intendant
I have your brother's hand and seal to all I possess: now ask me what for! what service I did himask me!

Monsignor
I would better not: I should rip up old disgraces, let out my poor brother's weaknesses. By the way, Maffeo of Forli (which, I forgot to observe, is your true name), was the interdict ever taken off you, for robbing that church at Cesena?

Intendant
No, nor needs be: for when I murdered your brother's friend, Pasquale, for him . . .

Monsignor
Ah, he employed you in that business, did he? Well, I must let you keep, as you say, this villa and that podere, for fear the world should find out my relations were of so indifferent a stamp? Maffeo, my family is the oldest in Messina, and century after century have my progenitors gone on polluting themselves with every wickedness under heaven: my own father . . . rest his soul!I have, I know, a chapel to support that it may rest: my dear two dead brothers were,what you know tolerably well; I, the youngest, might have rivalled them in vice, if not in wealth: but from my boyhood I came out from among them, and so am not partaker of their plagues. My glory springs from another source; or if from this, by contrast only,for I, the bishop, am the brother of your employers, Ugo. I hope to repair some of their wrong, however; so far as my brothers' illgotten treasure reverts to me, I can stop the consequences of his crime: and not one soldo shall escape me. Maffec, the sword we quiet men spurn away, you shrewd knaves pick up and commit murders with; what opportunities the virtuous forego, the villanous seize. Because, to pleasure myself apart from other considerations, my food would be millet-cake, my dress sackcloth, and my couch straw,am I therefore to let you, the offscouring of the earth, seduce the poor and ignorant by appropriating a pomp these will be sure to think lessens the abominations so unaccountably and exclusively associated with it? Must I let villas and poderi go to you, a murderer and thief, that you may beget by means of them other murderers and thieves? Noif my cough would but allow me to speak!

Intendant
What am I to expect? You are going to punish me?

Monsignor
Must punish you, Maffeo. I cannot afford to cast away a chance. I have whole centuries of sin to redeem, and only a month or two of life to it in. How should I dare to say . . .

Intendant
"Forgive us our trespasses"?

Monsignor
My friend, it is because I avow myself a very worm, sinful beyond measure, that I reject a line of conduct you would applaud perhaps. Shall I proceed, as it were, a-pardoning?I?who have no symptom of reason to assume that aught less than my strenuousest efforts will keep myself out of mortal sin, much less keep others out. No: I do trespass, but will not double that by allowing you to trespass.

Intendant
And suppose the villas are not your brother's to give, nor yours to take? Oh, you are hasty enough just now!

Monsignor
I, 2No 3!ay, can you read the substance of a letter, No 3, I have received from Rome? It is precisely on the ground there mentioned, of the suspicion I have that a certain child of my late elder brother, who would have succeeded to his estates, was murdered in infancy by you, Maffeo, at the instigation of my late younger brotherthat the Pontiff enjoins on me not merely the bringing that Maffeo to condign punishment, but the taking all pains, as guardian of the infant's heritage for the Church, to recover it parcel by parcel, howsoever, whensoever, and wheresoever. While you are now gnawing those fingers, the police are engaged in sealing up your papers, Maffeo, and the mere raising my voice brings my people from the next room to dispose of yourself. But I want you to confess quietly, and save me raising my voice. Why, man, do I not know the old story? The heir between the succeeding heir, and this heir's ruffianly instrument, and their complot's effect, and the life of fear and bribes and ominous smiling silence? Did you throttle or stab my brother's infant? Come now

Intendant
So old a story, and tell it no better? When did such an instrument ever produce such an effect? Either the child smiles in his face; or, most likely, he is not fool enough to put himself in the employer's power so thoroughly: the child is always ready to produceas you sayhowsoever, wheresoever, and whensoever.

Monsignor
Liar!

Intendant
Strike me? Ah, so might a father chastise! I shall sleep soundly to-night at least, though the gallows await me to-morrow; for what a life did I lead! Carlo of Cesena reminds me of his connivance, every time I pay his annuity; which happens commonly thrice a year. If I remonstrate, he will confess all to the good bishopyou!

Monsignor
I see through the trick, caitiff! I would you spoke truth for once. All shall be sifted, however seven times sifted.

Intendant
And how my absurd riches encumbered me! I dared not lay claim to above half my possessions. Let me but once unbosom myself, glorify Heaven, and die! Sir, you are no brutal dastardly idiot like your brother I frightened to death: let us understand one another. Sir, I will make away with her for youthe girlhere close at hand; not the stupid obvious kind of killing; do not speakknow nothing of her nor of me! I see her every daysaw her this morning: of course there is to be no killing; but at Rome the courtesans perish off every three years, and I can entice her thitherhave indeed begun operations already. There's a certain lusty blue-eyed florid-complexioned English knave, I and the Police employ occasionally. You assent, I perceive no, that's not itassent I do not saybut you will let me convert my present havings and holdings into cash, and give me time to cross the Alps? 'T is but a little black-eyed pretty singing Felippa, gay silk-winding girl. I have kept her out of harm's way up to this present; for I always intended to make your life a plague to you with her. 'T is as well settled once and for ever. Some women I have procured will pass Bluphocks, my handsome scoundrel, off for somebody; and once Pippa entangled!you conceive? Through her singing? Is it a bargain?

[From without is heard the voice of Pippa, singing
Overhead the tree-tops meet,
Flowers and grass spring 'neath one's feet;
There was nought above me, nought below,
My childhood had not learned to know:
For, what are the voices of birds
Ay, and of beasts,but words, our words,
Only so much more sweet?
The knowledge of that with my life begun.
But I had so near made out the sun,
And counted your stars, the seven and one,
Like the fingers of my hand:
Nay, I could all but understand
Wherefore through heaven the white moon ranges;
And just when out of her soft fifty changes
No unfamiliar face might overlook me
Suddenly God took me.]
[Pippa passes.
Monsignor
[springing up].
My peopleone and all allwithin there! Gag this villaintie him hand and foot! He dares . . . I know not half he daresbut remove himquick! Miserere mei, Domine! Quick, I say!

Scene.Pippa's chamber again. She enters it.
The bee with his comb,
The mouse at her dray,
The grub in his tomb,
Wile winter away;
But the fire-fly and hedge-shrew and lob-worm, I pray,
How fare they?
Ha, ha, thanks for your counsel, my Zanze!
"Feast upon lampreys, quaff Breganze"
The summer of life so easy to spend,
And care for to-morrow so soon put away!
But winter hastens at summer's end,
And fire-fly, hedge-shrew, lob-worm, pray,
How fare they?
No bidding me then to . . . what did Zanze say?
"Pare your nails pearlwise, get your small feet shoes
"More like" . . (what said she?)"and less like canoes!"
How pert that girl was!would I be those pert
Impudent staring women! It had done me,
However, surely no such mighty hurt
To learn his name who passed that jest upon me:
No foreigner, that I can recollect,
Came, as she says, a month since, to inspect
Our silk-millsnone with blue eyes and thick rings
Of raw-silk-coloured hair, at all events.
Well, if old Luca keep his good intents,
We shall do better, see what next year brings.
I may buy shoes, my Zanze, not appear
More destitute than you perhaps next year!
Bluph . . . something! I had caught the uncouth name
But for Monsignor's people's sudden clatter
Above usbound to spoil such idle chatter
As ours: it were indeed a serious matter
If silly talk like ours should put to shame
The pious man, the man devoid of blame,
The . . . ah butah but, all the same,
No mere mortal has a right
To carry that exalted air;
Best people are not angels quite:
Whilenot the worst of people's doings scare
The devil; so there's that proud look to spare!
Which is mere counsel to myself, mind! for
I have just been the holy Monsignor:
And I was you too, Luigi's gentle mother,
And you too, Luigi!how that Luigi started
Out of the turretdoubtlessly departed
On some good errand or another,
For he passed just now in a traveller's trim,
And the sullen company that prowled
About his path, I noticed, scowled
As if they had lost a prey in him.
And I was Jules the sculptor's bride,
And I was Ottima beside,
And now what am I?tired of fooling.
Day for folly, night for schooling!
New year's day is over and spent,
Ill or well, I must be content.
Even my lily's asleep, I vow:
Wake uphere's a friend I've plucked you!
Call this flower a heart's-ease now!
Something rare, let me instruct you,
Is this, with petals triply swollen,
Three times spotted, thrice the pollen;
While the leaves and parts that witness
Old proportions and their fitness,
Here remain unchanged, unmoved now;
Call this pampered thing improved now!
Suppose there's a king of the flowers
And a girl-show held in his bowers
"Look ye, buds, this growth of ours,"
Says he, "Zanze from the Brenta,
"I have made her gorge polenta
"Till both cheeks are near as bouncing
"As her . . . name there's no pronouncing!
"See this heightened colour too,
"For she swilled Breganze wine
"Till her nose turned deep carmine;
"'T was but white when wild she grew.
"And only by this Zanze's eyes
"Of which we could not change the size,
"The magnitude of all achieved
"Otherwise, may be perceived."
Oh what a drear dark close to my poor day!
How could that red sun drop in that black cloud?
Ah Pippa, morning's rule is moved away,
Dispensed with, never more to be allowed!
Day's turn is over, now arrives the night's.
Oh lark, be day's apostle
To mavis, merle and throstle,
Bid them their betters jostle
From day and its delights!
But at night, brother howlet, over the woods,
Toll the world to thy chantry;
Sing to the bats' sleek sisterhoods
Full complines with gallantry:
Then, owls and bats,
Cowls and twats,
Monks and nuns, in a cloister's moods,
Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!
[After she has begun to undress herself.]
Now, one thing I should like to really know:
How near I ever might approach all these
I only fancied being, this long day:
Approach, I mean, so as to touch them, so
As to . . . in some way . . . move themif you please,
Do good or evil to them some slight way.
For instance, if I wind
Silk to-morrow, my silk may bind
[Sitting on the bedside.]
And border Ottima's cloak's hem.
Ah me, and my important part with them,
This morning's hymn half promised when I rose!
True in some sense or other, I suppose.
[As she lies down.]
God bless me! I can pray no more to-night.
No doubt, some way or other, hymns say right.
All service ranks the same with God
With God, whose puppets, best and worst,
Are we: there is no last nor first.
[She sleeps.]


~ Robert Browning, Pippa Passes - Part IV - Night
,
540:Scene.Inside the Turret on the Hill above Asolo.Luigi and his Mother entering.
Mother
If there blew wind, you'd hear a long sigh, easing
The utmost heaviness of music's heart.
Luigi
Here in the archway?
Mother
           Oh no, noin farther,
Where the echo is made, on the ridge.
Luigi
                    Here surely, then.
How plain the tap of my heel as I leaped up!
Hark"Lucius Junius!" The very ghost of a voice
Whose body is caught and kept by . . . what are those?
Mere withered wallflowers, waving overhead?
They seem an elvish group with thin bleached hair
That lean out of their topmost fortresslook
And listen, mountain men, to what we say,
Hand under chin of each grave earthy face.
Up and show faces all of you!"All of you!"
That's the king dwarf with the scarlet comb; old Franz,
Come down and meet your fate? Hark"Meet your fate!"
Mother
Let him not meet it, my Luigido not
Go to his City! Putting crime aside,
Half of these ills of Italy are feigned:
Your Pellicos and writers for effect,
Write for effect.
Luigi
         Hush! Say A. writes, and B.
         Mother
These A.s and B.s write for effect, I say.
Then, evil is in its nature loud, while good
Is silent; you hear each petty injury,
None of his virtues; he is old beside,
Quiet and kind, and densely stupid. Why
Do A. and B. not kill him themselves?
Luigi
                    They teach
Others to kill himmeand, if I fail,
Others to succeed; now, if A. tried and failed,
I could not teach that: mine's the lesser task.
Mother, they visit night by night . . .
Mother
                     You, Luigi?
Ah, will you let me tell you what you are?
Luigi
Why not? Oh, the one thing you fear to hint,
You may assure yourself I say and say
Ever to myself! At timesnay, even as now
We sitI think my mind is touched, suspect
All is not sound: but is not knowing that,
What constitutes one sane or otherwise?
I know I am thusso, all is right again.
I laugh at myself as through the town I walk.
And see men merry as if no Italy
Were suffering; then I ponder"I am rich,
"Young, healthy; why should this fact trouble me,
"More than it troubles these?" But it does trouble.
No, trouble's a bad word: for as I walk
There's springing and melody and giddiness,
And old quaint turns and passages of my youth,
Dreams long forgotten, little in themselves,
Return to mewhatever may amuse me:
And earth seems in a truce with me, and heaven
Accords with me, all things suspend their strife,
The very cicala laughs "There goes he, and there!
"Feast him, the time is short; he is on his way
"For the world's sake: feast him this once, our friend!"
And in return for all this, I can trip
Cheerfully up the scaffold-steps. I go
This evening, mother!
Mother
           But mistrust yourself
Mistrust the judgment you pronounce on him!
Luigi
Oh, there I feelam sure that I am right!
Mother
Mistrust your judgment then, of the mere means
To this wild enterprise. Say, you are right,
How should one in your state e'er bring to pass
What would require a cool head, a cold heart,
And a calm hand? You never will escape.
Luigi
Escape? To even wish that, would spoil all.
The dying is best part of it. Too much
Have I enjoyed these fifteen years of mine,
To leave myself excuse for longer life:
Was not life pressed down, running o'er with joy,
That I might finish with it ere my fellows
Who, sparelier feasted, make a longer stay?
I was put at the board-head, helped to all
At first; I rise up happy and content.
God must be glad one loves his world so much.
I can give news of earth to all the dead
Who ask me:last year's sunsets, and great stars
Which had a right to come first and see ebb
The crimson wave that drifts the sun away
Those crescent moons with notched and burning rims
That strengthened into sharp fire, and there stood,
Impatient of the azureand that day
In March, a double rainbow stopped the storm
May's warm slow yellow moonlit summer nights
Gone are they, but I have them in my soul!
Mother
(He will not go!)
Luigi
         You smile at me? 'T is true,
Voluptuousness, grotesqueness, ghastliness,
Environ my devotedness as quaintly
As round about some antique altar wreathe
The rose festoons, goats' horns, and oxen's skulls.
Mother
See now: you reach the city, you must cross
His thresholdhow?
Luigi
          Oh, that's if we conspired!
Then would come pains in plenty, as you guess
But guess not how the qualities most fit
For such an office, qualities I have,
Would little stead me, otherwise employed,
Yet prove of rarest merit only here.
Every one knows for what his excellence
Will serve, but no one ever will consider
For what his worst defect might serve: and yet
Have you not seen me range our coppice yonder
In search of a distorted ash?I find
The wry spoilt branch a natural perfect bow.
Fancy the thrice-sage, thrice-precautioned man
Arriving at the palace on my errand!
No, no! I have a handsome dress packed up
White satin here, to set off my black hair;
In I shall marchfor you may watch your life out
Behind thick walls, make friends there to betray you;
More than one man spoils everything. March straight
Only, no clumsy knife to fumble for.
Take the great gate, and walk (not saunter) on
Thro' guards and guardsI have rehearsed it all
Inside the turret here a hundred times.
Don't ask the way of whom you meet, observe!
But where they cluster thickliest is the door
Of doors; they'll let you passthey'll never blab
Each to the other, he knows not the favourite,
Whence he is bound and what's his business now.
Walk instraight up to him; you have no knife:
Be prompt, how should he scream? Then, out with you!
Italy, Italy, my Italy!
You're free, you're free! Oh mother, I could dream
They got about meAndrea from his exile,
Pier from his dungeon, Gualtier from his grave!
Mother
Well, you shall go. Yet seems this patriotism
The easiest virtue for a selfish man
To acquire: he loves himselfand next, the world
If he must love beyond,but nought between:
As a short-sighted man sees nought midway
His body and the sun above. But you
Are my adored Luigi, ever obedient
To my least wish, and running o'er with love:
I could not call you cruel or unkind.
Once more, your ground for killing him!then go!
Luigi
Now do you try me, or make sport of me?
How first the Austrians got these provinces . . .
(If that is all, I'll satisfy you soon)
Never by conquest but by cunning, for
That treaty whereby . . .
Mother
              Well?
              Luigi
                 (Sure, he's arrived,
The tell-tale cuckoo: spring's his confidant,
And he lets out her April purposes!)
Or . . . better go at once to modern time,
He has . . . they have . . . in fact, I understand
But can't restate the matter; that's my boast:
Others could reason it out to you, and prove
Things they have made me feel.
Mother
                Why go to-night?
Morn's for adventure. Jupiter is now
A morning-star. I cannot hear you, Luigi!
Luigi
"I am the bright and morning-star," saith God
And, "to such an one I give the morning-star.
The gift of the morning-star! Have I God's gift
Of the morning-star?
Mother
           Chiara will love to see
That Jupiter an evening-star next June.
Luigi
True, mother. Well for those who live through June!
Great noontides, thunder-storms, all glaring pomps
That triumph at the heels of June the god
Leading his revel through our leafy world.
Yes, Chiara will be here.
Mother
             In June: remember,
Yourself appointed that month for her coming.
Luigi
Was that low noise the echo?
Mother
               The night-wind.
She must be grownwith her blue eyes upturned
As if life were one long and sweet surprise:
In June she comes.
Luigi
         We were to see together
The Titian at Treviso. There, again!
[From without is heard the voice of Pippa, singing]
A king lived long ago,
In the morning of the world,
When earth was nigher heaven than now:
And the king's locks curled,
Disparting o'er a forehead full
As the milk-white space 'twixt horn and horn
Of some sacrificial bull
Only calm as a babe new-born:
For he was got to a sleepy mood,
So safe from all decrepitude,
Age with its bane, so sure gone by,
(The gods so loved him while he dreamed)
That, having lived thus long, there seemed
No need the king should ever die.
Luigi
No need that sort of king should ever die!
Among the rocks his city was:
Before his palace, in the sun,
He sat to see his people pass,
And judge them every one
From its threshold of smooth stone.
They haled him many a valley-thief
Caught in the sheep-pens, robber-chief
Swarthy and shameless, beggar-cheat,
Spy-prowler, or rough pirate found
On the sea-sand left aground;
And sometimes clung about his feet,
With bleeding lip and burning cheek,
A woman, bitterest wrong to speak
Of one with sullen thickset brows:
And sometimes from the prison-house
The angry priests a pale wretch brought,
Who through some chink had pushed and pressed
On knees and elbows, belly and breast,
Worm-like into the temple,caught
He was by the very god,
Who ever in the darkness strode
Backward and forward, keeping watch
O'er his brazen bowls, such rogues to catch!
These, all and every one,
The king judged, sitting in the sun.
Luigi
That king should still judge sitting in the sun!
His councillors, on left and right,
Looked anxious up,but no surprise
Disturbed the king's old smiling eyes
Where the very blue had turned to white.
'T is said, a Python scared one day
The breathless city, till he came,
With forky tongue and eyes on flame
Where the old king sat to judge alway,
But when he saw the sweepy hair
Girt with a crown of berries rare
Which the god will hardly give to wear
To the maiden who singeth, dancing bare
In the altar-smoke by the pine-torch lights,
At his wondrous forest rites,
Seeing this, he did not dare
Approach that threshold in the sun,
Assault the old king smiling there.
Such grace had kings when the world begun!
[Pippa passes]
Luigi
And such grace have they, now that the world ends!
The Python at the city, on the throne,
And brave men, God would crown for slaying him,
Lurk in bye-corners lest they fall his prey.
Are crowns yet to be won in this late time,
Which weakness makes me hesitate to reach?
'T is God's voice calls: how could I stay? Farewell!
Talk by the way, while Pippa is passing from the Turret to the Bishop's Brother's House, close to the Duomo S. Maria. PoorGirls sitting on the steps.
1st Girl
There goes a swallow to Venicethe stout seafarer!
Seeing those birds fly, makes one wish for wings.
Let us all wish; you wish first!
2nd Girl
                 I? This sunset
To finish.
3rd Girl
     That oldsomebody I know,
Greyer and older than my grandfather,
To give me the same treat he gave last week
Feeding me on his knee with fig-peckers,
Lampreys and red Breganze-wine, and mumbling
The while some folly about how well I fare,
Let sit and eat my supper quietly:
Since had he not himself been late this morning
Detained atnever mind where,had he not . . .
"Eh, baggage, had I not!"
2nd Girl
               How she can lie!
               3rd Girl
Look thereby the nails!
2nd Girl.
             What makes your fingers red?
             3rd Girl
Dipping them into wine to write bad words with
On the bright table: how he laughed!
1st Girl
                   My turn.
Spring's come and summer's coming. I would wear
A long loose gown, down to the feet and hands,
With plaits here, close about the throat, all day;
And all night lie, the cool long nights, in bed;
And have new milk to drink, apples to eat,
Deuzans and junetings, leather-coats . . ah, I should say,
This is away in the fieldsmiles!
3rd Girl
                  Say at once
You'd be at home: she'd always be at home!
Now comes the story of the farm among
The cherry orchards, and how April snowed
White blossoms on her as she ran. Why, fool,
They've rubved the chalk-mark out, how tall you were
Twisted your starling's neck, broken his cage,
Made a dung-hill of your garden!
1st Girl
                 They, destroy
My garden since I left them? wellperhaps!
I would have done so: so I hope they have!
A fig-tree curled out of our cottage wall;
They called it mine, I have forgotten why,
It must have been there long ere I was born:
CriccricI think I hear the wasps o'erhead
Pricking the papers strung to flutter there
And keep off birds in fruit-timecoarse long papers,
And the wasps eat them, prick them through and through.
3rd Girl
How her mouth twitches! Where was I?before
She broke in with her wishes and long gowns
And waspswould I be such a fool!Oh, here!
This is my way: I answer every one
Who asks me why I make so much of him
(If you say, "you love him"straight "he'll not be gulled!")
"He that seduced me when I was a girl
"Thus highhad eyes like yours, or hair like yours,
"Brown, red, white,"as the case may be: that pleases!
See how that beetle burnishes in the path!
There sparkles he along the dust: and, there
Your journey to that maize-tuft spoiled at least!
1st Girl
When I was young, they said if you killed one
Of those sunshiny beetles, that his friend
Up there, would shine no more that day nor next.
2nd Girl
When you were young? Nor are you young, that's true.
How your plump arms, that were, have dropped away!
Why, I can span them. Cecco beats you still?
No matter, so you keep your curious hair.
I wish they'd find a way to dye our hair
Your colourany lighter tint, indeed,
Than black: the men say they are sick of black,
Black eyes, black hair!
4th Girl
            Sick of yours, like enough.
Do you pretend you ever tasted lampreys
And ortolans? Giovita, of the palace,
Engaged (but there's no trusting him) to slice me
Polenta with a knife that had cut up
An ortolan.
2nd Girl
     Why, there! Is not that Pippa
We are to talk to, under the window,quick,
Where the lights are?
1st Girl
           That she? No, or she would sing.
For the Intendant said . . .
3rd Girl
               Oh, you sing first!
Then, if she listens and comes close . . I'll tell you,
Sing that song the young English noble made,
Who took you for the purest of the pure,
And meant to leave the world for youwhat fun!
2nd Girl
[sings]
You'll love me yet!and I can tarry
Your love's protracted growing:
June reared that bunch of flowers you carry,
From seeds of April's sowing.
I plant a heartful now: some seed
At least is sure to strike,
And yieldwhat you'll not pluck indeed,
Not love, but, may be, like.
You'll look at least on love's remains,
A grave's one violet:
Your look?that pays a thousand pains.
What's death? You'll love me yet!
3rd Girl
[to Pippa who approaches]
Oh, you may come closerwe shall not eat you! Why, you seem the very person that the great rich handsome Englishman has fallen so violently in love with. I'll tell you all about it.


~ Robert Browning, Pippa Passes - Part III - Evening
,
541:"Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself."
   (David, Psalms 50.21)
['Will sprawl, now that the heat of day is best,
Flat on his belly in the pit's much mire,
With elbows wide, fists clenched to prop his chin.
And, while he kicks both feet in the cool slush,
And feels about his spine small eft-things course,
Run in and out each arm, and make him laugh:
And while above his head a pompion-plant,
Coating the cave-top as a brow its eye,
Creeps down to touch and tickle hair and beard,
And now a flower drops with a bee inside,
And now a fruit to snap at, catch and crunch,
He looks out o'er yon sea which sunbeams cross
And recross till they weave a spider-web
(Meshes of fire, some great fish breaks at times)
And talks to his own self, howe'er he please,
Touching that other, whom his dam called God.
Because to talk about Him, vexesha,
Could He but know! and time to vex is now,
When talk is safer than in winter-time.
Moreover Prosper and Miranda sleep
In confidence he drudges at their task,
And it is good to cheat the pair, and gibe,
Letting the rank tongue blossom into speech.]

Setebos, Setebos, and Setebos!
'Thinketh, He dwelleth i' the cold o' the moon.

'Thinketh He made it, with the sun to match,
But not the stars; the stars came otherwise;
Only made clouds, winds, meteors, such as that:
Also this isle, what lives and grows thereon,
And snaky sea which rounds and ends the same.

'Thinketh, it came of being ill at ease:
He hated that He cannot change His cold,
Nor cure its ache. 'Hath spied an icy fish
That longed to 'scape the rock-stream where she lived,
And thaw herself within the lukewarm brine
O' the lazy sea her stream thrusts far amid,
A crystal spike 'twixt two warm walls of wave;
Only, she ever sickened, found repulse
At the other kind of water, not her life,
(Green-dense and dim-delicious, bred o' the sun)
Flounced back from bliss she was not born to breathe,
And in her old bounds buried her despair,
Hating and loving warmth alike: so He.

'Thinketh, He made thereat the sun, this isle,
Trees and the fowls here, beast and creeping thing.
Yon otter, sleek-wet, black, lithe as a leech;
Yon auk, one fire-eye in a ball of foam,
That floats and feeds; a certain badger brown
He hath watched hunt with that slant white-wedge eye
By moonlight; and the pie with the long tongue
That pricks deep into oak warts for a worm,
And says a plain word when she finds her prize,
But will not eat the ants; the ants themselves
That build a wall of seeds and settled stalks
About their holeHe made all these and more,
Made all we see, and us, in spite: how else?
He could not, Himself, make a second self
To be His mate; as well have made Himself:
He would not make what He mislikes or slights,
An eyesore to Him, or not worth His pains:
But did, in envy, listlessness or sport,
Make what Himself would fain, in a manner, be
Weaker in most points, stronger in a few,
Worthy, and yet mere playthings all the while,
Things He admires and mocks too,that is it.
Because, so brave, so better though they be,
It nothing skills if He begin to plague.
Look, now, I melt a gourd-fruit into mash,
Add honeycomb and pods, I have perceived,
Which bite like finches when they bill and kiss,
Then, when froth rises bladdery, drink up all,
Quick, quick, till maggots scamper through my brain;
Last, throw me on my back i' the seeded thyme,
And wanton, wishing I were born a bird.
Put case, unable to be what I wish,
I yet could make a live bird out of clay:
Would not I take clay, pinch my Caliban
Able to fly?for, there, see, he hath wings,
And great comb like the hoopoe's to admire,
And there, a sting to do his foes offence,
There, and I will that he begin to live,
Fly to yon rock-top, nip me off the horns
Of grigs high up that make the merry din,
Saucy through their veined wings, and mind me not.
In which feat, if his leg snapped, brittle clay,
And he lay stupid-like,why, I should laugh;
And if he, spying me, should fall to weep,
Beseech me to be good, repair his wrong,
Bid his poor leg smart less or grow again,
Well, as the chance were, this might take or else
Not take my fancy: I might hear his cry,
And give the mankin three sound legs for one,
Or pluck the other off, leave him like an egg
And lessoned he was mine and merely clay.
Were this no pleasure, lying in the thyme,
Drinking the mash, with brain become alive,
Making and marring clay at will? So He.

'Thinketh, such shows nor right nor wrong in Him,
Nor kind, nor cruel: He is strong and Lord.
'Am strong myself compared to yonder crabs
That march now from the mountain to the sea;
'Let twenty pass, and stone the twenty-first,
Loving not, hating not, just choosing so.
'Say, the first straggler that boasts purple spots
Shall join the file, one pincer twisted off;
'Say, this bruised fellow shall receive a worm,
And two worms he whose nippers end in red;
As it likes me each time, I do: so He.
Well then, 'supposeth He is good i' the main,
Placable if His mind and ways were guessed,
But rougher than His handiwork, be sure!
Oh, He hath made things worthier than Himself,
And envieth that, so helped, such things do more
Than He who made them! What consoles but this?
That they, unless through Him, do nought at all,
And must submit: what other use in things?
'Hath cut a pipe of pithless elder-joint
That, blown through, gives exact the scream o' the jay
When from her wing you twitch the feathers blue:
Sound this, and little birds that hate the jay
Flock within stone's throw, glad their foe is hurt:
Put case such pipe could prattle and boast forsooth
"I catch the birds, I am the crafty thing,
I make the cry my maker cannot make
With his great round mouth; he must blow through mine!'
Would not I smash it with my foot? So He.
But wherefore rough, why cold and ill at ease?
Aha, that is a question! Ask, for that,
What knows,the something over Setebos
That made Him, or He, may be, found and fought,
Worsted, drove off and did to nothing, perchance.
There may be something quiet o'er His head,
Out of His reach, that feels nor joy nor grief,
Since both derive from weakness in some way.
I joy because the quails come; would not joy
Could I bring quails here when I have a mind:
This Quiet, all it hath a mind to, doth.
'Esteemeth stars the outposts of its couch,
But never spends much thought nor care that way.
It may look up, work up,the worse for those
It works on! 'Careth but for Setebos
The many-handed as a cuttle-fish,
Who, making Himself feared through what He does,
Looks up, first, and perceives he cannot soar
To what is quiet and hath happy life;
Next looks down here, and out of very spite
Makes this a bauble-world to ape yon real,
These good things to match those as hips do grapes.
'Tis solace making baubles, ay, and sport.
Himself peeped late, eyed Prosper at his books
Careless and lofty, lord now of the isle:
Vexed, 'stitched a book of broad leaves, arrow-shaped,
Wrote thereon, he knows what, prodigious words;
Has peeled a wand and called it by a name;
Weareth at whiles for an enchanter's robe
The eyed skin of a supple oncelot;
And hath an ounce sleeker than youngling mole,
A four-legged serpent he makes cower and couch,
Now snarl, now hold its breath and mind his eye,
And saith she is Miranda and my wife:
'Keeps for his Ariel a tall pouch-bill crane
He bids go wade for fish and straight disgorge;
Also a sea-beast, lumpish, which he snared,
Blinded the eyes of, and brought somewhat tame,
And split its toe-webs, and now pens the drudge
In a hole o' the rock and calls him Caliban;
A bitter heart that bides its time and bites.
'Plays thus at being Prosper in a way,
Taketh his mirth with make-believes: so He.
His dam held that the Quiet made all things
Which Setebos vexed only: 'holds not so.
Who made them weak, meant weakness He might vex.
Had He meant other, while His hand was in,
Why not make horny eyes no thorn could prick,
Or plate my scalp with bone against the snow,
Or overscale my flesh 'neath joint and joint
Like an orc's armour? Ay,so spoil His sport!
He is the One now: only He doth all.
'Saith, He may like, perchance, what profits Him.
Ay, himself loves what does him good; but why?
'Gets good no otherwise. This blinded beast
Loves whoso places flesh-meat on his nose,
But, had he eyes, would want no help, but hate
Or love, just as it liked him: He hath eyes.
Also it pleaseth Setebos to work,
Use all His hands, and exercise much craft,
By no means for the love of what is worked.
'Tasteth, himself, no finer good i' the world
When all goes right, in this safe summer-time,
And he wants little, hungers, aches not much,
Than trying what to do with wit and strength.
'Falls to make something: 'piled yon pile of turfs,
And squared and stuck there squares of soft white chalk,
And, with a fish-tooth, scratched a moon on each,
And set up endwise certain spikes of tree,
And crowned the whole with a sloth's skull a-top,
Found dead i' the woods, too hard for one to kill.
No use at all i' the work, for work's sole sake;
'Shall some day knock it down again: so He.
'Saith He is terrible: watch His feats in proof!
One hurricane will spoil six good months' hope.
He hath a spite against me, that I know,
Just as He favours Prosper, who knows why?
So it is, all the same, as well I find.
'Wove wattles half the winter, fenced them firm
With stone and stake to stop she-tortoises
Crawling to lay their eggs here: well, one wave,
Feeling the foot of Him upon its neck,
Gaped as a snake does, lolled out its large tongue,
And licked the whole labour flat: so much for spite.
'Saw a ball flame down late (yonder it lies)
Where, half an hour before, I slept i' the shade:
Often they scatter sparkles: there is force!
'Dug up a newt He may have envied once
And turned to stone, shut up Inside a stone.
Please Him and hinder this?What Prosper does?
Aha, if He would tell me how! Not He!
There is the sport: discover how or die!
All need not die, for of the things o' the isle
Some flee afar, some dive, some run up trees;
Those at His mercy,why, they please Him most
When . . . when . . . well, never try the same way twice!
Repeat what act has pleased, He may grow wroth.
You must not know His ways, and play Him off,
Sure of the issue. 'Doth the like himself:
'Spareth a squirrel that it nothing fears
But steals the nut from underneath my thumb,
And when I threat, bites stoutly in defence:
'Spareth an urchin that contrariwise,
Curls up into a ball, pretending death
For fright at my approach: the two ways please.
But what would move my choler more than this,
That either creature counted on its life
To-morrow and next day and all days to come,
Saying, forsooth, in the inmost of its heart,
"Because he did so yesterday with me,
And otherwise with such another brute,
So must he do henceforth and always."Ay?
Would teach the reasoning couple what "must" means!
'Doth as he likes, or wherefore Lord? So He.
'Conceiveth all things will continue thus,
And we shall have to live in fear of Him
So long as He lives, keeps His strength: no change,
If He have done His best, make no new world
To please Him more, so leave off watching this,
If He surprise not even the Quiet's self
Some strange day,or, suppose, grow into it
As grubs grow butterflies: else, here are we,
And there is He, and nowhere help at all.
'Believeth with the life, the pain shall stop.
His dam held different, that after death
He both plagued enemies and feasted friends:
Idly! He doth His worst in this our life,
Giving just respite lest we die through pain,
Saving last pain for worst,with which, an end.
Meanwhile, the best way to escape His ire
Is, not to seem too happy. 'Sees, himself,
Yonder two flies, with purple films and pink,
Bask on the pompion-bell above: kills both.
'Sees two black painful beetles roll their ball
On head and tail as if to save their lives:
Moves them the stick away they strive to clear.
Even so, 'would have Him misconceive, suppose
This Caliban strives hard and ails no less,
And always, above all else, envies Him;
Wherefore he mainly dances on dark nights,
Moans in the sun, gets under holes to laugh,
And never speaks his mind save housed as now:
Outside, 'groans, curses. If He caught me here,
O'erheard this speech, and asked "What chucklest at?"
'Would, to appease Him, cut a finger off,
Or of my three kid yearlings burn the best,
Or let the toothsome apples rot on tree,
Or push my tame beast for the orc to taste:
While myself lit a fire, and made a song
And sung it, "What I hate, be consecrate
To celebrate Thee and Thy state, no mate
For Thee; what see for envy in poor me?"
Hoping the while, since evils sometimes mend,
Warts rub away and sores are cured with slime,
That some strange day, will either the Quiet catch
And conquer Setebos, or likelier He
Decrepit may doze, doze, as good as die.
NOTES



Form:
unrhyming

1.
The motto is from Psalms 1: 21. For the title character,
see The Tempest, I, ii. The subtitle and the motto
indicate much of Browning's intention in the poem. "Natural
theology" is distinguished from (and here opposed to)
"revealed theology"\; natural theology being that system
of thought about God which man arrives at through the
unaided use of his natural reason. To the Victorian secularists,
all theology was "natural theology"--that is, man-made.
Their favourite theory was that all religion was a projection
by man of his own qualities. This is the theory which the
text chosen as motto condemns, and which Caliban's musings
illustrate. Throughout he looks at his own characteristics,
and then ascribes them to his god, Setebos: "So he." What is
conspicuous in the poem is that there is no glimpse of what
to Browning is true theology: the theology of a God of Love.
This comes to man (as to David in Saul) by revelation.
The highest conception Caliban can achieve by natural reason
is of the Quiet--an indifferent, absentee, Epicurean God. His
Setebos is merely a God of arbitrary and jealous power. It is
also noteworthy that Browning includes in Caliban's theology
not merely most of the doctrines of primitive religions, but also
some elements associated with branches of Christianity,
particularly the narrower kind of Calvinist sect. He is by implication
rejecting these elements as part of his own definition of true
Christianity in terms of a God of Love. The passages in brackets
at the beginning and end of the poem represent Caliban's silent
thoughts. The main part of the poem is spoken aloud, and
presents his attempt at a system. He is very much the "natural"
man, but Browning gives him not only a quick and vivid
imagination, but a mind that follows the general systematic
pattern of thought used by writers on natural religion. He
starts with the relation of his god to the universe, and the
problem of cosmology, and then moves systematically to
consider his god's attributes, and to try to evolve rules for
worship and service. Caliban throughout speaks of himself
in the third person, usually without the pronoun. Browning
indicates the omission of the pronoun by an apostrophe.


~ Robert Browning, Caliban upon Setebos or, Natural Theology in the Island
,
542:"As certain also of your own poets have said"
   (Acts 17.28)
  Cleon the poet (from the sprinkled isles,
Lily on lily, that o'erlace the sea
And laugh their pride when the light wave lisps "Greece")
To Protus in his Tyranny: much health!

They give thy letter to me, even now:
I read and seem as if I heard thee speak.
The master of thy galley still unlades
Gift after gift; they block my court at last
And pile themselves along its portico
Royal with sunset, like a thought of thee:
And one white she-slave from the group dispersed
Of black and white slaves (like the chequer-work
Pavement, at once my nation's work and gift,
Now covered with this settle-down of doves),
One lyric woman, in her crocus vest
Woven of sea-wools, with her two white hands
Commends to me the strainer and the cup
Thy lip hath bettered ere it blesses mine.

Well-counselled, king, in thy munificence!
For so shall men remark, in such an act
Of love for him whose song gives life its joy,
Thy recognition of the use of life;
Nor call thy spirit barely adequate
To help on life in straight ways, broad enough
For vulgar souls, by ruling and the rest.
Thou, in the daily building of thy tower,
Whether in fierce and sudden spasms of toil,
Or through dim lulls of unapparent growth,
Or when the general work 'mid good acclaim
Climbed with the eye to cheer the architect,
Didst ne'er engage in work for mere work's sake
Hadst ever in thy heart the luring hope
Of some eventual rest a-top of it,
Whence, all the tumult of the building hushed,
Thou first of men might'st look out to the East:
The vulgar saw thy tower, thou sawest the sun.
For this, I promise on thy festival
To pour libation, looking o'er the sea,
Making this slave narrate thy fortunes, speak
Thy great words, and describe thy royal face
Wishing thee wholly where Zeus lives the most,
Within the eventual element of calm.

Thy letter's first requirement meets me here.
It is as thou hast heard: in one short life
I, Cleon, have effected all those things
Thou wonderingly dost enumerate.
That epos on thy hundred plates of gold
Is mine,and also mine the little chant,
So sure to rise from every fishing-bark
When, lights at prow, the seamen haul their net.
The image of the sun-god on the phare,
Men turn from the sun's self to see, is mine;
The Po'er-storied its whole length,
As thou didst hear, with painting, is mine too.
I know the true proportions of a man
And woman also, not observed before;
And I have written three books on the soul,
Proving absurd all written hitherto,
And putting us to ignorance again.
For music,why, I have combined the moods,
Inventing one. In brief, all arts are mine;
Thus much the people know and recognize,
Throughout our seventeen islands. Marvel not.
We of these latter days, with greater mind
Than our forerunners, since more composite,
Look not so great, beside their simple way,
To a judge who only sees one way at once,
One mind-point and no other at a time,
Compares the small part of a man of us
With some whole man of the heroic age,
Great in his waynot ours, nor meant for ours.
And ours is greater, had we skill to know:
For, what we call this life of men on earth,
This sequence of the soul's achievements here
Being, as I find much reason to conceive,
Intended to be viewed eventually
As a great whole, not analyzed to parts,
But each part having reference to all,
How shall a certain part, pronounced complete,
Endure effacement by another part?
Was the thing done?then, what's to do again?
See, in the chequered pavement opposite,
Suppose the artist made a perfect rhomb,
And next a lozenge, then a trapezoid
He did not overlay them, superimpose
The new upon the old and blot it out,
But laid them on a level in his work,
Making at last a picture; there it lies.
So, first the perfect separate forms were made,
The portions of mankind; and after, so,
Occurred the combination of the same.
For where had been a progress, otherwise?
Mankind, made up of all the single men,
In such a synthesis the labour ends.
Now mark me! those divine men of old time
Have reached, thou sayest well, each at one point
The outside verge that rounds our faculty;
And where they reached, who can do more than reach?
It takes but little water just to touch
At some one point the inside of a sphere,
And, as we turn the sphere, touch all the rest
In due succession: but the finer air      
Which not so palpably nor obviously,  
Though no less universally, can touch
The whole circumference of that emptied sphere,
Fills it more fully than the water did;
Holds thrice the weight of water in itself
Resolved into a subtler element.
And yet the vulgar call the sphere first full
Up to the visible heightand after, void;
Not knowing air's more hidden properties.
And thus our soul, misknown, cries out to Zeus
To vindicate his purpose in our life:
Why stay we on the earth unless to grow?
Long since, I imaged, wrote the fiction out,
That he or other god descended here
And, once for all, showed simultaneously
What, in its nature, never can be shown,
Piecemeal or in succession;showed, I say,
The worth both absolute and relative
Of all his children from the birth of time,
His instruments for all appointed work.
I now go on to image,might we hear
The judgment which should give the due to each,
Show where the labour lay and where the ease,
And prove Zeus' self, the latent everywhere!
This is a dream:but no dream, let us hope,
That years and days, the summers and the springs,
Follow each other with unwaning powers.
The grapes which dye thy wine are richer far,
Through culture, than the wild wealth of the rock;
The suave plum than the savage-tasted drupe;
The pastured honey-bee drops choicer sweet;
The flowers turn double, and the leaves turn flowers;
That young and tender crescent-moon, thy slave,
Sleeping above her robe as buoyed by clouds,
Refines upon the women of my youth.
What, and the soul alone deteriorates?
I have not chanted verse like Homer, no
Nor swept string like Terpander, nonor carved
And painted men like Phidias and his friend:
I am not great as they are, point by point.
But I have entered into sympathy
With these four, running these into one soul,
Who, separate, ignored each other's art.
Say, is it nothing that I know them all?
The wild flower was the larger; I have dashed
Rose-blood upon its petals, pricked its cup's
Honey with wine, and driven its seed to fruit,
And show a better flower if not so large:
I stand myself. Refer this to the gods
Whose gift alone it is! which, shall I dare
(All pride apart) upon the absurd pretext
That such a gift by chance lay in my hand,
Discourse of lightly or depreciate?
It might have fallen to another's hand: what then?
I pass too surely: let at least truth stay!

And next, of what thou followest on to ask.
This being with me as I declare, O king,
My works, in all these varicoloured kinds,
So done by me, accepted so by men
Thou askest, if (my soul thus in men's hearts)
I must not be accounted to attain
The very crown and proper end of life?
Inquiring thence how, now life closeth up,
I face death with success in my right hand:
Whether I fear death less than dost thyself
The fortunate of men? "For" (writest thou)
"Thou leavest much behind, while I leave nought.
Thy life stays in the poems men shall sing,
The pictures men shall study; while my life,
Complete and whole now in its power and joy,
Dies altogether with my brain and arm,
Is lost indeed; since, what survives myself?
The brazen statue to o'erlook my grave,
Set on the promontory which I named.
And thatsome supple courtier of my heir
Shall use its robed and sceptred arm, perhaps,
To fix the rope to, which best drags it down.
I go then: triumph thou, who dost not go!"

Nay, thou art worthy of hearing my whole mind.
Is this apparent, when thou turn'st to muse
Upon the scheme of earth and man in chief,
That admiration grows as knowledge grows?
That imperfection means perfection hid,
Reserved in part, to grace the after-time?
If, in the morning of philosophy,
Ere aught had been recorded, nay perceived,
Thou, with the light now in thee, couldst have looked
On all earth's tenantry, from worm to bird,
Ere man, her last, appeared upon the stage
Thou wouldst have seen them perfect, and deduced
The perfectness of others yet unseen.
Conceding which,had Zeus then questioned thee,
"Shall I go on a step, improve on this,
Do more for visible creatures than is done?"
Thou wouldst have answered, "Ay, by making each
Grow conscious in himselfby that alone.
All's perfect else: the shell sucks fast the rock,
The fish strikes through the sea, the snake both swims
And slides, forth range the beasts, the birds take flight,
Till life's mechanics can no further go
And all this joy in natural life is put
Like fire from off thy finger into each,
So exquisitely perfect is the same.
But 'tis pure fire, and they mere matter are;
It has them, not they it: and so I choose
For man, thy last premeditated work
(If I might add a glory to the scheme),
That a third thing should stand apart from both,
A quality arise within his soul,
Which, intro-active, made to supervise
And feel the force it has, may view itself,
And so be happy." Man might live at first
The animal life: but is there nothing more?
In due time, let him critically learn
How he lives; and, the more he gets to know
Of his own life's adaptabilities,
The more joy-giving will his life become.
Thus man, who hath this quality, is best.

But thou, king, hadst more reasonably said:
Let progress end at once,man make no step
Beyond the natural man, the better beast,
Using his senses, not the sense of sense."
In man there's failure, only since he left
The lower and inconscious forms of life.
We called it an advance, the rendering plain
Man's spirit might grow conscious of man's life,
And, by new lore so added to the old,
Take each step higher over the brute's head.
This grew the only life, the pleasure-house,
Watch-tower and treasure-fortress of the soul,
Which whole surrounding flats of natural life
Seemed only fit to yield subsistence to;
A tower that crowns a country. But alas,
The soul now climbs it just to perish there!
For thence we have discovered ('tis no dream
We know this, which we had not else perceived)
That there's a world of capability
For joy, spread round about us, meant for us,
Inviting us; and still the soul craves all,
And still the flesh replies, "Take no jot more
Than ere thou clombst the tower to look abroad!
Nay, so much less as that fatigue has brought
Deduction to it." We struggle, fain to enlarge
Our bounded physical recipiency,
Increase our power, supply fresh oil to life,
Repair the waste of age and sickness: no,
It skills not! life's inadequate to joy,
As the soul sees joy, tempting life to take.
They praise a fountain in my garden here
Wherein a Naiad sends the water-bow
Thin from her tube; she smiles to see it rise.
What if I told her, it is just a thread
From that great river which the hills shut up,
And mock her with my leave to take the same?
The artificer has given her one small tube
Past power to widen or exchangewhat boots
To know she might spout oceans if she could?
She cannot lift beyond her first thin thread:
And so a man can use but a man's joy
While he sees God's. Is it for Zeus to boast,
"See, man, how happy I live, and despair
That I may be still happierfor thy use!"
If this were so, we could not thank our lord,
As hearts beat on to doing; 'tis not so
Malice it is not. Is it carelessness?
Still, no. If carewhere is the sign? I ask,
And get no answer, and agree in sum,
O king, with thy profound discouragement,
Who seest the wider but to sigh the more.
Most progress is most failure: thou sayest well.

The last point now:thou dost except a case
Holding joy not impossible to one
With artist-giftsto such a man as I
Who leave behind me living works indeed;
For, such a poem, such a painting lives.    
What? dost thou verily trip upon a word,      
Confound the accurate view of what joy is
(Caught somewhat clearer by my eyes than thine)  
With feeling joy? confound the knowing how
And showing how to live (my faculty)
With actually living?Otherwise
Where is the artist's vantage o'er the king?
Because in my great epos I display
How divers men young, strong, fair, wise, can act
Is this as though I acted? if I paint,
Carve the young Ph{oe}bus, am I therefore young?
Methinks I'm older that I bowed myself
The many years of pain that taught me art!
Indeed, to know is something, and to prove
How all this beauty might be enjoyed, is more:
But, knowing nought, to enjoy is something too.
Yon rower, with the moulded muscles there,
Lowering the sail, is nearer it than I.
I can write love-odes: thy fair slave's an ode.
I get to sing of love, when grown too grey
For being beloved: she turns to that young man,
The muscles all a-ripple on his back.
I know the joy of kingship: well, thou art king!

"But," sayest thou(and I marvel, I repeat,
To find thee trip on such a mere word) "what
Thou writest, paintest, stays; that does not die:
Sappho survives, because we sing her songs,
And Aeschylus, because we read his plays!"
Why, if they live still, let them come and take
Thy slave in my despite, drink from thy cup,
Speak in my place. Thou diest while I survive?
Say rather that my fate is deadlier still,
In this, that every day my sense of joy
Grows more acute, my soul (intensified
By power and insight) more enlarged, more keen;
While every day my hairs fall more and more,
My hand shakes, and the heavy years increase
The horror quickening still from year to year,
The consummation coming past escape,
When I shall know most, and yet least enjoy
When all my works wherein I prove my worth,
Being present still to mock me in men's mouths,
Alive still, in the praise of such as thou,
I, I the feeling, thinking, acting man,
The man who loved his life so over-much,
Sleep in my urn. It is so horrible,
I dare at times imagine to my need
Some future state revealed to us by Zeus,
Unlimited in capability
For joy, as this is in desire for joy,
To seek which, the joy-hunger forces us:
That, stung by straitness of our life, made strait
On purpose to make prized the life at large
Freed by the throbbing impulse we call death,
We burst there as the worm into the fly,
Who, while a worm still, wants his wings. But no!
Zeus has not yet revealed it; and alas,
He must have done so, were it possible!

Live long and happy, and in that thought die:
Glad for what was! Farewell. And for the rest,
I cannot tell thy messenger aright
Where to deliver what he bears of thine
To one called Paulus; we have heard his fame
Indeed, if Christus be not one with him
I know not, nor am troubled much to know.
Thou canst not think a mere barbarian Jew,
As Paulus proves to be, one circumcised,
Hath access to a secret shut from us?
Thou wrongest our philosophy, O king,
In stooping to inquire of such an one,
As if his answer could impose at all!
He writeth, doth he? well, and he may write.
Oh, the Jew findeth scholars! certain slaves
Who touched on this same isle, preached him and Christ;
And (as I gathered from a bystander)
Their doctrine could be held by no sane man.
NOTES



Form:
unrhyming

1.
The motto is from St. Paul's speech to the philosophers
of Athens, Acts. 17: 28. Cleon and King Protus are both
imaginary characters.

sprinkled isles: the Sporades, near Crete.

4.
tyranny: kingdom. In the Greek sense, tyrant simply
means absolute ruler, and implies no misgovernment or oppressions.

53.
P\;cile: the Portico in Athens.

140.
Terpander: founder of the first Greek School of
music (late seventh century B.C.).

141.
Phidias: famous Greek sculptor who supervised the
construction of the Parthenon, and made the great statue of
Pallas Athene for it. Died 432 B.C. "His friend" was Pericles,
ruler of Athens from 460-429 B.C.

305.
Aeschylus: the earliest of the great writers of Greek tragedy
(525-456 B.C.).



~ Robert Browning, Cleon
,
543:Karshish, the picker-up of learning's crumbs,
The not-incurious in God's handiwork
(This man's-flesh he hath admirably made,
Blown like a bubble, kneaded like a paste,
To coop up and keep down on earth a space
That puff of vapour from his mouth, man's soul)
To Abib, all-sagacious in our art,
Breeder in me of what poor skill I boast,
Like me inquisitive how pricks and cracks
Befall the flesh through too much stress and strain,
Whereby the wily vapour fain would slip
Back and rejoin its source before the term,
And aptest in contrivance (under God)
To baffle it by deftly stopping such:
The vagrant Scholar to his Sage at home
Sends greeting (health and knowledge, fame with peace)
Three samples of true snakestonerarer still,
One of the other sort, the melon-shaped,
(But fitter, pounded fine, for charms than drugs)
And writeth now the twenty-second time.

My journeyings were brought to Jericho;
Thus I resume. Who studious in our art
Shall count a little labour unrepaid?
I have shed sweat enough, left flesh and bone
On many a flinty furlong of this land.
Also, the country-side is all on fire
With rumours of a marching hitherward:
Some say Vespasian cometh, some, his son.
A black lynx snarled and pricked a tufted ear;
Lust of my blood inflamed his yellow balls:
I cried and threw my staff and he was gone.
Twice have the robbers stripped and beaten me,
And once a town declared me for a spy;
But at the end, I reach Jerusalem,
Since this poor covert where I pass the night,
This Bethany, lies scarce the distance thence
A man with plague-sores at the third degree
Runs till he drops down dead. Thou laughest here!
'Sooth, it elates me, thus reposed and safe,
To void the stuffing of my travel-scrip
And share with thee whatever Jewry yields
A viscid choler is observable
In tertians, I was nearly bold to say;
And falling-sickness hath a happier cure
Than our school wots of: there's a spider here
Weaves no web, watches on the ledge of tombs,
Sprinkled with mottles on an ash-grey back;
Take five and drop them . . . but who knows his mind,
The Syrian runagate I trust this to?
His service payeth me a sublimate
Blown up his nose to help the ailing eye.
Best wait: I reach Jerusalem at morn,
There set in order my experiences,
Gather what most deserves, and give thee all
Or I might add, Judea's gum-tragacanth
Scales off in purer flakes, shines clearer-grained,
Cracks 'twixt the pestle and the porphyry,
In fine exceeds our produce. Scalp-disease
Confounds me, crossing so with leprosy
Thou hadst admired one sort I gained at Zoar
But zeal outruns discretion. Here I end.

Yet stay: my Syrian blinketh gratefully,
Protesteth his devotion is my price
Suppose I write what harms not, though he steal?
I half resolve to tell thee, yet I blush,
What set me off a-writing first of all.
An itch I had, a sting to write, a tang!
For, be it this town's barrennessor else
The Man had something in the look of him
His case has struck me far more than 'tis worth.
So, pardon if(lest presently I lose
In the great press of novelty at hand
The care and pains this somehow stole from me)
I bid thee take the thing while fresh in mind,
Almost in sightfor, wilt thou have the truth?
The very man is gone from me but now,
Whose ailment is the subject of discourse.
Thus then, and let thy better wit help all!

'Tis but a case of maniasubinduced
By epilepsy, at the turning-point
Of trance prolonged unduly some three days:
When, by the exhibition of some drug
Or spell, exorcization, stroke of art
Unknown to me and which 'twere well to know,
The evil thing out-breaking all at once
Left the man whole and sound of body indeed,
But, flinging (so to speak) life's gates too wide,
Making a clear house of it too suddenly,
The first conceit that entered might inscribe
Whatever it was minded on the wall
So plainly at that vantage, as it were,
(First come, first served) that nothing subsequent
Attaineth to erase those fancy-scrawls
The just-returned and new-established soul
Hath gotten now so thoroughly by heart
That henceforth she will read or these or none.
And firstthe man's own firm conviction rests
That he was dead (in fact they buried him)
That he was dead and then restored to life
By a Nazarene physician of his tribe:
'Sayeth, the same bade "Rise," and he did rise.
"Such cases are diurnal," thou wilt cry.
Not so this figment!not, that such a fume,
Instead of giving way to time and health,
Should eat itself into the life of life,
As saffron tingeth flesh, blood, bones and all!
For see, how he takes up the after-life.
The manit is one Lazarus a Jew,
Sanguine, proportioned, fifty years of age,
The body's habit wholly laudable,
As much, indeed, beyond the common health
As he were made and put aside to show.
Think, could we penetrate by any drug
And bathe the wearied soul and worried flesh,
And bring it clear and fair, by three days' sleep!
Whence has the man the balm that brightens all?
This grown man eyes the world now like a child.
Some elders of his tribe, I should premise,
Led in their friend, obedient as a sheep,
To bear my inquisition. While they spoke,
Now sharply, now with sorrow,told the case,
He listened not except I spoke to him,
But folded his two hands and let them talk,
Watching the flies that buzzed: and yet no fool.
And that's a sample how his years must go.
Look, if a beggar, in fixed middle-life,
Should find a treasure,can he use the same
With straitened habits and with tastes starved small,
And take at once to his impoverished brain
The sudden element that changes things,
That sets the undreamed-of rapture at his hand
And puts the cheap old joy in the scorned dust?
Is he not such an one as moves to mirth
Warily parsimonious, when no need,
Wasteful as drunkenness at undue times?
All prudent counsel as to what befits
The golden mean, is lost on such an one
The man's fantastic will is the man's law.
So herewe call the treasure knowledge, say,
Increased beyond the fleshly faculty
Heaven opened to a soul while yet on earth,
Earth forced on a soul's use while seeing heaven:
The man is witless of the size, the sum,
The value in proportion of all things,
Or whether it be little or be much.
Discourse to him of prodigious armaments
Assembled to besiege his city now,
And of the passing of a mule with gourds
'Tis one! Then take it on the other side,
Speak of some trifling facthe will gaze rapt
With stupor at its very littleness,
(Far as I see) as if in that indeed
He caught prodigious import, whole results;
And so will turn to us the bystanders
In ever the same stupor (note this point)
That we too see not with his opened eyes.
Wonder and doubt come wrongly into play,
Preposterously, at cross purposes.
Should his child sicken unto death,why, look
For scarce abatement of his cheerfulness,
Or pretermission of the daily craft!
While a word, gesture, glance, from that same child
At play or in the school or laid asleep,
Will startle him to an agony of fear,
Exasperation, just as like. Demand
The reason why" `tis but a word," object
"A gesture"he regards thee as our lord
Who lived there in the pyramid alone
Looked at us (dost thou mind?) when, being young,
We both would unadvisedly recite
Some charm's beginning, from that book of his,
Able to bid the sun throb wide and burst
All into stars, as suns grown old are wont.
Thou and the child have each a veil alike
Thrown o'er your heads, from under which ye both
Stretch your blind hands and trifle with a match
Over a mine of Greek fire, did ye know!
He holds on firmly to some thread of life
(It is the life to lead perforcedly)
Which runs across some vast distracting orb
Of glory on either side that meagre thread,
Which, conscious of, he must not enter yet
The spiritual life around the earthly life:
The law of that is known to him as this,
His heart and brain move there, his feet stay here.
So is the man perplext with impulses
Sudden to start off crosswise, not straight on,
Proclaiming what is right and wrong across,
And not along, this black thread through the blaze
"It should be" baulked by "here it cannot be."
And oft the man's soul springs into his face
As if he saw again and heard again
His sage that bade him "Rise" and he did rise.
Something, a word, a tick of the blood within
Admonishes: then back he sinks at once
To ashes, who was very fire before,
In sedulous recurrence to his trade
Whereby he earneth him the daily bread;
And studiously the humbler for that pride,
Professedly the faultier that he knows
God's secret, while he holds the thread of life.
Indeed the especial marking of the man
Is prone submission to the heavenly will
Seeing it, what it is, and why it is.
'Sayeth, he will wait patient to the last
For that same death which must restore his being
To equilibrium, body loosening soul
Divorced even now by premature full growth:
He will live, nay, it pleaseth him to live
So long as God please, and just how God please.
He even seeketh not to please God more
(Which meaneth, otherwise) than as God please.
Hence, I perceive not he affects to preach
The doctrine of his sect whate'er it be,
Make proselytes as madmen thirst to do:
How can he give his neighbour the real ground,
His own conviction? Ardent as he is
Call his great truth a lie, why, still the old
"Be it as God please" reassureth him.
I probed the sore as thy disciple should:
"How, beast," said I, "this stolid carelessness
Sufficeth thee, when Rome is on her march
To stamp out like a little spark thy town,
Thy tribe, thy crazy tale and thee at once?"
He merely looked with his large eyes on me.
The man is apathetic, you deduce?
Contrariwise, he loves both old and young,
Able and weak, affects the very brutes
And birdshow say I? flowers of the field
As a wise workman recognizes tools
In a master's workshop, loving what they make.
Thus is the man as harmless as a lamb:
Only impatient, let him do his best,
At ignorance and carelessness and sin
An indignation which is promptly curbed:
As when in certain travels I have feigned
To be an ignoramus in our art
According to some preconceived design,
And happed to hear the land's practitioners,
Steeped in conceit sublimed by ignorance,
Prattle fantastically on disease,
Its cause and cureand I must hold my peace!

Thou wilt objectwhy have I not ere this
Sought out the sage himself, the Nazarene
Who wrought this cure, inquiring at the source,
Conferring with the frankness that befits?
Alas! it grieveth me, the learned leech
Perished in a tumult many years ago,
Accused,our learning's fate,of wizardry,
Rebellion, to the setting up a rule
And creed prodigious as described to me.
His death, which happened when the earthquake fell
(Prefiguring, as soon appeared, the loss
To occult learning in our lord the sage
Who lived there in the pyramid alone)
Was wrought by the mad peoplethat's their wont!
On vain recourse, as I conjecture it,    
To his tried virtue, for miraculous help
How could he stop the earthquake? That's their way!
The other imputations must be lies:
But take one, though I loathe to give it thee,
In mere respect for any good man's fame.
(And after all, our patient Lazarus
Is stark mad; should we count on what he says?
Perhaps not: though in writing to a leech
'Tis well to keep back nothing of a case.)
This man so cured regards the curer, then
AsGod forgive me! who but God himself,
Creator and sustainer of the world,
That came and dwelt in flesh on 't awhile!
'Sayeth that such an one was born and lived,
Taught, healed the sick, broke bread at his own house,
Then died, with Lazarus by, for aught I know,
And yet was . . . what I said nor choose repeat,
And must have so avouched himself, in fact,
In hearing of this very Lazarus
Who saithbut why all this of what he saith?
Why write of trivial matters, things of price
Calling at every moment for remark?
I noticed on the margin of a pool
Blue-flowering borage, the Aleppo sort,
Aboundeth, very nitrous. It is strange!

Thy pardon for this long and tedious case,
Which, now that I review it, needs must seem
Unduly dwelt on, prolixly set forth!
Nor I myself discern in what is writ
Good cause for the peculiar interest
And awe indeed this man has touched me with.
Perhaps the journey's end, the weariness
Had wrought upon me first. I met him thus:
I crossed a ridge of short sharp broken hills
Like an old lion's cheek teeth. Out there came
A moon made like a face with certain spots
Multiform, manifold, and menacing:
Then a wind rose behind me. So we met
In this old sleepy town at unaware,
The man and I. I send thee what is writ.
Regard it as a chance, a matter risked
To this ambiguous Syrianhe may lose,
Or steal, or give it thee with equal good.
Jerusalem's repose shall make amends
For time this letter wastes, thy time and mine;
Till when, once more thy pardon and farewell!

The very God! think, Abib; dost thou think?
So, the All-Great, were the All-Loving too
So, through the thunder comes a human voice
Saying, "O heart I made, a heart beats here!
Face, my hands fashioned, see it in myself!
Thou hast no power nor mayst conceive of mine,
But love I gave thee, with myself to love,
And thou must love me who have died for thee!"
The madman saith He said so: it is strange.
NOTES



Form:
unrhyming

1.
Karshish, the Arab physician, and his friend
Abib are the creatures of the poet's imagination\; the time
is some forty years after the raising of Lazarus (see note
on line 28 below). For the story of Lazarus, see John 11: 1--44.

The meaning of Karshish's name in Arabic is paraphrased
in "picker-up of learning's crumbs."

20-1.
Karshish numbers his regular letters to Abib to provide
a check on their arrival. This letter is the twenty-second\; in the
twenty-first he had brought the account of his journeyings up
to his arrival at Jericho.

28.
It was Titus who besieged and captured Jernsalem in
A.D. 70\; he was emperor, 79-81\; Vespasian, his father, was
emperor, 70-79 A.D.

36.
Bethany: "Bethany, the town of Mary and his sister Martha"
(John 11: 1).

42.
choler: in its original sense, bile. Browning has Karshish
think in terms of the old physiology of "humours." Karshish
hopes that he may have found a way of diagnosing fever from
the consistency of the blood when he phlebotomises the patient.

43.
tertians: fevers which recur every other day\; i.e. on every third
day in the inclusive Roman way of counting.

50.
sublimate: in old-fashioned chemistry, the name for compounds
made by heating bodies to a vapour and then allowing this to condense.

55.
gum-tragacanth: a gum produced by certain thorny shrubs in
Asia Minor and Persia.

57.
Porphyry: a sort of stone used for the manufacture of vases, etc.\;
here used by metonymy for the mortar made out of it.

58.
scalp-disease: undoubtedly alopicia (from which Chaucer's
Pardoner suffered), which has a connection with leprosy.

82.
Exhibition is the old term for "administration" of a remedy.

89.
conceit: here used in the early sense of "idea, concept, fancy."

96.
The whole passage from line 79 is Karshish's attempt to find an
explanation in terms of a mechanist psychology for the fixed idea in Lazarus' mind.

100.
Nazarene: Christ: see Matthew 2: 23.

103.
fume: used here as a derogatory term for Lazarus' idea that he has
been restored to life.

106.
saffron: a drug derived from a plant of the same name (Crocus
sativus), formerly much used both as a medicine and as a dye.

109.
sanguine: again part of the terminology of humours. The "sanguine"
type was not, like the "melancholic," given to delusions and attacks of
fancy--this makes Lazarus' case still more strange.

110.
laudable: another technical medical term here, suggesting perfect health.

146-47.
See lines 26-28 above and note.

177.
Greek fire: an explosive compound, the nearest approach to
gunpowder known to the ancients.

184.
To Lazarus, who now sees with a knowledge far beyond the human,
the spiritual or moral law is as clear and certain as the physical.
Compare A Death in the Desert, 251-298.

228.
affects: in the sense of "shows affection for."

251.
Karshish uses "prodigious" here in a derogatory sense.

252.
when the earthquake fell. "And behold the veil of the temple was
rent in twain from the top to the bottom\; and the earth did quake, and
the rocks were rent" (Matthew 27: 51).

265.
leech: old-fashioned word for physician.

304-11.
Compare the passage in Saul, 300-12.



~ Robert Browning, An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Kar
,
544:Scene.Over Orcana. The house of Jules, who crosses its threshold with Phene: she is silent, on which Jules begins
Do not die, Phene! I am yours now, you
Are mine now; let fate reach me how she likes,
If you'll not die: so, never die! Sit here
My work-room's single seat. I over-lean
This length of hair and lustrous front; they turn
Like an entire flower upward: eyes, lips, last
Your chinno, last your throat turns: 't is their scent
Pulls down my face upon you. Nay, look ever
This one way till I change, grow youI could
Change into you, beloved!
             You by me,
And I by you; this is your hand in mine,
And side by side we sit: all's true. Thank God!
I have spoken: speak you!
             O my life to come!
My Tydeus must be carved that's there in clay;
Yet how be carved, with you about the room?
Where must I place you? When I think that once
This room-full of rough block-work seemed my heaven
Without you! Shall I ever work again,
Get fairly into my old ways again,
Bid each conception stand while, trait by trait,
My hand transfers its lineaments to stone?
Will my mere fancies live near you, their truth
The live truth, passing and repassing me,
Sitting beside me?
         Now speak!
                         Only first,
See, all your letters! Was't not well contrived?
Their hiding-place is Psyche's robe; she keeps
Your letters next her skin: which drops out foremost?
Ah,this that swam down like a first moonbeam
Into my world!
       Again those eyes complete
Their melancholy survey, sweet and slow,
Of all my room holds; to return and rest
On me, with pity, yet some wonder too:
As if God bade some spirit plague a world,
And this were the one moment of surprise
And sorrow while she took her station, pausing
O'er what she sees, finds good, and must destroy!
What gaze you at? Those? Books, I told you of;
Let your first word to me rejoice them, too:
This minion, a Coluthus, writ in red
Bistre and azure by Bessarion's scribe
Read this line . . . no, shameHomer's be the Greek
First breathed me from the lips of my Greek girl!
This Odyssey in coarse black vivid type
With faded yellow blossoms 'twixt page and page,
To mark great places with due gratitude;
"He said, and on Antinous directed
"A bitter shaft" . . . a flower blots out the rest!
Again upon your search? My statues, then!
Ah, do not mind thatbetter that will look
When cast in bronzean Almaign Kaiser, that,
Swart-green and gold, with truncheon based on hip.
This, rather, turn to! What, unrecognized?
I thought you would have seen that here you sit
As I imagined you,Hippolyta,
Naked upon her bright Numidian horse.
Recall you this then? "Carve in bold relief"
So you commanded"carve, against I come,
"A Greek, in Athens, as our fashion was,
"Feasting, bay-filleted and thunder-free,
"Who rises 'neath the lifted myrtle-branch.
"'Praise those who slew Hipparchus!' cry the guests,
"'While o'er thy head the singer's myrtle waves
"'As erst above our champion: stand up, all!'"
See, I have laboured to express your thought.
Quite round, a cluster of mere hands and arms,
(Thrust in all senses, all ways, from all sides,
Only consenting at the branch's end
They strain toward) serves for frame to a sole face,
The Praiser's, in the centre: who with eyes
Sightless, so bend they back to light inside
His brain where visionary forms throng up,
Sings, minding not that palpitating arch
Of hands and arms, nor the quick drip of wine
From the drenched leaves o'erhead, nor crowns cast off,
Violet and parsley crowns to trample on
Sings, pausing as the patron-ghosts approve,
Devoutly their unconquerable hymn.
But you must say a "well" to thatsay "well!"
Because you gazeam I fantastic, sweet?
Gaze like my very life's-stuff, marblemarbly
Even to the silence! Why, before I found
The real flesh Phene, I inured myself
To see, throughout all nature, varied stuff
For better nature's birth by means of art:
With me, each substance tended to one form
Of beautyto the human archetype.
On every side occurred suggestive germs
Of thatthe tree, the floweror take the fruit,
Some rosy shape, continuing the peach,
Curved beewise o'er its bough; as rosy limbs,
Depending, nestled in the leaves; and just
From a cleft rose-peach the whole Dryad sprang.
But of the stuffs one can be master of,
How I divined their capabilities!
From the soft-rinded smoothening facile chalk
That yields your outline to the air's embrace,
Half-softened by a halo's pearly gloom;
Down to the crisp imperious steel, so sure
To cut its one confided thought clean out
Of all the world. But marble!'neath my tools
More pliable than jellyas it were
Some clear primordial creature dug from depths
In the earth's heart, where itself breeds itself,
And whence all baser substance may be worked;
Refine it off to air, you may,condense it
Down to the diamond;is not metal there,
When o'er the sudden speck my chisel trips?
Not flesh, as flake off flake I scale, approach,
Lay bare those bluish veins of blood asleep?
Lurks flame in no strange windings where, surprised
By the swift implement sent home at once,
Flushes and glowings radiate and hover
About its track?
         Phene? whatwhy is this?
That whitening cheek, those still dilating eyes!
Ah, you will dieI knew that you would die!
Phene begins, on his having long remained silent.
Now the end's coming; to be sure, it must
Have ended sometime! Tush, why need I speak
Their foolish speech? I cannot bring to mind
One half of it, beside; and do not care
For old Natalia now, nor any of them.
Oh, youwhat are you?if I do not try
To say the words Natalia made me learn,
To please your friends,it is to keep myself
Where your voice lifted me, by letting that
Proceed: but can it? Even you, perhaps,
Cannot take up, now you have once let fall,
The music's life, and me along with that
No, or you would! We'll stay, then, as we are:
Above the world.
         You creature with the eyes!
If I could look for ever up to them,
As now you let me,I believe, all sin,
All memory of wrong done, suffering borne,
Would drop down, low and lower, to the earth
Whence all that's low comes, and there touch and stay
Never to overtake the rest of me,
All that, unspotted, reaches up to you,
Drawn by those eyes! What rises is myself,
Not me the shame and suffering; but they sink,
Are left, I rise above them. Keep me so,
Above the world!
         But you sink, for your eyes
Are alteringaltered! Stay"I love you, love" . . .
I could prevent it if I understood:
More of your words to me: was't in the tone
Or the words, your power?
             Or stayI will repeat
Their speech, if that contents you! Only change
No more, and I shall find it presently
Far back here, in the brain yourself filled up.
Natalia threatened me that harm should follow
Unless I spoke their lesson to the end,
But harm to me, I thought she meant, not you.
Your friends,Natalia said they were your friends
And meant you well,because, I doubted it,
Observing (what was very strange to see)
On every face, so different in all else,
The same smile girls like me are used to bear,
But never men, men cannot stoop so low;
Yet your friends, speaking of you, used that smile,
That hateful smirk of boundless self-conceit
Which seems to take possession of the world
And make of God a tame confederate,
Purveyor to their appetites . . . you know!
But still Natalia said they were your friends,
And they assented though they smiled the more,
And all came round me,that thin Englishman
With light lank hair seemed leader of the rest;
He held a paper"What we want," said he,
Ending some explanation to his friends
"Is something slow, involved and mystical,
"To hold Jules long in doubt, yet take his taste
"And lure him on until, at innermost
"Where he seeks sweetness' soul, he may findthis!
"As in the apple's core, the noisome fly:
"For insects on the rind are seen at once,
"And brushed aside as soon, but this is found
"Only when on the lips or loathing tongue."
And so he read what I have got by heart:
I'll speak it,"Do not die, love! I am yours."
Nois not that, or like that, part of words
Yourself began by speaking? Strange to lose
What cost such pains to learn! Is this more right?
I am a painter who cannot paint;
In my life, a devil rather than saint;
In my brain, as poor a creature too:
No end to all I cannot do!
Yet do one thing at least I can
Love a man or hate a man
Supremely: thus my lore began.
Through the Valley of Love I went,
In the lovingest spot to abide,
And just on the verge where I pitched my tent,
I found Hate dwelling beside.
(Let the Bridegroom ask what the painter meant,
Of his Bride, of the peerless Bride!)
And further, I traversed Hate's grove,
In the hatefullest nook to dwell;
But lo, where I flung myself prone, couched Love
Where the shadow threefold fell.
(The meaningthose black bride's-eyes above,
Not a painter's lip should tell!)
"And here," said he, "Jules probably will ask,
"'You have black eyes, Love,you are, sure enough,
"'My peerless bride,then do you tell indeed
"'What needs some explanation! What means this?'"
And I am to go on, without a word
So, I grew wise in Love and Hate,
From simple that I was of late.
Once, when I loved, I would enlace
Breast, eyelids, hands, feet, form and face
Of her I loved, in one embrace
As if by mere love I could love immensely!
Once, when I hated, I would plunge
My sword, and wipe with the first lunge
My foe's whole life out like a sponge
As if by mere hate I could hate intensely!
But now I am wiser, know better the fashion
How passion seeks aid from its opposite passion:
And if I see cause to love more, hate more
Than ever man loved, ever hated before
And seek in the Valley of Love,
The nest, or the nook in Hate's Grove,
Where my soul may surely reach
The essence, nought less, of each,
The Hate of all Hates, the Love
Of all Loves, in the Valley or Grove,
I find them the very warders
Each of the other's borders.
When I love most, Love is disguised
In Hate; and when Hate is surprised
In Love, then I hate most: ask
How Love smiles through Hate's iron casque,
Hate grins through Love's rose-braided mask,
And how, having hated thee,
I sought long and painfully
To reach thy heart, nor prick
The skin but pierce to the quick
Ask this, my Jules, and be answered straight
By thy bridehow the painter Lutwyche can hate!
Jules interposes
Lutwyche! Who else? But all of them, no doubt,
Hated me: they at Venicepresently
Their turn, however! You I shall not meet:
If I dreamed, saying this would wake me.
                     Keep
What's here, the goldwe cannot meet again,
Consider! and the money was but meant
For two years' travel, which is over now,
All chance or hope or care or need of it.
Thisand what comes from selling these, my casts
And books and medals, except . . . let them go
Together, so the produce keeps you safe
Out of Natalia's clutches! If by chance
(For all's chance here) I should survive the gang
At Venice, root out all fifteen of them,
We might meet somewhere, since the world is wide.
[From without is heard the voice of Pippa, singing]
Give her but a least excuse to love me!
Whenwhere
Howcan this arm establish her above me,
If fortune fixed her as my lady there,
There already, to eternally reprove me?
("Hist!"said Kate the Queen;
But "Oh!"cried the maiden, binding her tresses,
"'T is only a page that carols unseen,
"Crumbling your hounds their messes!")
Is she wronged?To the rescue of her honour,
My heart!
Is she poor?What costs it to be styled a donor?
Merely an earth to cleave, a sea to part.
But that fortune should have thrust all this upon her!
("Nay, list!"bade Kate the Queen;
And still cried the maiden, binding her tresses,
"'T is only a page that carols unseen,
"Fitting your hawks their jesses!")
[Pippa passes]
Jules resumes
What name was that the little girl sang forth?
Kate? The Cornaro, doubtless, who renounced
The crown of Cyprus to be lady here
At Asolo, where still her memory stays,
And peasants sing how once a certain page
Pined for the grace of her so far above
His power of doing good to, "Kate the Queen
"She never could be wronged, be poor," he sighed,
"Need him to help her!"
            Yes, a bitter thing
To see our lady above all need of us;
Yet so we look ere we will love; not I,
But the world looks so. If whoever loves
Must be, in some sort, god or worshipper,
The blessing or the blest one, queen or page,
Why should we always choose the page's part?
Here is a woman with utter need of me,
I find myself queen here, it seems!
                   How strange!
Look at the woman here with the new soul,
Like my own Psyche,fresh upon her lips
Alit, the visionary butterfly.
Waiting my word to enter and make bright,
Or flutter off and leave all blank as first.
This body had no soul before, but slept
Or stirred, was beauteous or ungainly, free
From taint or foul with stain, as outward things
Fastened their image on its passiveness:
Now, it will wake, feel, liveor die again!
Shall to produce form out of unshaped stuff
Be Artand further, to evoke a soul
From form be nothing? This new soul is mine!
Now, to kill Lutwyche, what would that do?save
A wretched dauber, men will hoot to death
Without me, from their hooting. Oh, to hear
God's voice plain as I heard it first, before
They broke in with their laughter! I heard them
Henceforth, not God.
           To AnconaGreecesome isle!
I wanted silence only; there is clay
Everywhere. One may do whate'er one likes
In Art: the only thing is, to make sure
That one does like itwhich takes pains to know.
Scatter all this, my Phenethis mad dream!
Who, what is Lutwyche, what Natalia's friends,
What the whole world except our lovemy own,
Own Phene? But I told you, did I not,
Ere night we travel for your landsome isle
With the sea's silence on it? Stand aside
I do but break these paltry models up
To begin Art afresh. Meet Lutwyche, I
And save him from my statue meeting him?
Some unspected isle in the far seas!
Like a god going through his world, there stands
One mountain for a moment in the dusk,
Whole brotherhoods of cedars on its brow:
And you are ever by me while I gaze
Are in my arms as nowas nowas now!
Some unsuspected isle in the far seas!
Some unsuspected isle in far-off seas!
Talk by the way, while Pippa is passing from Orcana to the Turret. Two or three of the Austrian Police loitering with Bluphocks, an English vagabond, just in view of the Turret.
Bluphocks

So, that is your Pippa, the little girl who passed us singing? Well, your Bishop's Intendant's money shall be honestly earned:now, don't make me that sour face because I bring the Bishop's name into the business; we know he can have nothing to do with such horrors: we know that he is a saint and all that a bishop should be, who is a great man beside. Oh were but every worm a maggot, Every fly a grig, Every bough a Christmas ****, Every tune a jig! In fact, I have abjured all religions; but the last I inclined to, was the Armenian: for I have travelled, do you see, and at Koenigsberg, Prussia Improper (so styled because there's a sort of bleak hungry sun there), you might remark over a venerable house-porch, a certain Chaldee inscription; and brief as it is, a mere glance at it used absolutely to change the mood of every bearded passenger. In they turned, one and all; the young and lightsome, with no irreverent pause, the aged and decrepit, with a sensible alacrity: 't was the Grand Rabbi's abode, in short. Struck with curiosity, I lost no time in learning Syriac (these are vowels, you dogs,follow my stick's end in the mudCelarent, Darii, Ferio!) and one morning presented myself, spelling-book in hand, a, b, c,I picked it out letter by letter, and what was the purport of this miraculous posy? Some cherished legend of the past, you'll say"How Moses hocus-pocussed Egypt's land with fly and locust,"or, "How to Jonah sounded harshish, Get thee up and go to Tarshish,"or, "How the angel meeting Balaam, Straight his **** returned a salaam," In no wise! "ShackabrackBoachsomebody or other Isaach, Re-cei-ver, Pur-cha-ser and Ex-chan-ger ofStolen Goods! " So, talk to me of the religion of a bishop! I have renounced all bishops save Bishop Beveridgemean to live soand dieAs some Greek dog-sage, dead and merry, Hellward bound in Charon's wherry, With food for both worlds, under and upper, Lupine-seed and Hecate's supper, And never an obolus . . . (Though thanks to you, or this Intendant through you, or this Bishop through his IntendantI possess a burning pocketful of zwanzigers) . . . To pay the Stygian Ferry!

1st Policeman
There is the girl, then; go and deserve them the moment you have pointed out to us Signor Luigi and his mother. [To the rest.]
I have been noticing a house yonder, this long while: not a shutter unclosed since morning!

2nd Policeman
Old Luca Gaddi's, that owns the silkmills here: he dozes by the hour, wakes up, sighs deeply, says he should like to be Prince Metternich, and then dozes again, after having bidden young Sebald, the foreigner, set his wife to playing draughts. Never molest such a household, they mean well.

Bluphocks
Only, cannot you tell me something of this little Pippa, I must have to do with? One could make something of that name. Pippathat is, short for Felippa rhyming to Panurge consults HertrippaBelievest thou, King Agrippa? Something might be done with that name.

2nd Policeman
Put into rhyme that your head and a ripe musk-melon would not be dear at half a zwanziger! Leave this fooling, and look out; the afternoon's over or nearly so.

3rd Policeman
Where in this passport of Signor Luigi does our Principal instruct you to watch him so narrowly? There? What's there beside a simple signature? (That English fool's busy watching.)

2nd Policeman
Flourish all round"Put all possible obstacles in his way;" oblong dot at the end"Detain him till further advices reach you;" scratch at bottom "Send him back on pretence of some informality in the above;" ink-spirt on right-hand side (which is the case here)"Arrest him at once." Why and wherefore, I don't concern myself, but my instructions amount to this: if Signor Luigi leaves home to-night for Vienna well and good, the passport deposed with us for our visa is really for his own use, they have misinformed the Office, and he means well; but let him stay over to-nightthere has been the pretence we suspect, the accounts of his corresponding and holding intelligence with the Carbonari are correct, we arrest him at once, to-morrow comes Venice, and presently Spielberg. Bluphocks makes the signal, sure enough! That is he, entering the turret with his mother, no doubt.


~ Robert Browning, Pippa Passes - Part II - Noon
,
545:He gazed and gazed and gazed and gazed,
Amazed, amazed, amazed, amazed.

Like (7) 2
Saul
I.

Said Abner, ``At last thou art come! Ere I tell, ere thou speak,
``Kiss my cheek, wish me well!'' Then I wished it, and did kiss his cheek.
And he, ``Since the King, O my friend, for thy countenance sent,
``Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor until from his tent
``Thou return with the joyful assurance the King liveth yet,
``Shall our lip with the honey be bright, with the water be wet.
``For out of the black mid-tent's silence, a space of three days,
``Not a sound hath escaped to thy servants, of prayer nor of praise,
``To betoken that Saul and the Spirit have ended their strife,
``And that, faint in his triumph, the monarch sinks back upon life.

II.

``Yet now my heart leaps, O beloved! God's child with his dew
``On thy gracious gold hair, and those lilies still living and blue
``Just broken to twine round thy harp-strings, as if no wild beat
``Were now raging to torture the desert!''

III.

                     Then I, as was meet,
Knelt down to the God of my fathers, and rose on my feet,
And ran o'er the sand burnt to powder. The tent was unlooped;
I pulled up the spear that obstructed, and under I stooped
Hands and knees on the slippery grass-patch, all withered and gone,
That extends to the second enclosure, I groped my way on
Till I felt where the foldskirts fly open. Then once more I prayed,
And opened the foldskirts and entered, and was not afraid
But spoke, ``Here is David, thy servant!'' And no voice replied.
At the first I saw nought but the blackness but soon I descried
A something more black than the blackness-the vast, the upright
Main prop which sustains the pavilion: and slow into sight
Grew a figure against it, gigantic and blackest of all.
Then a sunbeam, that burst thro' the tent-roof, showed Saul.

IV.

He stood as erect as that tent-prop, both arms stretched out wide
On the great cross-support in the centre, that goes to each side;
He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there as, caught in his pangs
And waiting his change, the king-serpent all heavily hangs,
Far away from his kind, in the pine, till deliverance come
With the spring-time,-so agonized Saul, drear and stark, blind and dumb.

V.

Then I tuned my harp,-took off the lilies we twine round its chords
Lest they snap 'neath the stress of the noon-tide-those sunbeams like swords!
And I first played the tune all our sheep know, as, one after one,
So docile they come to the pen-door till folding be done.
They are white and untorn by the bushes, for lo, they have fed
Where the long grasses stifle the water within the stream's bed;
And now one after one seeks its lodging, as star follows star
Into eve and the blue far above us,-so blue and so far!

VI.

-Then the tune, for which quails on the cornland will each leave his mate
To fly after the player; then, what makes the crickets elate
Till for boldness they fight one another: and then, what has weight
To set the quick jerboa amusing outside his sand house-
There are none such as he for a wonder, half bird and half mouse!
God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear,
To give sign, we and they are his children, one family here.
VII.

Then I played the help-tune of our reapers, their wine-song, when hand
Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good friendship, and great hearts expand
And grow one in the sense of this world's life.-And then, the last song
When the dead man is praised on his journey-``Bear, bear him along
``With his few faults shut up like dead flowerets! Are balm-seeds not here
``To console us? The land has none left such as he on the bier.
``Oh, would we might keep thee, my brother!''-And then, the glad chaunt
Of the marriage,-first go the young maidens, next, she whom we vaunt
As the beauty, the pride of our dwelling.-And then, the great march
Wherein man runs to man to assist him and buttress an arch
Nought can break; who shall harm them, our friends?-Then, the chorus intoned
As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned.
But I stopped here: for here in the darkness Saul groaned.

VIII.

And I paused, held my breath in such silence, and listened apart;
And the tent shook, for mighty Saul shuddered: and sparkles 'gan dart
From the jewels that woke in his turban, at once with a start,
All its lordly male-sapphires, and rubies courageous at heart.
So the head: but the body still moved not, still hung there erect.
And I bent once again to my playing, pursued it unchecked,
As I sang,-

IX.

     ``Oh, our manhood's prime vigour! No spirit feels waste,
``Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced.
``Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock,
``The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree, the cool silver shock
``Of the plunge in a pool's living water, the hunt of the bear,
``And the sultriness showing the lion is couched in his lair.
``And the meal, the rich dates yellowed over with gold dust divine,
``And the locust-flesh steeped in the pitcher, the full draught of wine,
``And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell
``That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well.
``How good is man's life, the mere living! how fit to employ
``All the heart and the soul and the senses for ever in joy!
``Hast thou loved the white locks of thy father, whose sword thou didst guard
``When he trusted thee forth with the armies, for glorious reward?
``Didst thou see the thin hands of thy mother, held up as men sung
``The low song of the nearly-departed, and bear her faint tongue
``Joining in while it could to the witness, `Let one more attest,
`` `I have lived, seen God's hand thro'a lifetime, and all was for best'?
``Then they sung thro' their tears in strong triumph, not much, but the rest.
``And thy brothers, the help and the contest, the working whence grew
``Such result as, from seething grape-bundles, the spirit strained true:
``And the friends of thy boyhood-that boyhood of wonder and hope,
``Present promise and wealth of the future beyond the eye's scope,-
``Till lo, thou art grown to a monarch; a people is thine;
``And all gifts, which the world offers singly, on one head combine!
``On one head, all the beauty and strength, love and rage (like the throe
``That, a-work in the rock, helps its labour and lets the gold go)
``High ambition and deeds which surpass it, fame crowning them,-all
``Brought to blaze on the head of one creature-King Saul!''

X.

And lo, with that leap of my spirit,-heart, hand, harp and voice,
Each lifting Saul's name out of sorrow, each bidding rejoice
Saul's fame in the light it was made for-as when, dare I say,
The Lord's army, in rapture of service, strains through its array,
And up soareth the cherubim-chariot-``Saul!'' cried I, and stopped,
And waited the thing that should follow. Then Saul, who hung propped
By the tent's cross-support in the centre, was struck by his name.
Have ye seen when Spring's arrowy summons goes right to the aim,
And some mountain, the last to withstand her, that held (he alone,
While the vale laughed in freedom and flowers) on a broad bust of stone
A year's snow bound about for a breastplate,-leaves grasp of the sheet?
Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet,
And there fronts you, stark, black, but alive yet, your mountain of old,
With his rents, the successive bequeathings of ages untold-
Yea, each harm got in fighting your battles, each furrow and scar
Of his head thrust 'twixt you and the tempest-all hail, there they are!
-Now again to be softened with verdure, again hold the nest
Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young to the green on his crest
For their food in the ardours of summer. One long shudder thrilled
All the tent till the very air tingled, then sank and was stilled
At the King's self left standing before me, released and aware.
What was gone, what remained? All to traverse, 'twixt hope and despair;
Death was past, life not come: so he waited. Awhile his right hand
Held the brow, helped the eyes left too vacant forthwith to remand
To their place what new objects should enter: 'twas Saul as before.
I looked up and dared gaze at those eyes, nor was hurt any more
Than by slow pallid sunsets in autumn, ye watch from the shore,
At their sad level gaze o'er the ocean-a sun's slow decline
Over hills which, resolved in stern silence, o'erlap and entwine
Base with base to knit strength more intensely: so, arm folded arm
O'er the chest whose slow heavings subsided.

XI.

                     What spell or what charm,
(For, awhile there was trouble within me) what next should I urge
To sustain him where song had restored him?-Song filled to the verge
His cup with the wine of this life, pressing all that it yields
Of mere fruitage, the strength and the beauty: beyond, on what fields,
Glean a vintage more potent and perfect to brighten the eye
And bring blood to the lip, and commend them the cup they put by?
He saith, ``It is good;'' still he drinks not: he lets me praise life,
Gives assent, yet would die for his own part.

XII.

                      Then fancies grew rife
Which had come long ago on the pasture, when round me the sheep
Fed in silence-above, the one eagle wheeled slow as in sleep;
And I lay in my hollow and mused on the world that might lie
'Neath his ken, though I saw but the strip 'twixt the hill and the sky:
And I laughed-``Since my days are ordained to be passed with my flocks,
``Let me people at least, with my fancies, the plains and the rocks,
``Dream the life I am never to mix with, and image the show
``Of mankind as they live in those fashions I hardly shall know!
``Schemes of life, its best rules and right uses, the courage that gains,
``And the prudence that keeps what men strive for.'' And now these old trains
Of vague thought came again; I grew surer; so, once more the string
Of my harp made response to my spirit, as thus-

XIII.

                        ``Yea, my King,''
I began-``thou dost well in rejecting mere comforts that spring
``From the mere mortal life held in common by man and by brute:
``In our flesh grows the branch of this life, in our soul it bears fruit.
``Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree,-how its stem trembled first
``Till it passed the kid's lip, the stag's antler then safely outburst
``The fan-branches all round; and thou mindest when these too, in turn
``Broke a-bloom and the palm-tree seemed perfect: yet more was to learn,
``E'en the good that comes in with the palm-fruit. Our dates shall we slight,
``When their juice brings a cure for all sorrow? or care for the plight
``Of the palm's self whose slow growth produced them? Not so! stem and branch
``Shall decay, nor be known in their place, while the palm-wine shall staunch
``Every wound of man's spirit in winter. I pour thee such wine.
``Leave the flesh to the fate it was fit for! the spirit be thine!
``By the spirit, when age shall o'ercome thee, thou still shalt enjoy
``More indeed, than at first when inconscious, the life of a boy.
``Crush that life, and behold its wine running! Each deed thou hast done
``Dies, revives, goes to work in the world; until e'en as the sun
``Looking down on the earth, though clouds spoil him, though tempests efface,
``Can find nothing his own deed produced not, must everywhere trace
``The results of his past summer-prime'-so, each ray of thy will,
``Every flash of thy passion and prowess, long over, shall thrill
``Thy whole people, the countless, with ardour, till they too give forth
``A like cheer to their sons, who in turn, fill the South and the North
``With the radiance thy deed was the germ of. Carouse in the past!
``But the license of age has its limit; thou diest at last:
``As the lion when age dims his eyeball, the rose at her height
``So with man-so his power and his beauty for ever take flight.
``No! Again a long draught of my soul-wine! Look forth o'er the years!
``Thou hast done now with eyes for the actual; begin with the seer's!
``Is Saul dead? In the depth of the vale make his tomb-bid arise
``A grey mountain of marble heaped four-square, till, built to the skies,
``Let it mark where the great First King slumbers: whose fame would ye know?
``Up above see the rock's naked face, where the record shall go
``In great characters cut by the scribe,-Such was Saul, so he did;
``With the sages directing the work, by the populace chid,-
``For not half, they'll affirm, is comprised there! Which fault to amend,
``In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they shall spend
``(See, in tablets 'tis level before them) their praise, and record
``With the gold of the graver, Saul's story,-the statesman's great word
``Side by side with the poet's sweet comment. The river's a-wave
``With smooth paper-reeds grazing each other when prophet-winds rave:
``So the pen gives unborn generations their due and their part
``In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art!''

XIV.

And behold while I sang but O Thou who didst grant me that day,
And before it not seldom hast granted thy help to essay,
Carry on and complete an adventure,-my shield and my sword
In that act where my soul was thy servant, thy word was my word,-
Still be with me, who then at the summit of human endeavour
And scaling the highest, man's thought could, gazed hopeless as ever
On the new stretch of heaven above me-till, mighty to save,
Just one lift of thy hand cleared that distance-God's throne from man's grave!
Let me tell out my tale to its ending-my voice to my heart
Which can scarce dare believe in what marvels last night I took part,
As this morning I gather the fragments, alone with my sheep,
And still fear lest the terrible glory evanish like sleep!
For I wake in the grey dewy covert, while Hebron upheaves
The dawn struggling with night on his shoulder, and Kidron retrieves
Slow the damage of yesterday's sunshine.

XV.

                   I say then,-my song
While I sang thus, assuring the monarch, and ever more strong
Made a proffer of good to console him-he slowly resumed
His old motions and habitudes kingly. The right-hand replumed
His black locks to their wonted composure, adjusted the swathes
Of his turban, and see-the huge sweat that his countenance bathes,
He wipes off with the robe; and he girds now his loins as of yore,
And feels slow for the armlets of price, with the clasp set before.
He is Saul, ye remember in glory,-ere error had bent
The broad brow from the daily communion; and still, though much spent
Be the life and the bearing that front you, the same, God did choose,
To receive what a man may waste, desecrate, never quite lose.
So sank he along by the tent-prop till, stayed by the pile
Of his armour and war-cloak and garments, he leaned there awhile,
And sat out my singing,-one arm round the tent-prop, to raise
His bent head, and the other hung slack-till I touched on the praise
I foresaw from all men in all time, to the man patient there;
And thus ended, the harp falling forward. Then first I was 'ware
That he sat, as I say, with my head just above his vast knees
Which were thrust out on each side around me, like oak-roots which please
To encircle a lamb when it slumbers. I looked up to know
If the best I could do had brought solace: he spoke not, but slow
Lifted up the hand slack at his side, till he laid it with care
Soft and grave, but in mild settled will, on my brow: thro' my hair
The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my bead, with kind power-
All my face back, intent to peruse it, as men do a flower.
Thus held he me there with his great eyes that scrutinized mine-
And oh, all my heart how it loved him! but where was the sign?
I yearned-``Could I help thee, my father, inventing a bliss,
``I would add, to that life of the past, both the future and this;
``I would give thee new life altogether, as good, ages hence,
``As this moment,-had love but the warrant, love's heart to dispense!''

XVI.

Then the truth came upon me. No harp more-no song more! outbroke-

XVII.

``I have gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke:
``I, a work of God's hand for that purpose, received in my brain
``And pronounced on the rest of his hand-work-returned him again
``His creation's approval or censure: I spoke as I saw:
``I report, as a man may of God's work-all's love, yet all's law.
``Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me. Each faculty tasked
``To perceive him, has gained an abyss, where a dewdrop was asked.
``Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
``Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care!
``Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?
``I but open my eyes,-and perfection, no more and no less,
``In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God
``In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
``And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew
``(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)
``The submission of man's nothing-perfect to God's all-complete,
``As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet.
``Yet with all this abounding experience, this deity known,
``I shall dare to discover some province, some gift of my own.
``There's a faculty pleasant to exercise, hard to hoodwink,
``I am fain to keep still in abeyance, (I laugh as I think)
``Lest, insisting to claim and parade in it, wot ye, I worst
``E'en the Giver in one gift.-Behold, I could love if I durst!
``But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o'ertake
``God's own speed in the one way of love: I abstain for love's sake.
``-What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small,
``Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal?
``In the least things have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all?
``Do I find love so full in my nature, God's ultimate gift,
``That I doubt his own love can compete with it? Here, the parts shift?
``Here, the creature surpass the Creator,-the end, what Began?
``Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man,
``And dare doubt he alone shall not help him, who yet alone can?
``Would it ever have entered my mind, the bare will, much less power,
``To bestow on this Saul what I sang of, the marvellous dower
``Of the life he was gifted and filled with? to make such a soul,
``Such a body, and then such an earth for insphering the whole?
``And doth it not enter my mind (as my warm tears attest)
``These good things being given, to go on, and give one more, the best?
``Ay, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height
``This perfection,-succeed with life's day-spring, death's minute of night?
``Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul the mistake,
``Saul the failure, the ruin he seems now,-and bid him awake
``From the dream, the probation, the prelude, to find himself set
``Clear and safe in new light and new life,-a new harmony yet
``To be run, and continued, and ended-who knows?-or endure!
``The man taught enough, by life's dream, of the rest to make sure;
``By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss,
``And the next world's reward and repose, by the struggles in this.

XVIII.

``I believe it! 'Tis thou, God, that givest, 'tis I who receive:
``In the first is the last, in thy will is my power to believe.
``All's one gift: thou canst grant it moreover, as prompt to my prayer
``As I breathe out this breath, as I open these arms to the air.
``From thy will, stream the worlds, life and nature, thy dread Sabaoth:
``I will?-the mere atoms despise me! Why am I not loth
``To look that, even that in the face too? Why is it I dare
``Think but lightly of such impuissance? What stops my despair?
``This;-'tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do!
``See the King-I would help him but cannot, the wishes fall through.
``Could I wrestle to raise him from sorrow, grow poor to enrich,
``To fill up his life, starve my own out, I would-knowing which,
``I know that my service is perfect. Oh, speak through me now!
``Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou-so wilt thou!
``So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown-
``And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down
``One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath,
``Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death!
``As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved
``Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved!
``He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak.
``'Tis the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek
``In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
``A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
``Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand
``Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!''

XIX.

I know not too well how I found my way home in the night.
There were witnesses, cohorts about me, to left and to right,
Angels, powers, the unuttered, unseen, the alive, the aware:
I repressed, I got through them as hardly, as strugglingly there,
As a runner beset by the populace famished for news-
Life or death. The whole earth was awakened, hell loosed with her crews;
And the stars of night beat with emotion, and tingled and shot
Out in fire the strong pain of pent knowledge: but I fainted not,
For the Hand still impelled me at once and supported, suppressed
All the tumult, and quenched it with quiet, and holy behest,
Till the rapture was shut in itself, and the earth sank to rest.
Anon at the dawn, all that trouble had withered from earth-
Not so much, but I saw it die out in the day's tender birth;
In the gathered intensity brought to the grey of the hills;
In the shuddering forests' held breath; in the sudden wind-thrills;
In the startled wild beasts that bore off, each with eye sidling still
Though averted with wonder and dread; in the birds stiff and chill
That rose heavily, as I approached them, made stupid with awe:
E'en the serpent that slid away silent,-he felt the new law.
The same stared in the white humid faces upturned by the flowers;
The same worked in the heart of the cedar and moved the vine-bowers:
And the little brooks witnessing murmured, persistent and low,
With their obstinate, all but hushed voices-``E'en so, it is so!''
The jumping hare.

One of the three cities of Refuge.
*
A brook in Jerusalem.


~ Robert Browning, Rhyme for a Child Viewing a Naked Venus in a Painting of 'The Judgement of Paris'
,
546:Scene.Up the Hill-side, inside the Shrub-house. Luca's wife, Ottima, and her paramour, the German Sebald.
Sebald
[sings]

Let the watching lids wink!
Day's a-blaze with eyes, think!
Deep into the night, drink!

Ottima
Night? Such may be your Rhine-land nights perhaps;
But this blood-red beam through the shutter's chink
We call such light, the morning: let us see!
Mind how you grope your way, though! How these tall
Naked geraniums straggle! Push the lattice
Behind that frame!Nay, do I bid you?Sebald,
It shakes the dust down on me! Why, of course
The slide-bolt catches. Well, are you content,
Or must I find you something else to spoil?
Kiss and be friends, my Sebald! Is 't full morning?
Oh, don't speak then!
Sebald.
           Ay, thus it used to be.
Ever your house was, I remember, shut
Till mid-day; I observed that, as I strolled
On mornings through the vale here; country girls
Were noisy, washing garments in the brook,
Hinds drove the slow white oxen up the hills:
But no, your house was mute, would ope no eye.
And wisely: you were plotting one thing there,
Nature, another outside. I looked up
Rough white wood shutters, rusty iron bars,
Silent as death, blind in a flood of light.
Oh, I remember!and the peasants laughed
And said, "The old man sleeps with the young wife."
This house was his, this chair, this windowhis.
Ottima
Ah, the clear morning! I can see St. Mark's;
That black streak is the belfry. Stop: Vicenza
Should lie . . . there's Padua, plain enough, that blue!
Look o'er my shoulder, follow my finger!
Sebald
                     Morning?
It seems to me a night with a sun added.
Where's dew, where's freshness? That bruised plant, I bruised
In getting through the lattice yestereve,
Droops as it did. See, here's my elbow's mark
I' the dust o' the sill.
Ottima
             Oh, shut the lattice, pray!
             Sebald
Let me lean out. I cannot scent blood here,
Foul as the morn may be.
             There, shut the world out!
How do you feel now, Ottima? There, curse
The world and all outside! Let us throw off
This mask: how do you bear yourself? Let's out
With all of it.
Ottima
        Best never speak of it.
        Sebald
Best speak again and yet again of it,
Till words cease to be more than words. "His blood,"
For instancelet those two words mean "His blood"
And nothing more. Notice, I'll say them now,
"His blood."
Ottima
      Assuredly if I repented
The deed
Sebald
     Repent? Who should repent, or why?
What puts that in your head? Did I once say
That I repented?
Ottima
         No, I said the deed . . .
         Sebald
"The deed" and "the event"just now it was
"Our passion's fruit"the devil take such cant!
Say, once and always, Luca was a wittol,
I am his cut-throat, you are . . .
Ottima
                  Here's the wine;
I brought it when we left the house above,
And glasses toowine of both sorts. Black? White then?
Sebald
But am not I his cut-throat? What are you?
Ottima
There trudges on his business from the Duomo
Benet the Capuchin, with his brown hood
And bare feet; always in one place at church,
Close under the stone wall by the south entry.
I used to take him for a brown cold piece
Of the wall's self, as out of it he rose
To let me passat first, I say, I used:
Now, so has that dumb figure fastened on me,
I rather should account the plastered wall
A piece of him, so chilly does it strike.
This, Sebald?
Sebald
       No, the white winethe white wine!
Well, Ottima, I promised no new year
Should rise on us the ancient shameful way;
Nor does it rise. Pour on! To your black eyes!
Do you remember last damned New Year's day?
Ottima
You brought those foreign prints. We looked at them
Over the wine and fruit. I had to scheme
To get him from the fire. Nothing but saying
His own set wants the proof-mark, roused him up
To hunt them out.
Sebald
         'Faith, he is not alive
To fondle you before my face.
Ottima
               Do you
Fondle me then! Who means to take your life
For that, my Sebald?
Sebald
           Hark you, Ottima!
One thing to guard against. We'll not make much
One of the otherthat is, not make more
Parade of warmth, childish officious coil,
Than yesterday: as if, sweet, I supposed
Proof upon proof were needed now, now first,
To show I love youyes, still love youlove you
In spite of Luca and what's come to him
Sure sign we had him ever in our thoughts,
White sneering old reproachful face and all!
We'll even quarrel, love, at times, as if
We still could lose each other, were not tied
By this: conceive you?
Ottima
           Love!
           Sebald
               Not tied so sure.
Because though I was wrought upon, have struck
His insolence back into himam I
So surely yours?therefore forever yours?
Ottima
Love, to be wise, (one counsel pays another)
Should we havemonths ago, when first we loved,
For instance that May morning we two stole
Under the green ascent of sycamores
If we had come upon a thing like that
Suddenly . . .
Sebald
       "A thing"there again"a thing!"
       Ottima
Then, Venus' body, had we come upon
My husband Luca Gaddi's murdered corpse
Within there, at his couch-foot, covered close
Would you have pored upon it? Why persist
In poring now upon it? For't is here
As much as there in the deserted house:
You cannot rid your eyes of it. For me,
Now he is dead I hate him worse: I hate . . .
Dare you stay here? I would go back and hold
His two dead hands, and say, "I hate you worse,
"Luca, than . . ."
Sebald
         Off, offtake your hands off mine,
'T is the hot eveningoff! oh, morning is it?
Ottima
There's one thing must be done; you know what thing.
Come in and help to carry. We may sleep
Anywhere in the whole wide house to-night.
Sebald
What would come, think you, if we let him lie
Just as he is? Let him lie there until
The angels take him! He is turned by this
Off from his face beside, as you will see.
Ottima
This dusty pane might serve for looking glass.
Three, fourfour grey hairs! Is it so you said
A plait of hair should wave across my neck?
Nothis way.
Sebald
       Ottima, I would give your neck,
Each splendid shoulder, both those breasts of yours,
That this were undone! Killing! Kill the world,
So Luca lives again!ay, lives to sputter
His fulsome dotage on youyes, and feign
Surprise that I return at eve to sup,
When all the morning I was loitering here
Bid me despatch my business and begone.
I would . . .
Ottima
       See!
       Sebald
         No, I'll finish. Do you think
I fear to speak the bare truth once for all?
All we have talked of, is, at bottom, fine
To suffer; there's a recompense in guilt;
One must be venturous and fortunate:
What is one young for, else? In age we'll sigh
O'er the wild reckless wicked days flown over;
Still, we have lived: the vice was in its place.
But to have eaten Luca's bread, have worn
His clothes, have felt his money swell my purse
Do lovers in romances sin that way?
Why, I was starving when I used to call
And teach you music, starving while you plucked me
These flowers to smell!
Ottima
            My poor lost friend!
            Sebald
                       He gave me
Life, nothing less: what if he did reproach
My perfidy, and threaten, and do more
Had he no right? What was to wonder at?
He sat by us at table quietly:
Why must you lean across till our cheeks touched?
Could he do less than make pretence to strike?
'T is not the crime's sakeI'd commit ten crimes
Greater, to have this crime wiped out, undone!
And youO how feel you? Feel you for me?
Ottima
Well then, I love you better now than ever,
And best (look at me while I speak to you)
Best for the crime; nor do I grieve, in truth,
This mask, this simulated ignorance,
This affectation of simplicity,
Falls off our crime; this naked crime of ours
May not now be looked over: look it down!
Great? let it be great; but the joys it brought,
Pay they or no its price? Come: they or it!
Speak not! The past, would you give up the past
Such as it is, pleasure and crime together?
Give up that noon I owned my love for you?
The garden's silence: even the single bee
Persisting in his toil, suddenly stopped,
And where he hid you only could surmise
By some campanula chalice set a-swing.
Who stammered"Yes, I love you?"
Sebald
                 And I drew
Back; put far back your face with both my hands
Lest you should grow too full of meyour face
So seemed athirst for my whole soul and body!
Ottima
And when I ventured to receive you here,
Made you steal hither in the mornings
Sebald
                     When
I used to look up 'neath the shrub-house here,
Till the red fire on its glazed windows spread
To a yellow haze?
Ottima
         Ahmy sign was, the sun
Inflamed the sere side of yon chestnut-tree
Nipped by the first frost.
Sebald
              You would always laugh
At my wet boots: I had to stride thro' grass
Over my ankles.
Ottima
        Then our crowning night!
        Sebald
The July night?
Ottima
        The day of it too, Sebald!
When heaven's pillars seemed o'erbowed with heat,
Its black-blue canopy suffered descend
Close on us both, to weigh down each to each,
And smother up all life except our life.
So lay we till the storm came.
Sebald
                How it came!
                Ottima
Buried in woods we lay, you recollect;
Swift ran the searching tempest overhead;
And ever and anon some bright white shaft
Burned thro' the pine-tree roof, here burned and there,
As if God's messenger thro' the close wood screen
Plunged and replunged his weapon at a venture,
Feeling for guilty thee and me: then broke
The thunder like a whole sea overhead
Sebald
Yes!
Ottima
While I stretched myself upon you, hands
To hands, my mouth to your hot mouth, and shook
All my locks loose, and covered you with them
You, Sebald, the same you!
Sebald
              Slower, Ottima!
              Ottima
And as we lay
Sebald
        Less vehemently! Love me!
Forgive me! Take not words, mere words, to heart!
Your breath is worse than wine! Breathe slow, speak slow!
Do not lean on me!
Ottima
         Sebald, as we lay,
Rising and falling only with our pants,
Who said, "Let death come now! 'T is right to die!
"Right to be punished! Nought completes such bliss
"But woe!" Who said that?
Sebald
             How did we ever rise?
Was't that we slept? Why did it end?
Ottima
                   I felt you
Taper into a point the ruffled ends
Of my loose locks 'twixt both your humid lips.
My hair is fallen now: knot it again!
Sebald
I kiss you now, dear Ottima, now and now!
This way? Will you forgive mebe once more
My great queen?
Ottima
        Bind it thrice about my brow;
Crown me your queen, your spirit's arbitress,
Magnificent in sin. Say that!
Sebald
               I crown you
My great white queen, my spirit's arbitress,
Magnificent . . .
[From without is heard the voice of Pippa, singing
The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn:
God's in his heaven
All's right with the world!
[Pippa passes]

Sebald
God's in his heaven! Do you hear that? Who spoke?
You, you spoke!
Ottima
        Ohthat little ragged girl!
She must have rested on the step: we give them
But this one holiday the whole year round.
Did you ever see our silk-millstheir inside?
There are ten silk-mills now belong to you.
She stoops to pick my double heartsease . . . Sh!
She does not hear: call you out louder!
Sebald
                     Leave me!
Go, get your clothes ondress those shoulders!
Ottima
                         Sebald?
                         Sebald
Wipe off that paint! I hate you.
Ottima
                 Miserable!
                 Sebald
My God, and she is emptied of it now!
Outright now!how miraculously gone
All of the gracehad she not strange grace once?
Why, the blank cheek hangs listless as it likes,
No purpose holds the features up together,
Only the cloven brow and puckered chin
Stay in their places: and the very hair,
That seemed to have a sort of life in it,
Drops, a dead web!
Ottima
         Speak to menot of me!
         Sebald
That round great full-orbed face, where not an angle
Broke the delicious indolenceall broken!
Ottima
To menot of me! Ungrateful, perjured cheat!
A coward too: but ingrate's worse than all.
Beggarmy slavea fawning, cringing lie!
Leave me! Betray me! I can see your drift!
A lie that walks and eats and drinks!
Sebald
                    My God!
Those morbid olive faultless shoulder-blades
I should have known there was no blood beneath!
Ottima
You hate me then? You hate me then?
Sebald
                   To think
She would succeed in her absurd attempt,
And fascinate by sinning, show herself
Superiorguilt from its excess superior
To innocence! That little peasant's voice
Has righted all again. Though I be lost,
I know which is the better, never fear,
Of vice or virtue, purity or lust,
Nature or trick! I see what I have done,
Entirely now! Oh I am proud to feel
Such tormentslet the world take credit thence
I, having done my deed, pay too its price!
I hate, hatecurse you! God's in his heaven!
Ottima
                         Me!
Me! no, no, Sebald, not yourselfkill me
Mine is the whole crime. Do but kill methen
Yourselfthenpresentlyfirst hear me speak!
I always meant to kill myselfwait, you!
Lean on my breastnot as a breast; don't love me
The more because you lean on me, my own
Heart's Sebald! There, there, both deaths presently!
Sebald
My brain is drowned nowquite drowned: all I feel
Is . . . is, at swift-recurring intervals,
A hurry-down within me, as of waters
Loosened to smother up some ghastly pit:
There they gowhirls from a black fiery sea!
Ottima
Not meto him, O God, be merciful!
Talk by the way, while Pippa is passing from the hill-side to Orcana. Foreign Students of painting and sculpture, from Venice, assembled opposite the house of Jules, a young French statuary, at Possagno.
1st Student
Attention! My own post is beneath this window, but the pomegranate clump yonder will hide three or four of you with a little squeezing, and Schramm and his pipe must lie flat in the balcony. Four, five who's a defaulter? We want everybody, for Jules must not be suffered to hurt his bride when the jest's found out.

2nd Student
All here! Only our poet's awaynever having much meant to be present, moonstrike him! The airs of that fellow, that Giovacchino! He was in violent love with himself, and had a fair prospect of thriving in his suit, so unmolested was it,when suddenly a woman falls in love with him, too; and out of pure jealousy he takes himself off to Trieste, immortal poem and all: whereto is this prophetical epitaph appended already, as Bluphocks assures me,"Here a mammoth-poem lies, Fouled to death by butterflies." His own fault, the simpleton! Instead of cramp couplets, each like a knife in your entrails, he should write, says Bluphocks, both classically and intelligibly. sculapius, an Epic. Catalogue of the drugs: Hebe's plaisterOne strip Cools your lip. Phoebus' emulsion One bottle Clears your throttle. Mercury's bolusOne box Cures . . .

3rd Student
Subside, my fine fellow! If the marriage was over by ten o'clock, Jules will certainly be here in a minute with his bride.

2nd Student
Good!only, so should the poet's muse have been universally acceptable, says Bluphocks, et canibus nostris . . . and Delia not better known to our literary dogs than the boy Giovacchino!

1st Student
To the point, now. Where's Gottlieb, the new-comer? Oh,listen, Gottlieb, to what has called down this piece of friendly vengeance on Jules, of which we now assemble to witness the winding-up. We are all agreed, all in a tale, observe, when Jules shall burst out on us in a fury by and by: I am spokesmanthe verses that are to undeceive Jules bear my name of Lutwyche but each professes himself alike insulted by this strutting stone-squarer, who came alone from Paris to Munich, and thence with a crowd of us to Venice and Possagno here, but proceeds in a day or two alone againoh, alone indubitably!to Rome and Florence. He, forsooth, take up his portion with these dissolute, brutalized, heartless bunglers!so he was heard to call us all: now, is Schramm brutalized, I should like to know? Am I heartless?

Gottlieb
Why, somewhat heartless; for, suppose Jules a coxcomb as much as you choose, still, for this mere coxcombry, you will have brushed offwhat do folks style it?the bloom of his life. Is it too late to alter? These love-letters now, you call hisI can't laugh at them.

4th Student
Because you never read the sham letters of our inditing which drew forth these.

Gottlieb
His discovery of the truth will be frightful.

4th Student
That's the joke. But you should have joined us at the beginning: there's no doubt he loves the girlloves a model he might hire by the hour!

Gottlieb
See here! "He has been accustomed," he writes, "to have Canova's women about him, in stone, "and the world's women beside him, in flesh; these "being as much below, as those above, his soul's aspi- "ration: but now he is to have the reality." There you laugh again! I say, you wipe off the very dew of his youth.

1st Student
Schramm! (Take the pipe out of his mouth, somebody!) Will Jules lose the bloom of his youth?

Schramm
Nothing worth keeping is ever lost in this world: look at a blossomit drops presently, having done its service and lasted its time; but fruits succeed, and where would be the blossom's place could it continue? As well affirm that your eye is no longer in your body, because its earliest favourite, whatever it may have first loved to look on, is dead and done with as that any affection is lost to the soul when its first object, whatever happened first to satisfy it, is superseded in due course. Keep but ever looking, whether with the body's eye or the mind's, and you will soon find something to look on! Has a man done wondering at women?there follow men, dead and alive, to wonder at. Has he done wondering at men?there's God to wonder at: and the faculty of wonder may be, at the same time, old and tired enough with respect to its first object, and yet young and fresh sufficiently, so far as concerns its novel one. Thus . . .

1st Student
Put Schramm's pipe into his mouth again! There, you see! Well, this Jules . . . a wretched fribble oh, I watched his disportings at Possagno, the other day! Canova's galleryyou know: there he marches first resolvedly past great works by the dozen without vouchsafing an eye: all at once he stops full at thePsiche-fanciulla cannot pass that old acquaintance without a nod of encouragement"In your new place, beauty? Then behave yourself as well here as at Munich I see you!" Next he posts himself deliberately before the unfinished Piet for half an hour without moving, till up he starts of a sudden, and thrusts his very nose intoI say, intothe group; by which gesture you are informed that precisely the sole point he had not fully mastered in Canova's practice was a certain method of using the drill in the articulation of the knee-jointand that, likewise, has he mastered at length! Good-bye, therefore, to poor Canovawhose gallery no longer needs detain his successor Jules, the predestinated novel thinker in marble!

5th Student
Tell him about the women: go on to the women!

1st Student
Why, on that matter he could never be supercilious enough. How should we be other (he said) than the poor devils you see, with those debasing habits we cherish? He was not to wallow in that mire, at least: he would wait, and love only at the proper time, and meanwhile put up with the Psiche-fanciulla. Now, I happened to hear of a young Greekreal Greek girl at Malamocco; a true Islander, do you see, with Alciphron's "hair like sea-moss"Schramm knows!white and quiet as an apparition, and fourteen years old at farthest, a daughter of Natalia, so she swearsthat hag Natalia, who helps us to models at three lire an hour. We selected this girl for the heroine of our jest. So first, Jules received a scented lettersomebody had seen his Tydeus at the Academy, and my picture was nothing to it: a profound admirer bade him perseverewould make herself known to him ere long. (Paolina, my little friend of the Fenice, transcribes divinely.) And in due time, the mysterious correspondent gave certain hints of her peculiar charmsthe pale cheeks, the black hairwhatever, in short, had struck us in our Malamocco model: we retained her name, tooPhene, which is, by interpretation, sea-eagle. Now, think of Jules finding himself distinguished from the herd of us by such a creature! In his very first answer he proposed marrying his monitress: and fancy us over these letters, two, three times a day, to receive and despatch! I concocted the main of it: relations were in the waysecrecy must be observedin fine, would he wed her on trust, and only speak to her when they were indissolubly united? St stHere they come!

6th Student
Both of them! Heaven's love, speak softly, speak within yourselves!

5th Student
Look at the bridegroom! Half his hair in storm and half in calm,patted down over the left temple,like a frothy cup one blows on to cool it: and the same old blouse that he murders the marble in.

2nd Student
Not a rich vest like yours, Hannibal Scratchy!rich, that your face may the better set it off.

6th Student
And the bride! Yes, sure enough, our Phene! Should you have known her in her clothes? How magnificently pale!

Gottlieb
She does not also take it for earnest, I hope?

1st Student
Oh, Natalia's concern, that is! We settle with Natalia.

6th Student
She does not speakhas evidently let out no word. The only thing is, will she equally remember the rest of her lesson, and repeat correctly all those verses which are to break the secret to Jules?

Gottlieb
How he gazes on her! Pitypity!

1st Student
They go in: now, silence! You three, not nearer the window, mind, than that pomegranate: just where the little girl, who a few minutes ago passed us singing, is seated!



~ Robert Browning, Pippa Passes - Part I - Morning
,
547:I am poor brother Lippo, by your leave!
You need not clap your torches to my face.
Zooks, what's to blame? you think you see a monk!
What, 'tis past midnight, and you go the rounds,
And here you catch me at an alley's end
Where sportive ladies leave their doors ajar?
The Carmine's my cloister: hunt it up,
Do,harry out, if you must show your zeal,
Whatever rat, there, haps on his wrong hole,
And nip each softling of a wee white mouse,
Weke, weke, that's crept to keep him company!
Aha, you know your betters! Then, you'll take
Your hand away that's fiddling on my throat,
And please to know me likewise. Who am I?
Why, one, sir, who is lodging with a friend
Three streets offhe's a certain . . . how d'ye call?
MasteraCosimo of the Medici,
I' the house that caps the corner. Boh! you were best!
Remember and tell me, the day you're hanged,
How you affected such a gullet's-gripe!  
But you, sir, it concerns you that your knaves
Pick up a manner nor discredit you:
Zooks, are we pilchards, that they sweep the streets
And count fair price what comes into their net?
He's Judas to a tittle, that man is!
Just such a face! Why, sir, you make amends.
Lord, I'm not angry! Bid your hang-dogs go
Drink out this quarter-florin to the health
Of the munificent House that harbours me
(And many more beside, lads! more beside!)
And all's come square again. I'd like his face
His, elbowing on his comrade in the door
With the pike and lantern,for the slave that holds
John Baptist's head a-dangle by the hair
With one hand ("Look you, now," as who should say)
And his weapon in the other, yet unwiped!
It's not your chance to have a bit of chalk,
A wood-coal or the like? or you should see!
Yes, I'm the painter, since you style me so.
What, brother Lippo's doings, up and down,
You know them and they take you? like enough!
I saw the proper twinkle in your eye
'Tell you, I liked your looks at very first.
Let's sit and set things straight now, hip to haunch.
Here's spring come, and the nights one makes up bands
To roam the town and sing out carnival,
And I've been three weeks shut within my mew,
A-painting for the great man, saints and saints
And saints again. I could not paint all night
Ouf! I leaned out of window for fresh air.
There came a hurry of feet and little feet,
A sweep of lute strings, laughs, and whifts of song,
Flower o' the broom,
Take away love, and our earth is a tomb!
Flower o' the quince,
I let Lisa go, and what good in life since?
Flower o' the thymeand so on. Round they went.
Scarce had they turned the corner when a titter
Like the skipping of rabbits by moonlight,three slim shapes,
And a face that looked up . . . zooks, sir, flesh and blood,
That's all I'm made of! Into shreds it went,
Curtain and counterpane and coverlet,
All the bed-furniturea dozen knots,
There was a ladder! Down I let myself,
Hands and feet, scrambling somehow, and so dropped,
And after them. I came up with the fun
Hard by Saint Laurence, hail fellow, well met,
Flower o' the rose,
If I've been merry, what matter who knows?
And so as I was stealing back again
To get to bed and have a bit of sleep
Ere I rise up to-morrow and go work
On Jerome knocking at his poor old breast
With his great round stone to subdue the flesh,
You snap me of the sudden. Ah, I see!
Though your eye twinkles still, you shake your head
Mine's shaveda monk, you saythe sting 's in that!
If Master Cosimo announced himself,
Mum's the word naturally; but a monk!
Come, what am I a beast for? tell us, now!
I was a baby when my mother died
And father died and left me in the street.
I starved there, God knows how, a year or two
On fig-skins, melon-parings, rinds and shucks,
Refuse and rubbish. One fine frosty day,
My stomach being empty as your hat,
The wind doubled me up and down I went.
Old Aunt Lapaccia trussed me with one hand,
(Its fellow was a stinger as I knew)
And so along the wall, over the bridge,
By the straight cut to the convent. Six words there,
While I stood munching my first bread that month:
"So, boy, you're minded," quoth the good fat father
Wiping his own mouth, 'twas refection-time,--
"To quit this very miserable world?
Will you renounce" . . . "the mouthful of bread?" thought I;
By no means! Brief, they made a monk of me;
I did renounce the world, its pride and greed,
Palace, farm, villa, shop, and banking-house,
Trash, such as these poor devils of Medici
Have given their hearts toall at eight years old.
Well, sir, I found in time, you may be sure,
'T#was not for nothingthe good bellyful,
The warm serge and the rope that goes all round,
And day-long blessed idleness beside!
"Let's see what the urchin's fit for"that came next.
Not overmuch their way, I must confess.
Such a to-do! They tried me with their books:
Lord, they'd have taught me Latin in pure waste!
Flower o' the clove.
All the Latin I construe is, "amo" I love!
But, mind you, when a boy starves in the streets
Eight years together, as my fortune was,
Watching folk's faces to know who will fling
The bit of half-stripped grape-bunch he desires,
And who will curse or kick him for his pains,
Which gentleman processional and fine,
Holding a candle to the Sacrament,
Will wink and let him lift a plate and catch
The droppings of the wax to sell again,
Or holla for the Eight and have him whipped,
How say I?nay, which dog bites, which lets drop
His bone from the heap of offal in the street,
Why, soul and sense of him grow sharp alike,
He learns the look of things, and none the less
For admonition from the hunger-pinch.
I had a store of such remarks, be sure,
Which, after I found leisure, turned to use.
I drew men's faces on my copy-books,
Scrawled them within the antiphonary's marge,
Joined legs and arms to the long music-notes,
Found eyes and nose and chin for A's and B's,
And made a string of pictures of the world
Betwixt the ins and outs of verb and noun,
On the wall, the bench, the door. The monks looked black.
"Nay," quoth the Prior, "turn him out, d'ye say?
In no wise. Lose a crow and catch a lark.
What if at last we get our man of parts,
We Carmelites, like those Camaldolese
And Preaching Friars, to do our church up fine
And put the front on it that ought to be!"
And hereupon he bade me daub away.
Thank you! my head being crammed, the walls a blank,
Never was such prompt disemburdening.
First, every sort of monk, the black and white,
I drew them, fat and lean: then, folk at church,
From good old gossips waiting to confess
Their cribs of barrel-droppings, candle-ends,
To the breathless fellow at the altar-foot,
Fresh from his murder, safe and sitting there
With the little children round him in a row
Of admiration, half for his beard and half
For that white anger of his victim's son
Shaking a fist at him with one fierce arm,
Signing himself with the other because of Christ
(Whose sad face on the cross sees only this
After the passion of a thousand years)
Till some poor girl, her apron o'er her head,
(Which the intense eyes looked through) came at eve
On tiptoe, said a word, dropped in a loaf,
Her pair of earrings and a bunch of flowers
(The brute took growling), prayed, and so was gone.
I painted all, then cried " `T#is ask and have;
Choose, for more's ready!"laid the ladder flat,
And showed my covered bit of cloister-wall.
The monks closed in a circle and praised loud
Till checked, taught what to see and not to see,
Being simple bodies,"That's the very man!
Look at the boy who stoops to pat the dog!
That woman's like the Prior's niece who comes
To care about his asthma: it's the life!''
But there my triumph's straw-fire flared and funked;
Their betters took their turn to see and say:
The Prior and the learned pulled a face
And stopped all that in no time. "How? what's here?
Quite from the mark of painting, bless us all!
Faces, arms, legs, and bodies like the true
As much as pea and pea! it's devil's-game!
Your business is not to catch men with show,
With homage to the perishable clay,
But lift them over it, ignore it all,
Make them forget there's such a thing as flesh.
Your business is to paint the souls of men
Man's soul, and it's a fire, smoke . . . no, it's not . . .
It's vapour done up like a new-born babe
(In that shape when you die it leaves your mouth)
It's . . . well, what matters talking, it's the soul!
Give us no more of body than shows soul!
Here's Giotto, with his Saint a-praising God,
That sets us praisingwhy not stop with him?
Why put all thoughts of praise out of our head
With wonder at lines, colours, and what not?
Paint the soul, never mind the legs and arms!
Rub all out, try at it a second time.
Oh, that white smallish female with the breasts,
She's just my niece . . . Herodias, I would say,
Who went and danced and got men's heads cut off!
Have it all out!" Now, is this sense, I ask?
A fine way to paint soul, by painting body
So ill, the eye can't stop there, must go further
And can't fare worse! Thus, yellow does for white
When what you put for yellow's simply black,
And any sort of meaning looks intense
When all beside itself means and looks nought.
Why can't a painter lift each foot in turn,
Left foot and right foot, go a double step,
Make his flesh liker and his soul more like,
Both in their order? Take the prettiest face,
The Prior's niece . . . patron-saintis it so pretty
You can't discover if it means hope, fear,
Sorrow or joy? won't beauty go with these?
Suppose I've made her eyes all right and blue,
Can't I take breath and try to add life's flash,
And then add soul and heighten them three-fold?
Or say there's beauty with no soul at all
(I never saw itput the case the same)
If you get simple beauty and nought else,
You get about the best thing God invents:
That's somewhat: and you'll find the soul you have missed,
Within yourself, when you return him thanks.
"Rub all out!" Well, well, there's my life, in short,
And so the thing has gone on ever since.
I'm grown a man no doubt, I've broken bounds:
You should not take a fellow eight years old
And make him swear to never kiss the girls.
I'm my own master, paint now as I please
Having a friend, you see, in the Corner-house!
Lord, it's fast holding by the rings in front
Those great rings serve more purposes than just
To plant a flag in, or tie up a horse!
And yet the old schooling sticks, the old grave eyes
Are peeping o'er my shoulder as I work,
The heads shake still"It's art's decline, my son!
You're not of the true painters, great and old;
Brother Angelico's the man, you'll find;
Brother Lorenzo stands his single peer:
Fag on at flesh, you'll never make the third!"
Flower o' the pine,
You keep your mistr manners, and I'll stick to mine!
I'm not the third, then: bless us, they must know!
Don't you think they're the likeliest to know,
They with their Latin? So, I swallow my rage,
Clench my teeth, suck my lips in tight, and paint
To please themsometimes do and sometimes don't;
For, doing most, there's pretty sure to come
A turn, some warm eve finds me at my saints
A laugh, a cry, the business of the world
(Flower o' the peach
Death for us all, and his own life for each!)
And my whole soul revolves, the cup runs over,
The world and life's too big to pass for a dream,
And I do these wild things in sheer despite,
And play the fooleries you catch me at,
In pure rage! The old mill-horse, out at grass
After hard years, throws up his stiff heels so,
Although the miller does not preach to him
The only good of grass is to make chaff.
What would men have? Do they like grass or no
May they or mayn't they? all I want's the thing
Settled for ever one way. As it is,
You tell too many lies and hurt yourself:
You don't like what you only like too much,
You do like what, if given you at your word,
You find abundantly detestable.
For me, I think I speak as I was taught;
I always see the garden and God there
A-making man's wife: and, my lesson learned,
The value and significance of flesh,
I can't unlearn ten minutes afterwards.
You understand me: I'm a beast, I know.
But see, nowwhy, I see as certainly
As that the morning-star's about to shine,
What will hap some day. We've a youngster here
Comes to our convent, studies what I do,
Slouches and stares and lets no atom drop:
His name is Guidihe'll not mind the monks
They call him Hulking Tom, he lets them talk
He picks my practice uphe'll paint apace.
I hope sothough I never live so long,
I know what's sure to follow. You be judge!
You speak no Latin more than I, belike;
However, you're my man, you've seen the world
The beauty and the wonder and the power,
The shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades,
Changes, surprises,and God made it all!
For what? Do you feel thankful, ay or no,
For this fair town's face, yonder river's line,
The mountain round it and the sky above,
Much more the figures of man, woman, child,
These are the frame to? What's it all about?
To be passed over, despised? or dwelt upon,
Wondered at? oh, this last of course!you say.
But why not do as well as say,paint these
Just as they are, careless what comes of it?
God's workspaint any one, and count it crime
To let a truth slip. Don't object, "His works
Are here already; nature is complete:
Suppose you reproduce her(which you can't)
There's no advantage! you must beat her, then."
For, don't you mark? we're made so that we love
First when we see them painted, things we have passed
Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see;
And so they are better, paintedbetter to us,
Which is the same thing. Art was given for that;
God uses us to help each other so,
Lending our minds out. Have you noticed, now,
Your cullion's hanging face? A bit of chalk,
And trust me but you should, though! How much more,
If I drew higher things with the same truth!
That were to take the Prior's pulpit-place,
Interpret God to all of you! Oh, oh,
It makes me mad to see what men shall do
And we in our graves! This world's no blot for us,
Nor blank; it means intensely, and means good:
To find its meaning is my meat and drink.
"Ay, but you don't so instigate to prayer!"
Strikes in the Prior: "when your meaning's plain
It does not say to folkremember matins,
Or, mind you fast next Friday!" Why, for this
What need of art at all? A skull and bones,
Two bits of stick nailed crosswise, or, what's best,
A bell to chime the hour with, does as well.
I painted a Saint Laurence six months since
At Prato, splashed the fresco in fine style:
"How looks my painting, now the scaffold's down?"
I ask a brother: "Hugely," he returns
"Already not one phiz of your three slaves
Who turn the Deacon off his toasted side,
But's scratched and prodded to our heart's content,
The pious people have so eased their own
With coming to say prayers there in a rage:
We get on fast to see the bricks beneath.
Expect another job this time next year,
For pity and religion grow i' the crowd
Your painting serves its purpose!" Hang the fools!
That isyou'll not mistake an idle word
Spoke in a huff by a poor monk, God wot,
Tasting the air this spicy night which turns
The unaccustomed head like Chianti wine!
Oh, the church knows! don't misreport me, now!
It's natural a poor monk out of bounds
Should have his apt word to excuse himself:
And hearken how I plot to make amends.
I have bethought me: I shall paint a piece
There's for you! Give me six months, then go, see
Something in Sant' Ambrogio's! Bless the nuns!
They want a cast o' my office. I shall paint
God in the midst, Madonna and her babe,
Ringed by a bowery, flowery angel-brood,
Lilies and vestments and white faces, sweet
As puff on puff of grated orris-root
When ladies crowd to Church at midsummer.
And then i' the front, of course a saint or two
Saint John' because he saves the Florentines,
Saint Ambrose, who puts down in black and white
The convent's friends and gives them a long day,
And Job, I must have him there past mistake,
The man of Uz (and Us without the z,
Painters who need his patience). Well, all these
Secured at their devotion, up shall come
Out of a corner when you least expect,
As one by a dark stair into a great light,
Music and talking, who but Lippo! I!
Mazed, motionless, and moonstruckI'm the man!
Back I shrinkwhat is this I see and hear?
I, caught up with my monk's-things by mistake,
My old serge gown and rope that goes all round,
I, in this presence, this pure company!
Where's a hole, where's a corner for escape?
Then steps a sweet angelic slip of a thing
Forward, puts out a soft palm"Not so fast!"
Addresses the celestial presence, "nay
He made you and devised you, after all,
Though he's none of you! Could Saint John there draw
His camel-hair make up a painting brush?
We come to brother Lippo for all that,
Iste perfecit opus! So, all smile
I shuffle sideways with my blushing face
Under the cover of a hundred wings
Thrown like a spread of kirtles when you're gay
And play hot cockles, all the doors being shut,
Till, wholly unexpected, in there pops
The hothead husband! Thus I scuttle off
To some safe bench behind, not letting go
The palm of her, the little lily thing
That spoke the good word for me in the nick,
Like the Prior's niece . . . Saint Lucy, I would say.
And so all's saved for me, and for the church
A pretty picture gained. Go, six months hence!
Your hand, sir, and good-bye: no lights, no lights!
The street's hushed, and I know my own way back,
Don't fear me! There's the grey beginning. Zooks!
NOTES



Form:
unrhyming

1.
First published in Men and Women, 1855.In this poem, Browning makes use of the account of
Lippi in Vasari's Lives of the Painters, from
which the following is an extract: "The Carmelite monk,
Fra Filippo di Tommaso Lippi (1412-1469), was born
at Florence in a bye-street called Ardiglione, under the
Canto alla Cuculia, and behind the convent of the
Carmelites. By the death of his father he was left a
friendless orphan at the age of two years, his mother
having also died shortly after his birth. The child was
for some time under the care of a certain Mona Lapaccia,
his aunt, the sister of his father, who brought him up
with very great difficulty till he had attained his eighth
year, when, being no longer able to support the burden
of his maintenance, she placed him in the above-named
convent of the Carmelites. Here, in proportion as he
showed himself dexterous and ingenious in all works
performed by hand, did he manifest the utmost dullness
and incapacity in letters, to which he would never apply
himself, nor would he take any pleasure in learning of
any kind. The boy continued to be called by his worldly
name of Filippo, and being placed with others, who like
himself were in the house of the novices, under the care
of the master, to the end that the latter might see what
could be done with him\; in place of studying, he never
did anything but daub his own books, and those of the
other boys, with caricatures, whereupon the prior determined
to give him all means and every opportunity for learning
to draw. The chapel of the Carmine had then been newly
painted by Masaccio, and this being exceedingly beautiful,
pleased Fra Filippo greatly, wherefore he frequented it daily
for his recreation, and, continually practising there, in
company with many other youths, who were constantly
drawing in that place, he surpassed all the others by very
much in dexterity and knowledge .... Proceeding thus, and
improving from day to day, he has so closely followed the
manner of Masaccio, and his works displayed so much
similarity to those of the latter, that many affirmed the spirit
of Masaccio to have entered the body of Fra Filippo .... "It is
said that Fra Filippo was much addicted to the pleasures of
sense, insomuch that he would give all he possessed to secure
the gratification of whatever inclination might at the moment
be predominant .... It was known that, while occupied in the
pursuit of his pleasures, the works undertaken by him received
little or none of his attention\; for which reason Cosimo de'
Medici, wishing him to execute a work in his own palace, shut
him up, that he might not waste his time in running about\; but
having endured this confinement for two days, he then made
ropes with sheets of his bed, which he cut to pieces for that
purpose, and so having let himself down from a window, escaped,
and for several days gave himself up to his amusements. When
Cosimo found that the painter had disappeared, he caused him
to be sought, and Fra Filippo at last returned to his work, but
from that time forward Cosimo gave him liberty to go in and
out at his pleasure, repenting greatly of having previously shut
him up, when he considered the danger that Fra Filippo had
incurred by his folly in descending from the window\; and ever
afterwards labouring to keep him to his work by kindness only,
he was by this means much more promptly and effectually
served by the painter, and was wont to say that the excellencies
of rare genius were as forms of light and not beasts of burden."

17.
Cosimo of the Medici (1389-1464): the real ruler of Florence,
and a patron of art and literature.

53.
The snatches of song represent a species of Italian folk-song
called Stornelli\; each consisting of three lines of a set form,
and containing the name of a flower in the first line.

67.
Saint Laurence: the Church at San Lorenzo, now famous for
the tombs of the Medici, the work of Michael Angelo.

73.
Jerome: one of the Christian Fathers, translated the Bible
into Latin\; he led a life of extreme asceticism.

117-18.
A reference to the procession carrying the consecrated wafer.

121.
the Eight: a body of magistrates who kept order.

130.
antiphonary: the service-book.

140.
Preaching Friars: the Dominicans.

172.
funked: turned to smoke.

176 ff.
Lippi belonged to the naturalistic school which developed
among the Florentines. These showed a greater attention to
natural form and beauty, as opposed to the conventional school,
who were men under the influence of earlier artists and inherited
an ascetic timidity in the representation of material things.

189.
Giotto (1267-1337): the earliest of the greater Florentine
painters.

196.
Herodias: sister-in-law of Herod, and mother of Salome.
See Matthew, 14 for the story of Salome's dance and the beheading
of John the Baptist.

227.
See line 18 above.

235.
Brother Angelico: Fra Angelico (1387-1455), "By purity of
life, habitual elevation of thought, and natural sweetness of
disposition, he was enabled to express the sacred affections
upon the human countenance, as no one ever did before or since" (Ruskin).

236.
Lorenzo: Lorenzo Monaco (1370-1425), a Camaldolese
friar who painted in Florence.

273 ff.
Tommaso Guidi (1401-28) better known as Masaccio (which means
"hulking") "because," says Vasari, "of his excessive negligence and
disregard of himself." He was the teacher--not, as here represented,
the pupil--of Filippo Lippi (see first note above).

324.
Prato: a town some dozen miles from Florence\; in the Cathedral
are frescoes by Filippo, but they represent St. Stephen, and the
Baptist, not St. Laurence.

328.
According to tradition, St. Laurence was roasted on a gridiron.

339.
Chianti wine: the common red wine of Tuscany.

346.
Browning proceeds to put into Fra Filippo's mouth a description
of what is considered his masterpiece --a Coronation of the Virgin--which
he painted for the nuns of Sant' Ambrogio. Browning, following Vasari,
believes that the painter put a self-portrait in the lower corner of the
picture. Recent research has shown that the figure is a portrait, not of
Fra Filippo, but of the benefactor who ordered the picture for the
church. In this case, perfecit opus means "caused the work to
be made," not, as Browning takes it, "completed the work himself."

354.
St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of the Florentines.


~ Robert Browning, Fra Lippo Lippi
,
548:Scene. Constantinople; the house of a Greek Conjurer. 1521.
Paracelsus.
Paracelsus.
Over the waters in the vaporous West
The sun goes down as in a sphere of gold
Behind the arm of the city, which between,
With all that length of domes and minarets,
Athwart the splendour, black and crooked runs
Like a Turk verse along a scimitar.
There lie, sullen memorial, and no more
Possess my aching sight! 'T is done at last.
Strangeand the juggles of a sallow cheat
Have won me to this act! 'T is as yon cloud
Should voyage unwrecked o'er many a mountain-top
And break upon a molehill. I have dared
Come to a pause with knowledge; scan for once
The heights already reached, without regard
To the extent above; fairly compute
All I have clearly gained; for once excluding
A brilliant future to supply and perfect
All half-gains and conjectures and crude hopes:
And all because a fortune-teller wills
His credulous seekers should inscribe thus much
Their previous life's attainment, in his roll,
Before his promised secret, as he vaunts,
Make up the sum: and here amid the scrawled
Uncouth recordings of the dupes of this
Old arch-genethliac, lie my life's results!
A few blurred characters suffice to note
A stranger wandered long through many lands
And reaped the fruit he coveted in a few
Discoveries, as appended here and there,
The fragmentary produce of much toil,
In a dim heap, fact and surmise together
Confusedly massed as when acquired; he was
Intent on gain to come too much to stay
And scrutinize the little gained: the whole
Slipt in the blank space 'twixt an idiot's gibber
And a mad lover's dittythere it lies.
And yet those blottings chronicle a life
A whole life, and my life! Nothing to do,
No problem for the fancy, but a life
Spent and decided, wasted past retrieve
Or worthy beyond peer. Stay, what does this
Remembrancer set down concerning "life"?
"'Time fleets, youth fades, life is an empty dream,'
"It is the echo of time; and he whose heart
"Beat first beneath a human heart, whose speech
"Was copied from a human tongue, can never
"Recall when he was living yet knew not this.
"Nevertheless long seasons pass o'er him
"Till some one hour's experience shows what nothing,
"It seemed, could clearer show; and ever after,
"An altered brow and eye and gait and speech
"Attest that now he knows the adage true
"'Time fleets, youth fades, life is an empty dream.'"
Ay, my brave chronicler, and this same hour
As well as any: now, let my time be!
Now! I can go no farther; well or ill,
'T is done. I must desist and take my chance.
I cannot keep on the stretch: 't is no back-shrinking
For let but some assurance beam, some close
To my toil grow visible, and I proceed
At any price, though closing it, I die.
Else, here I pause. The old Greek's prophecy
Is like to turn out true: "I shall not quit
"His chamber till I know what I desire!"
Was it the light wind sang it o'er the sea?
An end, a rest! strange how the notion, once
Encountered, gathers strength by moments! Rest!
Where has it kept so long? this throbbing brow
To cease, this beating heart to cease, all cruel
And gnawing thoughts to cease! To dare let down
My strung, so high-strung brain, to dare unnerve
My harassed o'ertasked frame, to know my place,
My portion, my reward, even my failure,
Assigned, made sure for ever! To lose myself
Among the common creatures of the world,
To draw some gain from having been a man,
Neither to hope nor fear, to live at length!
Even in failure, rest! But rest in truth
And power and recompense . . . I hoped that once!
What, sunk insensibly so deep? Has all
Been undergone for this? This the request
My labour qualified me to present
With no fear of refusal? Had I gone
Slightingly through my task, and so judged fit
To moderate my hopes; nay, were it now
My sole concern to exculpate myself,
End things or mend them,why, I could not choose
A humbler mood to wait for the event!
No, no, there needs not this; no, after all,
At worst I have performed my share of the task
The rest is God's concern; mine, merely this,
To know that I have obstinately held
By my own work. The mortal whose brave foot
Has trod, unscathed, the temple-court so far
That he descries at length the shrine of shrines,
Must let no sneering of the demons' eyes,
Whom he could pass unquailing, fasten now
Upon him, fairly past their power; no, no
He must not stagger, faint, fall down at last,
Having a charm to baffle them; behold,
He bares his front: a mortal ventures thus
Serene amid the echoes, beams and glooms!
If he be priest henceforth, if he wake up
The god of the place to ban and blast him there,
Both well! What's failure or success to me?
I have subdued my life to the one purpose
Whereto I ordained it; there alone I spy,
No doubt, that way I may be satisfied.
Yes, well have I subdued my life! beyond
The obligation of my strictest vow,
The contemplation of my wildest bond,
Which gave my nature freely up, in truth,
But in its actual state, consenting fully
All passionate impulses its soil was formed
To rear, should wither; but foreseeing not
The tract, doomed to perpetual barrenness,
Would seem one day, remembered as it was,
Beside the parched sand-waste which now it is,
Already strewn with faint blooms, viewless then.
I ne'er engaged to root up loves so frail
I felt them not; yet now, 't is very plain
Some soft spots had their birth in me at first,
If not love, say, like love: there was a time
When yet this wolfish hunger after knowledge
Set not remorselessly love's claims aside.
This heart was human once, or why recall
Einsiedeln, now, and Wrzburg which the Mayne
Forsakes her course to fold as with an arm?
And Festusmy poor Festus, with his praise
And counsel and grave fearswhere is he now
With the sweet maiden, long ago his bride?
I surely loved themthat last night, at least,
When we . . . gone! gone! the better. I am saved
The sad review of an ambitious youth
Choked by vile lusts, unnoticed in their birth,
But let grow up and wind around a will
Till action was destroyed. No, I have gone
Purging my path successively of aught
Wearing the distant likeness of such lusts.
I have made life consist of one idea:
Ere that was master, up till that was born,
I bear a memory of a pleasant life
Whose small events I treasure; till one morn
I ran o'er the seven little grassy fields,
Startling the flocks of nameless birds, to tell
Poor Festus, leaping all the while for joy,
To leave all trouble for my future plans,
Since I had just determined to become
The greatest and most glorious man on earth.
And since that morn all life has been forgotten;
All is one day, one only step between
The outset and the end: one tyrant all-
Absorbing aim fills up the interspace,
One vast unbroken chain of thought, kept up
Through a career apparently adverse
To its existence: life, death, light and shadow,
The shows of the world, were bare receptacles
Or indices of truth to be wrung thence,
Not ministers of sorrow or delight:
A wondrous natural robe in which she went.
For some one truth would dimly beacon me
From mountains rough with pines, and flit and wink
O'er dazzling wastes of frozen snow, and tremble
Into assured light in some branching mine
Where ripens, swathed in fire, the liquid gold
And all the beauty, all the wonder fell
On either side the truth, as its mere robe;
I see the robe nowthen I saw the form.
So far, then, I have voyaged with success,
So much is good, then, in this working sea
Which parts me from that happy strip of land:
But o'er that happy strip a sun shone, too!
And fainter gleams it as the waves grow rough,
And still more faint as the sea widens; last
I sicken on a dead gulf streaked with light
From its own putrefying depths alone.
Then, God was pledged to take me by the hand;
Now, any miserable juggle can bid
My pride depart. All is alike at length:
God may take pleasure in confounding pride
By hiding secrets with the scorned and base
I am here, in short: so little have I paused
Throughout! I never glanced behind to know
If I had kept my primal light from wane,
And thus insensibly amwhat I am!
Oh, bitter; very bitter!
             And more bitter,
To fear a deeper curse, an inner ruin,
Plague beneath plague, the last turning the first
To light beside its darkness. Let me weep
My youth and its brave hopes, all dead and gone,
In tears which burn! Would I were sure to win
Some startling secret in their stead, a tincture
Of force to flush old age with youth, or breed
Gold, or imprison moonbeams till they change
To opal shafts!only that, hurling it
Indignant back, I might convince myself
My aims remained supreme and pure as ever!
Even now, why not desire, for mankind's sake,
That if I fail, some fault may be the cause,
That, though I sink, another may succeed?
O God, the despicable heart of us!
Shut out this hideous mockery from my heart!
'T was politic in you, Aureole, to reject
Single rewards, and ask them in the lump;
At all events, once launched, to hold straight on:
For now' t is all or nothing. Mighty profit
Your gains will bring if they stop short of such
Full consummation! As a man, you had
A certain share of strength; and that is gone
Already in the getting these you boast.
Do not they seem to laugh, as who should say
"Great master, we are here indeed, dragged forth
"To light; this hast thou done: be glad! Now, seek
"The strength to use which thou hast spent in getting!"
And yet't is much, surely't is very much,
Thus to have emptied youth of all its gifts,
To feed a fire meant to hold out till morn
Arrived with inexhaustible light; and lo,
I have heaped up my last, and day dawns not!
And I am left with grey hair, faded hands,
And furrowed brow. Ha, have I, after all,
Mistaken the wild nursling of my breast?
Knowledge it seemed, and power, and recompense!
Was she who glided through my room of nights,
Who laid my head on her soft knees and smoothed
The damp locks,whose sly soothings just began
When my sick spirit craved repose awhile
God! was I fighting sleep off for death's sake?
God! Thou art mind! Unto the master-mind
Mind should be precious. Spare my mind alone!
All else I will endure; if, as I stand
Here, with my gains, thy thunder smite me down,
I bow me; 't is thy will, thy righteous will;
I o'erpass life's restrictions, and I die;
And if no trace of my career remain
Save a thin corpse at pleasure of the wind
In these bright chambers level with the air,
See thou to it! But if my spirit fail,
My once proud spirit forsake me at the last,
Hast thou done well by me? So do not thou!
Crush not my mind, dear God, though I be crushed!
Hold me before the frequence of thy seraphs
And say"I crushed him, lest he should disturb
"My law. Men must not know their strength: behold
"Weak and alone, how he had raised himself!"
But if delusions trouble me, and thou,
Not seldom felt with rapture in thy help
Throughout my toils and wanderings, dost intend
To work man's welfare through my weak endeavour,
To crown my mortal forehead with a beam
From thine own blinding crown, to smile, and guide
This puny hand and let the work so wrought
Be styled my work,hear me! I covet not
An influx of new power, an angel's soul:
It were no marvel thenbut I have reached
Thus far, a man; let me conclude, a man!
Give but one hour of my first energy,
Of that invincible faith, but only one!
That I may cover with an eagle-glance
The truths I have, and spy some certain way
To mould them, and completing them, possess!
Yet God is good: I started sure of that,
And why dispute it now? I'll not believe
But some undoubted warning long ere this
Had reached me: a fire-labarum was not deemed
Too much for the old founder of these walls.
Then, if my life has not been natural,
It has been monstrous: yet, till late, my course
So ardently engrossed me, that delight,
A pausing and reflecting joy,'t is plain,
Could find no place in it. True, I am worn;
But who clothes summer, who is life itself?
God, that created all things, can renew!
And then, though after-life to please me now
Must have no likeness to the past, what hinders
Reward from springing out of toil, as changed
As bursts the flower from earth and root and stalk?
What use were punishment, unless some sin
Be first detected? let me know that first!
No man could ever offend as I have done . . .
[A voice from within.]
I hear a voice, perchance I heard
Long ago, but all too low,
So that scarce a care it stirred
If the voice were real or no:
I heard it in my youth when first
The waters of my life outburst:
But, now their stream ebbs faint, I hear
That voice, still low, but fatal-clear
As if all poets, God ever meant
Should save the world, and therefore lent
Great gifts to, but who, proud, refused
To do his work, or lightly used
Those gifts, or failed through weak endeavour,
So, mourn cast off by him for ever,
As if these leaned in airy ring
To take me; this the song they sing.
"Lost, lost! yet come,
With our wan troop make thy home.
Come, come! for we
Will not breathe, so much as breathe
Reproach to thee,
Knowing what thou sink'st beneath.
So sank we in those old years,
We who bid thee, come! thou last
Who, living yet, hast life o'erpast.
And altogether we, thy peers,
Will pardon crave for thee, the last
Whose trial is done, whose lot is cast
With those who watch but work no more,
Who gaze on life but live no more.
Yet we trusted thou shouldst speak
The message which our lips, too weak,
Refused to utter,shouldst redeem
Our fault: such trust, and all a dream!
Yet we chose thee a birthplace
Where the richness ran to flowers:
Couldst not sing one song for grace?
Not make one blossom man's and ours?
Must one more recreant to his race
Die with unexerted powers,
And join us, leaving as he found
The world, he was to loosen, bound?
Anguish! ever and for ever;
Still beginning, ending never.
Yet, lost and last one, come!
How couldst understand, alas,
What our pale ghosts strove to say,
As their shades did glance and pass
Before thee night and day?
Thou wast blind as we were dumb:
Once more, therefore, come, O come!
How should we clothe, how arm the spirit
Shall next thy post of life inherit
How guard him from thy speedy ruin?
Tell us of thy sad undoing
Here, where we sit, ever pursuing
Our weary task, ever renewing
Sharp sorrow, far from God who gave
Our powers, and man they could not save!"
Aprile enters.
Aprile.
Ha, ha! our king that wouldst be, here at last?
Art thou the poet who shall save the world?
Thy hand to mine! Stay, fix thine eyes on mine!
Thou wouldst be king? Still fix thine eyes on mine!
Paracelsus.
Ha, ha! why crouchest not? Am I not king?
So torture is not wholly unavailing!
Have my fierce spasms compelled thee from thy lair?
Art thou the sage I only seemed to be,
Myself of after-time, my very self
With sight a little clearer, strength more firm,
Who robes him in my robe and grasps my crown
For just a fault, a weakness, a neglect?
I scarcely trusted God with the surmise
That such might come, and thou didst hear the while!
Aprile.
Thine eyes are lustreless to mine; my hair
Is soft, nay silken soft: to talk with thee
Flushes my cheek, and thou art ashy-pale.
Truly, thou hast laboured, hast withstood her lips,
The siren's! Yes, 't is like thou hast attained!
Tell me, dear master, wherefore now thou comest?
I thought thy solemn songs would have their meed
In after-time; that I should hear the earth
Exult in thee and echo with thy praise,
While I was laid forgotten in my grave.
Paracelsus.
Ah fiend, I know thee, I am not thy dupe!
Thou art ordained to follow in my track,
Reaping my sowing, as I scorned to reap
The harvest sown by sages passed away.
Thou art the sober searcher, cautious striver,
As if, except through me, thou hast searched or striven!
Ay, tell the world! Degrade me after all,
To an aspirant after fame, not truth
To all but envy of thy fate, be sure!
Aprile.
Nay, sing them to me; I shall envy not:
Thou shalt be king! Sing thou, and I will sit
Beside, and call deep silence for thy songs,
And worship thee, as I had ne'er been meant
To fill thy throne: but none shall ever know!
Sing to me; for already thy wild eyes
Unlock my heart-strings, as some crystal-shaft
Reveals by some chance blaze its parent fount
After long time: so thou reveal'st my soul.
All will flash forth at last, with thee to hear!
Paracelsus.
(His secret! I shall get his secretfool!)
I am he that aspired to know: and thou?
Aprile.
I would love infinitely, and be loved!
Paracelsus.
Poor slave! I am thy king indeed.
Aprile.
                 Thou deem'st
Thatborn a spirit, dowered even as thou,
Born for thy fatebecause I could not curb
My yearnings to possess at once the full
Enjoyment, but neglected all the means
Of realizing even the frailest joy,
Gathering no fragments to appease my want,
Yet nursing up that want till thus I die
Thou deem'st I cannot trace thy safe sure march
O'er perils that o'erwhelm me, triumphing,
Neglecting nought below for aught above,
Despising nothing and ensuring all
Nor that I could (my time to come again)
Lead thus my spirit securely as thine own.
Listen, and thou shalt see I know thee well.
I would love infinitely . . . Ah, lost! lost!
Oh ye who armed me at such cost,
How shall I look on all of ye
With your gifts even yet on me?
Paracelsus.
(Ah, 't is some moonstruck creature after all!
Such fond fools as are like to haunt this den:
They spread contagion, doubtless: yet he seemed
To echo one foreboding of my heart
So truly, that . . . no matter! How he stands
With eve's last sunbeam staying on his hair
Which turns to it as if they were akin:
And those clear smiling eyes of saddest blue
Nearly set free, so far they rise above
The painful fruitless striving of the brow
And enforced knowledge of the lips, firm-set
In slow despondency's eternal sigh!
Has he, too, missed life's end, and learned the cause?)
I charge thee, by thy fealty, be calm!
Tell me what thou wouldst be, and what I am.
Aprile.
I would love infinitely, and be loved.
First: I would carve in stone, or cast in brass,
The forms of earth. No ancient hunter lifted
Up to the gods by his renown, no nymph
Supposed the sweet soul of a woodland tree
Or sapphirine spirit of a twilight star,
Should be too hard for me; no shepherd-king
Regal for his white locks; no youth who stands
Silent and very calm amid the throng,
His right hand ever hid beneath his robe
Until the tyrant pass; no lawgiver,
No swan-soft woman rubbed with lucid oils
Given by a god for love of hertoo hard!
Every passion sprung from man, conceived by man,
Would I express and clothe it in its right form,
Or blend with others struggling in one form,
Or show repressed by an ungainly form.
Oh, if you marvelled at some mighty spirit
With a fit frame to execute its will
Even unconsciously to work its will
You should be moved no less beside some strong
Rare spirit, fettered to a stubborn body,
Endeavouring to subdue it and inform it
With its own splendour! All this I would do:
And I would say, this done, "His sprites created,
"God grants to each a sphere to be its world,
"Appointed with the various objects needed
"To satisfy its own peculiar want;
"So, I create a world for these my shapes
"Fit to sustain their beauty and their strength!"
And, at the word, I would contrive and paint
Woods, valleys, rocks and plains, dells, sands and wastes,
Lakes which, when morn breaks on their quivering bed,
Blaze like a wyvern flying round the sun,
And ocean isles so small, the dog-fish tracking
A dead whale, who should find them, would swim thrice
Around them, and fare onwardall to hold
The offspring of my brain. Nor these alone:
Bronze labyrinth, palace, pyramid and crypt,
Baths, galleries, courts, temples and terraces,
Marts, theatres and wharfsall filled with men,
Men everywhere! And this performed in turn,
When those who looked on, pined to hear the hopes
And fears and hates and loves which moved the crowd,
I would throw down the pencil as the chisel,
And I would speak; no thought which ever stirred
A human breast should be untold; all passions,
All soft emotions, from the turbulent stir
Within a heart fed with desires like mine,
To the last comfort shutting the tired lids
Of him who sleeps the sultry noon away
Beneath the tent-tree by the wayside well:
And this in language as the need should be,
Now poured at once forth in a burning flow,
Now piled up in a grand array of words.
This done, to perfect and consummate all,
Even as a luminous haze links star to star,
I would supply all chasms with music, breathing
Mysterious motions of the soul, no way
To be defined save in strange melodies.
Last, having thus revealed all I could love,
Having received all love bestowed on it,
I would die: preserving so throughout my course
God full on me, as I was full on men:
He would approve my prayer, "I have gone through
"The loveliness of life; create for me
"If not for men, or take me to thyself,
"Eternal, infinite love!"
             If thou hast ne'er
Conceived this mighty aim, this full desire,
Thou hast not passed my trial, and thou art
No king of mine.
Paracelsus.
         Ah me!
         Aprile.
           But thou art here!
Thou didst not gaze like me upon that end
Till thine own powers for compassing the bliss
Were blind with glory; nor grow mad to grasp
At once the prize long patient toil should claim,
Nor spurn all granted short of that. And I
Would do as thou, a second time: nay, listen!
Knowing ourselves, our world, our task so great,
Our time so brief, 't is clear if we refuse
The means so limited, the tools so rude
To execute our purpose, life will fleet,
And we shall fade, and leave our task undone.
We will be wise in time: what though our work
Be fashioned in despite of their ill-service,
Be crippled every way? 'T were little praise
Did full resources wait on our goodwill
At every turn. Let all be as it is.
Some say the earth is even so contrived
That tree and flower, a vesture gay, conceal
A bare and skeleton framework. Had we means
Answering to our mind! But now I seem
Wrecked on a savage isle: how rear thereon
My palace? Branching palms the props shall be,
Fruit glossy mingling; gems are for the East;
Who heeds them? I can pass them. Serpents' scales,
And painted birds' down, furs and fishes' skins
Must help me; and a little here and there
Is all I can aspire to: still my art
Shall show its birth was in a gentler clime.
"Had I green jars of malachite, this way
"I'd range them: where those sea-shells glisten above,
"Cressets should hang, by right: this way we set
"The purple carpets, as these mats are laid,
"Woven of fern and rush and blossoming flag."
Or if, by fortune, some completer grace
Be spared to me, some fragment, some slight sample
Of the prouder workmanship my own home boasts,
Some trifle little heeded there, but here
The place's one perfectionwith what joy
Would I enshrine the relic, cheerfully
Foregoing all the marvels out of reach!
Could I retain one strain of all the psalm
Of the angels, one word of the fiat of God,
To let my followers know what such things are!
I would adventure nobly for their sakes:
When nights were still, and still the moaning sea
And far away I could descry the land
Whence I departed, whither I return,
I would dispart the waves, and stand once more
At home, and load my bark, and hasten back,
And fling my gains to them, worthless or true.
"Friends," I would say, "I went far, far for them,
"Past the high rocks the haunt of doves, the mounds
"Of red earth from whose sides strange trees grow out,
"Past tracts of milk-white minute blinding sand,
"Till, by a mighty moon, I tremblingly
"Gathered these magic herbs, berry and bud,
"In haste, not pausing to reject the weeds,
"But happy plucking them at any price.
"To me, who have seen them bloom in their own soil,
"They are scarce lovely: plait and wear them, you!
"And guess, from what they are, the springs that fed them,
"The stars that sparkled o'er them, night by night,
"The snakes that travelled far to sip their dew!"
Thus for my higher loves; and thus even weakness
Would win me honour. But not these alone
Should claim my care; for common life, its wants
And ways, would I set forth in beauteous hues:
The lowest hind should not possess a hope,
A fear, but I'd be by him, saying better
Than he his own heart's language. I would live
For ever in the thoughts I thus explored,
As a discoverer's memory is attached
To all he finds; they should be mine henceforth,
Imbued with me, though free to all before:
For clay, once cast into my soul's rich mine,
Should come up crusted o'er with gems. Nor this
Would need a meaner spirit, than the first;
Nay, 't would be but the selfsame spirit, clothed
In humbler guise, but still the selfsame spirit:
As one spring wind unbinds the mountain snow
And comforts violets in their hermitage.
But, master, poet, who hast done all this,
How didst thou'scape the ruin whelming me?
Didst thou, when nerving thee to this attempt,
Ne'er range thy mind's extent, as some wide hall,
Dazzled by shapes that filled its length with light,
Shapes clustered there to rule thee, not obey,
That will not wait thy summons, will not rise
Singly, nor when thy practised eye and hand
Can well transfer their loveliness, but crowd
By thee for ever, bright to thy despair?
Didst thou ne'er gaze on each by turns, and ne'er
Resolve to single out one, though the rest
Should vanish, and to give that one, entire
In beauty, to the world; forgetting, so,
Its peers, whose number baffles mortal power?
And, this determined, wast thou ne'er seduced
By memories and regrets and passionate love,
To glance once more farewell? and did their eyes
Fasten thee, brighter and more bright, until
Thou couldst but stagger back unto their feet,
And laugh that man's applause or welfare ever
Could tempt thee to forsake them? Or when years
Had passed and still their love possessed thee wholly,
When from without some murmur startled thee
Of darkling mortals famished for one ray
Of thy so-hoarded luxury of light,
Didst thou ne'er strive even yet to break those spells
And prove thou couldst recover and fulfil
Thy early mission, long ago renounced,
And to that end, select some shape once more?
And did not mist-like influences, thick films,
Faint memories of the rest that charmed so long
Thine eyes, float fast, confuse thee, bear thee off,
As whirling snow-drifts blind a man who treads
A mountain ridge, with guiding spear, through storm?
Say, though I fell, I had excuse to fall;
Say, I was tempted sorely: say but this,
Dear lord, Aprile's lord!
Paracelsus.
             Clasp me not thus,
Aprile! That the truth should reach me thus!
We are weak dust. Nay, clasp not or I faint!
Aprile.
My king! and envious thoughts could outrage thee?
Lo, I forget my ruin, and rejoice
In thy success, as thou! Let our God's praise
Go bravely through the world at last! What care
Through me or thee? I feel thy breath. Why, tears?
Tears in the darkness, and from thee to me?
Paracelsus.
Love me henceforth, Aprile, while I learn
To love; and, merciful God, forgive us both!
We wake at length from weary dreams; but both
Have slept in fairy-land: though dark and drear
Appears the world before us, we no less
Wake with our wrists and ankles jewelled still.
I too have sought to know as thou to love
Excluding love as thou refusedst knowledge.
Still thou hast beauty and I, power. We wake:
What penance canst devise for both of us?
Aprile.
I hear thee faintly. The thick darkness! Even
Thine eyes are hid. 'T is as I knew: I speak,
And now I die. But I have seen thy face!
O poet, think of me, and sing of me!
But to have seen thee and to die so soon!
Paracelsus.
Die not, Aprile! We must never part.
Are we not halves of one dissevered world,
Whom this strange chance unites once more? Part? never!
Till thou the lover, know; and I, the knower,
Loveuntil both are saved. Aprile, hear!
We will accept our gains, and use themnow!
God, he will die upon my breast! Aprile!
Aprile.
To speak but once, and die! yet by his side.
Hush! hush!
     Ha! go you ever girt about
With phantoms, powers? I have created such,
But these seem real as I.
Paracelsus.
             Whom can you see
Through the accursed darkness?
Aprile.
                Stay; I know,
I know them: who should know them well as I?
White brows, lit up with glory; poets all!
Paracelsus.
Let him but live, and I have my reward!
Aprile.
Yes; I see now. God is the perfect poet,
Who in his person acts his own creations.
Had you but told me this at first! Hush! hush!
Paracelsus.
Live! for my sake, because of my great sin,
To help my brain, oppressed by these wild words
And their deep import. Live! 't is not too late.
I have a quiet home for us, and friends.
Michal shall smile on you. Hear you? Lean thus,
And breathe my breath. I shall not lose one word
Of all your speech, one little word, Aprile!
Aprile.
No, no. Crown me? I am not one of you!
'T is he, the king, you seek. I am not one.
Paracelsus.
Thy spirit, at least, Aprile! Let me love!
I have attained, and now I may depart.


~ Robert Browning, Paracelsus - Part II - Paracelsus Attains
,
549:Scene. Colmar in Alsatia: an Inn. 1528.
Paracelsus, Festus.
Paracelsus
[to Johannes Oporinus, his Secretary].
Sic itur ad astra! Dear Von Visenburg
Is scandalized, and poor Torinus paralysed,
And every honest soul that Basil holds
Aghast; and yet we live, as one may say,
Just as though Liechtenfels had never set
So true a value on his sorry carcass,
And learned Ptter had not frowned us dumb.
We live; and shall as surely start to morrow
For Nuremberg, as we drink speedy scathe
To Basil in this mantling wine, suffused
A delicate blush, no fainter tinge is born
I' the shut heart of a bud. Pledge me, good John
"Basil; a hot plague ravage it, and Ptter
"Oppose the plague!" Even so? Do you too share
Their panic, the reptiles? Ha, ha; faint through these,
Desist for these! They manage matters so
At Basil, 't is like: but others may find means
To bring the stoutest braggart of the tribe
Once more to crouch in silencemeans to breed
A stupid wonder in each fool again,
Now big with admiration at the skill
Which stript a vain pretender of his plumes:
And, that done,means to brand each slavish brow
So deeply, surely, ineffaceably,
That henceforth flattery shall not pucker it
Out of the furrow; there that stamp shall stay
To show the next they fawn on, what they are,
This Basil with its magnates,fill my cup,
Whom I curse soul and limb. And now despatch,
Despatch, my trusty John; and what remains
To do, whate'er arrangements for our trip
Are yet to be completed, see you hasten
This night; we'll weather the storm at least: to-morrow
For Nuremberg! Now leave us; this grave clerk
Has divers weighty matters for my ear:
[Oporinus goes out.
And spare my lungs. At last, my gallant Festus,
I am rid of this arch-knave that dogs my heels
As a gaunt crow a gasping sheep; at last
May give a loose to my delight. How kind,
How very kind, my first best only friend!
Why, this looks like fidelity. Embrace me!
Not a hair silvered yet? Right! you shall live
Till I am worth your love; you shall be pround,
And Ibut let time show! Did you not wonder?
I sent to you because our compact weighed
Upon my conscience(you recall the night
At Basil, which the gods confound!)because
Once more I aspire. I call you to my side:
You come. You thought my message strange?
Festus.
                      So strange
That I must hope, indeed, your messenger
Has mingled his own fancies with the words
Purporting to be yours.
Paracelsus.
            He said no more,
'T is probable, than the precious folk I leave
Said fiftyfold more roughly. Well-a-day,
'T is true! poor Paracelsus is exposed
At last; a most egregious quack he proves:
And those he overreached must spit their hate
On one who, utterly beneath contempt,
Could yet deceive their topping wits. You heard
Bare truth; and at my bidding you come here
To speed me on my enterprise, as once
Your lavish wishes sped me, my own friend!
Festus.
What is your purpose, Aureole?
Paracelsus.
                Oh, for purpose,
There is no lack of precedents in a case
Like mine; at least, if not precisely mine,
The case of men cast off by those they sought
To benefit.
Festus.
     They really cast you off?
I only heard a vague tale of some priest,
Cured by your skill, who wrangled at your claim,
Knowing his life's worth best; and how the judge
The matter was referred to, saw no cause
To interfere, nor you to hide your full
Contempt of him; nor he, again, to smother
His wrath thereat, which raised so fierce a flame
That Basil soon was made no place for you.
Paracelsus.
The affair of Liechtenfels? the shallowest fable,
The last and silliest outragemere pretence!
I knew it, I foretold it from the first,
How soon the stupid wonder you mistook
For genuine loyaltya cheering promise
Of better things to comewould pall and pass;
And every word comes true. Saul is among
The prophets! Just so long as I was pleased
To play off the mere antics of my art,
Fantastic gambols leading to no end,
I got huge praise: but one can ne'er keep down
Our foolish nature's weakness. There they flocked,
Poor devils, jostling, swearing and perspiring,
Till the walls rang again; and all for me!
I had a kindness for them, which was right;
But then I stopped not till I tacked to that
A trust in them and a respecta sort
Of sympathy for them; I must needs begin
To teach them, not amaze them, "to impart
"The spirit which should instigate the search
"Of truth," just what you bade me! I spoke out.
Forthwith a mighty squadron, in disgust,
Filed off"the sifted chaff of the sack," I said,
Redoubling my endeavours to secure
The rest. When lo! one man had tarried so long
Only to ascertain if I supported
This tenet of his, or that; another loved
To hear impartially before he judged,
And having heard, now judged; this bland disciple
Passed for my dupe, but all along, it seems,
Spied error where his neighbours marvelled most;
That fiery doctor who had hailed me friend,
Did it because my by-paths, once proved wrong
And beaconed properly, would commend again
The good old ways our sires jogged safely o'er,
Though not their squeamish sons; the other worthy
Discovered divers verses of St. John,
Which, read successively, refreshed the soul,
But, muttered backwards, cured the gout, the stone,
The colic and what not. Quid multa? The end
Was a clear class-room, and a quiet leer
From grave folk, and a sour reproachful glance
From those in chief who, cap in hand, installed
The new professor scarce a year before;
And a vast flourish about patient merit
Obscured awhile by flashy tricks, but sure
Sooner or later to emerge in splendour
Of which the example was some luckless wight
Whom my arrival had discomfited,
But now, it seems, the general voice recalled
To fill my chair and so efface the stain
Basil had long incurred. I sought no better,
Only a quiet dismissal from my post,
And from my heart I wished them better suited
And better served. Good night to Basil, then!
But fast as I proposed to rid the tribe
Of my obnoxious back, I could not spare them
The pleasure of a parting kick.
Festus.
                 You smile:
Despise them as they merit!
Paracelsus.
               If I smile,
'T is with as very contempt as ever turned
Flesh into stone. This courteous recompense,
This grateful . . . Festus, were your nature fit
To be defiled, your eyes the eyes to ache
At gangrene-blotches, eating poison-blains,
The ulcerous barky scurf of leprosy
Which findsa man, and leavesa hideous thing
That cannot but be mended by hell fire,
I would lay bare to you the human heart
Which God cursed long ago, and devils make since
Their pet nest and their never-tiring home.
Oh, sages have discovered we are born
For various endsto love, to know: has ever
One stumbled, in his search, on any signs
Of a nature in us formed to hate? To hate?
If that be our true object which evokes
Our powers in fullest strength, be sure 't is hate!
Yet men have doubted if the best and bravest
Of spirits can nourish him with hate alone.
I had not the monopoly of fools,
It seems, at Basil.
Festus.
          But your plans, your plans!
I have yet to learn your purpose, Aureole!
Paracelsus.
Whether to sink beneath such ponderous shame,
To shrink up like a crushed snail, undergo
In silence and desist from further toil,
and so subside into a monument
Of one their censure blasted? or to bow
Cheerfully as submissively, to lower
My old pretensions even as Basil dictates,
To drop into the rank her wits assign me
And live as they prescribe, and make that use
Of my poor knowledge which their rules allow,
Proud to be patted now and then, and careful
To practise the true posture for receiving
The amplest benefit from their hoofs' appliance
When they shall condescend to tutor me?
Then, one may feel resentment like a flame
Within, and deck false systems in truth's garb,
And tangle and entwine mankind with error,
And give them darkness for a dower and falsehood
For a possession, ages: or one may mope
Into a shade through thinking, or else drowse
Into a dreamless sleep and so die off.
But I,now Festus shall divine!but I
Am merely setting out once more, embracing
My earliest aims again! What thinks he now?
Festus.
Your aims? the aims?to Know? and where is found
The early trust . . .
Paracelsus.
           Nay, not so fast; I say,
The aimsnot the old means. You know they made me
A laughing-stock; I was a fool; you know
The when and the how: hardly those means again!
Not but they had their beauty; who should know
Their passing beauty, if not I? Still, dreams
They were, so let them vanish, yet in beauty
If that may be. Stay: thus they pass in song!
[He sings.
Heap cassia, sandal-buds and stripes
Of labdanum, and aloe-balls,
Smeared with dull nard an Indian wipes
From out her hair: such balsam falls
Down sea-side mountain pedestals,
From tree-tops where tired winds are fain,
Spent with the vast and howling main,
To treasure half their island-gain.
And strew faint sweetness from some old
Egyptian's fine worm-eaten shroud
Which breaks to dust when once unrolled;
Or shredded perfume, like a cloud
From closet long to quiet vowed,
With mothed and dropping arras hung,
Mouldering her lute and books among,
As when a queen, long dead, was young.
Mine, every word! And on such pile shall die
My lovely fancies, with fair perished things,
Themselves fair and forgotten; yes, forgotten,
Or why abjure them? So, I made this rhyme
That fitting dignity might be preserved;
No little proud was I; though the list of drugs
Smacks of my old vocation, and the verse
Halts like the best of Luther's psalms.
Festus.
                     But, Aureole,
Talk not thus wildly and madly. I am here
Did you know all! I have travelled far, indeed,
To learn your wishes. Be yourself again!
For in this mood I recognize you less
Than in the horrible despondency
I witnessed last. You may account this, joy;
But rather let me gaze on that despair
Than hear these incoherent words and see
This flushed cheek and intensely-sparkling eye.
Paracelsus.
Why, man, I was light-hearted in my prime
I am light-hearted now; what would you have?
Aprile was a poet, I make songs
'T is the very augury of success I want!
Why should I not be joyous now as then?
Festus.
Joyous! and how? and what remains for joy?
You have declared the ends (which I am sick
Of naming) are impracticable.
Paracelsus.
               Ay,
Pursued as I pursued themthe arch-fool!
Listen: my plan will please you not, 't is like,
But you are little versed in the world's ways.
This is my plan(first drinking its good luck)
I will accept all helps; all I despised
So rashly at the outset, equally
With early impulses, late years have quenched:
I have tried each way singly: now for both!
All helps! no one sort shall exclude the rest.
I seek to know and to enjoy at once,
Not one without the other as before.
Suppose my labour should seem God's own cause
Once more, as first I dreamed,it shall not baulk me
Of the meanest earthliest sensualest delight
That may be snatched; for every joy is gain,
And gain is gain, however small. My soul
Can die then, nor be taunted"what was gained?"
Nor, on the other hand, should pleasure follow
As though I had not spurned her hitherto,
Shall she o'ercloud my spirit's rapt communion
With the tumultuous past, the teeming future,
Glorious with visions of a full success.
Festus.
Success!
Paracelsus.
    And wherefore not? Why not prefer
Results obtained in my best state of being,
To those derived alone from seasons dark
As the thoughts they bred? When I was best, my youth
Unwasted, seemed success not surest too?
It is the nature of darkness to obscure.
I am a wanderer: I remember well
One journey, how I feared the track was missed,
So long the city I desired to reach
Lay hid; when suddenly its spires afar
Flashed through the circling clouds; you may conceive
My transport. Soon the vapours closed again,
But I had seen the city, and one such glance
No darkness could obscure: nor shall the present
A few dull hours, a passing shame or two,
Destroy the vivid memories of the past.
I will fight the battle out; a little spent
Perhaps, but still an able combatant.
You look at my grey hair and furrowed brow?
But I can turn even weakness to account:
Of many tricks I know, 't is not the least
To push the ruins of my frame, whereon
The fire of vigour trembles scarce alive,
Into a heap, and send the flame aloft.
What should I do with age? So, sickness lends
An aid; it being, I fear, the source of all
We boast of: mind is nothing but disease,
And natural health is ignorance.
Festus.
                 I see
But one good symptom in this notable scheme.
I feared your sudden journey had in view
To wreak immediate vengeance on your foes
'T is not so: I am glad.
Paracelsus.
             And if I please
To spit on them, to trample them, what then?
'T is sorry warfare truly, but the fools
Provoke it. I would spare their self-conceit
But if they must provoke me, cannot suffer
Forbearance on my part, if I may keep
No quality in the shade, must needs put forth
Power to match power, my strength against their strength,
And teach them their own game with their own arms
Why, be it so and let them take their chance!
I am above them like a god, there's no
Hiding the fact: what idle scruples, then,
Were those that ever bade me soften it,
Communicate it gently to the world,
Instead of proving my supremacy,
Taking my natural station o'er their head,
Then owning all the glory was a man's!
And in my elevation man's would be.
But live and learn, though life's short, learning, hard!
And therefore, though the wreck of my past self,
I fear, dear Ptter, that your lecture-room
Must wait awhile for its best ornament,
The penitent empiric, who set up
For somebody, but soon was taught his place;
Now, but too happy to be let confess
His error, snuff the candles, and illustrate
(Fiat experientia corpore vili)
Your medicine's soundness in his person. Wait,
Good Ptter!
Festus.
      He who sneers thus, is a god!
      Paracelsus.
Ay, ay, laugh at me! I am very glad
You are not gulled by all this swaggering; you
Can see the root of the matter!how I strive
To put a good face on the overthrow
I have experienced, and to bury and hide
My degradation in its length and breadth;
How the mean motives I would make you think
Just mingle as is due with nobler aims,
The appetites I modestly allow
May influence me as being mortal still
Do goad me, drive me on, and fast supplant
My youth's desires. You are no stupid dupe:
You find me out! Yes, I had sent for you
To palm these childish lies upon you, Festus!
Laughyou shall laugh at me!
Festus.
               The past, then, Aureole,
Proves nothing? Is our interchange of love
Yet to begin? Have I to swear I mean
No flattery in this speech or that? For you,
Whate'er you say, there is no degradation;
These low thoughts are no inmates of your mind,
Or wherefore this disorder? You are vexed
As much by the intrusion of base views,
Familiar to your adversaries, as they
Were troubled should your qualities alight
Amid their murky souls; not otherwise,
A stray wolf which the winter forces down
From our bleak hills, suffices to affright
A village in the valeswhile foresters
Sleep calm, though all night long the famished troop
Snuff round and scratch against their crazy huts.
These evil thoughts are monsters, and will flee.
Paracelsus.
May you be happy, Festus, my own friend!
Festus.
Nay, further; the delights you fain would think
The superseders of your nobler aims,
Though ordinary and harmless stimulants,
Will ne'er content you. . . .
Paracelsus.
               Hush! I once despised them,
But that soon passes. We are high at first
In our demand, nor will abate a jot
Of toil's strict value; but time passes o'er,
And humbler spirits accept what we refuse:
In short, when some such comfort is doled out
As these delights, we cannot long retain
Bitter contempt which urges us at first
To hurl it back, but hug it to our breast
And thankfully retire. This life of mine
Must be lived out and a grave thoroughly earned:
I am just fit for that and nought beside.
I told you once, I cannot now enjoy,
Unless I deem my knowledge gains through joy;
Nor can I know, but straight warm tears reveal
My need of linking also joy to knowledge:
So, on I drive, enjoying all I can,
And knowing all I can. I speak, of course,
Confusedly; this will better explainfeel here!
Quick beating, is it not?a fire of the heart
To work off some way, this as well as any.
So, Festus sees me fairly launched; his calm
Compassionate look might have disturbed me once,
But now, far from rejecting, I invite
What bids me press the closer, lay myself
Open before him, and be soothed with pity;
I hope, if he command hope, and believe
As he directs mesatiating myself
With his enduring love. And Festus quits me
To give place to some credulous disciple
Who holds that God is wise, but Paracelsus
Has his peculiar merits: I suck in
That homage, chuckle o'er that admiration,
And then dismiss the fool; for night is come.
And I betake myself to study again,
Till patient searchings after hidden lore
Half wring some bright truth from its prison; my frame
Trembles, my forehead's veins swell out, my hair
Tingles for triumph. Slow and sure the morn
Shall break on my pent room and dwindling lamp
And furnace dead, and scattered earths and ores;
When, with a failing heart and throbbing brow,
I must review my captured truth, sum up
Its value, trace what ends to what begins,
Its present power with its eventual bearings,
Latent affinities, the views it opens,
And its full length in perfecting my scheme.
I view it sternly circumscribed, cast down
From the high place my fond hopes yielded it,
Proved worthlesswhich, in getting, yet had cost
Another wrench to this fast-falling frame.
Then, quick, the cup to quaff, that chases sorrow!
I lapse back into youth, and take again
My fluttering pulse for evidence that God
Means good to me, will make my cause his own.
See! I have cast off this remorseless care
Which clogged a spirit born to soar so free,
And my dim chamber has become a tent,
Festus is sitting by me, and his Michal . . .
Why do you start? I say, she listening here,
(For yonderWrzburg through the orchard-bough!)
Motions as though such ardent words should find
No echo in a maiden's quiet soul,
But her pure bosom heaves, her eyes fill fast
With tears, her sweet lips tremble all the while!
Ha, ha!
Festus.
   It seems, then, you expect to reap
No unreal joy from this your present course,
But rather . . .
Paracelsus.
         Death! To die! I owe that much
To what, at least, I was. I should be sad
To live contented after such a fall,
To thrive and fatten after such reverse!
The whole plan is a makeshift, but will last
My time.
Festus.
    And you have never mused and said,
"I had a noble purpose, and the strength
"To compass it; but I have stopped half-way,
"And wrongly given the first-fruits of my toil
"To objects little worthy of the gift.
"Why linger round them still? why clench my fault?
"Why seek for consolation in defeat,
"In vain endeavours to derive a beauty
"From ugliness? why seek to make the most
"Of what no power can change, nor strive instead
"With mighty effort to redeem the past
"And, gathering up the treasures thus cast down,
"To hold a steadfast course till I arrive
"At their fit destination and my own?"
You have never pondered thus?
Paracelsus.
               Have I, you ask?
Often at midnight, when most fancies come,
Would some such airy project visit me:
But ever at the end . . . or will you hear
The same thing in a tale, a parable?
You and I, wandering over the world wide,
Chance to set foot upon a desert coast.
Just as we cry, "No human voice before
"Broke the inveterate silence of these rocks!"
Their querulous echo startles us; we turn:
What ravaged structure still looks o'er the sea?
Some characters remain, too! While we read,
The sharp salt wind, impatient for the last
Of even this record, wistfully comes and goes,
Or sings what we recover, mocking it.
This is the record; and my voice, the wind's.
[He sings.
Over the sea our galleys went,
With cleaving prows in order brave
To a speeding wind and a bounding wave,
A gallant armament:
Each bark built out of a forest-tree
Left leafy and rough as first it grew,
And nailed all over the gaping sides,
Within and without, with black bull-hides,
Seethed in fat and suppled in flame,
To bear the playful billows' game:
So, each good ship was rude to see,
Rude and bare to the outward view,
But each upbore a stately tent
Where cedar pales in scented row
Kept out the flakes of the dancing brine,
And an awning drooped the mast below,
In fold on fold of the purple fine,
That neither noontide nor starshine
Nor moonlight cold which maketh mad,
Might pierce the regal tenement.
When the sun dawned, oh, gay and glad
We set the sail and plied the oar;
But when the night-wind blew like breath,
For joy of one day's voyage more,
We sang together on the wide sea,
Like men at peace on a peaceful shore;
Each sail was loosed to the wind so free,
Each helm made sure by the twilight star,
And in a sleep as calm as death,
We, the voyagers from afar,
Lay stretched along, each weary crew
In a circle round its wondrous tent
Whence gleamed soft light and curled rich scent,
And with light and perfume, music too:
So the stars wheeled round, and the darkness past,
And at morn we started beside the mast,
And still each ship was sailing fast.
Now, one morn, land appeareda speck
Dim trembling betwixt sea and sky:
"Avoid it," cried our pilot, "check
"The shout, restrain the eager eye!"
But the heaving sea was black behind
For many a night and many a day,
And land, though but a rock, drew nigh;
So, we broke the cedar pales away,
Let the purple awning flap in the wind,
And a statute bright was on every deck!
We shouted, every man of us,
And steered right into the harbour thus,
With pomp and pan glorious.
A hundred shapes of lucid stone!
All day we built its shrine for each,
A shrine of rock for every one,
Nor paused till in the westering sun
We sat together on the beach
To sing because our task was done.
When lo! what shouts and merry songs!
What laughter all the distance stirs!
A loaded raft with happy throngs
Of gentle islanders!
"Our isles are just at hand," they cried,
"Like cloudlets faint in even sleeping
"Our temple-gates are opened wide,
"Our olive-groves thick shade are keeping
"For these majestic forms"they cried.
Oh, then we awoke with sudden start
From our deep dream, and knew, too late,
How bare the rock, how desolate,
Which had received our precious freight:
Yet we called out"Depart!
"Our gifts, once given, must here abide.
"Our work is done; we have no heart
"To mar our work,"we cried.
Festus.
In truth?
Paracelsus.
     Nay, wait: all this in tracings faint
On rugged stones strewn here and there, but piled
In order once: then followsmark what follows!
"The sad rhyme of the men who proudly clung
"To their first fault, and withered in their pride."
Festus.
Come back then, Aureole; as you fear God, come!
This is foul sin; come back! Renounce the past,
Forswear the future; look for joy no more,
But wait death's summons amid holy sights,
And trust me for the eventpeace, if not joy.
Return with me to Einsiedeln, dear Aureole!
Paracelsus.
No way, no way! it would not turn to good.
A spotless child sleeps on the flowering moss
'T is well for him; but when a sinful man,
Envying such slumber, may desire to put
His guilt away, shall he return at once
To rest by lying there? Our sires knew well
(Spite of the grave discoveries of their sons)
The fitting course for such: dark cells, dim lamps,
A stone floor one may writhe on like a worm:
No mossy pillow blue with violets!
Festus.
I see no symptom of these absolute
And tyrannous passions. You are calmer now.
This verse-making can purge you well enough
Without the terrible penance you describe.
You love me still: the lusts you fear will never
Outrage your friend. To Einsiedeln, once more!
Say but the word!
Paracelsus.
         No, no; those lusts forbid:
They crouch, I know, cowering with half-shut eye
Beside you; 't is their nature. Thrust yourself
Between them and their prey; let some fool style me
Or king or quack, it matters notthen try
Your wisdom, urge them to forego their treat!
No, no; learn better and look deeper, Festus!
If you knew how a devil sneers within me
While you are talking now of this, now that,
As though we differed scarcely save in trifles!
Festus.
Do we so differ? True, change must proceed,
Whether for good or ill; keep from me, which!
Do not confide all secrets: I was born
To hope, and you . . .
Paracelsus.
           To trust: you know the fruits!
           Festus.
Listen: I do believe, what you call trust
Was self-delusion at the best: for, see!
So long as God would kindly pioneer
A path for you, and screen you from the world,
Procure you full exemption from man's lot,
Man's common hopes and fears, on the mere pretext
Of your engagement in his serviceyield you
A limitless licence, make you God, in fact,
And turn your slaveyou were content to say
Most courtly praises! What is it, at last,
But selfishness without example? None
Could trace God's will so plain as you, while yours
Remained implied in it; but now you fail,
And we, who prate about that will, are fools!
In short, God's service is established here
As he determines fit, and not your way,
And this you cannot brook. Such discontent
Is weak. Renounce all creatureship at once!
Affirm an absolute right to have and use
Your energies; as though the rivers should say
"We rush to the ocean; what have we to do
"With feeding streamlets, lingering in the vales,
"Sleeping in lazy pools?" Set up that plea,
That will be bold at least!
Paracelsus.
               'T is like enough.
The serviceable spirits are those, no doubt,
The East produces: lo, the master bids,
They wake, raise terraces and garden-grounds
In one night's space; and, this done, straight begin
Another century's sleep, to the great praise
Of him that framed them wise and beautiful,
Till a lamp's rubbing, or some chance akin,
Wake them again. I am of different mould.
I would have soothed my lord, and slaved for him
And done him service past my narrow bond,
And thus I get rewarded for my pains!
Beside, 't is vain to talk of forwarding
God's glory otherwise; this is alone
The sphere of its increase, as far as men
Increase it; why, then, look beyond this sphere?
We are his glory; and if we be glorious,
Is not the thing achieved?
Festus.
              Shall one like me
Judge hearts like yours? Though years have changed you much,
And you have left your first love, and retain
Its empty shade to veil your crooked ways,
Yet I still hold that you have honoured God.
And who shall call your course without reward?
For, wherefore this repining at defeat
Had triumph ne'er inured you to high hopes?
I urge you to forsake the life you curse,
And what success attends me?simply talk
Of passion, weakness and remorse; in short,
Anything but the naked truthyou choose
This so-despised career, and cheaply hold
My happiness, or rather other men's.
Once more, return!
Paracelsus.
         And quickly. John the thief
Has pilfered half my secrets by this time:
And we depart by daybreak. I am weary,
I know not how; not even the wine-cup soothes
My brain to-night . . .
Do you not thoroughly despise me, Festus?
No flattery! One like you needs not be told
We live and breathe deceiving and deceived.
Do you not scorn me from your heart of hearts,
Me and my cant, each petty subterfuge,
My rhymes and all this frothy shower of words,
My glozing self-deceit, my outward crust
Of lies which wrap, as tetter, morphew, furfair
Wrapt the sound flesh?so, see you flatter not!
Even God flatters: but my friend, at least,
Is true. I would depart, secure henceforth
Against all further insult, hate and wrong
From puny foes; my one friend's scorn shall brand me:
No fear of sinking deeper!
Festus.
              No, dear Aureole!
No, no; I came to counsel faithfully.
There are old rules, made long ere we were born,
By which I judge you. I, so fallible,
So infinitely low beside your mighty
Majestic spirit!even I can see
You own some higher law than ours which call
Sin, what is no sinweakness, what is strength.
But I have only these, such as they are,
To guide me; and I blame you where they bid,
Only so long as blaming promises
To win peace for your soul: the more, that sorrow
Has fallen on me of late, and they have helped me
So that I faint not under my distress.
But wherefore should I scruple to avow
In spite of all, as brother judging brother,
Your fate is most inexplicable to me?
And should you perish without recompense
And satisfaction yettoo hastily
I have relied on love: you may have sinned,
But you have loved. As a mere human matter
As I would have God deal with fragile men
In the endI say that you will triumph yet!
Paracelsus.
Have you felt sorrow, Festus?'t is because
You love me. Sorrow, and sweet Michal yours!
Well thought on: never let her know this last
Dull winding-up of all: these miscreants dared
Insult meme she loved:so, grieve her not!
Festus.
Your ill success can little grieve her now.
Paracelsus.
Michal is dead! pray Christ we do not craze!
Festus.
Aureole, dear Aureole, look not on me thus!
Fool, fool! this is the heart grown sorrow-proof
I cannot bear those eyes.
Paracelsus.
             Nay, really dead?
             Festus.
'T is scarce a month.
Paracelsus.
           Stone dead!then you have laid her
Among the flowers ere this. Now, do you know,
I can reveal a secret which shall comfort
Even you. I have no julep, as men think,
To cheat the grave; but a far better secret.
Know, then, you did not ill to trust your love
To the cold earth: I have thought much of it:
For I believe we do not wholly die.
Festus.
Aureole!
Paracelsus.
    Nay, do not laugh; there is a reason
For what I say: I think the soul can never
Taste death. I am, just now, as you may see,
Very unfit to put so strange a thought
In an intelligible dress of words;
But take it as my trust, she is not dead.
Festus.
But not on this account alone? you surely,
Aureole, you have believed this all along?
Paracelsus.
And Michal sleeps among the roots and dews,
While I am moved at Basil, and full of schemes
For Nuremberg, and hoping and despairing,
As though it mattered how the farce plays out,
So it be quickly played. Away, away!
Have your will, rabble! while we fight the prize,
Troop you in safety to the snug back-seats
And leave a clear arena for the brave
About to perish for your sport!Behold!


~ Robert Browning, Paracelsus - Part IV - Paracelsus Aspires
,
550:Scene. Wrzburg; a garden in the environs. 1512.
Festus, Paracelsus, Michal.
Paracelsus.
Come close to me, dear friends; still closer; thus!
Close to the heart which, though long time roll by
Ere it again beat quicker, pressed to yours,
As now it beatsperchance a long, long time
At least henceforth your memories shall make
Quiet and fragrant as befits their home.
Nor shall my memory want a home in yours
Alas, that it requires too well such free
Forgiving love as shall embalm it there!
For if you would remember me aright,
As I was born to be, you must forget
All fitful strange and moody waywardness
Which e'er confused my better spirit, to dwell
Only on moments such as these, dear friends!
My heart no truer, but my words and ways
More true to it: as Michal, some months hence,
Will say, "this autumn was a pleasant time,"
For some few sunny days; and overlook
Its bleak wind, hankering after pining leaves.
Autumn would fain be sunny; I would look
Liker my nature's truth: and both are frail,
And both beloved, for all our frailty.
Michal.
                     Aureole!
                     Paracelsus.
Drop by drop! she is weeping like a child!
Not so! I am contentmore than content;
Nay, autumn wins you best by this its mute
Appeal to sympathy for its decay:
Look up, sweet Michal, nor esteem the less
Your stained and drooping vines their grapes bow down,
Nor blame those creaking trees bent with their fruit,
That apple-tree with a rare after-birth
Of peeping blooms sprinkled its wealth among!
Then for the windswhat wind that ever raved
Shall vex that ash which overlooks you both,
So proud it wears its berries? Ah, at length,
The old smile meet for her, the lady of this
Sequestered nest!this kingdom, limited
Alone by one old populous green wall
Tenanted by the ever-busy flies,
Grey crickets and shy lizards and quick spiders,
Each family of the silver-threaded moss
Which, look through near, this way, and it appears
A stubble-field or a cane-brake, a marsh
Of bulrush whitening in the sun: laugh now!
Fancy the crickets, each one in his house,
Looking out, wondering at the worldor best,
Yon painted snail with his gay shell of dew,
Travelling to see the glossy balls high up
Hung by the caterpillar, like gold lamps.
Michal.
In truth we have lived carelessly and well.
Paracelsus.
And shall, my perfect pair!each, trust me, born
For the other; nay, your very hair, when mixed,
Is of one hue. For where save in this nook
Shall you two walk, when I am far away,
And wish me prosperous fortune? Stay: that plant
Shall never wave its tangles lightly and softly,
As a queen's languid and imperial arm
Which scatters crowns among her lovers, but you
Shall be reminded to predict to me
Some great success! Ah see, the sun sinks broad
Behind Saint Saviour's: wholly gone, at last!
Festus.
Now, Aureole, stay those wandering eyes awhile!
You are ours to-night, at least; and while you spoke
Of Michal and her tears, I thought that none
Could willing leave what he so seemed to love:
But that last look destroys my dreamthat look
As if, where'er you gazed, there stood a star!
How far was Wrzburg with its church and spire
And garden-walls and all things they contain,
From that look's far alighting?
Paracelsus.
                 I but spoke
And looked alike from simple joy to see
The beings I love best, shut in so well
From all rude chances like to be my lot,
That, when afar, my weary spirit,disposed
To lose awhile its care in soothing thoughts
Of them, their pleasant features, looks and words,
Needs never hesitate, nor apprehend
Encroaching trouble may have reached them too,
Nor have recourse to fancy's busy aid
And fashion even a wish in their behalf
Beyond what they possess already here;
But, unobstructed, may at once forget
Itself in them, assured how well they fare.
Beside, this Festus knows he holds me one
Whom quiet and its charms arrest in vain,
One scarce aware of all the joys I quit,
Too filled with airy hopes to make account
Of soft delights his own heart garners up:
Whereas behold how much our sense of all
That's beauteous proves alike! When Festus learns
That every common pleasure of the world
Affects me as himself; that I have just
As varied appetite for joy derived
From common things; a stake in life, in short,
Like his; a stake which rash pursuit of aims
That life affords not, would as soon destroy;
He may convince himself that, this in view,
I shall act well advised. And last, because,
Though heaven and earth and all things were at stake,
Sweet Michal must not weep, our parting eve.
Festus.
True: and the eve is deepening, and we sit
As little anxious to begin our talk
As though to-morrow I could hint of it
As we paced arm-in-arm the cheerful town
At sun-dawn; or could whisper it by fits
(Trithemius busied with his class the while)
In that dim chamber where the noon-streaks peer
Half-frightened by the awful tomes around;
Or in some grassy lane unbosom all
From even-blush to midnight: but, to-morrow!
Have I full leave to tell my inmost mind?
We have been brothers, and henceforth the world
Will rise between us:all my freest mind?
'T is the last night, dear Aureole!
Paracelsus.
                   Oh, say on!
Devise some test of love, some arduous feat
To be performed for you: say on! If night
Be spent the while, the better! Recall how oft
My wondrous plans and dreams and hopes and fears
Havenever wearied you, oh no!as I
Recall, and never vividly as now,
Your true affection, born when Einsiedeln
And its green hills were all the world to us;
And still increasing to this night which ends
My further stay at Wrzburg. Oh, one day
You shall be very proud! Say on, dear friends!
Festus.
In truth? 'T is for my proper peace, indeed,
Rather than yours; for vain all projects seem
To stay your course: I said my latest hope
Is fading even now. A story tells
Of some far embassy despatched to win
The favour of an eastern king, and how
The gifts they offered proved but dazzling dust
Shed from the ore-beds native to his clime.
Just so, the value of repose and love,
I meant should tempt you, better far than I
You seem to comprehend; and yet desist
No whit from projects where repose nor love
Has part.
Paracelsus.
     Once more? Alas! As I foretold.
     Festus.
A solitary briar the bank puts forth
To save our swan's nest floating out to sea.
Paracelsus.
Dear Festus, hear me. What is it you wish?
That I should lay aside my heart's pursuit,
Abandon the sole ends for which I live,
Reject God's great commission, and so die!
You bid me listen for your true love's sake:
Yet how has grown that love? Even in a long
And patient cherishing of the self-same spirit
It now would quell; as though a mother hoped
To stay the lusty manhood of the child
Once weak upon her knees. I was not born
Informed and fearless from the first, but shrank
From aught which marked me out apart from men:
I would have lived their life, and died their death,
Lost in their ranks, eluding destiny:
But you first guided me through doubt and fear,
Taught me to know mankind and know myself;
And now that I am strong and full of hope,
That, from my soul, I can reject all aims
Save those your earnest words made plain to me,
Now that I touch the brink of my design,
When I would have a triumph in their eyes,
A glad cheer in their voicesMichal weeps,
And Festus ponders gravely!
Festus.
               When you deign
To hear my purpose . . .
Paracelsus.
             Hear it? I can say
Beforehand all this evening's conference!
'T is this way, Michal, that he uses: first,
Or he declares, or I, the leading points
Of our best scheme of life, what is man's end
And what God's will; no two faiths e'er agreed
As his with mine. Next, each of us allows
Faith should be acted on as best we may;
Accordingly, I venture to submit
My plan, in lack of better, for pursuing
The path which God's will seems to authorize.
Well, he discerns much good in it, avows
This motive worthy, that hope plausible,
A danger here to be avoided, there
An oversight to be repaired: in fine
Our two minds go togetherall the good
Approved by him, I gladly recognize,
All he counts bad, I thankfully discard,
And nought forbids my looking up at last
For some stray comfort in his cautious brow.
When, lo! I learn that, spite of all, there lurks
Some innate and inexplicable germ
Of failure in my scheme; so that at last
It all amounts to thisthe sovereign proof
That we devote ourselves to God, is seen
In living just as though no God there were;
A life which, prompted by the sad and blind
Folly of man, Festus abhors the most;
But which these tenets sanctify at once,
Though to less subtle wits it seems the same,
Consider it how they may.
Michal.
             Is it so, Festus
He speaks so calmly and kindly: is it so?
Paracelsus.
Reject those glorious visions of God's love
And man's design; laugh loud that God should send
Vast longings to direct us; say how soon
Power satiates these, or lust, or gold; I know
The world's cry well, and how to answer it.
But this ambiguous warfare . . .
Festus.
                 . . . Wearies so
That you will grant no last leave to your friend
To urge it?for his sake, not yours? I wish
To send my soul in good hopes after you;
Never to sorrow that uncertain words
Erringly apprehended, a new creed
Ill understood, begot rash trust in you,
Had share in your undoing.
Paracelsus.
              Choose your side,
Hold or renounce: but meanwhile blame me not
Because I dare to act on your own views,
Nor shrink when they point onward, nor espy
A peril where they most ensure success.
Festus.
Prove that to mebut that! Prove you abide
Within their warrant, nor presumptuous boast
God's labour laid on you; prove, all you covet
A mortal may expect; and, most of all,
Prove the strange course you now affect, will lead
To its attainmentand I bid you speed,
Nay, count the minutes till you venture forth!
You smile; but I had gathered from slow thought
Much musing on the fortunes of my friend
Matter I deemed could not be urged in vain;
But it all leaves me at my need: in shreds
And fragments I must venture what remains.
Michal.
Ask at once, Festus, wherefore he should scorn . . .
Festus.
Stay, Michal: Aureole, I speak guardedly
And gravely, knowing well, whate'er your error,
This is no ill-considered choice of yours,
No sudden fancy of an ardent boy.
Not from your own confiding words alone
Am I aware your passionate heart long since
Gave birth to, nourished and at length matures
This scheme. I will not speak of Einsiedeln,
Where I was born your elder by some years
Only to watch you fully from the first:
In all beside, our mutual tasks were fixed
Even then't was mine to have you in my view
As you had your own soul and those intents
Which filled it when, to crown your dearest wish,
With a tumultuous heart, you left with me
Our childhood's home to join the favoured few
Whom, here, Trithemius condescends to teach
A portion of his lore: and not one youth
Of those so favoured, whom you now despise,
Came earnest as you came, resolved, like you,
To grasp all, and retain all, and deserve
By patient toil a wide renown like his.
Now, this new ardour which supplants the old
I watched, too; 't was significant and strange,
In one matched to his soul's content at length
With rivals in the search for wisdom's prize,
To see the sudden pause, the total change;
From contest, the transition to repose
From pressing onward as his fellows pressed,
To a blank idleness, yet most unlike
The dull stagnation of a soul, content,
Once foiled, to leave betimes a thriveless quest.
That careless bearing, free from all pretence
Even of contempt for what it ceased to seek
Smiling humility, praising much, yet waiving
What it professed to praisethough not so well
Maintained but that rare outbreaks, fierce and brief,
Revealed the hidden scorn, as quickly curbed.
That ostentatious show of past defeat,
That ready acquiescence in contempt,
I deemed no other than the letting go
His shivered sword, of one about to spring
Upon his foe's throat; but it was not thus:
Not that way looked your brooding purpose then.
For after-signs disclosed, what you confirmed,
That you prepared to task to the uttermost
Your strength, in furtherance of a certain aim
Whichwhile it bore the name your rivals gave
Their own most puny effortswas so vast
In scope that it included their best flights,
Combined them, and desired to gain one prize
In place of many,the secret of the world,
Of man, and man's true purpose, path and fate.
That you, not nursing as a mere vague dream
This purpose, with the sages of the past,
Have struck upon a way to this, if all
You trust be true, which following, heart and soul,
You, if a man may, dare aspire to know:
And that this aim shall differ from a host
Of aims alike in character and kind,
Mostly in this,that in itself alone
Shall its reward be, not an alien end
Blending therewith; no hope nor fear nor joy
Nor woe, to elsewhere move you, but this pure
Devotion to sustain you or betray:
Thus you aspire.
Paracelsus.
         You shall not state it thus:
I should not differ from the dreamy crew
You speak of. I profess no other share
In the selection of my lot, than this
My ready answer to the will of God
Who summons me to be his organ. All
Whose innate strength supports them shall succeed
No better than the sages.
Festus.
             Such the aim, then,
God sets before you; and't is doubtless need
That he appoint no less the way of praise
Than the desire to praise; for, though I hold
With you, the setting forth such praise to be
The natural end and service of a man,
And hold such praise is best attained when man
Attains the general welfare of his kind
Yet this, the end, is not the instrument.
Presume not to serve God apart from such
Appointed channel as he wills shall gather
Imperfect tributes, for that sole obedience
Valued perchance! He seeks not that his altars
Blaze, careless how, so that they do but blaze.
Suppose this, then; that God selected you
To know (heed well your answers, for my faith
Shall meet implicitly what they affirm)
I cannot think you dare annex to such
Selection aught beyond a steadfast will,
An intense hope; nor let your gifts create
Scorn or neglect of ordinary means
Conducive to success, make destiny
Dispense with man's endeavour. Now, dare you search
Your inmost heart, and candidly avow
Whether you have not rather wild desire
For this distinction than security
Of its existence? whether you discern
The path to the fulfilment of your purpose
Clear as that purposeand again, that purpose
Clear as your yearning to be singled out
For its pursuer. Dare you answer this?
Paracelsus
[after a pause].
No, I have nought to fear! Who will may know
The secret'st workings of my soul. What though
It be so?if indeed the strong desire
Eclipse the aim in me?if splendour break
Upon the outset of my path alone,
And duskest shade succeed? What fairer seal
Shall I require to my authentic mission
Than this fierce energy?this instinct striving
Because its nature is to strive?enticed
By the security of no broad course,
Without success forever in its eyes!
How know I else such glorious fate my own,
But in the restless irresistible force
That works within me? Is it for human will
To institute such impulses?still less,
To disregard their promptings! What should I
Do, kept among you all; your loves, your cares,
Your lifeall to be mine? Be sure that God
Ne'er dooms to waste the strength he deigns impart!
Ask the geier-eagle why she stoops at once
Into the vast and unexplored abyss,
What full-grown power informs her from the first,
Why she not marvels, strenuously beating
The silent boundless regions of the sky!
Be sure they sleep not whom God needs! Nor fear
Their holding light his charge, when every hour
That finds that charge delayed, is a new death.
This for the faith in which I trust; and hence
I can abjure so well the idle arts
These pedants strive to learn and teach; Black Arts,
Great Works, the Secret and Sublime, forsooth
Let others prize: too intimate a tie
Connects me with our God! A sullen fiend
To do my bidding, fallen and hateful sprites
To help mewhat are these, at best, beside
God helping, God directing everywhere,
So that the earth shall yield her secrets up,
And every object there be charged to strike,
Teach, gratify her master God appoints?
And I am young, my Festus, happy and free!
I can devote myself; I have a life
To give; I, singled out for this, the One!
Think, think! the wide East, where all Wisdom sprung;
The bright South, where she dwelt; the hopeful North,
All are passed o'erit lights on me! 'T is time
New hopes should animate the world, new light
Should dawn from new revealings to a race
Weighed down so long, forgotten so long; thus shall
The heaven reserved for us at last receive
Creatures whom no unwonted splendours blind,
But ardent to confront the unclouded blaze.
Whose beams not seldom blessed their pilgrimage,
Not seldom glorified their life below.
Festus.
My words have their old fate and make faint stand
Against your glowing periods. Call this, truth
Why not pursue it in a fast retreat,
Some one of Learning's many palaces,
After approved example?seeking there
Calm converse with the great dead, soul to soul,
Who laid up treasure with the like intent
So lift yourself into their airy place,
And fill out full their unfulfilled careers,
Unravelling the knots their baffled skill
Pronounced inextricable, true!but left
Far less confused. A fresh eye, a fresh hand,
Might do much at their vigour's waning-point;
Succeeding with new-breathed new-hearted force,
As at old games the runner snatched the torch
From runner still: this way success might be.
But you have coupled with your enterprise,
An arbitrary self-repugnant scheme
Of seeking it in strange and untried paths.
What books are in the desert? Writes the sea
The secret of her yearning in vast caves
Where yours will fall the first of human feet?
Has wisdom sat there and recorded aught
You press to read? Why turn aside from her
To visit, where her vesture never glanced,
Nowsolitudes consigned to barrenness
By God's decree, which who shall dare impugn?
Nowruins where she paused but would not stay,
Old ravaged cities that, renouncing her,
She called an endless curse on, so it came:
Or worst of all, nowmen you visit, men,
Ignoblest troops who never heard her voice
Or hate it, men without one gift from Rome
Or Athens,these shall Aureole's teachers be!
Rejecting past example, practice, precept,
Aidless'mid these he thinks to stand alone:
Thick like a glory round the Stagirite
Your rivals throng, the sages: here stand you!
Whatever you may protest, knowledge is not
Paramount in your love; or for her sake
You would collect all help from every source
Rival, assistant, friend, foe, all would merge
In the broad class of those who showed her haunts,
And those who showed them not.
Paracelsus.
                What shall I say?
Festus, from childhood I have been possessed
By a fireby a true fire, or faint or fierce,
As from without some master, so it seemed,
Repressed or urged its current: this but ill
Expresses what would I convey: but rather
I will believe an angel ruled me thus,
Than that my soul's own workings, own high nature,
So became manifest. I knew not then
What whispered in the evening, and spoke out
At midnight. If some mortal, born too soon,
Were laid away in some great trancethe ages
Coming and going all the whiletill dawned
His true time's advent; and could then record
The words they spoke who kept watch by his bed,
Then I might tell more of the breath so light
Upon my eyelids, and the fingers light
Among my hair. Youth is confused; yet never
So dull was I but, when that spirit passed,
I turned to him, scarce consciously, as turns
A water-snake when fairies cross his sleep.
And having this within me and about me
While Einsiedeln, its mountains, lakes and woods
Confined mewhat oppressive joy was mine
When life grew plain, and I first viewed the thronged,
The everlasting concourse of mankind!
Believe that ere I joined them, ere I knew
The purpose of the pageant, or the place
Consigned me in its rankswhile, just awake,
Wonder was freshest and delight most pure
'T was then that least supportable appeared
A station with the brightest of the crowd,
A portion with the proudest of them all.
And from the tumult in my breast, this only
Could I collect, that I must thenceforth die
Or elevate myself far, far above
The gorgeous spectacle. I seemed to long
At once to trample on, yet save mankind,
To make some unexampled sacrifice
In their behalf, to wring some wondrous good
From heaven or earth for them, to perish, winning
Eternal weal in the act: as who should dare
Pluck out the angry thunder from its cloud,
That, all its gathered flame discharged on him,
No storm might threaten summer's azure sleep:
Yet never to be mixed with men so much
As to have part even in my own work, share
In my own largess. Once the feat achieved,
I would withdraw from their officious praise,
Would gently put aside their profuse thanks.
Like some knight traversing a wilderness,
Who, on his way, may chance to free a tribe
Of desert-people from their dragon-foe;
When all the swarthy race press round to kiss
His feet, and choose him for their king, and yield
Their poor tents, pitched among the sand-hills, for
His realm: and he points, smiling, to his scarf
Heavy with riveled gold, his burgonet
Gay set with twinkling stonesand to the East,
Where these must be displayed!
Festus.
                Good: let us hear
No more about your nature, "which first shrank
"From all that marked you out apart from men!"
Paracelsus.
I touch on that; these words but analyse
The first mad impulse: 't was as brief as fond,
For as I gazed again upon the show,
I soon distinguished here and there a shape
Palm-wreathed and radiant, forehead and full eye.
Well pleased was I their state should thus at once
Interpret my own thoughts:"Behold the clue
"To all," I rashly said, "and what I pine
"To do, these have accomplished: we are peers.
"They know and therefore rule: I, too, will know!"
You were beside me, Festus, as you say;
You saw me plunge in their pursuits whom fame
Is lavish to attest the lords of mind,
Not pausing to make sure the prize in view
Would satiate my cravings when obtained,
But since they strove I strove. Then came a slow
And strangling failure. We aspired alike,
Yet not the meanest plodder, Tritheim counts
A marvel, but was all-sufficient, strong,
Or staggered only at his own vast wits;
While I was restless, nothing satisfied,
Distrustful, most perplexed. I would slur over
That struggle; suffice it, that I loathed myself
As weak compared with them, yet felt somehow
A mighty power was brooding, taking shape
Within me; and this lasted till one night
When, as I sat revolving it and more,
A still voice from without said"Seest thou not,
"Desponding child, whence spring defeat and loss?
"Even from thy strength. Consider: hast thou gazed
"Presumptuously on wisdom's countenance,
"No veil between; and can thy faltering hands,
"Unguided by the brain the sight absorbs,
"Pursue their task as earnest blinkers do
"Whom radiance ne'er distracted? Live their life
"If thou wouldst share their fortune, choose their eyes
"Unfed by splendour. Let each task present
"Its petty good to thee. Waste not thy gifts
"In profitless waiting for the gods' descent,
"But have some idol of thine own to dress
"With their array. Know, not for knowing's sake,
"But to become a star to men for ever;
"Know, for the gain it gets, the praise it brings,
"The wonder it inspires, the love it breeds:
"Look one step onward, and secure that step!"
And I smiled as one never smiles but once,
Then first discovering my own aim's extent,
Which sought to comprehend the works of God,
And God himself, and all God's intercourse
With the human mind; I understood, no less,
My fellows' studies, whose true worth I saw,
But smiled not, well aware who stood by me.
And softer came the voice"There is a way:
"'T is hard for flesh to tread therein, imbued
"With frailtyhopeless, if indulgence first
"Have ripened inborn germs of sin to strength:
"Wilt thou adventure for my sake and man's,
"Apart from all reward?" And last it breathed
"Be happy, my good soldier; I am by thee,
"Be sure, even to the end!"I answered not,
Knowing him. As he spoke, I was endued
With comprehension and a steadfast will;
And when he ceased, my brow was sealed his own.
If there took place no special change in me,
How comes it all things wore a different hue
Thenceforward?pregnant with vast consequence,
Teeming with grand result, loaded with fate?
So that when, quailing at the mighty range
Of secret truths which yearn for birth, I haste
To contemplate undazzled some one truth,
Its bearings and effects aloneat once
What was a speck expands into a star,
Asking a life to pass exploring thus,
Till I near craze. I go to prove my soul!
I see my way as birds their trackless way.
I shall arrive! what time, what circuit first,
I ask not: but unless God send his hail
Or blinding fireballs, sleet or stifling snow,
In some time, his good time, I shall arrive:
He guides me and the bird. In his good time!
Michal.
Vex him no further, Festus; it is so!
Festus.
Just thus you help me ever. This would hold
Were it the trackless air, and not a path
Inviting you, distinct with footprints yet
Of many a mighty marcher gone that way.
You may have purer views than theirs, perhaps,
But they were famous in their daythe proofs
Remain. At least accept the light they lend.
Paracelsus.
Their light! the sum of all is briefly this:
They laboured and grew famous, and the fruits
Are best seen in a dark and groaning earth
Given over to a blind and endless strife
With evils, what of all their lore abates?
No; I reject and spurn them utterly
And all they teach. Shall I still sit beside
Their dry wells, with a white lip and filmed eye,
While in the distance heaven is blue above
Mountains where sleep the unsunned tarns?
Festus.
                      And yet
As strong delusions have prevailed ere now.
Men have set out as gallantly to seek
Their ruin. I have heard of such: yourself
Avow all hitherto have failed and fallen.
Michal.
Nay, Festus, when but as the pilgrims faint
Through the drear way, do you expect to see
Their city dawn amid the clouds afar?
Paracelsus.
Ay, sounds it not like some old well-known tale?
For me, I estimate their works and them
So rightly, that at times I almost dream
I too have spent a life the sages' way,
And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance
I perished in an arrogant self-reliance
Ages ago; and in that act, a prayer
For one more chance went up so earnest, so
Instinct with better light let in by death,
That life was blotted outnot so completely
But scattered wrecks enough of it remain,
Dim memories, as now, when once more seems
The goal in sight again. All which, indeed,
Is foolish, and only meansthe flesh I wear,
The earth I tread, are not more clear to me
Than my belief, explained to you or no.
Festus.
And who am I, to challenge and dispute
That clear belief? I will divest all fear.
Michal.
Then Aureole is God's commissary! he shall
Be great and grandand all for us!
Paracelsus.
                   No, sweet!
Not great and grand. If I can serve mankind
'T is well; but there our intercourse must end:
I never will be served by those I serve.
Festus.
Look well to this; here is a plague-spot, here,
Disguise it how you may! 'T is true, you utter
This scorn while by our side and loving us;
'T is but a spot as yet: but it will break
Into a hideous blotch if overlooked.
How can that course be safe which from the first
Produces carelessness to human love?
It seems you have abjured the helps which men
Who overpass their kind, as you would do,
Have humbly sought; I dare not thoroughly probe
This matter, lest I learn too much. Let be
That popular praise would little instigate
Your efforts, nor particular approval
Reward you; put reward aside; alone
You shall go forth upon your arduous task,
None shall assist you, none partake your toil,
None share your triumph: still you must retain
Some one to cast your glory on, to share
Your rapture with. Were I elect like you,
I would encircle me with love, and raise
A rampart of my fellows; it should seem
Impossible for me to fail, so watched
By gentle friends who made my cause their own.
They should ward off fate's envythe great gift,
Extravagant when claimed by me alone,
Being so a gift to them as well as me.
If danger daunted me or ease seduced,
How calmly their sad eyes should gaze reproach!
Michal.
O Aureole, can I sing when all alone,
Without first calling, in my fancy, both
To listen by my sideeven I! And you?
Do you not feel this? Say that you feel this!
Paracelsus.
I feel't is pleasant that my aims, at length
Allowed their weight, should be supposed to need
A further strengthening in these goodly helps!
My course allures for its own sake, its sole
Intrinsic worth; and ne'er shall boat of mine
Adventure forth for gold and apes at once.
Your sages say, "if human, therefore weak:"
If weak, more need to give myself entire
To my pursuit; and by its side, all else . . .
No matter! I deny myself but little
In waiving all assistance save its own.
Would there were some real sacrifice to make!
Your friends the sages threw their joys away,
While I must be content with keeping mine.
Festus.
But do not cut yourself from human weal!
You cannot thrivea man that dares affect
To spend his life in service to his kind
For no reward of theirs, unbound to them
By any tie; nor do so, Aureole! No
There are strange punishments for such. Give up
(Although no visible good flow thence) some part
Of the glory to another; hiding thus,
Even from yourself, that all is for yourself.
Say, say almost to God"I have done all
"For her, not for myself!"
Paracelsus.
              And who but lately
Was to rejoice in my success like you?
Whom should I love but both of you?
Festus.
                   I know not:
But know this, you, that't is no will of mine
You should abjure the lofty claims you make;
And this the causeI can no longer seek
To overlook the truth, that there would be
A monstrous spectacle upon the earth,
Beneath the pleasant sun, among the trees:
A being knowing not what love is. Hear me!
You are endowed with faculties which bear
Annexed to them as't were a dispensation
To summon meaner spirits to do their will
And gather round them at their need; inspiring
Such with a love themselves can never feel,
Passionless'mid their passionate votaries.
I know not if you joy in this or no,
Or ever dream that common men can live
On objects you prize lightly, but which make
Their heart's sole treasure: the affections seem
Beauteous at most to you, which we must taste
Or die: and this strange quality accords,
I know not how, with you; sits well upon
That luminous brow, though in another it scowls
An eating brand, a shame. I dare not judge you.
The rules of right and wrong thus set aside,
There's no alternativeI own you one
Of higher order, under other laws
Than bind us; therefore, curb not one bold glance!
'T is best aspire. Once mingled with us all . . .
Michal.
Stay with us, Aureole! cast those hopes away,
And stay with us! An angel warns me, too,
Man should be humble; you are very proud:
And God, dethroned, has doleful plagues for such!
Warns me to have in dread no quick repulse,
No slow defeat, but a complete success:
You will find all you seek, and perish so!
Paracelsus
[after a pause].
Are these the barren firstfruits of my quest?
Is love like this the natural lot of all?
How many years of pain might one such hour
O'erbalance? Dearest Michal, dearest Festus,
What shall I say, if not that I desire
To justify your love; and will, dear friends,
In swerving nothing from my first resolves.
See, the great moon! and ere the mottled owls
Were wide awake, I was to go. It seems
You acquiesce at last in all save this
If I am like to compass what I seek
By the untried career I choose; and then,
If that career, making but small account
Of much of life's delight, will yet retain
Sufficient to sustain my soul: for thus
I understand these fond fears just expressed.
And first; the lore you praise and I neglect,
The labours and the precepts of old time,
I have not lightly disesteemed. But, friends,
Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fulness; and around,
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
This perfect, clear perceptionwhich is truth.
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Binds it, and makes all error: and to know
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without. Watch narrowly
The demonstration of a truth, its birth,
And you trace back the effluence to its spring
And source within us; where broods radiance vast,
To be elicited ray by ray, as chance
Shall favour: chancefor hitherto, your sage
Even as he knows not how those beams are born,
As little knows he what unlocks their fount:
And men have oft grown old among their books
To die case-hardened in their ignorance,
Whose careless youth had promised what long years
Of unremitted labour ne'er performed:
While, contrary, it has chanced some idle day,
To autumn loiterers just as fancy-free
As the midges in the sun, gives birth at last
To truthproduced mysteriously as cape
Of cloud grown out of the invisible air.
Hence, may not truth be lodged alike in all,
The lowest as the highest? some slight film
The interposing bar which binds a soul
And makes the idiot, just as makes the sage
Some film removed, the happy outlet whence
Truth issues proudly? See this soul of ours!
How it strives weakly in the child, is loosed
In manhood, clogged by sickness, back compelled
By age and waste, set free at last by death:
Why is it, flesh enthrals it or enthrones?
What is this flesh we have to penetrate?
Oh, not alone when life flows still, do truth
And power emerge, but also when strange chance
Ruffles its current; in unused conjuncture,
When sickness breaks the bodyhunger, watching,
Excess or languoroftenest death's approach,
Peril, deep joy or woe. One man shall crawl
Through life surrounded with all stirring things,
Unmoved; and he goes mad: and from the wreck
Of what he was, by his wild talk alone,
You first collect how great a spirit he hid.
Therefore, set free the soul alike in all,
Discovering the true laws by which the flesh
Accloys the spirit! We may not be doomed
To cope with seraphs, but at least the rest
Shall cope with us. Make no more giants, God,
But elevate the race at once! We ask
To put forth just our strength, our human strength,
All starting fairly, all equipped alike,
Gifted alike, all eagle-eyed, true-hearted
See if we cannot beat thine angels yet!
Such is my task. I go to gather this
The sacred knowledge, here and there dispersed
About the world, long lost or never found.
And why should I be sad or lorn of hope?
Why ever make man's good distinct from God's,
Or, finding they are one, why dare mistrust?
Who shall succeed if not one pledged like me?
Mine is no mad attempt to build a world
Apart from his, like those who set themselves
To find the nature of the spirit they bore,
And, taught betimes that all their gorgeous dreams
Were only born to vanish in this life,
Refused to fit them to its narrow sphere,
But chose to figure forth another world
And other frames meet for their vast desires,
And all a dream! Thus was life scorned; but life
Shall yet be crowned: twine amaranth! I am priest!
And all for yielding with a lively spirit
A poor existence, parting with a youth
Like those who squander every energy
Convertible to good, on painted toys,
Breath-bubbles, gilded dust! And though I spurn
All adventitious aims, from empty praise
To love's award, yet whoso deems such helps
Important, and concerns himself for me,
May know even these will follow with the rest
As in the steady rolling Mayne, asleep
Yonder, is mixed its mass of schistous ore.
My own affections laid to rest awhile,
Will waken purified, subdued alone
By all I have achieved. Till thentill then . . .
Ah, the time-wiling loitering of a page
Through bower and over lawn, till eve shall bring
The stately lady's presence whom he loves
The broken sleep of the fisher whose rough coat
Enwraps the queenly pearlthese are faint types!
See, see, they look on me: I triumph now!
But one thing, Festus, Michal! I have told
All I shall e'er disclose to mortal: say
Do you believe I shall accomplish this?
Festus.
I do believe!
Michal.
       I ever did believe!
       Paracelsus.
Those words shall never fade from out my brain!
This earnest of the end shall never fade!
Are there not, Festus, are there not, dear Michal,
Two points in the adventure of the diver,
Onewhen, a beggar, he prepares to plunge,
Onewhen, a prince, he rises with his pearl?
Festus, I plunge!
Festus.
         We wait you when you rise!


~ Robert Browning, Paracelsus - Part I - Paracelsus Aspires
,
551:The thought of Eglamor's least like a thought,
And yet a false one, was, "Man shrinks to nought
"If matched with symbols of immensity;
"Must quail, forsooth, before a quiet sky
"Or sea, too little for their quietude:"
And, truly, somewhat in Sordello's mood
Confirmed its speciousness, while eve slow sank
Down the near terrace to the farther bank,
And only one spot left from out the night
Glimmered upon the river opposite
A breadth of watery heaven like a bay,
A sky-like space of water, ray for ray,
And star for star, one richness where they mixed
As this and that wing of an angel, fixed,
Tumultuary splendours folded in
To die. Nor turned he till Ferrara's din
(Say, the monotonous speech from a man's lip
Who lets some first and eager purpose slip
In a new fancy's birththe speech keeps on
Though elsewhere its informing soul be gone)
Aroused him, surely offered succour. Fate
Paused with this eve; ere she precipitate
Herself,best put off new strange thoughts awhile,
That voice, those large hands, that portentous smile,
What help to pierce the future as the past
Lay in the plaining city?
             And at last
The main discovery and prime concern,
All that just now imported him to learn,
Truth's self, like yonder slow moon to complete
Heaven, rose again, and, naked at his feet,
Lighted his old life's every shift and change,
Effort with counter-effort; nor the range
Of each looked wrong except wherein it checked,
Some otherwhich of these could he suspect,
Prying into them by the sudden blaze?
The real way seemed made up of all the ways
Mood after mood of the one mind in him;
Tokens of the existence, bright or dim,
Of a transcendent all-embracing sense
Demanding only outward influence,
A soul, in Palma's phrase, above his soul,
Power to uplift his power,such moon's control
Over such sea-depths,and their mass had swept
Onward from the beginning and still kept
Its course: but years and years the sky above
Held none, and so, untasked of any love,
His sensitiveness idled, now amort,
Alive now, and, to sullenness or sport
Given wholly up, disposed itself anew
At every passing instigation, grew
And dwindled at caprice, in foam-showers spilt,
Wedge-like insisting, quivered now a gilt
Shield in the sunshine, now a blinding race
Of whitest ripples o'er the reeffound place
For much display; not gathered up and, hurled
Right from its heart, encompassing the world.
So had Sordello been, by consequence,
Without a function: others made pretence
To strength not half his own, yet had some core
Within, submitted to some moon, before
Them still, superior still whate'er their force,
Were able therefore to fulfil a course,
Nor missed life's crown, authentic attribute.
To each who lives must be a certain fruit
Of having lived in his degree,a stage,
Earlier or later in men's pilgrimage,
To stop at; and to this the spirits tend
Who, still discovering beauty without end,
Amass the scintillations, make one star
Something unlike them, self-sustained, afar,
And meanwhile nurse the dream of being blest
By winning it to notice and invest
Their souls with alien glory, some one day
Whene'er the nucleus, gathering shape alway,
Round to the perfect circlesoon or late,
According as themselves are formed to wait;
Whether mere human beauty will suffice
The yellow hair and the luxurious eyes,
Or human intellect seem best, or each
Combine in some ideal form past reach
On earth, or else some shade of these, some aim,
Some love, hate even, take their place, the same,
So to be servedall this they do not lose,
Waiting for death to live, nor idly choose
What must be Hella progress thus pursued
Through all existence, still above the food
That 's offered them, still fain to reach beyond
The widened range, in virtue of their bond
Of sovereignty. Not that a Palma's Love,
A Salinguerra's Hate, would equal prove
To swaying all Sordello: but why doubt
Some love meet for such strength, some moon without
Would match his sea?or fear, Good manifest,
Only the Best breaks faith?Ah but the Best
Somehow eludes us ever, still might be
And is not! Crave we gems? No penury
Of their material round us! Pliant earth
And plastic flamewhat balks the mage his birth
Jacinth in balls or lodestone by the block?
Flinders enrich the strand, veins swell the rock;
Nought more! Seek creatures? Life 's i' the tempest, thought
Clothes the keen hill-top, mid-day woods are fraught
With fervours: human forms are well enough!
But we had hoped, encouraged by the stuff
Profuse at nature's pleasure, men beyond
These actual men!and thus are over-fond
In arguing, from Goodthe Best, from force
Dividedforce combined, an ocean's course
From this our sea whose mere intestine pants
Might seem at times sufficient to our wants.
External power! If none be adequate,
And he stand forth ordained (a prouder fate)
Himself a law to his own sphere? "Remove
"All incompleteness!" for that law, that love?
Nay, if all other laws be feints,truth veiled
Helpfully to weak vision that had failed
To grasp aught but its special want,for lure,
Embodied? Stronger vision could endure
The unbodied want: no partthe whole of truth!
The People were himself; nor, by the ruth
At their condition, was he less impelled
To alter the discrepancy beheld,
Than if, from the sound whole, a sickly part
Subtracted were transformed, decked out with art,
Then palmed on him as alien woethe Guelf
To succour, proud that he forsook himself.
All is himself; all service, therefore, rates
Alike, nor serving one part, immolates
The rest: but all in time! "That lance of yours
"Makes havoc soon with Malek and his Moors,
"That buckler 's lined with many a giant's beard
"Ere long, our champion, be the lance upreared,
"The buckler wielded handsomely as now!
"But view your escort, bear in mind your vow,
"Count the pale tracts of sand to pass ere that,
"And, if you hope we struggle through the flat,
"Put lance and buckler by! Next half-month lacks
"Mere sturdy exercise of mace and axe
"To cleave this dismal brake of prickly-pear
"Which bristling holds Cydippe by the hair,
"Lames barefoot Agathon: this felled, we 'll try
"The picturesque achievements by and by
"Next life!"
      Ay, rally, mock, O People, urge
Your claims!for thus he ventured, to the verge,
Push a vain mummery which perchance distrust
Of his fast-slipping resolution thrust
Likewise: accordingly the Crowd(as yet
He had unconsciously contrived forget
I' the whole, to dwell o' the points . . . one might assuage
The signal horrors easier than engage
With a dim vulgar vast unobvious grief
Not to be fancied off, nor gained relief
In brilliant fits, cured by a happy quirk,
But by dim vulgar vast unobvious work
To correspond . . .) this Crowd then, forth they stood.
"And now content thy stronger vision, brood
"On thy bare want; uncovered, turf by turf,
"Study the corpse-face thro' the taint-worms' scurf!"
Down sank the People's Then; uprose their Now.
These sad ones render service to! And how
Piteously little must that service prove
Had surely proved in any case! for, move
Each other obstacle away, let youth
Become aware it had surprised a truth
'T were service to impartcan truth be seized,
Settled forthwith, and, of the captive eased,
Its captor find fresh prey, since this alit
So happily, no gesture luring it,
The earnest of a flock to follow? Vain,
Most vain! a life to spend ere this he chain
To the poor crowd's complacence: ere the crowd
Pronounce it captured, he descries a cloud
Its kin of twice the plume; which he, in turn,
If he shall live as many lives, may learn
How to secure: not else. Then Mantua called
Back to his mind how certain bards were thralled
Buds blasted, but of breath more like perfume
Than Naddo's staring nosegay's carrion bloom;
Some insane rose that burnt heart out in sweets,
A spendthrift in the spring, no summer greets;
Some Dularete, drunk with truths and wine,
Grown bestial, dreaming how become divine.
Yet to surmount this obstacle, commence
With the commencement, merits crowning! Hence
Must truth be casual truth, elicited
In sparks so mean, at intervals dispread
So rarely, that 't is like at no one time
Of the world's story has not truth, the prime
Of truth, the very truth which, loosed, had hurled
The world's course right, been really in the world
Content the while with some mean spark by dint
Of some chance-blow, the solitary hint
Of buried fire, which, rip earth's breast, would stream
Sky-ward!
     Sordello's miserable gleam
Was looked for at the moment: he would dash
This badge. and all it brought, to earth,abash
Taurello thus, perhaps persuade him wrest
The Kaiser from his purpose,would attest
His own belief, in any case. Before
He dashes it however, think once more!
For, were that little, truly service? "Ay,
"I' the end, no doubt; but meantime? Plain you spy
"Its ultimate effect, but many flaws
"Of vision blur each intervening cause.
"Were the day's fraction clear as the life's sum
"Of service, Now as filled as teems To-come
"With evidence of goodnor too minute
"A share to vie with evil! No dispute,
"'T were fitliest maintain the Guelfs in rule:
"That makes your life's work: but you have to school
"Your day's work on these natures circumstanced
"Thus variously, which yet, as each advanced
"Or might impede the Guelf rule, must be moved
"Now, for the Then's sake,hating what you loved,
"Loving old hatreds! Nor if one man bore
"Brand upon temples while his fellow wore
"The aureole, would it task you to decide:
"But, portioned duly out, the future vied
"Never with the unparcelled present! Smite
"Or spare so much on warrant all so slight?
"The present's complete sympathies to break,
"Aversions bear with, for a future's sake
"So feeble? Tito ruined through one speck,
"The Legate saved by his sole lightish fleck?
"This were work, true, but work performed at cost
"Of other work; aught gained here, elsewhere lost.
"For a new segment spoil an orb half-done?
"Rise with the People one step, and sinkone?
"Were it but one step, less than the whole face
"Of things, your novel duty bids erase!
"Harms to abolish! What, the prophet saith,
"The minstrel singeth vainly then? Old faith,
"Old courage, only born because of harms,
"Were not, from highest to the lowest, charms?
"Flame may persist; but is not glare as staunch?
"Where the salt marshes stagnate, crystals branch;
"Blood dries to crimson; Evil 's beautified
"In every shape. Thrust Beauty then aside
"And banish Evil! Wherefore? After all,
"Is Evil a result less natural
"Than Good? For overlook the seasons' strife
"With tree and flower,the hideous animal life,
"(Of which who seeks shall find a grinning taunt
"For his solution, and endure the vaunt
"Of nature's angel, as a child that knows
"Himself befooled, unable to propose
"Aught better than the fooling)and but care
"For men, for the mere People then and there,
"In these, could you but see that Good and Ill
"Claimed you alike! Whence rose their claim but still
"From Ill, as fruit of Ill? What else could knit
"You theirs but Sorrow? Any free from it
"Were also free from you! Whose happiness
"Could be distinguished in this morning's press
"Of miseries?the fool's who passed a gibe
"'On thee,' jeered he, `so wedded to thy tribe,
"`Thou carriest green and yellow tokens in
"'Thy very face that thou art Ghibellin!'
"Much hold on you that fool obtained! Nay mount
"Yet higherand upon men's own account
"Must Evil stay: for, what is joy?to heave
"Up one obstruction more, and common leave
"What was peculiar, by such act destroy
"Itself; a partial death is every joy;
"The sensible escape, enfranchisement
"Of a sphere's essence: once the vexedcontent,
"The crampedat large, the growing circleround,
"All 's to begin againsome novel bound
"To break, some new enlargement to entreat;
"The sphere though larger is not more complete.
"Now for Mankind's experience: who alone
"Might style the unobstructed world his own?
"Whom palled Goito with its perfect things?
"Sordello's self: whereas for Mankind springs
"Salvation by each hindrance interposed.
"They climb; life's view is not at once disclosed
"To creatures caught up, on the summit left,
"Heaven plain above them, yet of wings bereft:
"But lower laid, as at the mountain's foot.
"So, range on range, the girdling forests shoot
"'Twixt your plain prospect and the throngs who scale
"Height after height, and pierce mists, veil by veil,
"Heartened with each discovery; in their soul,
"The Whole they seek by Partsbut, found that Whole,
"Could they revert, enjoy past gains? The space
"Of time you judge so meagre to embrace
"The Parts were more than plenty, once attained
"The Whole, to quite exhaust it: nought were gained
"But leave to looknot leave to do: Beneath
"Soon sates the lookerlook Above, and Death
"Tempts ere a tithe of Life be tasted. Live
"First, and die soon enough, Sordello! Give
"Body and spirit the first right they claim,
"And pasture soul on a voluptuous shame
"That you, a pageant-city's denizen,
"Are neither vilely lodged midst Lombard men
"Can force joy out of sorrow, seem to truck
"Bright attributes away for sordid muck,
"Yet manage from that very muck educe
"Gold; then subject nor scruple, to your cruce
"The world's discardings! Though real ingots pay
"Your pains, the clods that yielded them are clay
"To all beside,would clay remain, though quenched
"Your purging-fire; who 's robbed then? Had you wrenched
"An ampler treasure forth!As 't is, they crave
"A share that ruins you and will not save
"Them. Why should sympathy command you quit
"The course that makes your joy, nor will remit
"Their woe? Would all arrive at joy? Reverse
"The order (time instructs you) nor coerce
"Each unit till, some predetermined mode,
"The total be emancipate; men's road
"Is one, men's times of travel many; thwart
"No enterprising soul's precocious start
"Before the general march! If slow or fast
"All straggle up to the same point at last,
"Why grudge your having gained, a month ago,
"The brakes at balm-shed, asphodels in blow,
"While they were landlocked? Speed their Then, but how
"This badge would suffer you improve your Now!"
His time of action for, against, or with
Our world (I labour to extract the pith
Of this his problem) grew, that even-tide,
Gigantic with its power of joy, beside
The world's eternity of impotence
To profit though at his whole joy's expense.
"Make nothing of my day because so brief?
"Rather make more: instead of joy, use grief
"Before its novelty have time subside!
"Wait not for the late savour, leave untried
"Virtue, the creaming honey-wine, quick squeeze
"Vice like a biting spirit from the lees
"Of life! Together let wrath, hatred, lust,
"All tyrannies in every shape, be thrust
"Upon this Now, which time may reason out
"As mischiefs, far from benefits, no doubt;
"But long ere then Sordello will have slipt
"Away; you teach him at Goito's crypt,
"There 's a blank issue to that fiery thrill.
"Stirring, the few cope with the many, still:
"So much of sand as, quiet, makes a mass
"Unable to produce three tufts of grass,
"Shall, troubled by the whirlwind, render void
"The whole calm glebe's endeavour: be employed!
"And e'en though somewhat smart the Crowd for this,
"Contribute each his pang to make your bliss,
"'T is but one pangone blood-drop to the bowl
"Which brimful tempts the sluggish asp uncowl
"At last, stains ruddily the dull red cape,
"And, kindling orbs grey as the unripe grape
"Before, avails forthwith to disentrance
"The portent, soon to lead a mystic dance
"Among you! For, who sits alone in Rome?
"Have those great hands indeed hewn out a home,
"And set me there to live? Oh life, life-breath,
"Life-blood,ere sleep, come travail, life ere death!
"This life stream on my soul, direct, oblique,
"But always streaming! Hindrances? They pique:
"Helps? such . . . but why repeat, my soul o'ertops
"Each height, then every depth profoundlier drops?
"Enough that I can live, and would live! Wait
"For some transcendent life reserved by Fate
"To follow this? Oh, never! Fate, I trust
"The same, my soul to; for, as who flings dust,
"Perchance (so facile was the deed) she chequed
"The void with these materials to affect
"My soul diversely: these consigned anew
"To nought by death, what marvel if she threw
"A second and superber spectacle
"Before me? What may serve for sun, what still
"Wander a moon above me? What else wind
"About me like the pleasures left behind,
"And how shall some new flesh that is not flesh
"Cling to me? What 's new laughter? Soothes the fresh
"Sleep like sleep? Fate 's exhaustless for my sake
"In brave resource: but whether bids she slake
"My thirst at this first rivulet, or count
"No draught worth lip save from some rocky fount
"Above i' the clouds, while here she 's provident
"Of pure loquacious pearl, the soft tree-tent
"Guards, with its face of reate and sedge, nor fail
"The silver globules and gold-sparkling grail
"At bottom? Oh, 't were too absurd to slight
"For the hereafter the to-day's delight!
"Quench thirst at this, then seek next well-spring: wear
"Home-lilies ere strange lotus in my hair!
"Here is the Crowd, whom I with freest heart
"Offer to serve, contented for my part
"To give life up in service,only grant
"That I do serve; if otherwise, why want
"Aught further of me? If men cannot choose
"But set aside life, why should I refuse
"The gift? I take itI, for one, engage
"Never to falter through my pilgrimage
"Nor end it howling that the stock or stone
"Were enviable, truly: I, for one,
"Will praise the world, you style mere anteroom
"To palacebe it so! shall I assume
"My foot the courtly gait, my tongue the trope,
"My mouth the smirk, before the doors fly ope
"One moment? What? with guarders row on row,
"Gay swarms of varletry that come and go,
"Pages to dice with, waiting-girls unlace
"The plackets of, pert claimants help displace,
"Heart-heavy suitors get a rank for,laugh
"At yon sleek parasite, break his own staff
"'Cross Beetle-brows the Usher's shoulder,why
"Admitted to the presence by and by,
"Should thought of having lost these make me grieve
"Among new joys I reach, for joys I leave?
"Cool citrine-crystals, fierce pyropus-stone,
"Are floor-work there! But do I let alone
"That black-eyed peasant in the vestibule
"Once and for ever?Floor-work? No such fool!
"Rather, were heaven to forestall earth, I 'd say
"I, is it, must be blest? Then, my own way
"Bless me! Giver firmer arm and fleeter foot,
"I 'll thank you: but to no mad wings transmute
"These limbs of mineour greensward was so soft!
"Nor camp I on the thunder-cloud aloft:
"We feel the bliss distinctlier, having thus
"Engines subservient, not mixed up with us.
"Better move palpably through heaven: nor, freed
"Of flesh, forsooth, from space to space proceed
"'Mid flying synods of worlds! No: in heaven's marge
"Show Titan still, recumbent o'er his targe
"Solid with starsthe Centaur at his game,
"Made tremulously out in hoary flame!
"Life! Yet the very cup whose extreme dull
"Dregs, even, I would quaff, was dashed, at full,
"Aside so oft; the death I fly, revealed
"So oft a better life this life concealed,
"And which sage, champion, martyr, through each path
"Have hunted fearlesslythe horrid bath,
"The crippling-irons and the fiery chair.
"'T was well for them; let me become aware
"As they, and I relinquish life, too! Let
"What masters life disclose itself! Forget
"Vain ordinances, I have one appeal
"I feel, am what I feel, know what I feel;
"So much is truth to me. What Is, then? Since
"One object, viewed diversely, may evince
"Beauty and uglinessthis way attract,
"That way repel,why gloze upon the fact?
"Why must a single of the sides be right?
"What bids choose this and leave the opposite?
"Where 's abstract Right for me?in youth endued
"With Right still present, still to be pursued,
"Thro' all the interchange of circles, rife
"Each with its proper law and mode of life,
"Each to be dwelt at ease in: where, to sway
"Absolute with the Kaiser, or obey
"Implicit with his serf of fluttering heart,
"Or, like a sudden thought of God's, to start
"Up, Brutus in the presence, then go shout
"That some should pick the unstrung jewels out
"Each, well!"
       And, as in moments when the past
Gave partially enfranchisement, he cast
Himself quite through mere secondary states
Of his soul's essence, little loves and hates,
Into the mid deep yearnings overlaid
By these; as who should pierce hill, plain, grove, glade,
And on into the very nucleus probe
That first determined there exist a globe.
As that were easiest, half the globe dissolved,
So seemed Sordello's closing-truth evolved
By his flesh-half's break-up; the sudden swell
Of his expanding soul showed Ill and Well,
Sorrow and Joy, Beauty and Ugliness,
Virtue and Vice, the Larger and the Less,
All qualities, in fine, recorded here,
Might be but modes of Time and this one sphere,
Urgent on these, but not of force to bind
Eternity, as Timeas MatterMind,
If Mind, Eternity, should choose assert
Their attributes within a Life: thus girt
With circumstance, next change beholds them cinct
Quite otherwisewith Good and Ill distinct,
Joys, sorrows, tending to a like result
Contrived to render easy, difficult,
This or the other course of . . . what new bond
In place of flesh may stop their flight beyond
Its new sphere, as that course does harm or good
To its arrangements. Once this understood,
As suddenly he felt himself alone,
Quite out of Time and this world: all was known.
What made the secret of his past despair?
Most imminent when he seemed most aware
Of his own self-sufficiency: made mad
By craving to expand the power he had,
And not new power to be expanded?just
This made it; Soul on Matter being thrust,
Joy comes when so much Soul is wreaked in Time
On Matter: let the Soul's attempt sublime
Matter beyond the scheme and so prevent
By more or less that deed's accomplishment,
And Sorrow follows: Sorrow how avoid?
Let the employer match the thing employed,
Fit to the finite his infinity,
And thus proceed for ever, in degree
Changed but in kind the same, still limited
To the appointed circumstance and dead
To all beyond. A sphere is but a sphere;
Small, Great, are merely terms we bandy here;
Since to the spirit's absoluteness all
Are like. Now, of the present sphere we call
Life, are conditions; take but this among
Many; the body was to be so long
Youthful, no longer: but, since no control
Tied to that body's purposes his soul,
She chose to understand the body's trade
More than the body's selfhad fain conveyed
Her boundless to the body's bounded lot.
Hence, the soul permanent, the body not,
Scarcely its minute for enjoying here,
The soul must needs instruct her weak compeer,
Run o'er its capabilities and wring
A joy thence, she held worth experiencing:
Which, far from half discovered even,lo,
The minute gone, the body's power let go
Apportioned to that joy's acquirement! Broke
Morning o'er earth, he yearned for all it woke
From the volcano's vapour-flag, winds hoist
Black o'er the spread of sea,down to the moist
Dale's silken barley-spikes sullied with rain,
Swayed earthwards, heavily to rise again
The Small, a sphere as perfect as the Great
To the soul's absoluteness. Meditate
Too long on such a morning's cluster-chord
And the whole music it was framed afford,
The chord's might half discovered, what should pluck
One string, his finger, was found palsy-struck.
And then no marvel if the spirit, shown
A saddest sightthe body lost alone
Through her officious proffered help, deprived
Of this and that enjoyment Fate contrived,
Virtue, Good, Beauty, each allowed slip hence,
Vain-gloriously were fain, for recompense,
To stem the ruin even yet, protract
The body's term, supply the power it lacked
From her infinity, compel it learn
These qualities were only Time's concern,
And body may, with spirit helping, barred
Advance the same, vanquishedobtain reward,
Reap joy where sorrow was intended grow,
Of Wrong make Right, and turn Ill Good below.
And the result is, the poor body soon
Sinks under what was meant a wondrous boon,
Leaving its bright accomplice all aghast.
So much was plain then, proper in the past;
To be complete for, satisfy the whole
Series of spheresEternity, his soul
Needs must exceed, prove incomplete for, each
Single sphereTime. But does our knowledge reach
No farther? Is the cloud of hindrance broke
But by the failing of the fleshly yoke,
Its loves and hates, as now when death lets soar
Sordello, self-sufficient as before,
Though during the mere space that shall elapse
'Twixt his enthralment in new bonds perhaps?
Must life be ever just escaped, which should
Have been enjoyed?nay, might have been and would,
Each purpose ordered rightthe soul 's no whit
Beyond the body's purpose under it.
Like yonder breadth of watery heaven, a bay,
And that sky-space of water, ray for ray
And star for star, one richness where they mixed
As this and that wing of an angel, fixed,
Tumultuary splendours folded in
To diewould soul, proportioned thus, begin
Exciting discontent, or surelier quell
The body if, aspiring, it rebel?
But how so order life? Still brutalize
The soul, the sad world's way, with muffled eyes
To all that was before, all that shall be
After this sphereall and each quality
Save some sole and immutable Great, Good
And Beauteous whither fate has loosed its hood
To follow? Never may some soul see All
The Great Before and After, and the Small
Now, yet be saved by this the simplest lore,
And take the single course prescribed before,
As the king-bird with ages on his plumes
Travels to die in his ancestral glooms?
But where descry the Love that shall select
That course? Here is a soul whom, to affect,
Nature has plied with all her means, from trees
And flowers e'en to the Multitude!and these,
Decides he save or no? One word to end!
Ah my Sordello, I this once befriend
And speak for you. Of a Power above you still
Which, utterly incomprehensible,
Is out of rivalry, which thus you can
Love, tho' unloving all conceived by man
What need! And ofnone the minutest duct
To that out-nature, nought that would instruct
And so let rivalry begin to live
But of a Power its representative
Who, being for authority the same,
Communication different, should claim
A course, the first chose but this last revealed
This Human clear, as that Divine concealed
What utter need!
         What has Sordello found?
Or can his spirit go the mighty round,
End where poor Eglamor begun? So, says
Old fable, the two eagles went two ways
About the world: where, in the midst, they met,
Though on a shifting waste of sand, men set
Jove's temple. Quick, what has Sordello found?
For they approachapproachthat foot's rebound
Palma? No, Salinguerra though in mail;
They mount, have reached the threshold, dash the veil
Asideand you divine who sat there dead,
Under his foot the badge: still, Palma said,
A triumph lingering in the wide eyes,
Wider than some spent swimmer's if he spies
Help from above in his extreme despair,
And, head far back on shoulder thrust, turns there
With short quick passionate cry: as Palma pressed
In one great kiss, her lips upon his breast,
It beat.
    By this, the hermit-bee has stopped
His day's toil at Goito: the new-cropped
Dead vine-leaf answers, now 't is eve, he bit,
Twirled so, and filed all day: the mansion 's fit,
God counselled for. As easy guess the word
That passed betwixt them, and become the third
To the soft small unfrighted bee, as tax
Him with one faultso, no remembrance racks
Of the stone maidens and the font of stone
He, creeping through the crevice, leaves alone.
Alas, my friend, alas Sordello, whom
Anon they laid within that old font-tomb,
And, yet again, alas!
           And now is 't worth
Our while bring back to mind, much less set forth
How Salinguerra extricates himself
Without Sordello? Ghibellin and Guelf
May fight their fiercest out? If Richard sulked
In durance or the Marquis paid his mulct,
Who cares, Sordello gone? The upshot, sure,
Was peace; our chief made some frank overture
That prospered; compliment fell thick and fast
On its disposer, and Taurello passed
With foe and friend for an outstripping soul,
Nine days at least. Then,fairly reached the goal,
He, by one effort, blotted the great hope
Out of his mind, nor further tried to cope
With Este, that mad evening's style, but sent
Away the Legate and the League, content
No blame at least the brothers had incurred,
Dispatched a message to the Monk, he heard
Patiently first to last, scarce shivered at,
Then curled his limbs up on his wolfskin mat
And ne'er spoke more,informed the Ferrarese
He but retained their rule so long as these
Lingered in pupilage,and last, no mode
Apparent else of keeping safe the road
From Germany direct to Lombardy
For Friedrich,none, that is, to guarantee
The faith and promptitude of who should next
Obtain Sofia's dowry,sore perplexed
(Sofia being youngest of the tribe
Of daughters, Ecelin was wont to bribe
The envious magnates withnor, since he sent
Henry of Egna this fair child, had Trent
Once failed the Kaiser's purposes"we lost
"Egna last year, and who takes Egna's post
"Opens the Lombard gate if Friedrich knock?")
Himself espoused the Lady of the Rock
In pure necessity, and, so destroyed
His slender last of chances, quite made void
Old prophecy, and spite of all the schemes
Overt and covert, youth's deeds, age's dreams,
Was sucked into Romano. And so hushed
He up this evening's work that, when 't was brushed
Somehow against by a blind chronicle
Which, chronicling whatever woe befell
Ferrara, noted this the obscure woe
Of "Salinguerra's sole son Giacomo
"Deceased, fatuous and doting, ere his sire,"
The townsfolk rubbed their eyes, could but admire
Which of Sofia's five was meant.
                 The chaps
Of earth's dead hope were tardy to collapse,
Obliterated not the beautiful
Distinctive features at a crash: but dull
And duller these, next year, as Guelfs withdrew
Each to his stronghold. Then (securely too
Ecelin at Campese slept; close by,
Who likes may see him in Solagna lie,
With cushioned head and gloved hand to denote
The cavalier he was)then his heart smote
Young Ecelin at last; long since adult.
And, save Vicenza's business, what result
In blood and blaze? (So hard to intercept
Sordello till his plain withdrawal!) Stepped
Then its new lord on Lombardy. I' the nick
Of time when Ecelin and Alberic
Closed with Taurello, come precisely news
That in Verona half the souls refuse
Allegiance to the Marquis and the Count
Have cast them from a throne they bid him mount,
Their Podest, thro' his ancestral worth.
Ecelin flew there, and the town henceforth
Was wholly hisTaurello sinking back
From temporary station to a track
That suited. News received of this acquist,
Friedrich did come to Lombardy: who missed
Taurello then? Another year: they took
Vicenza, left the Marquis scarce a nook
For refuge, and, when hundreds two or three
Of Guelfs conspired to call themselves "The Free,"
Opposing Alberic,vile Bassanese,
(Without Sordello!)Ecelin at ease
Slaughtered them so observably, that oft
A little Salinguerra looked with soft
Blue eyes up, asked his sire the proper age
To get appointed his proud uncle's page.
More years passed, and that sire had dwindled down
To a mere showy turbulent soldier, grown
Better through age, his parts still in repute,
Subtlehow else?but hardly so astute
As his contemporaneous friends professed;
Undoubtedly a brawler: for the rest,
Known by each neighbour, and allowed for, let
Keep his incorrigible ways, nor fret
Men who would miss their boyhood's bugbear: "trap
"The ostrich, suffer our bald osprey flap
"A battered pinion!"was the word. In fine,
One flap too much and Venice's marine
Was meddled with; no overlooking that!
She captured him in his Ferrara, fat
And florid at a banquet, more by fraud
Than force, to speak the truth; there 's slender laud
Ascribed you for assisting eighty years
To pull his death on such a man; fate shears
The life-cord prompt enough whose last fine threads
You fritter: so, presiding his board-head,
The old smile, your assurance all went well
With Friedrich (as if he were like to tell!)
In rushed (a plan contrived before) our friends,
Made some pretence at fighting, some amends
For the shame done his eighty years(apart
The principle, none found it in his heart
To be much angry with Taurello)gained
Their galleys with the prize, and what remained
But carry him to Venice for a show?
Set him, as 't were, down gentlyfree to go
His gait, inspect our square, pretend observe
The swallows soaring their eternal curve
'Twixt Theodore and Mark, if citizens
Gathered importunately, fives and tens,
To point their children the Magnifico,
All but a monarch once in firm-land, go
His gait among them now"it took, indeed,
"Fully this Ecelin to supersede
"That man," remarked the seniors. Singular!
Sordello's inability to bar
Rivals the stage, that evening, mainly brought
About by his strange disbelief that aught
Was ever to be done,this thrust the Twain
Under Taurello's tutelage,whom, brain
And heart and hand, he forthwith in one rod
Indissolubly bound to baffle God
Who loves the worldand thus allowed the thin
Grey wizened dwarfish devil Ecelin,
And massy-muscled big-boned Alberic
(Mere man, alas!) to put his problem quick
To demonstrationprove wherever's will
To do, there's plenty to be done, or ill
Or good. Anointed, then, to rend and rip
Kings of the gag and flesh-hook, screw and whip,
They plagued the world: a touch of Hildebrand
(So far from obsolete!) made Lombards band
Together, cross their coats as for Christ's cause,
And saving Milan win the world's applause.
Ecelin perished: and I think grass grew
Never so pleasant as in Valley R
By San Zenon where Alberic in turn
Saw his exasperated captors burn
Seven children and their mother; then, regaled
So far, tied on to a wild horse, was trailed
To death through raunce and bramble-bush. I take
God's part and testify that 'mid the brake
Wild o'er his castle on the pleasant knoll,
You hear its one tower left, a belfry, toll
The earthquake spared it last year, laying flat
The modern church beneath,no harm in that!
Chirrups the contumacious grasshopper,
Rustles the lizard and the cushats chirre
Above the ravage: there, at deep of day
A week since, heard I the old Canon say
He saw with his own eyes a barrow burst
And Alberic's huge skeleton unhearsed
Only five years ago. He added, "June 's
"The month for carding off our first cocoons
"The silkworms fabricate"a double news,
Nor he nor I could tell the worthier. Choose!
And Naddo gone, all's gone; not Eglamor!
Believe, I knew the face I waited for,
A guest my spirit of the golden courts!
Oh strange to see how, despite ill-reports,
Disuse, some wear of years, that face retained
Its joyous look of love! Suns waxed and waned,
And still my spirit held an upward flight,
Spiral on spiral, gyres of life and light
More and more gorgeousever that face there
The last admitted! crossed, too, with some care
As perfect triumph were not sure for all,
But, on a few, enduring damp must fall,
A transient struggle, haply a painful sense
Of the inferior nature's clingingwhence
Slight starting tears easily wiped away,
Fine jealousies soon stifled in the play
Of irrepressible admirationnot
Aspiring, all considered, to their lot
Who ever, just as they prepare ascend
Spiral on spiral, wish thee well, impend
Thy frank delight at their exclusive track,
That upturned fervid face and hair put back!
Is there no more to say? He of the rhymes
Many a tale, of this retreat betimes,
Was born: Sordello die at once for men?
The Chroniclers of Mantua tired their pen
Telling how Sordello Prince Visconti saved
Mantua, and elsewhere notably behaved
Who thus, by fortune ordering events,
Passed with posterity, to all intents,
For just the god he never could become.
As Knight, Bard, Gallant, men were never dumb
In praise of him: while what he should have been,
Could be, and was notthe one step too mean
For him to take,we suffer at this day
Because of: Ecelin had pushed away
Its chance ere Dante could arrive and take
That step Sordello spurned, for the world's sake:
He did muchbut Sordello's chance was gone.
Thus, had Sordello dared that step alone,
Apollo had been compassed: 't was a fit
He wished should go to him, not he to it
As one content to merely be supposed
Singing or fighting elsewhere, while he dozed
Really at homeone who was chiefly glad
To have achieved the few real deeds he had,
Because that way assured they were not worth
Doing, so spared from doing them henceforth
A tree that covets fruitage and yet tastes
Never itself, itself. Had he embraced
Their cause then, men had plucked Hesperian fruit
And, praising that, just thrown him in to boot
All he was anxious to appear, but scarce
Solicitous to be. A sorry farce
Such life is, after all! Cannot I say
He lived for some one better thing? this way.
Lo, on a heathy brown and nameless hill
By sparkling Asolo, in mist and chill,
Morning just up, higher and higher runs
A child barefoot and rosy. See! the sun's
On the square castle's inner-court's low wall
Like the chine of some extinct animal
Half turned to earth and flowers; and through the haze
(Save where some slender patches of grey maize
Are to be overleaped) that boy has crossed
The whole hill-side of dew and powder-frost
Matting the balm and mountain camomile.
Up and up goes he, singing all the while
Some unintelligible words to beat
The lark, God's poet, swooning at his feet,
So worsted is he at "the few fine locks
"Stained like pale honey oozed from topmost rocks
"Sun-blanched the livelong summer,"all that's left
Of the Goito lay! And thus bereft,
Sleep and forget, Sordello! In effect
He sleeps, the feverish poetI suspect
Not utterly companionless; but, friends,
Wake up! The ghost's gone, and the story ends
I'd fain hope, sweetly; seeing, peri or ghoul,
That spirits are conjectured fair or foul,
Evil or good, judicious authors think,
According as they vanish in a stink
Or in a perfume. Friends, be frank! ye snuff
Civet, I warrant. Really? Like enough!
Merely the savour's rareness; any nose
May ravage with impunity a rose:
Rifle a musk-pod and 't will ache like yours!
I'd tell you that same pungency ensures
An after-gust, but that were overbold.
Who would has heard Sordello's story told.


~ Robert Browning, Sordello - Book the Sixth
,
552:I.

You're my friend:
I was the man the Duke spoke to;
I helped the Duchess to cast off his yoke, too;
So here's the tale from beginning to end,
My friend!

II.

Ours is a great wild country:
If you climb to our castle's top,
I don't see where your eye can stop;
For when you've passed the cornfield country,
Where vineyards leave off, flocks are packed,
And sheep-range leads to cattle-tract,
And cattle-tract to open-chase,
And open-chase to the very base
Of the mountain where, at a funeral pace,
Round about, solemn and slow,
One by one, row after row,
Up and up the pine-trees go,
So, like black priests up, and so
Down the other side again
To another greater, wilder country,
That's one vast red drear burnt-up plain,
Branched through and through with many a vein
Whence iron's dug, and copper's dealt;
Look right, look left, look straight before,-
Beneath they mine, above they smelt,
Copper-ore and iron-ore,
And forge and furnace mould and melt,
And so on, more and ever more,
Till at the last, for a bounding belt,
Comes the salt sand hoar of the great sea-shore,
-And the whole is our Duke's country.

III.

I was born the day this present Duke was-
(And O, says the song, ere I was old!)
In the castle where the other Duke was-
(When I was happy and young, not old!)
I in the kennel, he in the bower:
We are of like age to an hour.
My father was huntsman in that day;
Who has not heard my father say
That, when a boar was brought to bay,
Three times, four times out of five,
With his huntspear he'd contrive
To get the killing-place transfixed,
And pin him true, both eyes betwixt?
And that's why the old Duke would rather
He lost a salt-pit than my father,
And loved to have him ever in call;
That's why my father stood in the hall
When the old Duke brought his infant out
To show the people, and while they passed
The wondrous bantling round about,
Was first to start at the outside blast
As the Kaiser's courier blew his horn
Just a month after the babe was born.
``And,'' quoth the Kaiser's courier, ``since
``The Duke has got an heir, our Prince
``Needs the Duke's self at his side: ''
The Duke looked down and seemed to wince,
But he thought of wars o'er the world wide,
Castles a-fire, men on their march,
The toppling tower, the crashing arch;
And up he looked, and awhile he eyed
The row of crests and shields and banners
Of all achievements after all manners,
And ``ay,'' said the Duke with a surly pride.
The more was his comfort when he died
At next year's end, in a velvet suit,
With a gilt glove on his hand, his foot
In a silken shoe for a leather boot,
Petticoated like a herald,
In a chamher next to an ante-room,
Where he breathed the breath of page and groom,
What he called stink, and they, perfume:
-They should have set him on red Berold
Mad with pride, like fire to manage!
They should have got his cheek fresh tannage
Such a day as to-day in the merry sunshine!
Had they stuck on his fist a rough-foot merlin!
(Hark, the wind's on the heath at its game!
Oh for a noble falcon-lanner
To flap each broad wing like a banner,
And turn in the wind, and dance like flame!)
Had they broached a white-beer cask from Berlin
-Or if you incline to prescribe mere wine
Put to his lips, when they saw him pine,
A cup of our own Moldavia fine,
Cotnar for instance, green as May sorrel
And ropy with sweet,-we shall not quarrel.

IV.

So, at home, the sick tall yellow Duchess
Was left with the infant in her clutches,
She being the daughter of God knows who:
And now was the time to revisit her tribe.
Abroad and afar they went, the two,
And let our people rail and gibe
At the empty hall and extinguished fire,
As loud as we liked, but ever in vain,
Till after long years we had our desire,
And back came the Duke and his mother again.

V.

And he came back the pertest little ape
That ever affronted human shape;
Full of his travel, struck at himself.
You'd say, he despised our bluff old ways?
-Not he! For in Paris they told the elf
Our rough North land was the Land of Lays,
The one good thing left in evil days;
Since the Mid-Age was the Heroic Time,
And only in wild nooks like ours
Could you taste of it yet as in its prime,
And see true castles, with proper towers,
Young-hearted women, old-minded men,
And manners now as manners were then.
So, all that the old Dukes had been, without knowing it,
This Duke would fain know he was, without being it;
'Twas not for the joy's self, but the joy of his showing it,
Nor for the pride's self, but the pride of our seeing it,
He revived all usages thoroughly worn-out,
The souls of them fumed-forth, the hearts of them torn-out:
And chief in the chase his neck he perilled
On a lathy horse, all legs and length,
With blood for bone, all speed, no strength;
-They should have set him on red Berold
With the red eye slow consuming in fire,
And the thin stiff ear like an abbey-spire!

VI.

Well, such as he was, he must marry, we heard:
And out of a convent, at the word,
Came the lady, in time of spring.
-Oh, old thoughts they cling, they cling!
That day, I know, with a dozen oaths
I clad myself in thick hunting-clothes
Fit for the chase of urochs or buffle
In winter-time when you need to muffle.
But the Duke had a mind we should cut a figure,
And so we saw the lady arrive:
My friend, I have seen a white crane bigger!
She was the smallest lady alive,
Made in a piece of nature's madness,
Too small, almost, for the life and gladness
That over-filled her, as some hive
Out of the bears' reach on the high trees
Is crowded with its safe merry bees:
In truth, she was not hard to please!
Up she looked, down she looked, round at the mead,
Straight at the castle, that's best indeed
To look at from outside the walls:
As for us, styled the ``serfs and thralls,''
She as much thanked me as if she had said it,
(With her eyes, do you understand?)
Because I patted her horse while I led it;
And Max, who rode on her other hand,
Said, no bird flew past but she inquired
What its true name was, nor ever seemed tired-
If that was an eagle she saw hover,
And the green and grey bird on the field was the plover.
When suddenly appeared the Duke:
And as down she sprung, the small foot pointed
On to my hand,-as with a rebuke,
And as if his backbone were not jointed,
The Duke stepped rather aside than forward,
And welcomed her with his grandest smile;
And, mind you, his mother all the while
Chilled in the rear, like a wind to Nor'ward;
And up, like a weary yawn, with its pullies
Went, in a shriek, the rusty portcullis;
And, like a glad sky the north-wind sullies,
The lady's face stopped its play,
As if her first hair had grown grey;
For such things must begin some one day.

VII.

In a day or two she was well again;
As who should say, ``You labour in vain!
``This is all a jest against God, who meant
``I should ever be, as I am, content
`` And glad in his sight; therefore, glad I will be.''
So, smiling as at first went she.

VIII.

She was active, stirring, all fire-
Could not rest, could not tire-
To a stone she might have given life!
(I myself loved once, in my day)
-For a shepherd's, miner's, huntsman's wife,
(I had a wife, I know what I say)
Never in all the world such an one!
And here was plenty to be done,
And she that could do it, great or small,
She was to do nothing at all.
There was already this man in his post,
This in his station, and that in his office,
And the Duke's plan admitted a wife, at most,
To meet his eye, with the other trophies,
Now outside the hall, now in it,
To sit thus, stand thus, see and be seen,
At the proper place in the proper minute,
And die away the life between.
And it was amusing enough, each infraction
Of rule-(but for after-sadness that came)
To hear the consummate self-satisfaction
With which the young Duke and the old dame
Would let her advise, and criticise,
And, being a fool, instruct the wise,
And, child-like, parcel out praise or blame:
They bore it all in complacent guise,
As though an artificer, after contriving
A wheel-work image as if it were living,
Should find with delight it could motion to strike him!
So found the Duke, and his mother like him:
The lady hardly got a rebuff-
That had not been contemptuous enough,
With his cursed smirk, as he nodded applause,
And kept off the old mother-cat's claws.

IX.

So, the little lady grew silent and thin,
Paling and ever paling,
As the way is with a hid chagrin;
And the Duke perceived that she was ailing,
And said in his heart, ``'Tis done to spite me,
``But I shall find in my power to right me!''
Don't swear, friend! The old one, many a year,
Is in hell, and the Duke's self . . . you shall hear.

X.

Well, early in autumn, at first winter-warning,
When the stag had to break with his foot, of a morning,
A drinking-hole out of the fresh tender ice
That covered the pond till the sun, in a trice,
Loosening it, let out a ripple of gold,
And another and another, and faster and faster,
Till, dimpling to blindness, the wide water rolled:
Then it so chanced that the Duke our master
Asked himself what were the pleasures in season,
And found, since the calendar bade him be hearty,
He should do the Middle Age no treason
In resolving on a hunting-party.
Always provided, old books showed the way of it!
What meant old poets by their strictures?
And when old poets had said their say of it,
How taught old painters in their pictures?
We must revert to the proper channels,
Workings in tapestry, paintings on panels,
And gather up woodcraft's authentic traditions:
Here was food for our various ambitions,
As on each case, exactly stated-
To encourage your dog, now, the properest chirrup,
Or best prayer to Saint Hubert on mounting your stirrup-
We of the house hold took thought and debated.
Blessed was he whose back ached with the jerkin
His sire was wont to do forest-work in;
Blesseder he who nobly sunk ``ohs''
And ``ahs'' while he tugged on his grand-sire's trunk-hose;
What signified hats if they had no rims on,
Each slouching before and behind like the scallop,
And able to serve at sea for a shallop,
Loaded with lacquer and looped with crimson?
So that the deer now, to make a short rhyme on't,
What with our Venerers, Prickers and Yerderers,
Might hope for real hunters at length and not murderers,
And oh the Duke's tailor, he had a hot time on't!

XI.

Now you must know that when the first dizziness
Of flap-hats and buff-coats and jack-boots subsided,
The Duke put this question, ``The Duke's part provided,
``Had not the Duchess some share in the business?''
For out of the mouth of two or three witnesses
Did he establish all fit-or-unfitnesses:
And, after much laying of heads together,
Somebody's cap got a notable feather
By the announcement with proper unction
That he had discovered the lady's function;
Since ancient authors gave this tenet,
``When horns wind a mort and the deer is at siege,
``Let the dame of the castle prick forth on her jennet,
``And, with water to wash the hands of her liege
``In a clean ewer with a fair toweling,
`` Let her preside at the disemboweling.''
Now, my friend, if you had so little religion
As to catch a hawk, some falcon-lanner,
And thrust her broad wings like a banner
Into a coop for a vulgar pigeon;
And if day by day and week by week
You cut her claws, and sealed her eyes,
And clipped her wings, and tied her beak,
Would it cause you any great surprise
If, when you decided to give her an airing,
You found she needed a little preparing?
-I say, should you be such a curmudgeon,
If she clung to the perch, as to take it in dudgeon?
Yet when the Duke to his lady signified,
Just a day before, as he judged most dignified,
In what a pleasure she was to participate,-
And, instead of leaping wide in flashes,
Her eyes just lifted their long lashes,
As if pressed by fatigue even he could not dissipate,
And duly acknowledged the Duke's forethought,
But spoke of her health, if her health were worth aught,
Of the weight by day and the watch by night,
And much wrong now that used to be right,
So, thanking him, declined the hunting,-
Was conduct ever more affronting?
With all the ceremony settled-
With the towel ready, and the sewer
Polishing up his oldest ewer,
And the jennet pitched upon, a piebald,
Black-barred, cream-coated and pink eye-balled,-
No wonder if the Duke was nettled
And when she persisted nevertheless,-
Well, I suppose here's the time to confess
That there ran half round our lady's chamber
A balcony none of the hardest to clamber;
And that Jacynth the tire-woman, ready in waiting,
Stayed in call outside, what need of relating?
And since Jacynth was like a June rose, why, a fervent
Adorer of Jacynth of course was your servant;
And if she had the habit to peep through the casement,
How could I keep at any vast distance?
And so, as I say, on the lady's persistence,
The Duke, dumb-stricken with amazement,
Stood for a while in a sultry smother,
And then, with a smile that partook of the awful,
Turned her over to his yellow mother
To learn what was held decorous and lawful;
And the mother smelt blood with a cat-like instinct,
As her cheek quick whitened thro' all its quince-tinct.
Oh, but the lady heard the whole truth at once!
What meant she?Who was she?-Her duty and station,
The wisdom of age and the folly of youth, at once,
Its decent regard and its fitting relation-
In brief, my friend, set all the devils in hell free
And turn them out to carouse in a belfry
And treat the priests to a fifty-part canon,
And then you may guess how that tongue of hers ran on!
Well, somehow or other it ended at last
And, licking her whiskers, out she passed;
And after her,-making (he hoped) a face
Like Emperor Nero or Sultan Saladin,
Stalked the Duke's self with the austere grace
Of ancient hero or modern paladin,
From door to staircase-oh such a solemn
Unbending of the vertebral column!

XII.

However, at sunrise our company mustered;
And here was the huntsman bidding unkennel,
And there 'neath his bonnet the pricker blustered,
With feather dank as a bough of wet fennel;
For the court-yard walls were filled with fog
You might have cut as an axe chops a log-
Like so much wool for colour and bulkiness;
And out rode the Duke in a perfect sulkiness,
Since, before breakfast, a man feels but queasily,
And a sinking at the lower abdomen
Begins the day with indifferent omen.
And lo, as he looked around uneasily,
The sun ploughed the fog up and drove it asunder
This way and that from the valley under;
And, looking through the court-yard arch,
Down in the valley, what should meet him
But a troop of Gipsies on their march?
No doubt with the annual gifts to greet him.

XIII.

Now, in your land, Gipsies reach you, only
After reaching all lands beside;
North they go, South they go, trooping or lonely,
And still, as they travel far and wide,
Catch they and keep now a trace here, trace there,
That puts you in mind of a place here, a place there.
But with us, I believe they rise out of the ground,
And nowhere else, I take it, are found
With the earth-tint yet so freshly embrowned:
Born, no doubt, like insects which breed on
The very fruit they are meant to feed on.
For the earth-not a use to which they don't turn it,
The ore that grows in the mountain's womb,
Or the sand in the pits like a honeycomb,
They sift and soften it, bake it and burn it-
Whether they weld you, for instance, a snaffle
With side-bars never a brute can baffle;
Or a lock that's a puzzle of wards within wards;
Or, if your colt's fore-foot inclines to curve inwards,
Horseshoes they hammer which turn on a swivel
And won't allow the hoof to shrivel.
Then they cast bells like the shell of the winkle
That keep a stout heart in the ram with their tinkle;
But the sand-they pinch and pound it like otters;
Commend me to Gipsy glass-makers and potters!
Glasses they'll blow you, crystal-clear,
Where just a faint cloud of rose shall appear,
As if in pure water you dropped and let die
A bruised black-blooded mulberry;
And that other sort, their crowning pride,
With long white threads distinct inside,
Like the lake-flower's fibrous roots which dangle
Loose such a length and never tangle,
Where the bold sword-lily cuts the clear waters,
And the cup-lily couches with all the white daughters:
Such are the works they put their hand to,
The uses they turn and twist iron and sand to.
And these made the troop, which our Duke saw sally
Toward his castle from out of the valley,
Men and women, like new-hatched spiders,
Come out with the morning to greet our riders.
And up they wound till they reached the ditch,
Whereat all stopped save one, a witch
That I knew, as she hobbled from the group,
By her gait directly and her stoop,
I, whom Jacynth was used to importune
To let that same witch tell us our fortune.
The oldest Gipsy then above ground;
And, sure as the autumn season came round,
She paid us a visit for profit or pastime,
And every time, as she swore, for the last time.
And presently she was seen to sidle
Up to the Duke till she touched his bridle,
So that the horse of a sudden reared up
As under its nose the old witch peered up
With her worn-out eyes, or rather eye-holes
Of no use now but to gather brine,
And began a kind of level whine
Such as they used to sing to their viols
When their ditties they go grinding
Up and down with nobody minding:
And then, as of old, at the end of the humming
Her usual presents were forthcoming
-A dog-whistle blowing the fiercest of trebles,
(Just a sea-shore stone holding a dozen fine pebbles,)
Or a porcelain mouth-piece to screw on a pipe-end,-
And so she awaited her annual stipend.
But this time, the Duke would scarcely vouchsafe
A word in reply; and in vain she felt
With twitching fingers at her belt
For the purse of sleek pine-martin pelt,
Ready to ptlt what he gave in her pouch safe,-
Till, either to quicken his apprehension,
Or possibly with an after-intention,
She was come, she said, to pay her duty
To the new Duchess, the youthful beauty.
No sooner had she named his lady,
Than a shine lit up the face so shady,
And its smirk returned with a novel meaning-
For it struck him, the babe just wanted weaning;
If one gave her a taste of what life was and sorrow,
She, foolish to-day, would be wiser tomorrow;
And who so fit a teacher of trouble
As this sordid crone bent well-nigh double?
So, glancing at her wolf-skin vesture,
(If such it was, for they grow so hirsute
That their own fleece serves for natural fur-suit)
He was contrasting, 'twas plain from his gesture,
The life of the lady so flower-like and delicate
With the loathsome squalor of this helicat.
I, in brief, was the man the Duke beckoned
From out of the throng, and while I drew near
He told the crone-as I since have reckoned
By the way he bent and spoke into her ear
With circumspection and mystery-
The main of the lady's history,
Her frowardness and ingratitude:
And for all the crone's submissive attitude
I could see round her mouth the loose plaits tightening,
And her brow with assenting intelligence brightening,
As though she engaged with hearty good-will
Whatever he now might enjoin to fulfil,
And promised the lady a thorough frightening.
And so, just giving her a glimpse
Of a purse, with the air of a man who imps
The wing of the hawk that shall fetch the hernshaw,
He bade me take the Gipsy mother
And set her telling some story or other
Of hill or dale, oak-wood or fernshaw,
To wile away a weary hour
For the lady left alone in her bower,
Whose mind and body craved exertion
And yet shrank from all better diversion.

XIV.

Then clapping heel to his horse, the mere curveter,
Out rode the Duke, and after his hollo
Horses and hounds swept, huntsman and servitor,
And back I turned and bade the crone follow.
And what makes me confident what's to be told you
Had all along been of this crone's devising,
Is, that, on looking round sharply, behold you,
There was a novelty quick as surprising:
For first, she had shot up a full head in stature,
And her step kept pace with mine nor faltered,
As if age had foregone its usurpature,
And the ignoble mien was wholly altered,
And the face looked quite of another nature,
And the change reached too, whatever the change meant,
Her shaggy wolf-skin cloak's arrangement:
For where its tatters hung loose like sedges,
Gold coins were glittering on the edges,
Like the band-roll strung with tomans
Which proves the veil a Persian woman's.
And under her brow, like a snail's horns newly
Come out as after the rain he paces,
Two unmistakeable eye-points duly
Live and aware looked out of their places.
So, we went and found Jacynth at the entry
Of the lady's chamber standing sentry;
I told the command and produced my companion,
And Jacynth rejoiced to admit any one,
For since last night, by the same token,
Not a single word had the lady spoken:
They went in both to the presence together,
While I in the balcony watched the weather.

XV.

And now, what took place at the very first of all,
I cannot tell, as I never could learn it:
Jacynth constantly wished a curse to fall
On that little head of hers and burn it
If she knew how she came to drop so soundly
Asleep of a sudden and there continue
The whole time sleeping as profoundly
As one of the boars my father would pin you
'Twixt the eyes where life holds garrison,
-Jacynth forgive me the comparison!
But where I begin asy own narration
Is a little after I took my station
To breathe the fresh air from the balcony,
And, having in those days a falcon eye,
To follow the hunt thro' the open country,
From where the bushes thinlier crested
The hillocks, to a plain where's not one tree.
When, in a moment, my ear was arrested
By-was it singing, or was it saying,
Or a strange musical instrument playing
In the chamber?-and to be certain
I pushed the lattice, pulled the curtain,
And there lay Jacynth asleep,
Yet as if a watch she tried to keep,
In a rosy sleep along the floor
With her head against the door;
While in the midst, on the seat of state,
Was a queen-the Gipsy woman late,
With head and face downbent
On the lady's head and face intent:
For, coiled at her feet like a child at ease,
The lady sat between her knees
And o'er them the lady's clasped hands met,
And on those hands her chin was set,
And her upturned face met the face of the crone
Wherein the eyes had grown and grown
As if she could double and quadruple
At pleasure the play of either pupil
-Very like, by her hands' slow fanning,
As up and down like a gor-crow's flappers
They moved to measure, or bell-clappers.
I said ``Is it blessing, is it banning,
``Do they applaud you or burlesque you-
``Those hands and fingers with no flesh on?''
But, just as I thought to spring in to the rescue,
At once I was stopped by the lady's expression:
For it was life her eyes were drinking
From the crone's wide pair above unwinking,
-Life's pure fire received without shrinking,
Into the heart and breast whose heaving
Told you no single drop they were leaving,
-Life, that filling her, passed redundant
Into her very hair, back swerving
Over each shoulder, loose and abundant,
As her head thrown back showed the white throat curving;
And the very tresses shared in the pleasure,
Moving to the mystic measure,
Bounding as the bosom bounded.
I stopped short, more and more confounded,
As still her cheeks burned and eyes glistened,
As she listened and she listened:
When all at once a hand detained me,
The selfsame contagion gained me,
And I kept time to the wondrous chime,
Making out words and prose and rhyme,
Till it seemed that the music furled
Its wings like a task fulfilled, and dropped
From under the words it first had propped,
And left them midway in the world:
Word took word as hand takes hand,
I could hear at last, and understand,
And when I held the unbroken thread,
The Gipsy said:-

``And so at last we find my tribe.
``And so I set thee in the midst,
``And to one and all of them describe
``What thou saidst and what thou didst,
``Our long and terrible journey through,
``And all thou art ready to say and do
``In the trials that remain:
``I trace them the vein and the other vein
``That meet on thy brow and part again,
``Making our rapid mystic mark;
``And I bid my people prove and probe
``Each eye's profound and glorious globe
``Till they detect the kindred spark
``In those depths so dear and dark,
``Like the spots that snap and burst and flee,
``Circling over the midnight sea.
``And on that round young cheek of thine
``I make them recognize the tinge,
``As when of the costly scarlet wine
``They drip so much as will impinge
``And spread in a thinnest scale afloat
``One thick gold drop from the olive's coat
``Over a silver plate whose sheen
``Still thro' the mixture shall be seen.
``For so I prove thee, to one and all,
``Fit, when my people ope their breast,
``To see the sign, and hear the call,
``And take the vow, and stand the test
``Which adds one more child to the rest-
``When the breast is bare and the arms are wide,
``And the world is left outside.
``For there is probation to decree,
``And many and long must the trials be
``Thou shalt victoriously endure,
``If that brow is true and those eyes are sure;
``Like a jewel-finder's fierce assay
``Of the prize he dug from its mountain-tomb-
``Let once the vindicating ray
``Leap out amid the anxious gloom,
``And steel and fire have done their part
``And the prize falls on its finder's heart;
`'So, trial after trial past,
``Wilt thou fall at the very last
``Breathless, half in trance
``With the thrill of the great deliverance,
``Into our arms for evermore;
``And thou shalt know, those arms once curled
``About thee, what we knew before,
``How love is the only good in the world.
``Henceforth be loved as heart can love,
``Or brain devise, or hand approve!
``Stand up, look below,
``It is our life at thy feet we throw
``To step with into light and joy;
``Not a power of life but we employ
``To satisfy thy nature's want;
``Art thou the tree that props the plant,
``Or the climbing plant that seeks the tree-
``Canst thou help us, must we help thee?
``If any two creatures grew into one,
``They would do more than the world has done.
``Though each apart were never so weak,
``Ye vainly through the world should seek
``For the knowledge and the might
``Which in such union grew their right:
``So, to approach at least that end,
``And blend,-as much as may be, blend
``Thee with us or us with thee,-
``As climbing plant or propping tree,
``Shall some one deck thee, over and down,
``Up and about, with blossoms and leaves?
``Fix his heart's fruit for thy garland crown,
``Cling with his soul as the gourd-vine cleaves,
``Die on thy boughs and disappear
``While not a leaf of thine is sere?
``Or is the other fate in store,
``And art thou fitted to adore,
``To give thy wondrous self away,
``And take a stronger nature's sway?
``I foresee and could foretell
``Thy future portion, sure and well:
``But those passionate eyes speak true, speak true,
``Let them say what thou shalt do!
``Only be sure thy daily life,
``In its peace or in its strife,
``Never shall be unobserved:
``We pursue thy whole career,
``And hope for it, or doubt, or fear,-
``Lo, hast thou kept thy path or swerved,
``We are beside thee in all thy ways,
``With our blame, with our praise,
``Our shame to feel, our pride to show,
``Glad, angry-but indifferent, no!
``Whether it be thy lot to go,
``For the good of us all, where the haters meet
``In the crowded city's horrible street;
``Or thou step alone through the morass
``Where never sound yet was
``Save the dry quick clap of the stork's bill,
``For the air is still, and the water still,
``When the blue breast of the dipping coot
``Dives under, and all is mute.
``So, at the last shall come old age,
``Decrepit as befits that stage;
``How else wouldst thou retire apart
``With the hoarded memories of thy heart,
``And gather all to the very least
``Of the fragments of life's earlier feast,
``Let fall through eagerness to find
``The crowning dainties yet behind?
``Ponder on the entire past
``Laid together thus at last,
``When the twilight helps to fuse
``The first fresh with the faded hues,
``And the outline of the whole,
``As round eve's shades their framework roll,
``Grandly fronts for once thy soul.
``And then as, 'mid the dark, a glean
``Of yet another morning breaks,
``And like the hand which ends a dream,
``Death, with the might of his sunbeam,
``Touches the flesh and the soul awakes,
``Then''
Ay, then indeed something would happen!
But what? For here her voice changed like a bird's;
There grew more of the music and less of the words;
Had Jacynth only been by me to clap pen
To paper and put you down every syllable
With those clever clerkly fingers,
All I've forgotten as well as what lingers
In this old brain of mine that's but ill able
To give you even this poor version
Of the speech I spoil, as it were, with stammering
-More fault of those who had the hammering
Of prosody into me and syntax,
And did it, not with hobnails but tintacks!
But to return from this excursion,-
Just, do you mark, when the song was sweetest,
The peace most deep and the charm completest,
There came, shall I say, a snap-
And the charm vanished!
And my sense returned, so strangely banished,
And, starting as from a nap,
I knew the crone was bewitching my lady,
With Jacynth asleep; and but one spring made I
Down from the casement, round to the portal,
Another minute and I had entered,-
When the door opened, and more than mortal
Stood, with a face where to my mind centred
All beauties I ever saw or shall see,
The Duchess: I stopped as if struck by palsy.
She was so different, happy and beautiful,
I felt at once that all was best,
And that I had nothing to do, for the rest,
But wait her commands, obey and be dutiful.
Not that, in fact, there was any commanding;
I saw the glory of her eye,
And the brow's height and the breast's expanding,
And I was hers to live or to die.
As for finding what she wanted,
You know God Almighty granted
Such little signs should serve wild creatures
To tell one another all their desires,
So that each knows what his friend requires,
And does its bidding without teachers.
I preceded her; the crone
Followed silent and alone;
I spoke to her, but she merely jabbered
In the old style; both her eyes had slunk
Back to their pits; her stature shrunk;
In short, the soul in its body sunk
Like a blade sent home to its scabbard.
We descended, I preceding;
Crossed the court with nobody heeding,
All the world was at the chase,
The courtyard like a desert-place,
The stable emptied of its small fry;
I saddled myself the very palfrey
I remember patting while it carried her,
The day she arrived and the Duke married her.
And, do you know, though it's easy deceiving
Oneself in such matters, I can't help believing
The lady had not forgotten it either,
And knew the poor devil so much beneath her
Would have been only too glad for her service
To dance on hot ploughshares like a Turk dervise,
But, unable to pay proper duty where owing it,
Was reduced to that pitiful method of showing it:
For though the moment I began setting
His saddle on my own nag of Berold's begetting,
(Not that I meant to be obtrusive)
She stopped me, while his rug was shifting,
By a single rapid finger's lifting,
And, with a gesture kind but conclusive,
And a little shake of the head, refused me,-
I say, although she never used me,
Yet when she was mounted, the Gipsy behind her,
And I ventured to remind her,
I suppose with a voice of less steadiness
Than usual, for my feeling exceeded me,
-Something to the effect that I was in readiness
Whenever God should please she needed me,-
Then, do you know, her face looked down on me
With a look that placed a crown on me,
And she felt in her bosom,-mark, her bosom-
And, as a flower-tree drops its blossom,
Dropped me . . . ah, had it been a purse
Of silver, my friend, or gold that's worse,
Why, you see, as soon as I found myself
So understood,-that a true heart so may gain
Such a reward,-I should have gone home again,
Kissed Jacynth, and soberly drowned myself!
It was a little plait of hair
Such as friends in a convent make
To wear, each for the other's sake,-
This, see, which at my breast I wear,
Ever did (rather to Jacynth's grudgment),
And ever shall, till the Day of Judgment.
And then,-and then,-to cut short,-this is idle,
These are feelings it is not good to foster,-
I pushed the gate wide, she shook the bridle,
And the palfrey bounded,-and so we lost her.

XVI.

When the liquor's out why clink the cannikin?
I did think to describe you the panic in
The redoubtable breast of our master the mannikin,
And what was the pitch of his mother's yellowness,
How she turned as a shark to snap the spare-rib
Clean off, sailors say, from a pearl-diving Carib,
When she heard, what she called the flight of the feloness
-But it seems such child's play,
What they said and did with the lady away!
And to dance on, when we've lost the music,
Always made me-and no doubt makes you-sick.
Nay, to my mind, the world's face looked so stern
As that sweet form disappeared through the postern,
She that kept it in constant good humour,
It ought to have stopped; there seemed nothing to do more.
But the world thought otherwise and went on,
And my head's one that its spite was spent on:
Thirty years are fled since that morning,
And with them all my head's adorning.
Nor did the old Duchess die outright,
As you expect, of suppressed spite,
The natural end of every adder
Not suffered to empty its poison-bladder:
But she and her son agreed, I take it,
That no one should touch on the story to wake it,
For the wound in the Duke's pride rankled fiery,
So, they made no search and small inquiry-
And when fresh Gipsies have paid us a visit, I've
Noticed the couple were never inquisitive,
But told them they're folks the Duke don't want here,
And bade them make haste and cross the frontier.
Brief, the Duchess was gone and the Duke was glad of it,
And the old one was in the young one's stead,
And took, in her place, the household's head,
And a blessed time the household had of it!
And were I not, as a man may say, cautious
How I trench, more than needs, on the nauseous,
I could favour you with sundry touches
Of the paint-smutches with which the Duchess
Heightened the mellowness of her cheek's yellowness
(To get on faster) until at last her
Cheek grew to be one master-plaster
Of mucus and focus from mere use of ceruse:
In short, she grew from scalp to udder
Just the object to make you shudder.

XVII.

You're my friend-
What a thing friendship is, world without end!
How it gives the heart and soul a stir-up
As if somebody broached you a glorious runlet,
And poured out, all lovelily, sparklingly, sunlit,
Our green Moldavia, the streaky syrup,
Cotnar as old as the time of the Druids-
Friendship may match with that monarch of fluids;
Each supples a dry brain, fills you its ins-and-outs,
Gives your life's hour-glass a shake when the thin sand doubts
Whether to run on or stop short, and guarantees
Age is not all made of stark sloth and arrant ease.
I have seen my little lady once more,
Jacynth, the Gipsy, Berold, and the rest of it,
For to me spoke the Duke, as I told you before;
I always wanted to make a clean breast of it:
And now it is made-why, my heart's blood, that went trickle,
Trickle, but anon, in such muddy driblets,
Is pumped up brisk now, through the main ventricle,
And genially floats me about the giblets.
I'll tell you what I intend to do:
I must see this fellow his sad life through-
He is our Duke, after all,
And I, as he says, but a serf and thrall.
My father was born here, and I inherit
His fame, a chain he bound his son with;
Could I pay in a lump I should prefer it,
But there's no mine to blow up and get done with:
So, I must stay till the end of the chapter.
For, as to our middle-age-manners-adapter,
Be it a thing to be glad on or sorry on,
Some day or other, his head in a morion
And breast in a hauberk, his heels he'll kick up,
Slain by an onslaught fierce of hiccup.
And then, when red doth the sword of our Duke rust,
And its leathern sheath lie o'ergrown with a blue crust,
Then I shall scrape together my earnings;
For, you see, in the churchyard Jacynth reposes,
And our children all went the way of the roses:
It's a long lane that knows no turnings.
One needs but little tackle to travel in;
So, just one stout cloak shall I indue:
And for a stall, what beats the javelin
With which his boars my father pinned you?
And then, for a purpose you shall hear presently,
Taking some Cotnar, a tight plump skinful,
I shall go journeying, who but I, pleasantly!
Sorrow is vain and despondency sinful.
What's a man's age? He must hurry more, that's all;
Cram in a day, what his youth took a year to hold.
When we mind labour, then only, we're too old-
What age had Methusalem when he begat Saul?
And at last, as its haven some buffeted ship sees,
(Come all the way from the north-parts with sperm oil)
I hope to get safely out of the turmoil
And arrive one day at the land of the Gipsies,
And find my lady, or hear the last news of her
From some old thief and son of Lucifer,
His forehead chapleted green with wreathy hop,
Sunburned all over like an thiop.
And when my Cotnar begins to operate
And the tongue of the rogue to run at a proper rate,
And our wine-skin, tight once, shows each flaccid dent,
I shall drop in with-as if by accident-
``You never knew, then, how it all ended,
``What fortune good or bad attended
``The little lady your Queen befriended?''
-And when that's told me, what's remaining?
This world's too hard for my explaining.
The same wise judge of matters equine
Who still preferred some slim four-year-old
To the big-boned stock of mighty Berold,
And, fur strong Cotnar, drank French weak wine,
He also umst be such a lady's scorner!
Smooth Jacob still rubs homely Esau:
Now up, now down, the world's one see-saw.
-So, I shall find out some snug corner
Under a hedge, like Orson the wood-knight,
Turn myself round and bid the world good night;
And sleep a sound sleep till the trumpet's blowing
Wakes me (unless priests cheat us laymen)
To a world where will be no furtiner throwing
Pearls befare swine that Can't value them. Amen!


~ Robert Browning, The Flight Of The Duchess
,
553:Scene. Salzburg; a cell in the Hospital of St. Sebastian. 1541.
Festus, Paracelsus.
Festus.
No change! The weary night is well-nigh spent,
The lamp burns low, and through the casement-bars
Grey morning glimmers feebly: yet no change!
Another night, and still no sigh has stirred
That fallen discoloured mouth, no pang relit
Those fixed eyes, quenched by the decaying body,
Like torch-flame choked in dust. While all beside
Was breaking, to the last they held out bright,
As a stronghold where life intrenched itself;
But they are dead nowvery blind and dead:
He will drowse into death without a groan.
My Aureolemy forgotten, ruined Aureole!
The days are gone, are gone! How grand thou wast!
And now not one of those who struck thee down
Poor glorious spiritconcerns him even to stay
And satisfy himself his little hand
Could turn God's image to a livid thing.
Another night, and yet no change! 'T is much
That I should sit by him, and bathe his brow,
And chafe his hands; 't is much: but he will sure
Know me, and look on me, and speak to me
Once morebut only once! His hollow cheek
Looked all night long as though a creeping laugh
At his own state were just about to break
From the dying man: my brain swam, my throat swelled,
And yet I could not turn away. In truth,
They told me how, when first brought here, he seemed
Resolved to live, to lose no faculty;
Thus striving to keep up his shattered strength,
Until they bore him to this stifling cell:
When straight his features fell, an hour made white
The flushed face, and relaxed the quivering limb,
Only the eye remained intense awhile
As though it recognized the tomb-like place,
And then he lay as here he lies.
                 Ay, here!
Here is earth's noblest, nobly garlanded
Her bravest champion with his well-won prize
Her best achievement, her sublime amends
For countless generations fleeting fast
And followed by no trace;the creature-god
She instances when angels would dispute
The title of her brood to rank with them.
Angels, this is our angel! Those bright forms
We clothe with purple, crown and call to thrones,
Are human, but not his; those are but men
Whom other men press round and kneel before;
Those palaces are dwelt in by mankind;
Higher provision is for him you seek
Amid our pomps and glories: see it here!
Behold earth's paragon! Now, raise thee, clay!
God! Thou art love! I build my faith on that
Even as I watch beside thy tortured child
Unconscious whose hot tears fall fast by him,
So doth thy right hand guide us through the world
Wherein we stumble. God! what shall we say?
How has he sinned? How else should he have done?
Surely he sought thy praisethy praise, for all
He might be busied by the task so much
As half forget awhile its proper end.
Dost thou well, Lord? Thou canst not but prefer
That I should range myself upon his side
How could he stop at every step to set
Thy glory forth? Hadst thou but granted him
Success, thy honour would have crowned success,
A halo round a star. Or, say he erred,
Save him, dear God; it will be like thee: bathe him
In light and life! Thou art not made like us;
We should be wroth in such a case; but thou
Forgivestso, forgive these passionate thoughts
Which come unsought and will not pass away!
I know thee, who hast kept my path, and made
Light for me in the darkness, tempering sorrow
So that it reached me like a solemn joy;
It were too strange that I should doubt thy love.
But what am I? Thou madest him and knowest
How he was fashioned. I could never err
That way: the quiet place beside thy feet,
Reserved for me, was ever in my thoughts:
But hethou shouldst have favoured him as well!
Ah! he wakens! Aureole, I am here! 't is Festus!
I cast away all wishes save one wish
Let him but know me, only speak to me!
He mutters; louder and louder; any other
Than I, with brain less laden, could collect
What he pours forth. Dear Aureole, do but look!
Is it talking or singing, this he utters fast?
Misery that he should fix me with his eye,
Quick talking to some other all the while!
If he would husband this wild vehemence
Which frustrates its intent!I heard, I know
I heard my name amid those rapid words.
Oh, he will know me yet! Could I divert
This current, lead it somehow gently back
Into the channels of the past!His eye
Brighter than ever! It must recognize me!
I am Erasmus: I am here to pray
That Paracelsus use his skill for me.
The schools of Paris and of Padua send
These questions for your learning to resolve.
We are your students, noble master: leave
This wretched cell, what business have you here?
Our class awaits you; come to us once more!
(O agony! the utmost I can do
Touches him not; how else arrest his ear?)
I am commissioned . . . I shall craze like him.
Better be mute and see what God shall send.
Paracelsus.
Stay, stay with me!
Festus.
          I will; I am come here
To stay with youFestus, you loved of old;
Festus, you know, you must know!
Paracelsus.
                 Festus! Where's
Aprile, then? Has he not chanted softly
The melodies I heard all night? I could not
Get to him for a cold hand on my breast,
But I made out his music well enough,
O well enough! If they have filled him full
With magical music, as they freight a star
With light, and have remitted all his sin,
They will forgive me too, I too shall know!
Festus.
Festus, your Festus!
Paracelsus.
           Ask him if Aprile
Knows as he Lovesif I shall Love and Know?
I try; but that cold hand, like leadso cold!
Festus.
My hand, see!
Paracelsus.
       Ah, the curse, Aprile, Aprile!
We get so nearso very, very near!
'T is an old tale: Jove strikes the Titans down,
Not when they set about their mountain-piling
But when another rock would crown the work.
And Phaetondoubtless his first radiant plunge
Astonished mortals, though the gods were calm,
And Jove prepared his thunder: all old tales!
Festus.
And what are these to you?
Paracelsus.
              Ay, fiends must laugh
So cruelly, so well! most like I never
Could tread a single pleasure underfoot,
But they were grinning by my side, were chuckling
To see me toil and drop away by flakes!
Hell-spawn! I am glad, most glad, that thus I fail!
Your cunning has o'ershot its aim. One year,
One month, perhaps, and I had served your turn!
You should have curbed your spite awhile. But now,
Who will believe 't was you that held me back?
Listen: there's shame and hissing and contempt,
And none but laughs who names me, none but spits
Measureless scorn upon me, me alone,
The quack, the cheat, the liar,all on me!
And thus your famous plan to sink mankind
In silence and despair, by teaching them
One of their race had probed the inmost truth,
Had done all man could do, yet failed no less
Your wise plan proves abortive. Men despair?
Ha, ha! why, they are hooting the empiric,
The ignorant and incapable fool who rushed
Madly upon a work beyond his wits;
Nor doubt they but the simplest of themselves
Could bring the matter to triumphant issue.
So, pick and choose among them all, accursed!
Try now, persuade some other to slave for you,
To ruin body and soul to work your ends!
No, no; I am the first and last, I think.
Festus.
Dear friend, who are accursed? who has done
Paracelsus.
What have I done? Fiends dare ask that? or you,
Brave men? Oh, you can chime in boldly, backed
By the others! What had you to do, sage peers?
Here stand my rivals; Latin, Arab, Jew,
Greek, join dead hands against me: all I ask
Is, that the world enrol my name with theirs,
And even this poor privilege, it seems,
They range themselves, prepared to disallow.
Only observe! why, fiends may learn from them!
How they talk calmly of my throes, my fierce
Aspirings, terrible watchings, each one claiming
Its price of blood and brain; how they dissect
And sneeringly disparage the few truths
Got at a life's cost; they too hanging the while
About my neck, their lies misleading me
And their dead names browbeating me! Grey crew,
Yet steeped in fresh malevolence from hell,
Is there a reason for your hate? My truths
Have shaken a little the palm about each prince?
Just think, Aprile, all these leering dotards
Were bent on nothing less than to be crowned
As we! That yellow blear-eyed wretch in chief
To whom the rest cringe low with feigned respect,
Galen of Pergamos and hellnay speak
The tale, old man! We met there face to face:
I said the crown should fall from thee. Once more
We meet as in that ghastly vestibule:
Look to my brow! Have I redeemed my pledge?
Festus.
Peace, peace; ah, see!
Paracelsus.
           Oh, emptiness of fame!
Oh Persic Zoroaster, lord of stars!
Who said these old renowns, dead long ago,
Could make me overlook the living world
To gaze through gloom at where they stood, indeed,
But stand no longer? What a warm light life
After the shade! In truth, my delicate witch,
My serpent-queen, you did but well to hide
The juggles I had else detected. Fire
May well run harmless o'er a breast like yours!
The cave was not so darkened by the smoke
But that your white limbs dazzled me: oh, white,
And panting as they twinkled, wildly dancing!
I cared not for your passionate gestures then,
But now I have forgotten the charm of charms,
The foolish knowledge which I came to seek,
While I remember that quaint dance; and thus
I am come back, not for those mummeries,
But to love you, and to kiss your little feet
Soft as an ermine's winter coat!
Festus.
                 A light
Will struggle through these thronging words at last.
As in the angry and tumultuous West
A soft star trembles through the drifting clouds.
These are the strivings of a spirit which hates
So sad a vault should coop it, and calls up
The past to stand between it and its fate.
Were he at Einsiedelnor Michal here!
Paracelsus.
Cruel! I seek her nowI kneelI shriek
I clasp her vesturebut she fades, still fades;
And she is gone; sweet human love is gone!
'T is only when they spring to heaven that angels
Reveal themselves to you; they sit all day
Beside you, and lie down at night by you
Who care not for their presence, muse or sleep,
And all at once they leave you, and you know them!
We are so fooled, so cheated! Why, even now
I am not too secure against foul play;
The shadows deepen and the walls contract:
No doubt some treachery is going on.
'T is very dusk. Where are we put, Aprile?
Have they left us in the lurch? This murky loathsome
Death-trap, this slaughter-house, is not the hall
In the golden city! Keep by me, Aprile!
There is a hand groping amid the blackness
To catch us. Have the spider-fingers got you,
Poet? Hold on me for your life! If once
They pull you!Hold!
           'Tis but a dreamno more!
I have you still; the sun comes out again;
Let us be happy: all will yet go well!
Let us confer: is it not like, Aprile,
That spite of trouble, this ordeal passed,
The value of my labours ascertained,
Just as some stream foams long among the rocks
But after glideth glassy to the sea,
So, full content shall henceforth be my lot?
What think you, poet? Louder! Your clear voice
Vibrates too like a harp-string. Do you ask
How could I still remain on earth, should God
Grant me the great approval which I seek?
I, you, and God can comprehend each other,
But men would murmur, and with cause enough;
For when they saw me, stainless of all sin,
Preserved and sanctified by inward light,
They would complain that comfort, shut from them,
I drank thus unespied; that they live on,
Nor taste the quiet of a constant joy,
For ache and care and doubt and weariness,
While I am calm; help being vouchsafed to me,
And hid from them.'T were best consider that!
You reason well, Aprile; but at least
Let me know this, and die! Is this too much?
I will learn this, if God so please, and die!
If thou shalt please, dear God, if thou shalt please!
We are so weak, we know our motives least
In their confused beginning. If at first
I sought . . . but wherefore bare my heart to thee?
I know thy mercy; and already thoughts
Flock fast about my soul to comfort it,
And intimate I cannot wholly fail,
For love and praise would clasp me willingly
Could I resolve to seek them. Thou art good,
And I should be content. Yetyet first show
I have done wrong in daring! Rather give
The supernatural consciousness of strength
Which fed my youth! Only one hour of that
With thee to helpO what should bar me then!
Lost, lost! Thus things are ordered here! God's creatures,
And yet he takes no pride in us!none, none!
Truly there needs another life to come!
If this be all(I must tell Festus that)
And other life await us notfor one,
I say 't is a poor cheat, a stupid bungle,
A wretched failure. I, for one, protest
Against it, and I hurl it back with scorn.
Well, onward though alone! Small time remains,
And much to do: I must have fruit, must reap
Some profit from my toils. I doubt my body
Will hardly serve me through; while I have laboured
It has decayed; and now that I demand
Its best assistance, it will crumble fast:
A sad thought, a sad fate! How very full
Of wormwood 't is, that just at altar-service,
The rapt hymn rising with the rolling smoke,
When glory dawns and all is at the best,
The sacred fire may flicker and grow faint
And die for want of a wood-piler's help!
Thus fades the flagging body, and the soul
Is pulled down in the overthrow. Well, well
Let men catch every word, let them lose nought
Of what I say; something may yet be done.
They are ruins! Trust me who am one of you!
All ruins, glorious once, but lonely now.
It makes my heart sick to behold you crouch
Beside your desolate fane: the arches dim,
The crumbling columns grand against the moon,
Could I but rear them up once morebut that
May never be, so leave them! Trust me, friends,
Why should you linger here when I have built
A far resplendent temple, all your own?
Trust me, they are but ruins! See, Aprile,
Men will not heed! Yet were I not prepared
With better refuge for them, tongue of mine
Should ne'er reveal how blank their dwelling is:
I would sit down in silence with the rest.
Ha, what? you spit at me, you grin and shriek
Contempt into my earmy ear which drank
God's accents once? you curse me? Why men, men,
I am not formed for it! Those hideous eyes
Will be before me sleeping, waking, praying,
They will not let me even die. Spare, spare me,
Sinning or no, forget that, only spare me
The horrible scorn! You thought I could support it.
But now you see what silly fragile creature
Cowers thus. I am not good nor bad enough,
Not Christ nor Cain, yet even Cain was saved
From Hate like this. Let me but totter back!
Perhaps I shall elude those jeers which creep
Into my very brain, and shut these scorched
Eyelids and keep those mocking faces out.
Listen, Aprile! I am very calm:
Be not deceived, there is no passion here
Where the blood leaps like an imprisoned thing:
I am calm: I will exterminate the race!
Enough of that: 't is said and it shall be.
And now be merry: safe and sound am I
Who broke through their best ranks to get at you.
And such a havoc, such a rout, Aprile!
Festus.
Have you no thought, no memory for me,
Aureole? I am so wretchedmy pure Michal
Is gone, and you alone are left me now,
And even you forget me. Take my hand
Lean on me thus. Do you not know me, Aureole?
Paracelsus.
Festus, my own friend, you are come at last?
As you say, 't is an awful enterprise;
But you believe I shall go through with it:
'T is like you, and I thank you. Thank him for me,
Dear Michal! See how bright St. Saviour's spire
Flames in the sunset; all its figures quaint
Gay in the glancing light: you might conceive them
A troop of yellow-vested white-haired Jews
Bound for their own land where redemption dawns.
Festus.
Not that blest timenot our youth's time, dear God!
Paracelsus.
Hastay! true, I forgetall is done since,
And he is come to judge me. How he speaks,
How calm, how well! yes, it is true, all true;
All quackery; all deceit; myself can laugh
The first at it, if you desire: but still
You know the obstacles which taught me tricks
So foreign to my natureenvy and hate,
Blind opposition, brutal prejudice,
Bald ignorancewhat wonder if I sunk
To humour men the way they most approved?
My cheats were never palmed on such as you,
Dear Festus! I will kneel if you require me,
Impart the meagre knowledge I possess,
Explain its bounded nature, and avow
My insufficiencywhate'er you will:
I give the fight up: let there be an end,
A privacy, an obscure nook for me.
I want to be forgotten even by God.
But if that cannot be, dear Festus, lay me,
When I shall die, within some narrow grave,
Not by itselffor that would be too proud
But where such graves are thickest; let it look
Nowise distinguished from the hillocks round,
So that the peasant at his brother's bed
May tread upon my own and know it not;
And we shall all be equal at the last,
Or classed according to life's natural ranks,
Fathers, sons, brothers, friendsnot rich, nor wise,
Nor gifted: lay me thus, then say, "He lived
"Too much advanced before his brother men;
"They kept him still in front: 't was for their good
"But yet a dangerous station. It were strange
"That he should tell God he had never ranked
"With men: so, here at least he is a man."
Festus.
That God shall take thee to his breast, dear spirit,
Unto his breast, be sure! and here on earth
Shall splendour sit upon thy name for ever.
Sun! all the heaven is glad for thee: what care
If lower mountains light their snowy phares
At thine effulgence, yet acknowledge not
The source of day? Their theft shall be their bale:
For after-ages shall retrack thy beams,
And put aside the crowd of busy ones
And worship thee alonethe master-mind,
The thinker, the explorer, the creator!
Then, who should sneer at the convulsive throes
With which thy deeds were born, would scorn as well
The sheet of winding subterraneous fire
Which, pent and writhing, sends no less at last
Huge islands up amid the simmering sea.
Behold thy might in me! thou hast infused
Thy soul in mine; and I am grand as thou,
Seeing I comprehend theeI so simple,
Thou so august. I recognize thee first;
I saw thee rise, I watched thee early and late,
And though no glance reveal thou dost accept
My homagethus no less I proffer it,
And bid thee enter gloriously thy rest.
Paracelsus.
Festus!
Festus.
   I am for noble Aureole, God!
I am upon his side, come weal or woe.
His portion shall be mine. He has done well.
I would have sinned, had I been strong enough,
As he has sinned. Reward him or I waive
Reward! If thou canst find no place for him,
He shall be king elsewhere, and I will be
His slave for ever. There are two of us.
Paracelsus.
Dear Festus!
Festus.
      Here, dear Aureole! ever by you!
      Paracelsus.
Nay, speak on, or I dream again. Speak on!
Some story, anythingonly your voice.
I shall dream else. Speak on! ay, leaning so!
Festus.
                         Thus the Mayne glideth
Where my Love abideth.
Sleep's no softer: it proceeds
On through lawns, on through meads,
On and on, whate'er befall,
Meandering and musical,
Though the ****rd pasturage
Bears not on its shaven ledge
Aught but weeds and waving grasses
To view the river as it passes,
Save here and there a scanty patch
Of primroses too faint to catch
A weary bee.
Paracelsus.
More, more; say on!
Festus.
          And scarce it pushes
Its gentle way through strangling rushes
Where the glossy kingfisher
Flutters when noon-heats are near,
Glad the shelving banks to shun,
Red and steaming in the sun,
Where the shrew-mouse with pale throat
Burrows, and the speckled stoat;
Where the quick sandpipers flit
In and out the marl and grit
That seems to breed them, brown as they:
Nought disturbs its quiet way,
Save some lazy stork that springs,
Trailing it with legs and wings,
Whom the shy fox from the hill
Rouses, creep he ne'er so still.
Paracelsus.
My heart! they loose my heart, those simple words;
Its darkness passes, which nought else could touch:
Like some dark snake that force may not expel,
Which glideth out to music sweet and low.
What were you doing when your voice broke through
A chaos of ugly images? You, indeed!
Are you alone here?
Festus.
          All alone: you know me?
This cell?
Paracelsus.
     An unexceptionable vault:
Good brick and stone: the bats kept out, the rats
Kept in: a snug nook: how should I mistake it?
Festus.
But wherefore am I here?
Paracelsus.
             Ah, well remembered!
Why, for a purposefor a purpose, Festus!
'T is like me: here I trifle while time fleets,
And this occasion, lost, will ne'er return.
You are here to be instructed. I will tell
God's message; but I have so much to say,
I fear to leave half out. All is confused
No doubt; but doubtless you will learn in time.
He would not else have brought you here: no doubt
I shall see clearer soon.
Festus.
             Tell me but this
You are not in despair?
Paracelsus.
            I? and for what?
            Festus.
Alas, alas! he knows not, as I feared!
Paracelsus.
What is it you would ask me with that earnest
Dear searching face?
Festus.
           How feel you, Aureole?
           Paracelsus.
                       Well:
Well. 'T is a strange thing: I am dying, Festus,
And now that fast the storm of life subsides,
I first perceive how great the whirl has been.
I was calm then, who am so dizzy now
Calm in the thick of the tempest, but no less
A partner of its motion and mixed up
With its career. The hurricane is spent,
And the good boat speeds through the brightening weather;
But is it earth or sea that heaves below?
The gulf rolls like a meadow-swell, o'erstrewn
With ravaged boughs and remnants of the shore;
And now some slet, loosened from the land,
Swims past with all its trees, sailing to ocean;
And now the air is full of uptorn canes,
Light strippings from the fan-trees, tamarisks
Unrooted, with their birds still clinging to them,
All high in the wind. Even so my varied life
Drifts by me; I am young, old, happy, sad,
Hoping, desponding, acting, taking rest,
And all at once: that is, those past conditions
Float back at once on me. If I select
Some special epoch from the crowd, 't is but
To will, and straight the rest dissolve away,
And only that particular state is present
With all its long-forgotten circumstance
Distinct and vivid as at firstmyself
A careless looker-on and nothing more,
Indifferent and amused, but nothing more.
And this is death: I understand it all.
New being waits me; new perceptions must
Be born in me before I plunge therein;
Which last is Death's affair; and while I speak,
Minute by minute he is filling me
With power; and while my foot is on the threshold
Of boundless lifethe doors unopened yet,
All preparations not complete within
I turn new knowledge upon old events,
And the effect is . . . but I must not tell;
It is not lawful. Your own turn will come
One day. Wait, Festus! You will die like me.
Festus.
'T is of that past life that I burn to hear.
Paracelsus.
You wonder it engages me just now?
In truth, I wonder too. What 's life to me?
Where'er I look is fire, where'er I listen
Music, and where I tend bliss evermore.
Yet how can I refrain? 'T is a refined
Delight to view those chances,one last view.
I am so near the perils I escape,
That I must play with them and turn them over,
To feel how fully they are past and gone.
Still, it is like, some further cause exists
For this peculiar moodsome hidden purpose;
Did I not tell you something of it, Festus?
I had it fast, but it has somehow slipt
Away from me; it will return anon.
Festus.
(Indeed his cheek seems young again, his voice
Complete with its old tones: that little laugh
Concluding every phrase, with upturned eye,
As though one stooped above his head to whom
He looked for confirmation and approval,
Where was it gone so long, so well preserved?
Then, the fore-finger pointing as he speaks,
Like one who traces in an open book
The matter he declares; 't is many a year
Since I remarked it last: and this in him,
But now a ghastly wreck!)
             And can it be,
Dear Aureole, you have then found out at last
That worldly things are utter vanity?
That man is made for weakness, and should wait
In patient ignorance, till God appoint . . .
Paracelsus.
Ha, the purpose: the true purpose: that is it!
How could I fail to apprehend! You here,
I thus! But no more trifling: I see all,
I know all: my last mission shall be done
If strength suffice. No trifling! Stay; this posture
Hardly befits one thus about to speak:
I will arise.
Festus.
       Nay, Aureole, are you wild?
You cannot leave your couch.
Paracelsus.
               No help; no help;
Not even your hand. So! there, I stand once more!
Speak from a couch? I never lectured thus.
My gownthe scarlet lined with fur; now put
The chain about my neck; my signet-ring
Is still upon my hand, I thinkeven so;
Last, my good sword; ah, trusty Azoth, leapest
Beneath thy master's grasp for the last time?
This couch shall be my throne: I bid these walls
Be consecrate, this wretched cell become
A shrine, for here God speaks to men through me.
Now, Festus, I am ready to begin.
Festus.
I am dumb with wonder.
Paracelsus.
           Listen, therefore, Festus!
There will be time enough, but none to spare.
I must content myself with telling only
The most important points. You doubtless feel
That I am happy, Festus; very happy.
Festus.
'T is no delusion which uplifts him thus!
Then you are pardoned, Aureole, all your sin?
Paracelsus.
Ay, pardoned: yet why pardoned?
Festus.
                 'T is God's praise
That man is bound to seek, and you . . .
Paracelsus.
                     Have lived!
We have to live alone to set forth well
God's praise. 'T is true, I sinned much, as I thought,
And in effect need mercy, for I strove
To do that very thing; but, do your best
Or worst, praise rises, and will rise for ever
Pardon from him, because of praise denied
Who calls me to himself to exalt himself?
He might laugh as I laugh!
Festus.
              But all comes
To the same thing. 'T is fruitless for mankind
To fret themselves with what concerns them not;
They are no use that way: they should lie down
Content as God has made them, nor go mad
In thriveless cares to better what is ill.
Paracelsus.
No, no; mistake me not; let me not work
More harm than I have worked! This is my case:
If I go joyous back to God, yet bring
No offering, if I render up my soul
Without the fruits it was ordained to bear,
If I appear the better to love God
For sin, as one who has no claim on him,-
Be not deceived! It may be surely thus
With me, while higher prizes still await
The mortal persevering to the end.
Beside I am not all so valueless:
I have been something, though too soon I left
Following the instincts of that happy time.
Festus.
What happy time? For God's sake, for man's sake,
What time was happy? All I hope to know
That answer will decide. What happy time?
Paracelsus.
When but the time I vowed myself to man?
Festus.
Great God, thy judgments are inscrutable!
Paracelsus.
Yes, it was in me; I was born for it
I, Paracelsus: it was mine by right.
Doubtless a searching and impetuous soul
Might learn from its own motions that some task
Like this awaited it about the world;
Might seek somewhere in this blank life of ours
For fit delights to stay its longings vast;
And, grappling Nature, so prevail on her
To fill the creature full she dared thus frame
Hungry for joy; and, bravely tyrannous,
Grow in demand, still craving more and more,
And make each joy conceded prove a pledge
Of other joy to followbating nought
Of its desires, still seizing fresh pretence
To turn the knowledge and the rapture wrung
As an extreme, last boon, from destiny,
Into occasion for new coyetings,
New strifes, new triumphs:doubtless a strong soul,
Alone, unaided might attain to this,
So glorious is our nature, so august
Man's inborn uninstructed impulses,
His naked spirit so majestical!
But this was born in me; I was made so;
Thus much time saved: the feverish appeties,
The tumult of unproved desire, the unaimed
Uncertain yearnings, aspirations blind,
Distrust, mistake, and all that ends in tears
Were saved me; thus I entered on my course.
You may be sure I was not all exempt
From human trouble; just so much of doubt
As bade me plant a surer foot upon
The sun-road, kept my eye unruined 'mid
The fierce and flashing splendour, set my heart
Trembling so much as warned me I stood there
On sufferancenot to idly gaze, but cast
Light on a darkling race; save for that doubt,
I stood at first where all aspire at last
To stand: the secret of the world was mine.
I knew, I felt, (perception unexpressed,
Uncomprehended by our narrow thought,
But somehow felt and known in every shift
And change in the spirit,nay, in every pore
Of the body, even,)what God is, what we are,
What life ishow God tastes an infinite joy
In infinite waysone everlasting bliss,
From whom all being emanates, all power
Proceeds; in whom is life for evermore,
Yet whom existence in its lowest form
Includes; where dwells enjoyment there is he;
With still a flying point of bliss remote,
A happiness in store afar, a sphere
Of distant glory in full view; thus climbs
Pleasure its heights for ever and for ever.
The centre-fire heaves underneath the earth,
And the earth changes like a human face;
The molten ore bursts up among the rocks,
Winds into the stone's heart, outbranches bright
In hidden mines, spots barren river-beds,
Crumbles into fine sand where sunbeams bask
God joys therein. The wroth sea's waves are edged
With foam, white as the bitten lip of hate,
When, in the solitary waste, strange groups
Of young volcanos come up, cyclops-like,
Staring together with their eyes on flame
God tastes a pleasure in their uncouth pride.
Then all is still; earth is a wintry clod:
But spring-wind, like a dancing psaltress, passes
Over its breast to waken it, rare verdure
Buds tenderly upon rough banks, between
The withered tree-roots and the cracks of frost,
Like a smile striving with a wrinkled face;
The grass grows bright, the boughs are swoln with blooms
Like chrysalids impatient for the air,
The shining dorrs are busy, beetles run
Along the furrows, ants make their ado;
Above, birds fly in merry flocks, the lark
Soars up and up, shivering for very joy;
Afar the ocean sleeps; white fishing-gulls
Flit where the strand is purple with its tribe
Of nested limpets; savage creatures seek
Their loves in wood and plainand God renews
His ancient rapture. Thus he dwells in all,
From life's minute beginnings, up at last
To manthe consummation of this scheme
Of being, the completion of this sphere
Of life: whose attributes had here and there
Been scattered o'er the visible world before,
Asking to be combined, dim fragments meant
To be united in some wondrous whole,
Imperfect qualities throughout creation,
Suggesting some one creature yet to make,
Some point where all those scattered rays should meet
Convergent in the faculties of man.
Powerneither put forth blindly, nor controlled
Calmly by perfect knowledge; to be used
At risk, inspired or checked by hope and fear:
Knowledgenot intuition, but the slow
Uncertain fruit of an enhancing toil,
Strengthened by love: lovenot serenely pure,
But strong from weakness, like a chance-sown plant
Which, cast on stubborn soil, puts forth changed buds
And softer stains, unknown in happier climes;
Love which endures and doubts and is oppressed
And cherished, suffering much and much sustained,
And blind, oft-failing, yet believing love,
A half-enlightened, often-chequered trust:
Hints and previsions of which faculties,
Are strewn confusedly everywhere about
The inferior natures, and all lead up higher,
All shape out dimly the superior race,
The heir of hopes too fair to turn out false,
And man appears at last. So far the seal
Is put on life; one stage of being complete,
One scheme wound up: and from the grand result
A supplementary reflux of light,
Illustrates all the inferior grades, explains
Each back step in the circle. Not alone
For their possessor dawn those qualities,
But the new glory mixes with the heaven
And earth; man, once descried, imprints for ever
His presence on all lifeless things: the winds
Are henceforth voices, wailing or a shout,
A querulous mutter or a quick gay laugh,
Never a senseless gust now man is born.
The herded pines commune and have deep thoughts
A secret they assemble to discuss
When the sun drops behind their trunks which glare
Like grates of hell: the peerless cup afloat
Of the lake-lily is an urn, some nymph
Swims bearing high above her head: no bird
Whistles unseen, but through the gaps above
That let light in upon the gloomy woods,
A shape peeps from the breezy forest-top,
Arch with small puckered mouth and mocking eye.
The morn has enterprise, deep quiet droops
With evening, triumph takes the sunset hour,
Voluptuous transport ripens with the corn
Beneath a warm moon like a happy face:
And this to fill us with regard for man.
With apprehension of his passing worth,
Desire to work his proper nature out,
And ascertain his rank and final place,
For these things tend still upward, progress is
The law of life, man is not Man as yet.
Nor shall I deem his object served, his end
Attained, his genuine strength put fairly forth,
While only here and there a star dispels
The darkness, here and there a towering mind
O'erlooks its prostrate fellows: when the host
Is out at once to the despair of night,
When all mankind alike is perfected,
Equal in full-blown powersthen, not till then,
I say, begins man's general infancy.
For wherefore make account of feverish starts
Of restless members of a dormant whole,
Impatient nerves which quiver while the body
Slumbers as in a grave? Oh long ago
The brow was twitched, the tremulous lids astir,
The peaceful mouth disturbed; half-uttered speech
Ruffled the lip, and then the teeth were set,
The breath drawn sharp, the strong right-hand clenched stronger,
As it would pluck a lion by the jaw;
The glorious creature laughed out even in sleep!
But when full roused, each giant-limb awake,
Each sinew strung, the great heart pulsing fast,
He shall start up and stand on his own earth,
Then shall his long triumphant march begin,
Thence shall his being date,thus wholly roused,
What he achieves shall be set down to him.
When all the race is perfected alike
As man, that is; all tended to mankind,
And, man produced, all has its end thus far:
But in completed man begins anew
A tendency to God. Prognostics told
Man's near approach; so in man's self arise
August anticipations, symbols, types
Of a dim splendour ever on before
In that eternal circle life pursues.
For men begin to pass their nature's bound,
And find new hopes and cares which fast supplant
Their proper joys and griefs; they grow too great
For narrow creeds of right and wrong, which fade
Before the unmeasured thirst for good: while peace
Rises within them ever more and more.
Such men are even now upon the earth,
Serene amid the half-formed creatures round
Who should be saved by them and joined with them.
Such was my task, and I was born to it
Free, as I said but now, from much that chains
Spirits, high-dowered but limited and vexed
By a divided and delusive aim,
A shadow mocking a reality
Whose truth avails not wholly to disperse
The flitting mimic called up by itself,
And so remains perplexed and nigh put out
By its fantastic fellow's wavering gleam.
I, from the first, was never cheated thus;
I never fashioned out a fancied good
Distinct from man's; a service to be done,
A glory to be ministered unto
With powers put forth at man's expense, withdrawn
From labouring in his behalf; a strength
Denied that might avail him. I cared not
Lest his success ran counter to success
Elsewhere: for God is glorified in man,
And to man's glory vowed I soul and limb.
Yet, constituted thus, and thus endowed,
I failed: I gazed on power till I grew blind.
Power; I could not take my eyes from that:
That only, I thought, should be preserved, increased
At any risk, displayed, struck out at once-
The sign and note and character of man.
I saw no use in the past: only a scene
Of degradation, ugliness and tears,
The record of disgraces best forgotten,
A sullen page in human chronicles
Fit to erase. I saw no cause why man
Should not stand all-sufficient even now,
Or why his annals should be forced to tell
That once the tide of light, about to break
Upon the world, was sealed within its spring:
I would have had one day, one moment's space,
Change man's condition, push each slumbering claim
Of mastery o'er the elemental world
At once to full maturity, then roll
Oblivion o'er the work, and hide from man
What night had ushered morn. Not so, dear child
Of after-days, wilt thou reject the past
Big with deep warnings of the proper tenure
By which thou hast the earth: for thee the present
Shall have distinct and trembling beauty, seen
Beside that past's own shade when, in relief,
Its brightness shall stand out: nor yet on thee
Shall burst the future, as successive zones
Of several wonder open on some spirit
Flying secure and glad from heaven to heaven:
But thou shalt painfully attain to joy,
While hope and fear and love shall keep thee man!
All this was hid from me: as one by one
My dreams grew dim, my wide aims circumscribed,
As actual good within my reach decreased,
While obstacles sprung up this way and that
To keep me from effecting half the sum,
Small as it proved; as objects, mean within
The primal aggregate, seemed, even the least,
Itself a match for my concentred strength
What wonder if I saw no way to shun
Despair? The power I sought for man, seemed God's.
In this conjuncture, as I prayed to die,
A strange adventure made me know, one sin
Had spotted my career from its uprise;
I saw Aprilemy Aprile there!
And as the poor melodious wretch disburthened
His heart, and moaned his weakness in my ear,
I learned my own deep error; love's undoing
Taught me the worth of love in man's estate,
And what proportion love should hold with power
In his right constitution; love preceding
Power, and with much power, always much more love;
Love still too straitened in his present means,
And earnest for new power to set love free.
I learned this, and supposed the whole was learned:
And thus, when men received with stupid wonder
My first revealings, would have worshipped me,
And I despised and loathed their proffered praise
When, with awakened eyes, they took revenge
For past credulity in casting shame
On my real knowledge, and I hated them
It was not strange I saw no good in man,
To overbalance all the wear and waste
Of faculties, displayed in vain, but born
To prosper in some better sphere: and why?
In my own heart love had not been made wise
To trace love's faint beginnings in mankind,
To know even hate is but a mask of love's,
To see a good in evil, and a hope
In ill-success; to sympathize, be proud
Of their half-reasons, faint aspirings, dim
Struggles for truth, their poorest fallacies,
Their prejudice and fears and cares and doubts;
All with a touch of nobleness, despite
Their error, upward tending all though weak,
Like plants in mines which never saw the sun,
But dream of him, and guess where he may be,
And do their best to climb and get to him.
All this I knew not, and I failed. Let men
Regard me, and the poet dead long ago
Who loved too rashly; and shape forth a third
And better-tempered spirit, warned by both:
As from the over-radiant star too mad
To drink the life-springs, beamless thence itself
And the dark orb which borders the abyss,
Ingulfed in icy night,might have its course
A temperate and equidistant world.
Meanwhile, I have done well, though not all well.
As yet men cannot do without contempt;
'T is for their good, and therefore fit awhile
That they reject the weak, and scorn the false,
Rather than praise the strong and true, in me:
But after, they will know me. If I stoop
Into a dark tremendous sea of cloud,
It is but for a time; I press God's lamp
Close to my breast; its splendour, soon or late,
Will pierce the gloom: I shall emerge one day.
You understand me? I have said enough?
Festus.
Now die, dear Aureole!
Paracelsus.
           Festus, let my hand
This hand, lie in your own, my own true friend!
Aprile! Hand in hand with you, Aprile!
Festus.
And this was Paracelsus!


~ Robert Browning, Paracelsus - Part V - Paracelsus Attains
,
554:No more wine? then we'll push back chairs and talk.
A final glass for me, though: cool, i' faith!
We ought to have our Abbey back, you see.
It's different, preaching in basilicas,
And doing duty in some masterpiece
Like this of brother Pugin's, bless his heart!
I doubt if they're half baked, those chalk rosettes,
Ciphers and stucco-twiddlings everywhere;
It's just like breathing in a lime-kiln: eh?
These hot long ceremonies of our church
Cost us a littleoh, they pay the price,
You take meamply pay it! Now, we'll talk.

So, you despise me, Mr. Gigadibs.
No deprecation,nay, I beg you, sir!
Beside 't is our engagement: don't you know,
I promised, if you'd watch a dinner out,
We'd see truth dawn together?truth that peeps
Over the glasses' edge when dinners done.                    
And body gets its sop and holds its noise
And leaves soul free a little. Now's the time:
'T is break of day! You do despise me then.
And if I say, "despise me,"never fear!
I know you do not in a certain sense
Not in my arm-chair, for example: here,
I well imagine you respect my place
( Status, entourage , worldly circumstance)
Quite to its valuevery much indeed:
Are up to the protesting eyes of you
In pride at being seated here for once
You'll turn it to such capital account!
When somebody, through years and years to come,
Hints of the bishop,names methat's enough:
"Blougram? I knew him"(into it you slide)
"Dined with him once, a Corpus Christi Day,
"All alone, we two; he's a clever man:
"And after dinner,why, the wine you know,
"Oh, there was wine, and good!what with the wine . .
"'Faith, we began upon all sorts of talk!
"He's no bad fellow, Blougram; he had seen
"Something of mine he relished, some review:
"He's quite above their humbug in his heart,
"Half-said as much, indeedthe thing's his trade.
"I warrant, Blougram's sceptical at times:
"How otherwise? I liked him, I confess!"
                    
Che che , my dear sir, as we say at Rome,
Don't you protest now! It's fair give and take;
You have had your turn and spoken your home-truths:
The hand's mine now, and here you follow suit.

Thus much conceded, still the first fact stays
You do despise me; your ideal of life
Is not the bishop's: you would not be I.
You would like better to be Goethe, now,
Or Buonaparte, or, bless me, lower still,
Count D'Orsay,so you did what you preferred,
Spoke as you thought, and, as you cannot help,
Believed or disbelieved, no matter what,
So long as on that point, whate'er it was,
You loosed your mind, were whole and sole yourself.
That, my ideal never can include,
Upon that element of truth and worth
Never be based! for say they make me Pope
(They can'tsuppose it for our argument!)
Why, there I'm at my tether's end, I've reached
My height, and not a height which pleases you:
An unbelieving Pope won't do, you say.
It's like those eerie stories nurses tell,
Of how some actor on a stage played Death,
With pasteboard crown, sham orb and tinselled dart,
And called himself the monarch of the world;                      

Then, going in the tire-room afterward,
Because the play was done, to shift himself,
Got touched upon the sleeve familiarly,
The moment he had shut the closet door,
By Death himself. Thus God might touch a Pope
At unawares, ask what his baubles mean,
And whose part he presumed to play just now?
Best be yourself, imperial, plain and true!

So, drawing comfortable breath again,
You weigh and find, whatever more or less
I boast of my ideal realized,
Is nothing in the balance when opposed
To your ideal, your grand simple life,
Of which you will not realize one jot.
I am much, you are nothing; you would be all,
I would be merely much: you beat me there.

No, friend, you do not beat me: hearken why!
The common problem, yours, mine, every one's,
Isnot to fancy what were fair in life
Provided it could be,but, finding first
What may be, then find how to make it fair
Up to our means: a very different thing!
No abstract intellectual plan of life
Quite irrespective of life's plainest laws,
                      
But one, a man, who is man and nothing more,
May lead within a world which (by your leave)
Is Rome or London, not Fool's-paradise.
Embellish Rome, idealize away,
Make paradise of London if you can,
You're welcome, nay, you're wise.

A simile!
We mortals cross the ocean of this world
Each in his average cabin of a life;
The best's not big, the worst yields elbow-room.
Now for our six months' voyagehow prepare?
You come on shipboard with a landsman's list
Of things he calls convenient: so they are!
An India screen is pretty furniture,
A piano-forte is a fine resource,
All Balzac's novels occupy one shelf,
The new edition fifty volumes long;
And little Greek books, with the funny type
They get up well at Leipsic, fill the next:
Go on! slabbed marble, what a bath it makes!
And Parma's pride, the Jerome, let us add!
'T were pleasant could Correggio's fleeting glow
Hang full in face of one where'er one roams,
Since he more than the others brings with him
Italy's self,the marvellous Modenese!
                      
Yet was not on your list before, perhaps.
Alas, friend, here's the agent . . . is't the name?
The captain, or whoever's master here
You see him screw his face up; what's his cry
Ere you set foot on shipboard? "Six feet square!"
If you won't understand what six feet mean,
Compute and purchase stores accordingly
And if, in pique because he overhauls
Your Jerome, piano, bath, you come on board
Barewhy, you cut a figure at the first
While sympathetic landsmen see you off;
Not afterward, when long ere half seas over,
You peep up from your utterly naked boards
Into some snug and well-appointed berth,
Like mine for instance (try the cooler jug
Put back the other, but don't jog the ice!)
And mortified you mutter "Well and good;
"He sits enjoying his sea-furniture;
"'T is stout and proper, and there's store of it:
"Though I've the better notion, all agree,
"Of fitting rooms up. Hang the carpenter,
"Neat ship-shape fixings and contrivances
"I would have brought my Jerome, frame and all!"
And meantime you bring nothing: never mind
You've proved your artist-nature: what you don't
You might bring, so despise me, as I say.                      

Now come, let's backward to the starting-place.
See my way: we're two college friends, suppose.
Prepare together for our voyage, then;
Each note and check the other in his work,
Here's mine, a bishop's outfit; criticize!
What's wrong? why won't you be a bishop too?

Why first, you don't believe, you don't and can't,
(Not statedly, that is, and fixedly
And absolutely and exclusively)
In any revelation called divine.
No dogmas nail your faith; and what remains
But say so, like the honest man you are?
First, therefore, overhaul theology!
Nay, I too, not a fool, you please to think,
Must find believing every whit as hard:
And if I do not frankly say as much,
The ugly consequence is clear enough.

Now wait, my friend: well, I do not believe
If you'll accept no faith that is not fixed,
Absolute and exclusive, as you say.
You're wrongI mean to prove it in due time.
Meanwhile, I know where difficulties lie
I could not, cannot solve, nor ever shall,
So give up hope accordingly to solve
                      
(To you, and over the wine). Our dogmas then
With both of us, though in unlike degree,
Missing full credenceoverboard with them!
I mean to meet you on your own premise:
Good, there go mine in company with yours!

And now what are we? unbelievers both,
Calm and complete, determinately fixed
To-day, to-morrow and for ever, pray?
You'll guarantee me that? Not so, I think!
In no wise! all we've gained is, that belief,
As unbelief before, shakes us by fits,
Confounds us like its predecessor. Where's
The gain? how can we guard our unbelief,
Make it bear fruit to us?the problem here.
Just when we are safest, there's a sunset-touch,
A fancy from a flower-bell, some one's death,
A chorus-ending from Euripides,
And that's enough for fifty hopes and fears
As old and new at once as nature's self,
To rap and knock and enter in our soul,
Take hands and dance there, a fantastic ring,
Round the ancient idol, on his base again,
The grand Perhaps! We look on helplessly.
There the old misgivings, crooked questions are
This good God,what he could do, if he would,                      
Would, if he couldthen must have done long since:
If so, when, where and how? some way must be,
Once feel about, and soon or late you hit
Some sense, in which it might be, after all.
Why not, "The Way, the Truth, the Life?"

That way
Over the mountain, which who stands upon
Is apt to doubt if it be meant for a road;
While, if he views it from the waste itself,
Up goes the line there, plain from base to brow,
Not vague, mistakeable! what's a break or two
Seen from the unbroken desert either side?
And then (to bring in fresh philosophy)
What if the breaks themselves should prove at last
The most consummate of contrivances
To train a man's eye, teach him what is faith?
And so we stumble at truth's very test!
All we have gained then by our unbelief
Is a life of doubt diversified by faith,
For one of faith diversified by doubt:
We called the chess-board white,we call it black.

"Well," you rejoin, "the end's no worse, at least;
"We've reason for both colours on the board:
"Why not confess then, where I drop the faith
"And you the doubt, that I'm as right as you?"                      

Because, friend, in the next place, this being so,
And both things even,faith and unbelief
Left to a man's choice,we'll proceed a step,
Returning to our image, which I like.

A man's choice, yesbut a cabin-passenger's
The man made for the special life o' the world
Do you forget him? I remember though!
Consult our ship's conditions and you find
One and but one choice suitable to all;
The choice, that you unluckily prefer,
Turning things topsy-turvythey or it
Going to the ground. Belief or unbelief
Bears upon life, determines its whole course,
Begins at its beginning. See the world
Such as it is,you made it not, nor I;
I mean to take it as it is,and you,
Not so you'll take it,though you get nought else.
I know the special kind of life I like,
What suits the most my idiosyncrasy,
Brings out the best of me and bears me fruit
In power, peace, pleasantness and length of days.
I find that positive belief does this
For me, and unbelief, no whit of this.
For you, it does, however?that, we'll try!
'T is clear, I cannot lead my life, at least,

                      
Induce the world to let me peaceably,
Without declaring at the outset, "Friends,
"I absolutely and peremptorily
"Believe!"I say, faith is my waking life:
One sleeps, indeed, and dreams at intervals,
We know, but waking's the main point with us
And my provision's for life's waking part.
Accordingly, I use heart, head and hand
All day, I build, scheme, study, and make friends;
And when night overtakes me, down I lie,
Sleep, dream a little, and get done with it,
The sooner the better, to begin afresh.
What's midnight doubt before the dayspring's faith?
You, the philosopher, that disbelieve,
That recognize the night, give dreams their weight
To be consistent you should keep your bed,
Abstain from healthy acts that prove you man,
For fear you drowse perhaps at unawares!
And certainly at night you'll sleep and dream,
Live through the day and bustle as you please.
And so you live to sleep as I to wake,
To unbelieve as I to still believe?
Well, and the common sense o' the world calls you
Bed-ridden,and its good things come to me.
Its estimation, which is half the fight,
That's the first-cabin comfort I secure:                      
The next . . . but you perceive with half an eye!
Come, come, it's best believing, if we may;
You can't but own that!

Next, concede again,
If once we choose belief, on all accounts
We can't be too decisive in our faith,
Conclusive and exclusive in its terms,
To suit the world which gives us the good things.
In every man's career are certain points
Whereon he dares not be indifferent;
The world detects him clearly, if he dare,
As baffled at the game, and losing life.
He may care little or he may care much
For riches, honour, pleasure, work, repose,
Since various theories of life and life's
Success are extant which might easily
Comport with either estimate of these;
And whoso chooses wealth or poverty,
Labour or quiet, is not judged a fool
Because his fellow would choose otherwise:
We let him choose upon his own account
So long as he's consistent with his choice.
But certain points, left wholly to himself,
When once a man has arbitrated on,
We say he must succeed there or go hang.
                    
Thus, he should wed the woman he loves most
Or needs most, whatsoe'er the love or need
For he can't wed twice. Then, he must avouch,
Or follow, at the least, sufficiently,
The form of faith his conscience holds the best,
Whate'er the process of conviction was:
For nothing can compensate his mistake
On such a point, the man himself being judge:
He cannot wed twice, nor twice lose his soul.

Well now, there's one great form of Christian faith
I happened to be born inwhich to teach
Was given me as I grew up, on all hands,
As best and readiest means of living by;
The same on examination being proved
The most pronounced moreover, fixed, precise
And absolute form of faith in the whole world
Accordingly, most potent of all forms
For working on the world. Observe, my friend!
Such as you know me, I am free to say,
In these hard latter days which hamper one,
Myselfby no immoderate exercise
Of intellect and learning, but the tact
To let external forces work for me,
Bid the street's stones be bread and they are bread;
                    
Bid Peter's creed, or rather, Hildebrand's,
Exalt me o'er my fellows in the world
And make my life an ease and joy and pride;
It does so,which for me's a great point gained,
Who have a soul and body that exact
A comfortable care in many ways.
There's power in me and will to dominate
Which I must exercise, they hurt me else:
In many ways I need mankind's respect,
Obedience, and the love that's born of fear:
While at the same time, there's a taste I have,
A toy of soul, a titillating thing,
Refuses to digest these dainties crude.
The naked life is gross till clothed upon:
I must take what men offer, with a grace
As though I would not, could I help it, take!
An uniform I wear though over-rich
Something imposed on me, no choice of mine;
No fancy-dress worn for pure fancy's sake
And despicable therefore! now folk kneel
And kiss my handof course the Church's hand.
Thus I am made, thus life is best for me,
And thus that it should be I have procured;
And thus it could not be another way,
I venture to imagine.                      

You'll reply,
So far my choice, no doubt, is a success;
But were I made of better elements,
With nobler instincts, purer tastes, like you,
I hardly would account the thing success
Though it did all for me I say.

But, friend,
We speak of what is; not of what might be,
And how't were better if't were otherwise.
I am the man you see here plain enough:
Grant I'm a beast, why, beasts must lead beasts' lives!
Suppose I own at once to tail and claws;
The tailless man exceeds me: but being tailed
I'll lash out lion fashion, and leave apes
To dock their stump and dress their haunches up.
My business is not to remake myself,
But make the absolute best of what God made.
Orour first similethough you prove me doomed
To a viler berth still, to the steerage-hole,
The sheep-pen or the pig-stye, I should strive
To make what use of each were possible;
And as this cabin gets upholstery,
That hutch should rustle with sufficient straw.

But, friend, I don't acknowledge quite so fast
I fail of all your manhood's lofty tastes
                    
Enumerated so complacently,
On the mere ground that you forsooth can find
In this particular life I choose to lead
No fit provision for them. Can you not?
Say you, my fault is I address myself
To grosser estimators than should judge?
And that's no way of holding up the soul,
Which, nobler, needs men's praise perhaps, yet knows
One wise man's verdict outweighs all the fools'
Would like the two, but, forced to choose, takes that.
I pine among my million imbeciles
(You think) aware some dozen men of sense
Eye me and know me, whether I believe
In the last winking Virgin, as I vow,
And am a fool, or disbelieve in her
And am a knave,approve in neither case,
Withhold their voices though I look their way:
Like Verdi when, at his worst opera's end
(The thing they gave at Florence,what's its name?)
While the mad houseful's plaudits near out-bang
His orchestra of salt-box, tongs and bones,
He looks through all the roaring and the wreaths
Where sits Rossini patient in his stall.

Nay, friend, I meet you with an answer here
That even your prime men who appraise their kind
                    
Are men still, catch a wheel within a wheel,
See more in a truth than the truth's simple self,
Confuse themselves. You see lads walk the street
Sixty the minute; what's to note in that?
You see one lad o'erstride a chimney-stack;
Him you must watchhe's sure to fall, yet stands!
Our interest's on the dangerous edge of things.
The honest thief, the tender murderer,
The superstitious atheist, demirep
That loves and saves her soul in new French books
We watch while these in equilibrium keep
The giddy line midway: one step aside,
They're classed and done with. I, then, keep the line
Before your sages,just the men to shrink
From the gross weights, coarse scales and labels broad
You offer their refinement. Fool or knave?
Why needs a bishop be a fool or knave
When there's a thousand diamond weights between?
So, I enlist them. Your picked twelve, you'll find,
Profess themselves indignant, scandalized
At thus being held unable to explain
How a superior man who disbelieves
May not believe as well: that's Schelling's way!
It's through my coming in the tail of time,
Nicking the minute with a happy tact.
Had I been born three hundred years ago
                    
They'd say, "What's strange? Blougram of course believes;"
And, seventy years since, "disbelieves of course."
But now, "He may believe; and yet, and yet
"How can he?" All eyes turn with interest.
Whereas, step off the line on either side
You, for example, clever to a fault,
The rough and ready man who write apace,
Read somewhat seldomer, think perhaps even less
You disbelieve! Who wonders and who cares?
Lord So-and-sohis coat bedropped with wax,
All Peter's chains about his waist, his back
Brave with the needlework of Noodledom
Believes! Again, who wonders and who cares?
But I, the man of sense and learning too,
The able to think yet act, the this, the that,
I, to believe at this late time of day!
Enough; you see, I need not fear contempt.

Except it's yours! Admire me as these may,
You don't. But whom at least do you admire?
Present your own perfection, your ideal,
Your pattern man for a minuteoh, make haste
Is it Napoleon you would have us grow?
Concede the means; allow his head and hand,
(A large concession, clever as you are)
                      
Good! In our common primal element
Of unbelief (we can't believe, you know
We're still at that admission, recollect!)
Where do you findapart from, towering o'er
The secondary temporary aims
Which satisfy the gross taste you despise
Where do you find his star?his crazy trust
God knows through what or in what? it's alive
And shines and leads him, and that's all we want.
Have we aught in our sober night shall point
Such ends as his were, and direct the means
Of working out our purpose straight as his,
Nor bring a moment's trouble on success
With after-care to justify the same?
Be a Napoleon, and yet disbelieve
Why, the man's mad, friend, take his light away!
What's the vague good o' the world, for which you dare
With comfort to yourself blow millions up?
We neither of us see it! we do see
The blown-up millionsspatter of their brains
And writhing of their bowels and so forth,
In that bewildering entanglement
Of horrible eventualities
Past calculation to the end of time!
Can I mistake for some clear word of God
(Which were my ample warrant for it all)
                      
His puff of hazy instinct, idle talk,
"The State, that's I," quack-nonsense about crowns,
And (when one beats the man to his last hold)
A vague idea of setting things to rights,
Policing people efficaciously,
More to their profit, most of all to his own;
The whole to end that dismallest of ends
By an Austrian marriage, cant to us the Church,
And resurrection of the old rgime ?
Would I, who hope to live a dozen years,
Fight Austerlitz for reasons such and such?
No: for, concede me but the merest chance
Doubt may be wrongthere's judgment, life to come!
With just that chance, I dare not. Doubt proves right?
This present life is all?you offer me
Its dozen noisy years, without a chance
That wedding an archduchess, wearing lace,
And getting called by divers new-coined names,
Will drive off ugly thoughts and let me dine,
Sleep, read and chat in quiet as I like!
Therefore I will not.

Take another case;
Fit up the cabin yet another way.
What say you to the poets? shall we write
Hamlet, Othellomake the world our own,
                      
Without a risk to run of either sort?
I can'tto put the strongest reason first.
"But try," you urge, "the trying shall suffice;
"The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life:
"Try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate!"
Spare my self-knowledgethere's no fooling me!
If I prefer remaining my poor self,
I say so not in self-dispraise but praise.
If I'm a Shakespeare, let the well alone;
Why should I try to be what now I am?
If I'm no Shakespeare, as too probable,
His power and consciousness and self-delight
And all we want in common, shall I find
Trying for ever? while on points of taste
Wherewith, to speak it humbly, he and I
Are dowered alikeI'll ask you, I or he,
Which in our two lives realizes most?
Much, he imaginedsomewhat, I possess.
He had the imagination; stick to that!
Let him say, "In the face of my soul's works
"Your world is worthless and I touch it not
"Lest I should wrong them"I'll withdraw my plea.
But does he say so? look upon his life!
Himself, who only can, gives judgment there.
He leaves his towers and gorgeous palaces
To build the trimmest house in Stratford town;
                      
Saves money, spends it, owns the worth of things,
Giulio Romano's pictures, Dowland's lute;
Enjoys a show, respects the puppets, too,
And none more, had he seen its entry once,
Than "Pandulph, of fair Milan cardinal."
Why then should I who play that personage,
The very Pandulph Shakespeare's fancy made,
Be told that had the poet chanced to start
From where I stand now (some degree like mine
Being just the goal he ran his race to reach)
He would have run the whole race back, forsooth,
And left being Pandulph, to begin write plays?
Ah, the earth's best can be but the earth's best!
Did Shakespeare live, he could but sit at home
And get himself in dreams the Vatican,
Greek busts, Venetian paintings, Roman walls,
And English books, none equal to his own,
Which I read, bound in gold (he never did).
Terni's fall, Naples' bay and Gothard's top
Eh, friend? I could not fancy one of these;
But, as I pour this claret, there they are:
I've gained themcrossed St. Gothard last July
With ten mules to the carriage and a bed
Slung inside; is my hap the worse for that?
We want the same things, Shakespeare and myself,
And what I want, I have: he, gifted more,
                      
Could fancy he too had them when he liked,
But not so thoroughly that, if fate allowed,
He would not have them also in my sense.
We play one game; I send the ball aloft
No less adroitly that of fifty strokes
Scarce five go o'er the wall so wide and high
Which sends them back to me: I wish and get
He struck balls higher and with better skill,
But at a poor fence level with his head,
And hithis Stratford house, a coat of arms,
Successful dealings in his grain and wool,
While I receive heaven's incense in my nose
And style myself the cousin of Queen Bess.
Ask him, if this life's all, who wins the game?

Believeand our whole argument breaks up.
Enthusiasm's the best thing, I repeat;
Only, we can't command it; fire and life
Are all, dead matter's nothing, we agree:
And be it a mad dream or God's very breath,
The fact's the same,belief's fire, once in us,
Makes of all else mere stuff to show itself:
We penetrate our life with such a glow
As fire lends wood and ironthis turns steel,
That burns to ashall's one, fire proves its power
For good or ill, since men call flare success.
                      
But paint a fire, it will not therefore burn.
Light one in me, I'll find it food enough!
Why, to be Lutherthat's a life to lead,
Incomparably better than my own.
He comes, reclaims God's earth for God, he says,
Sets up God's rule again by simple means,
Re-opens a shut book, and all is done.
He flared out in the flaring of mankind;
Such Luther's luck was: how shall such be mine?
If he succeeded, nothing's left to do:
And if he did not altogetherwell,
Strauss is the next advance. All Strauss should be
I might be also. But to what result?
He looks upon no future: Luther did.
What can I gain on the denying side?
Ice makes no conflagration. State the facts,
Read the text right, emancipate the world
The emancipated world enjoys itself
With scarce a thank-you: Blougram told it first
It could not owe a farthing,not to him
More than Saint Paul! 't would press its pay, you think?
Then add there's still that plaguy hundredth chance
Strauss may be wrong. And so a risk is run
For what gain? not for Luther's, who secured
A real heaven in his heart throughout his life,
Supposing death a little altered things.                      

"Ay, but since really you lack faith," you cry,
"You run the same risk really on all sides,
"In cool indifference as bold unbelief.
"As well be Strauss as swing 'twixt Paul and him.
"It's not worth having, such imperfect faith,
"No more available to do faith's work
"Than unbelief like mine. Whole faith, or none!"

Softly, my friend! I must dispute that point
Once own the use of faith, I'll find you faith.
We're back on Christian ground. You call for faith:
I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists.
The more of doubt, the stronger faith, I say,
If faith o'ercomes doubt. How I know it does?
By life and man's free will, God gave for that!
To mould life as we choose it, shows our choice:
That's our one act, the previous work's his own.
You criticize the soul? it reared this tree
This broad life and whatever fruit it bears!
What matter though I doubt at every pore,
Head-doubts, heart-doubts, doubts at my fingers' ends,
Doubts in the trivial work of every day,
Doubts at the very bases of my soul
In the grand moments when she probes herself
If finally I have a life to show,
The thing I did, brought out in evidence
                      
Against the thing done to me underground
By hell and all its brood, for aught I know?
I say, whence sprang this? shows it faith or doubt?
All's doubt in me; where's break of faith in this?
It is the idea, the feeling and the love,
God means mankind should strive for and show forth
Whatever be the process to that end,
And not historic knowledge, logic sound,
And metaphysical acumen, sure!
"What think ye of Christ," friend? when all's done and said,
Like you this Christianity or not?
It may be false, but will you wish it true?
Has it your vote to be so if it can?
Trust you an instinct silenced long ago
That will break silence and enjoin you love
What mortified philosophy is hoarse,
And all in vain, with bidding you despise?
If you desire faiththen you've faith enough:
What else seeks Godnay, what else seek ourselves?
You form a notion of me, we'll suppose,
On hearsay; it's a favourable one:
"But still" (you add), "there was no such good man,
"Because of contradiction in the facts.
"One proves, for instance, he was born in Rome,
"This Blougram; yet throughout the tales of him
                    
"I see he figures as an Englishman."
Well, the two things are reconcileable.
But would I rather you discovered that,
Subjoining"Still, what matter though they be?
"Blougram concerns me nought, born here or there."

Pure faith indeedyou know not what you ask!
Naked belief in God the Omnipotent,
Omniscient, Omnipresent, sears too much
The sense of conscious creatures to be borne.
It were the seeing him, no flesh shall dare
Some think, Creation's meant to show him forth:
I say it's meant to hide him all it can,
And that's what all the blessed evil's for.
Its use in Time is to environ us,
Our breath, our drop of dew, with shield enough
Against that sight till we can bear its stress.
Under a vertical sun, the exposed brain
And lidless eye and disemprisoned heart
Less certainly would wither up at once
Than mind, confronted with the truth of him.
But time and earth case-harden us to live;
The feeblest sense is trusted most; the child
Feels God a moment, ichors o'er the place,
Plays on and grows to be a man like us.
                    
With me, faith means perpetual unbelief
Kept quiet like the snake 'neath Michael's foot
Who stands calm just because he feels it writhe.
Or, if that's too ambitious,here's my box
I need the excitation of a pinch
Threatening the torpor of the inside-nose
Nigh on the imminent sneeze that never comes.
"Leave it in peace" advise the simple folk:
Make it aware of peace by itching-fits,
Say Ilet doubt occasion still more faith!

You'll say, once all believed, man, woman, child,
In that dear middle-age these noodles praise.
How you'd exult if I could put you back
Six hundred years, blot out cosmogony,
Geology, ethnology, what not
(Greek endings, each the little passing-bell
That signifies some faith's about to die),
And set you square with Genesis again,
When such a traveller told you his last news,
He saw the ark a-top of Ararat
But did not climb there since 't was getting dusk
And robber-bands infest the mountain's foot!
How should you feel, I ask, in such an age,
How act? As other people felt and did;
With soul more blank than this decanter's knob,                
Believeand yet lie, kill, rob, fornicate
Full in belief's face, like the beast you'd be!

No, when the fight begins within himself,
A man's worth something. God stoops o'er his head,
Satan looks up between his feetboth tug
He's left, himself, i' the middle: the soul wakes
And grows. Prolong that battle through his life!
Never leave growing till the life to come!
Here, we've got callous to the Virgin's winks
That used to puzzle people wholesomely:
Men have outgrown the shame of being fools.
What are the laws of nature, not to bend
If the Church bid them?brother Newman asks.
Up with the Immaculate Conception, then
On to the rack with faith!is my advice.
Will not that hurry us upon our knees,
Knocking our breasts, "It can't beyet it shall!
"Who am I, the worm, to argue with my Pope?
"Low things confound the high things!" and so forth.
That's better than acquitting God with grace
As some folk do. He's triedno case is proved,
Philosophy is lenienthe may go!

You'll say, the old system's not so obsolete
But men believe still: ay, but who and where?
                    
King Bomba's lazzaroni foster yet
The sacred flame, so Antonelli writes;
But even of these, what ragamuffin-saint
Believes God watches him continually,
As he believes in fire that it will burn,
Or rain that it will drench him? Break fire's law,
Sin against rain, although the penalty
Be just a singe or soaking? "No," he smiles;
"Those laws are laws that can enforce themselves."

The sum of all isyes, my doubt is great,
My faith's still greater, then my faith's enough.
I have read much, thought much, experienced much,
Yet would die rather than avow my fear
The Naples' liquefaction may be false,
When set to happen by the palace-clock
According to the clouds or dinner-time.
I hear you recommend, I might at least
Eliminate, decrassify my faith
Since I adopt it; keeping what I must
And leaving what I cansuch points as this.
I won'tthat is, I can't throw one away.
Supposing there's no truth in what I hold
About the need of trial to man's faith,
Still, when you bid me purify the same,
To such a process I discern no end.
                
Clearing off one excrescence to see two,
There's ever a next in size, now grown as big,
That meets the knife: I cut and cut again!
First cut the Liquefaction, what comes last
But Fichte's clever cut at God himself?
Experimentalize on sacred things!
I trust nor hand nor eye nor heart nor brain
To stop betimes: they all get drunk alike.
The first step, I am master not to take.

You'd find the cutting-process to your taste
As much as leaving growths of lies unpruned,
Nor see more danger in it,you retort.
Your taste's worth mine; but my taste proves more wise
When we consider that the steadfast hold
On the extreme end of the chain of faith
Gives all the advantage, makes the difference
With the rough purblind mass we seek to rule:
We are their lords, or they are free of us,
Just as we tighten or relax our hold.
So, others matters equal, we'll revert
To the first problemwhich, if solved my way
And thrown into the balance, turns the scale
How we may lead a comfortable life,
How suit our luggage to the cabin's size.                    

Of course you are remarking all this time
How narrowly and grossly I view life,
Respect the creature-comforts, care to rule
The masses, and regard complacently
"The cabin," in our old phrase. Well, I do.
I act for, talk for, live for this world now,
As this world prizes action, life and talk:
No prejudice to what next world may prove,
Whose new laws and requirements, my best pledge
To observe then, is that I observe these now,
Shall do hereafter what I do meanwhile.
Let us concede (gratuitously though)
Next life relieves the soul of body, yields
Pure spiritual enjoyment: well, my friend,
Why lose this life i' the meantime, since its use
May be to make the next life more intense?

Do you know, I have often had a dream
(Work it up in your next month's article)
Of man's poor spirit in its progress, still
Losing true life for ever and a day
Through ever trying to be and ever being
In the evolution of successive spheres
Before its actual sphere and place of life,
Halfway into the next, which having reached,
It shoots with corresponding foolery
                    
Halfway into the next still, on and off!
As when a traveller, bound from North to South,
Scouts fur in Russia: what's its use in France?
In France spurns flannel: where's its need in Spain?
In Spain drops cloth, too cumbrous for Algiers!
Linen goes next, and last the skin itself,
A superfluity at Timbuctoo.
When, through his journey, was the fool at ease?
I'm at ease now, friend; worldly in this world,
I take and like its way of life; I think
My brothers, who administer the means,
Live better for my comfortthat's good too;
And God, if he pronounce upon such life,
Approves my service, which is better still.
If he keep silence,why, for you or me
Or that brute beast pulled-up in to-day's "Times,"
What odds is't, save to ourselves, what life we lead?

You meet me at this issue: you declare,
All special-pleading done withtruth is truth,
And justifies itself by undreamed ways.
You don't fear but it's better, if we doubt,
To say so, act up to our truth perceived
However feebly. Do then,act away!
'T is there I'm on the watch for you. How one acts
Is, both of us agree, our chief concern:
                    
And how you'll act is what I fain would see
If, like the candid person you appear,
You dare to make the most of your life's scheme
As I of mine, live up to its full law
Since there's no higher law that counterchecks.
Put natural religion to the test
You've just demolished the revealed withquick,
Down to the root of all that checks your will,
All prohibition to lie, kill and thieve,
Or even to be an atheistic priest!
Suppose a pricking to incontinence
Philosophers deduce you chastity
Or shame, from just the fact that at the first
Whoso embraced a woman in the field,
Threw club down and forewent his brains beside,
So, stood a ready victim in the reach
Of any brother savage, club in hand;
Hence saw the use of going out of sight
In wood or cave to prosecute his loves:
I read this in a French book t' other day.
Does law so analysed coerce you much?
Oh, men spin clouds of fuzz where matters end,
But you who reach where the first thread begins,
You'll soon cut that!which means you can, but won't,
Through certain instincts, blind, unreasoned-out,
                    
You dare not set aside, you can't tell why,
But there they are, and so you let them rule.
Then, friend, you seem as much a slave as I,
A liar, conscious coward and hypocrite,
Without the good the slave expects to get,
In case he has a master after all!
You own your instincts? why, what else do I,
Who want, am made for, and must have a God
Ere I can be aught, do aught?no mere name
Want, but the true thing with what proves its truth,
To wit, a relation from that thing to me,
Touching from head to footwhich touch I feel,
And with it take the rest, this life of ours!
I live my life here; yours you dare not live.

Not as I state it, who (you please subjoin)
Disfigure such a life and call it names,
While, to your mind, remains another way
For simple men: knowledge and power have rights,
But ignorance and weakness have rights too.
There needs no crucial effort to find truth
If here or there or anywhere about:
We ought to turn each side, try hard and see,
And if we can't, be glad we've earned at least
The right, by one laborious proof the more,
To graze in peace earth's pleasant pasturage.
                    
Men are not angels, neither are they brutes:
Something we may see, all we cannot see.
What need of lying? I say, I see all,
And swear to each detail the most minute
In what I think a Pan's faceyou, mere cloud:
I swear I hear him speak and see him wink,
For fear, if once I drop the emphasis,
Mankind may doubt there's any cloud at all.
You take the simple lifeready to see,
Willing to see (for no cloud's worth a face)
And leaving quiet what no strength can move,
And which, who bids you move? who has the right?
I bid you; but you are God's sheep, not mine:
" Pastor est tui Dominus ." You find
In this the pleasant pasture of our life
Much you may eat without the least offence,
Much you don't eat because your maw objects,
Much you would eat but that your fellow-flock
Open great eyes at you and even butt,
And thereupon you like your mates so well
You cannot please yourself, offending them;
Though when they seem exorbitantly sheep,
You weigh your pleasure with their butts and bleats
And strike the balance. Sometimes certain fears
Restrain you, real checks since you find them so;
Sometimes you please yourself and nothing checks:
                      
And thus you graze through life with not one lie,
And like it best.

But do you, in truth's name?
If so, you beatwhich means you are not I
Who needs must make earth mine and feed my fill
Not simply unbutted at, unbickered with,
But motioned to the velvet of the sward
By those obsequious wethers' very selves.
Look at me, sir; my age is double yours:
At yours, I knew beforehand, so enjoyed,
What now I should beas, permit the word,
I pretty well imagine your whole range
And stretch of tether twenty years to come.
We both have minds and bodies much alike:
In truth's name, don't you want my bishopric,
My daily bread, my influence and my state?
You're young. I'm old; you must be old one day;
Will you find then, as I do hour by hour,
Women their lovers kneel to, who cut curls
From your fat lap-dog's ear to grace a brooch
Dukes, who petition just to kiss your ring
With much beside you know or may conceive?
Suppose we die to-night: well, here am I,
Such were my gains, life bore this fruit to me,
While writing all the same my articles
                    
On music, poetry, the fictile vase
Found at Albano, chess, Anacreon's Greek.
But youthe highest honour in your life,
The thing you'll crown yourself with, all your days,
Isdining here and drinking this last glass
I pour you out in sign of amity
Before we part for ever. Of your power
And social influence, worldly worth in short,
Judge what's my estimation by the fact,
I do not condescend to enjoin, beseech,
Hint secrecy on one of all these words!
You're shrewd and know that should you publish one
The world would brand the liemy enemies first,
Who'd sneer"the bishop's an arch-hypocrite
"And knave perhaps, but not so frank a fool."
Whereas I should not dare for both my ears
Breathe one such syllable, smile one such smile,
Before the chaplain who reflects myself
My shade's so much more potent than your flesh.
What's your reward, self-abnegating friend?
Stood you confessed of those exceptional
And privileged great natures that dwarf mine
A zealot with a mad ideal in reach,
A poet just about to print his ode,
A statesman with a scheme to stop this war,
An artist whose religion is his art
    
~ Robert Browning, Bishop Blougram's Apology
,
555:TO J. MILSAND, OF DIJON.

1840.

BOOK THE FIRST.
Who will, may hear Sordello's story told:
His story? Who believes me shall behold
The man, pursue his fortunes to the end,
Like me: for as the friendless-people's friend
Spied from his hill-top once, despite the din
And dust of multitudes, Pentapolin
Named o' the Naked Arm, I single out
Sordello, compassed murkily about
With ravage of six long sad hundred years.
Only believe me. Ye believe?
               Appears
Verona . . . Never,I should warn you first,
Of my own choice had this, if not the worst
Yet not the best expedient, served to tell
A story I could body forth so well
By making speak, myself kept out of view,
The very man as he was wont to do,
And leaving you to say the rest for him.
Since, though I might be proud to see the dim
Abysmal past divide its hateful surge,
Letting of all men this one man emerge
Because it pleased me, yet, that moment past,
I should delight in watching first to last
His progress as you watch it, not a whit
More in the secret than yourselves who sit
Fresh-chapleted to listen. But it seems
Your setters-forth of unexampled themes,
Makers of quite new men, producing them,
Would best chalk broadly on each vesture's hem
The wearer's quality; or take their stand,
Motley on back and pointing-pole in hand,
Beside him. So, for once I face ye, friends,
Summoned together from the world's four ends,
Dropped down from heaven or cast up from hell,
To hear the story I propose to tell.
Confess now, poets know the dragnet's trick,
Catching the dead, if fate denies the quick,
And shaming her; 't is not for fate to choose
Silence or song because she can refuse
Real eyes to glisten more, real hearts to ache
Less oft, real brows turn smoother for our sake:
I have experienced something of her spite;
But there 's a realm wherein she has no right
And I have many lovers. Say; but few
Friends fate accords me? Here they are: now view
The host I muster! Many a lighted face
Foul with no vestige of the grave's disgrace;
What else should tempt them back to taste our air
Except to see how their successors fare?
My audience! and they sit, each ghostly man
Striving to look as living as he can,
Brother by breathing brother; thou art set,
Clear-witted critic, by . . . but I 'll not fret
A wondrous soul of them, nor move death's spleen
Who loves not to unlock them. Friends! I mean
The living in good earnestye elect
Chiefly for lovesuppose not I reject
Judicious praise, who contrary shall peep,
Some fit occasion, forth, for fear ye sleep,
To glean your bland approvals. Then, appear,
Verona! staythou, spirit, come not near
Nownot this time desert thy cloudy place
To scare me, thus employed, with that pure face!
I need not fear this audience, I make free
With them, but then this is no place for thee!
The thunder-phrase of the Athenian, grown
Up out of memories of Marathon,
Would echo like his own sword's griding screech
Braying a Persian shield,the silver speech
Of Sidney's self, the starry paladin,
Turn intense as a trumpet sounding in
The knights to tilt,wert thou to hear! What heart
Have I to play my puppets, bear my part
Before these worthies?
           Lo, the past is hurled
In twain: up-thrust, out-staggering on the world,
Subsiding into shape, a darkness rears
Its outline, kindles at the core, appears
Verona. 'T is six hundred years and more
Since an event. The Second Friedrich wore
The purple, and the Third Honorius filled
The holy chair. That autumn eve was stilled:
A last remains of sunset dimly burned
O'er the far forests, like a torch-flame turned
By the wind back upon its bearer's hand
In one long flare of crimson; as a brand,
The woods beneath lay black. A single eye
From all Verona cared for the soft sky.
But, gathering in its ancient market-place,
Talked group with restless group; and not a face
But wrath made livid, for among them were
Death's staunch purveyors, such as have in care
To feast him. Fear had long since taken root
In every breast, and now these crushed its fruit,
The ripe hate, like a wine: to note the way
It worked while each grew drunk! Men grave and grey
Stood, with shut eyelids, rocking to and fro,
Letting the silent luxury trickle slow
About the hollows where a heart should be;
But the young gulped with a delirious glee
Some foretaste of their first debauch in blood
At the fierce news: for, be it understood,
Envoys apprised Verona that her prince
Count Richard of Saint Boniface, joined since
A year with Azzo, Este's Lord, to thrust
Taurello Salinguerra, prime in trust
With Ecelin Romano, from his seat
Ferrara,over zealous in the feat
And stumbling on a peril unaware,
Was captive, trammelled in his proper snare,
They phrase it, taken by his own intrigue.
Immediate succour from the Lombard League
Of fifteen cities that affect the Pope,
For Azzo, therefore, and his fellow-hope
Of the Guelf cause, a glory overcast!
Men's faces, late agape, are now aghast.
"Prone is the purple pavis; Este makes
"Mirth for the devil when he undertakes
"To play the Ecelin; as if it cost
"Merely your pushing-by to gain a post
"Like his! The patron tells ye, once for all,
"There be sound reasons that preferment fall
"On our beloved" . . .
           "Duke o' the Rood, wh