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Title: Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning
Author: Browning, Robert, 1812-1889
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning" ***

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Transcriber's note:

      Minor punctuation errors have been corrected without notice.
      Other changes are listed at the end. All other inconsistencies
      are as in the original.

The Lake Library Edition


Edited, with an Introduction by


Professor of English Literature in the
University of Chicago

[Illustration: ROBERT BROWNING]

Scott, Foresman and Company
Chicago Atlanta New York

Copyright, 1909
Scott, Foresman and Company



   INTRODUCTION--                                                   PAGE

      I. The Life of Browning                                          7
     II. The Poetry of Browning                                       31

   BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                       57

   CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE                                                60


   (_The figures in parentheses refer to the pages of the

     Songs from Paracelsus (389)                                      65
     Cavalier Tunes (391)                                             69
     The Lost Leader (391)                                            72
     "How They Brought the Good News" (392)                           73
     The Flower's Name (393)                                          76
     Meeting at Night (393)                                           78
     Parting at Morning (393)                                         78
     Evelyn Hope (393)                                                78
     Love Among the Ruins (394)                                       81
     Up at a Villa--Down in the City (394)                            84
     A Toccata of Galuppi's (395)                                     88
     Old Pictures in Florence (396)                                   91
     "De Gustibus--" (399)                                           101
     Home-Thoughts, from Abroad (399)                                103
     Home-Thoughts, from the Sea (400)                               104
     Saul (400)                                                      105
     My Star (402)                                                   126
     Two in the Campagna (403)                                       126
     In Three Days (403)                                             129
     The Guardian-Angel (403)                                        130
     Memorabilia (404)                                               132
     Incident of the French Camp (404)                               133
     My Last Duchess (404)                                           135
     The Boy and the Angel (404)                                     137
     The Pied Piper of Hamelin (404)                                 141
     The Flight of the Duchess (405)                                 152
     A Grammarian's Funeral (406)                                    183
     "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" (407)                    189
     How It Strikes a Contemporary (409)                             196
     Fra Lippo Lippi (409)                                           200
     Andrea Del Sarto (413)                                          213
     The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church (414)       222
     Cleon (416)                                                     227
     One Word More (417)                                             239
     Abt Vogler (419)                                                247
     Rabbi Ben Ezra (422)                                            253
     Caliban Upon Setebos (423)                                      260
     May and Death (425)                                             271
     Prospice (425)                                                  272
     A Face (425)                                                    273
     O Lyric Love (425)                                              274
     Prologue to Pacchiarotto (425)                                  275
     House (426)                                                     276
     Shop (426)                                                      278
     Hervé Riel (426)                                                282
     Good to Forgive (427)                                           289
     "Such a Starved Bank of Moss" (427)                             290
     Epilogue to the Two Poets of Croisic (427)                      290
     Pheidippides (427)                                              295
     Muléykeh (428)                                                  302
     Wanting Is--What? (428)                                         309
     Never the Time and the Place (428)                              310
     The Patriot (429)                                               311
     Instans Tyrannus (429)                                          312
     The Italian in England (430)                                    315
     "Round Us the Wild Creatures" (431)                             321
     Prologue to Asolando (431)                                      321
     Summum Bonum (431)                                              323
     Epilogue to Asolando (431)                                      324
     Pippa Passes (431)                                              325

   NOTES                                                             389



Robert Browning, the poet, was the third of that name. The first Robert
Browning, a man of energy and ability, held an important post in the
Bank of England. His wife, Margaret Tittle, was a Creole from the West
Indies, and at the time of her marriage her property was still in the
estates owned by her father near St. Kitts. When their son, the second
Robert, was seven years of age, his mother died, and his father
afterwards married again. The second wife's ascendency over her husband
was unfortunately exerted against the best interests of the son. His
desire to become an artist, his wish for a university training, were
disregarded, and he was sent instead to St. Kitts, where he was given
employment on his mother's sugar plantations. The breach between Robert
and his father became absolute when the boy defied local prejudice by
teaching a negro to read, and when, because of what his father
considered a sentimental objection to slavery, he finally refused to
remain in the West Indies. The young man returned to England and at
twenty-two started on an independent career as a clerk in the Bank of
England. In 1811 he married Sarah Anne Wiedemann. They settled in
Camberwell, London, where Robert, the poet, was born, May 7, 1812, and
his sister Sarianna in 1814.

Browning's father was a competent official in the Bank and a successful
business man, but his tastes were æsthetic and literary, and his
leisure time was accordingly devoted to such pursuits as the collection
of old books and manuscripts. He also read widely in both classic and
modern literatures. The first book of the _Iliad_ he knew by heart, and
all the _Odes_ of Horace, and he was accustomed to soothe his child to
sleep by humming to him snatches of Anacreon to the tune of "A Cottage
in the Wood." Mr. Browning had also considerable skill in two realms of
art, for he drew vigorous portraits and caricatures, and he had, even
according to his son's mature judgment, extraordinary force and facility
in verse-making. In character he was serene, lovable, gentle,
"tenderhearted to a fault." So instinctively chivalrous was he that
there was "no service which the ugliest, oldest, crossest woman in the
world might not have exacted of him." He was a man of great physical
vigor, dying at the age of eighty-four without ever having been ill.

Browning's mother was the daughter of William Wiedemann, a German who
had settled in Dundee and married a Scotch wife. Mrs. Browning impressed
all who knew her by her sweetness and goodness. Carlyle spoke of her as
"the true type of a Scottish gentlewoman"; her son's friend, Mr. Kenyon,
said that such as she had no need to go to heaven, because they made it
wherever they were; and her son called her "a divine woman." She had
deep religious instincts and concerned herself particularly with her
son's moral and spiritual development. The bond between them was always
very strong, and when she died in 1849 his wife wrote, "He has loved his
mother as such passionate natures can love, and I never saw a man so
bowed down in an extremity of sorrow--never."

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. Latin declensions were
taught the child by rhymes concocted by his father as memory-easing
devices. Stories and even lessons were made intelligible and vivid by
colored maps and comic drawings. Until the boy was fourteen, his
schooling was of the most casual sort, his only formal training being
such as he received in the comparatively unimportant three or four years
he spent, after he was ten, at Mr. Ready's private school. His real
education came, through all his early life, from his home. What would
now be called nature-study he pursued ardently and on his own initiative
in the home garden and neighboring fields. His love for animals was
inherited from his mother and fostered by her. He used to keep, says
Mrs. Orr in her account of his life, "owls and monkeys, magpies and
hedge-hogs, an eagle, and even a couple of large snakes, constantly
bringing home the more portable animals in his pockets and transferring
them to his mother for immediate care." Browning says that his faculty
of observation at this time would not have disgraced a Seminole Indian.
In the matter of reading he was not entirely without advice and
guidance, but was, on the whole, allowed unusual freedom of choice. He
afterwards told Mrs. Orr that Milton, Quarles, Voltaire, Mandeville, and
Horace Walpole were the authors in whom, as a boy, he particularly
delighted. His love for art was established and developed by visits to
the Dulwich picture gallery, of which he afterwards wrote to Miss
Barrett with "love and gratitude" because he had been allowed to go
there before the age prescribed by the rules, and had thus learned to
know "a wonderful Rembrandt," a Watteau, "three triumphant Murillos," a
Giorgione Music Lesson, and various Poussins. His marked early
susceptibility to music is evidenced by an incident narrated by Mr.
Sharp: "One afternoon his mother was playing in the twilight to herself.
She was startled to hear a sound behind her. Glancing round she beheld a
little white figure distinct against an oak bookcase, and could just
discern two large wistful eyes looking earnestly at her. The next moment
the child had sprung into her arms, sobbing passionately at he knew not
what, but, as his paroxysm subsided, whispering with shy urgency: 'Play!

In various ways the boy Robert was noticeably precocious. He could not
remember a time, he said, when he did not rhyme, and his sister records
that as a very little boy he used to walk around the table "spanning out
on the smooth mahogany the scansion of verses he had composed." Some of
these early lines he could recall and he could recall, too, the
prodigious satisfaction with which he uttered them, especially the
sentence he put into the mouth of a man who had just committed
murder--"Now my soul is satisfied." At twelve he had a volume named
_Incondita_ ready for publication. To discerning eyes the little volume
was a production of great promise, dominated though it was by the
influence of his father's idol, Pope, and of his own temporary ruling
deity, Byron. But a publisher was not found, and in later years, at
Browning's request, the two extant manuscript copies of _Incondita_ were
destroyed, along with many others of his youthful poems that had been
preserved by his father.

Browning's early tastes in the realm of poetry were, on the whole,
romantic. "Now here is the truth," he wrote to Miss Barrett, "the first
book I ever bought in my life was Ossian--and years before that the
first _composition_ I ever was guilty of was something in _imitation_ of
Ossian whom I had not read, but _conceived_, through two or three
scraps in other books." But the decisive literary influence was yet to
come. When he was fourteen he happened to see on a bookstall a volume
marked, "Mr. Shelley's Atheistical Poem. Very Scarce"; and he at once
wished to know more of this Mr. Shelley. After a perplexing search his
mother found the desired poems, most of them in first editions, at the
Olliers, Vere Street, London. She took home also three volumes by
another poet, John Keats, who, she was told, was the subject of an elegy
by Shelley. Browning never forgot the May evening when he first read
these new books, to the accompaniment, he said, of two nightingales, one
in a copper-beech, one in a laburnum, each striving to outdo the other
in melody. A new imaginative world was opened to the boy. In
_Memorabilia_ he afterwards recorded the strong intellectual and
emotional excitement, the thrill and ecstasy of this poetical
experience. To Shelley especially did he give immediate and fervid
personal loyalty, even to the extent of endeavoring to follow him in
"atheism" and vegetarianism.

When at fourteen the boy left Mr. Ready's school it was decided that his
further education should be carried on at home under private tutors. He
studied music under able masters, one in thorough-bass, and one in
execution. He played and sang, and he composed spirited settings for
songs. He read voraciously. He took lessons in dancing, riding, boxing,
and fencing, and is said to have shown himself exceptionally active and
vigorous. He kept up his interest in art, and he practiced drawing from
casts. He found time also for various friendships. For Miss Eliza and
Miss Sarah Flower, two sisters, nine and seven years his senior, he had
a deep affection. Both young ladies were gifted in music, and this was
one source of their attractions for the music-loving boy. Miss Sarah
Flower wrote sacred hymns, the best known of which is "Nearer my God to
Thee," and her sister composed music which Browning, even in his mature
years, ranked as of especial significance. Other friends of this period
were Joseph Arnold, afterwards Chief Justice of Bombay, and a man of
great ability; Alfred Domett, a striking and interesting personality
described by Browning in a poem beginning "What's Become of Waring," and
referred to in "The Guardian Angel"; and the three Silverthorne boys,
his cousins, the death of one of whom was the occasion of the poem "May
and Death."

In spite of friends, a beautiful home, and congenial work, this period
of home tutelage does not seem to have been altogether happy. His sister
in commenting on this period said, "The fact was, poor boy, he had
outgrown his social surroundings. They were absolutely good, but they
were narrow; it could not be otherwise; he chafed under them."
Furthermore, the youth, before he had found his real work as a poet, was
restless, irritable, and opinionated; and an ever-present cause of
friction was the fact that there were few subjects of taste on which he
and his father did not disagree. Their poetic tastes were especially at
variance. The father counted Pope supreme in poetry, and it was many
years before he could take pleasure in the form in which his son's
genius expressed itself. All the more noteworthy, then, is the
generosity with which Mr. Browning looked after his son's interests
through the unprofitable early years of his poetic career, a generosity
never lost sight of by the son. Mr. Sharp in his _Life of Browning_
records some words uttered by Mr. Browning a week or two before his
death, which show how permanent was his sense of indebtedness to his
father. "It would have been quite unpardonable in my case," he said,
"not to have done my best. My dear father put me in a condition most
favorable for the best work I was capable of. When I think of the many
authors who have had to fight their way through all sorts of
difficulties, I have no reason to be proud of my achievements.... He
secured for me all the care and comfort that a literary man needs to do
good work. It would have been shameful if I had not done my best to
realize his expectations of me."

After it was determined that Robert should "commence poet," he and his
father came to the conclusion that a university training had many
elements foreign to the aim the youth had set before him, and that a
richer and more directly available preparation could be gained from
"sedulous cultivation of the powers of his mind" at home, and from
"seeing life in the best sense" at home and abroad. Mrs. Orr tells us
that the first qualifying step of the zealous young poet was to read and
digest the whole of Dr. Johnson's _Dictionary_.

Browning's first published poem, _Pauline_, appeared anonymously in
January, 1833, when he was twenty years old. This poem is of especial
autobiographical interest. Its enthusiastic praise of Shelley recalls
his early devotion to that poet, and in many scattered passages we find
references to his own personality or experiences. The following lines
show with what intensity he recreated the lives and scenes in the books
he read:

   And I myself went with the tale--a god
   Wandering after beauty, or a giant
   Standing vast in the sunset--an old hunter
   Talking with gods, or a high-crested chief
   Sailing with troops of friends to Tenedos.
   I tell you, naught has ever been so clear
   As the place, the time, the fashion of those lives:
   I had not seen a work of lofty art,
   Nor woman's beauty, nor sweet nature's face,
   Yet, I say, never morn broke clear as those
   On the dim clustered isles in the blue sea,
   The deep groves and white temples and wet caves;
   And nothing ever will surprise me now--
   Who stood beside the naked Swift-footed,
   Who bound my forehead with Proserpine's hair.

There is true and powerful self-analysis in the lines beginning:

   I am made up of an intensest life;

and the invocation in lines 811-854 reveals the passionately religious
nature of the young poet. In _The Early Writings of Robert Browning_[1]
Mr. Gosse gives an account of the impression made by this poem upon men
so diverse as the Rev. William Johnson Fox, John Stuart Mill, and Dante
Gabriel Rossetti, to all of whom, in spite of its crudities and very
evident immaturity, it seemed a production of exceptional promise.

After an interval of two years Browning published, this time under his
own name, a second long poem. The subject, Paracelsus, had been
suggested by the friend, Amédeé de Ripert-Monclar, to whom the poem is
dedicated. In pursuance of his purposed rehabilitation of a vanished age
Browning made extensive researches in the British Museum into the
history of Paracelsus, the great leader in sixteenth century medical
science; but in the poem the facts are subordinated to a minute analysis
of the spiritual history of Paracelsus. The poem was too abstruse in
subject and style to bring Browning popularity, but his genius was
recognized by important critics, and, though he was but twenty-three, he
was admitted into the foremost literary circles of London. One of
his most distinguished new friends was Mr. Macready, the great actor. It
was at his house that Browning first met Mr. Forster, who had already
written favorable critiques of _Paracelsus_, one for _The Examiner_ and
one for _The New Monthly Magazine_. Other literary associates of this
period were Leigh Hunt, Barry Cornwall, Sergeant Talfourd, Dickens, and
Walter Savage Landor. There were not infrequent dinners and suppers to
which the young poet was welcomed. He is described as being at this
period singularly handsome. "He looks and acts," said Mr. Macready,
"more like a youthful poet than any man I ever saw." He had
sculpturesque masses of dark wavy hair, a skin like delicate ivory,
deep-set, expressive eyes, and a sensitive mouth. He was slender,
graceful, and most attractive in manner, and he was something of a dandy
in his attention to dress. He is said to have made an especially good
impression on one occasion when the circumstances must have been as
trying as they were exhilarating. In May, 1836, a group of poets had
assembled at Mr. Talfourd's to celebrate Macready's successful
production of Talfourd's _Ion_. Browning sat opposite Macready, who was
between Wordsworth and Landor. When Talfourd proposed a toast, "The
Poets of England," he spoke in complimentary terms of Wordsworth and
Landor, but called for a response from "the youngest of the Poets of
England, the author of _Paracelsus_." Landor raised his cup to the young
man, and Wordsworth shook hands with him across the table, saying, "I am
proud to know you, Mr. Browning."

Browning's third literary venture was a tragedy, _Strafford_, dedicated
to Macready, at whose request it was written. The drama presents the
impeachment, condemnation, and execution of the Earl of Strafford, a
statesman who, according to the play, loved the unworthy King Charles
the First and sacrificed everything, even to life itself, in his blind
loyalty to a master who treacherously deserted him in the hour of need.
It was a topic to which Browning had already given much thought, for he
had the preceding year completed, from materials supplied by Mr. John
Forster, a _Life of Strafford_ begun by Forster for Lardner's _Eminent
British Statesmen_.[2] The question of the historic truthfulness of the
drama is discussed by the historian Gardiner in the Introduction to Miss
Emily H. Hickey's edition of _Strafford_. He shows that the play is in
its details and "even in the very roots of the situation" untrue to
fact, and yet he maintains that in the chief characters there is
essential truth of conception. "Every time that I read the play," says
Gardiner, "I feel more certain that Browning has seized the real
Strafford ... Charles, too, with his faults, perhaps exaggerated, is
nevertheless the real Charles." The play was produced at Covent Garden
Theater in May, 1837, with Macready as Strafford and Miss Helen Faucit
as Lady Carlisle, and was successful in spite of poor scenery and
costuming and poor acting in some of the parts. But owing to the
financial condition of the theater and the consequent withdrawal of one
of the important actors after the fifth night, the play had but a brief
run. It was presented again in 1886 under the auspices of the Browning
Society, and its power as an acting play "surprised and impressed" the

Before the composition of _Strafford_ Browning had begun a long poem,
_Sordello_, which he completed after his first visit to Italy in 1838,
and published in 1840. No one of his poems is more difficult to read,
and many are the stories told of the dismay occasioned by its various
perplexities. The effect of this poem on Browning's fame was disastrous.
In fact, after _Sordello_ there began a period, twenty years long, of
almost complete indifference in England to Browning's work. The
enthusiasm over the promise of his early poems died quite away. Late in
life Mr. Browning commented on this period of his literary career as a
time of "prolonged desolateness." Yet the years 1841-1846 are the years
in which he attained his poetic maturity, and years in which he did some
of his best work. During this period he brought out the series somewhat
fancifully called _Bells and Pomegranates_. The phrase itself comes from
_Exodus_ xxviii, 33, 34. As a title Browning explained it to mean
"something like a mixture of music with discoursing, sound with sense,
poetry with thought." This cheap serial edition, the separate numbers of
which sold at first at sixpence and later at half a crown, included
_Pippa Passes_, _King Victor and King Charles_, _Dramatic Lyrics_, _The
Return of the Druses_, _A Blot in the 'Scutcheon_, _Colombe's Birthday_,
_Dramatic Romances and Lyrics_, _Luria_, and _A Soul's Tragedy_.

All of Browning's plays except _Strafford_ and _In a Balcony_ came out
of this series. The most beautiful of them all, _Pippa Passes_, appeared
in 1841. It is hardly a drama at all in the conventional sense, though
it has one scene, that between Ottima and Sebald, of the highest
dramatic power; but it has always been a favorite with readers. When it
was published Miss Barrett wrote to Mr. Browning that she found it in
her heart to covet the authorship of this poem more than any other of
his works, and he said in answer that he, too, liked _Pippa_ better than
anything else he had yet done. Mr. Sharp, while emphasizing the
undramatic quality of the play, counts it "the most imperishable because
the most nearly immaculate of Browning's dramatic poems." "It seems to
me," he adds, "like all simple and beautiful things, profound enough
for the sinking plummet of the most curious explorer of the depths of
life. It can be read, re-read, learned by heart, and the more it is
known the wider and more alluring are the avenues of imaginative thought
which it discloses. It has, more than any other long composition by its
author, that quality of symmetry, that _symmetria prisca_ recorded of
Leonardo da Vinci in the Latin epitaph of Platino Piatto; and, as might
be expected, its mental basis, what Rossetti called fundamental brain
work, is as luminous, depth within depth, as the morning air....
Everyone who knows Browning at all knows _Pippa Passes_."

Of the seven dramas published in _Bells and Pomegranates_ there is
comparatively little stage history to record. In spite of occasional
fairly successful productions it must be admitted that Browning's plays
have never achieved, probably never will achieve, popularity in the
shape of long runs in many cities.[3] They are too subjective, too
analytic, too psychological, for quick or easy understanding. But to the
reader they offer many delights. The stories are clear, coherent,
interesting; the characters strongly individualized; the crises of
experience stimulating; the interaction of personalities subtly
analyzed; the poetry noble and beautiful.

The two non-dramatic numbers of _Bells and Pomegranates_ were _Dramatic
Lyrics_ (No. 3, 1842) and _Dramatic Romances and Lyrics_ (No. 7, 1845).
The first included such poems as "Cavalier Tunes," "In a Gondola,"
"Porphyria," and "The Pied Piper of Hamelin"; the second included "How
they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix," "The Lost Leader," "The
Tomb at St. Praxed's," "The Flight of the Duchess," "The Boy and the
Angel," and the first part of "Saul." These poems, together with the
dramas, make a remarkably rich body of poetry to be produced in the
short space of five years. And the character of the work, its variety
and beauty and strength and originality, were such that its meager and
grudging acceptance seems now inexplicable.

The most important event in the life of Browning during this period was
his acquaintance with Miss Elizabeth Barrett. In 1844 she brought out a
new volume of poems which he saw and greatly admired. He wrote to her
expressing delight in her work and asking permission to call; but Miss
Barrett, owing to long-continued invalidism, had lived in almost entire
seclusion, and she was not at first willing to receive Mr. Browning.
This was in January, 1845, and many letters passed between them before
the first interview in the following May. Mr. Browning's love for Miss
Barrett found almost immediate expression and she was soon conscious of
an equally strong love for him, but for a considerable time she
persistently refused to marry him. To her mind the obstacles were almost
insurmountable. Of these her ill-health was chief. She could not
consent, she said, to dim the prosperities of his career by a union with
her future, which she characterized as a precarious thing, a thing for
making burdens out of--but not for his carrying. In exchange for the
"noble extravagancies" of his love she could bring him only "anxiety and
more sadness than he was born to." This obstacle of ill-health was
unexpectedly modified by a very mild winter and by the new physical
vigor brought in the train of new happiness. From this point of view the
marriage, though hazardous, was practicable by the end of the summer of
1846. A second obstacle lay in the nature and opinions of Miss Barrett's
father, who governed even his grown-up children by "an incredible system
of patriarchal absolutism." By what was variously termed an obliquity of
the will, an eccentricity, a monomania, he had decided that none of his
children should marry, and on this point he demanded "passive
obedience." It was perfectly clear that Miss Barrett could not gain his
consent to her marriage, and so, after long hesitation and much
unhappiness, she decided to marry Mr. Browning without that consent. In
order to save her family and close friends from the blame sure to fall
upon them for the remotest sanction of her marriage, her plans were kept
an absolute secret. She met Mr. Browning at Marylebone Church on
September 12, 1846, and they were married there, Mrs. Browning returning
at once to her own home, where she remained till a week later, when she
started for Italy with her husband. The wedding was then announced.
Throughout her father's life Mrs. Browning endeavored to placate him,
for she devotedly loved him and she had been his favorite child, but in
vain. He would never see her again, he returned her letters unopened,
and he would not allow her to be spoken of in his presence.

After resting a week in Paris Mr. and Mrs. Browning went on to Pisa,
where they remained nearly seven months. The "miracle" of the Pisa life
was Mrs. Browning's gain in health. "You are not _improved_, you are
_transformed_," was Mrs. Jameson's exclamation. It was at Pisa that Mr.
Browning came to know of the sonnets his wife had written during the
progress of their courtship and engagement. In _Critical Kit-Kats_
(1896) Mr. Gosse tells the story as Mr. Browning gave it to him: "One
day, early in 1847, their breakfast being over, Mrs. Browning went
upstairs, while her husband stood at the window watching the street till
the table could be cleared. He was presently aware of someone behind
him, although the servant had gone. It was Mrs. Browning who held him by
the shoulder to prevent his turning to look at her, and at the same time
pushed a packet of papers into the pocket of his coat. She told him to
read that and to tear it up if he did not like it; and then she fled
again to her room." Mr. Browning felt at once that he had no right to
keep such poetry as a private possession. "I dared not," he said,
"reserve to myself the finest sonnets written in any language since
Shakespeare's." They were accordingly published in 1850, under the
intentionally mystifying title, _Sonnets from the Portuguese_.

The Brownings reached Florence April 20, 1847. After several changes
they were, in May, 1848, established in the home in which they remained
during Mrs. Browning's life. It was a suite of rooms on the second floor
of the Palazzo Guidi. Of the practical side of this early Florentine
life, Mrs. Browning wrote, "My dear brothers have the illusion that
nobody should marry on less than two thousand a year. Good heavens! how
preposterous it does seem to me! We scarcely spend three hundred, and I
have every luxury I ever had, and which it would be so easy to give up,
at need; and Robert wouldn't sleep, I think, if an unpaid bill dragged
itself by any chance into another week. He says that when people get
into pecuniary difficulties his sympathies always go with the butchers
and the bakers." In accordance with this horror of owing five shillings
five days, the furnishings of the new home, "the rococo chairs, spring
sofas, carved bookcases, satin from cardinals' beds, and the rest," were
accumulated at a pace dictated by the bank account, but for all that it
was not long before the rooms began to take on an aspect as beautiful as
it was homelike.

By preference the Brownings lived very quietly. At the end of fifteen
months Mrs. Browning wrote, "Robert has not been out an evening of the
fifteen months; but what with music and books and writing and talking,
we scarcely know how the days go, it's such a gallop on the grass."
March 9, 1849, was born Wiedemann, later known as "Penini" or "Pen"
Browning. Coincident with this joy was the grief caused by the death of
Browning's mother, a sorrow from which he rallied but slowly. The
Florentine life was occasionally varied by summers at Bagni di Lucca,
winters in Paris or Rome, and several visits to England. There was also
an increasing social life. Americans were especially welcome to the
Brownings because, while England was still indifferent to Browning's
work, America had given it an appreciative welcome. In March, 1861, Mrs.
Browning wrote, "I don't complain for myself of an unappreciative
public. _I have no reason_. But just for _that_ reason I complain more
about Robert.... In America he is a power, a writer, a poet--he is read,
he lives in the hearts of the people."[4]

Among the Americans associated with the Brownings for longer or shorter
periods during their life in Florence were two distinguished women,
Margaret Fuller Ossoli and Harriet Beecher Stowe. In 1847, George
William Curtis spent two days with the Brownings at Vallombrosa, a visit
later described in his _Easy Chair_. Mr. Field, who had brought out the
American reprint of the two-volume edition of Browning's poems in 1849,
was a guest at Casa Guidi in 1852. Charles Sumner writes of "delicious
Tuscan evenings" with the Brownings and the Storys in 1859. Mr.
Browning's interests in art led to friendships with American artists,
among whom were Mr. Page, who painted a successful portrait of Browning;
Miss Harriet Hosmer, to whom Mr. and Mrs. Browning finally consented to
sit for the "Clasped Hands"; and Hiram Powers. The dearest American
friends were, however, Mr. and Mrs. Hawthorne and Mr. and Mrs. Story.

Music and art were among Browning's chief delights in Florence. George
William Curtis in describing the trip to Vallombrosa says that it was
part of their pleasure to sit in the dusky convent chapel while Browning
at the organ "chased a fugue of Master Hughes of Saxe Gotha, or dreamed
out upon twilight keys a faint throbbing toccata of Galuppi's." Modeling
in clay was even more satisfying as a personal resource. In the autumn
of 1860 Mrs. Browning wrote, "Robert has taken to modeling under Mr.
Story (at his studio) and is making extraordinary progress, turning to
account his studies in anatomy. He has copied already two busts, the
young Augustus and the Psyche, and is engaged on another, enchanted with
his new trade, working six hours a day." Some months later she added,
"The modeling combines body-work and soul-work, and the more tired he
has been, and the more his back ached, poor fellow, the more he has
exulted and been happy--'_no, nothing ever made him so happy before_.'"
He found, also, an unfailing pleasure in the study of great pictures.
And he was a buyer of pictures with a collector's delight in hunting out
the work of the unappreciated early Tuscan artists. Mrs. Orr says that
he owned at least one picture by each of the obscure artists mentioned
in "Old Pictures in Florence."

Mrs. Browning sometimes expressed regret that Browning should give
himself so unreservedly in so many directions, because she felt that he
had thus too little time and energy left for poetry. Her fear was not
without justification, for after the richly productive period from 1841
to 1846, we come upon a space of nine years the only publications of
which are, in 1850, _Christmas Eve and Easter Day_, a long poem in two
parts giving the arguments in favor of Christianity; and, in 1852, an
introduction to a collection of letters then supposed to be by Shelley,
but since found to be spurious. The essay is nevertheless of importance
as an exposition of Browning's theory of poetry, and as an interesting
study of Shelley.

In 1855, at the close of this period of nine years, there appeared a
collection of fifty-one poems entitled _Men and Women_. In "fundamental
brain power," insight, beauty, and mastery of style, these poems show
Browning at the highest level of his poetic achievement. It is in these
remarkable poems that he brought to perfection a poetic form which he
practically invented, the dramatic monologue, a form in which there is
but one speaker but which is essentially dramatic in effect. The
dramatic quality arises partly from the implied presence of listeners
whose expressions of assent or dissent determine the progress or the
abrupt changes of direction of the speaker's words. In "Andrea del
Sarto," for example, Lucrezia's smiles and frowns and gestures of
impatience are a constant influence, and the poem presents as vivid an
interplay of personalities as any scene in a drama. But the implied
listener is hardly more than a secondary dramatic element, the chief one
being that the speaker talks, as do the characters in a play, out of the
demands of the immediate experience, gradually and casually disclosing
all the tangled web of influence, all the clashes of will with destiny,
of desire with convention, that have led to the crisis depicted. Fra
Lippo Lippi gives no consecutive history of his life, only such snatches
of it as partially account for his present mad freak, but the strife
between his own nature and instinct on the one hand and the conventions
and traditions of religious art on the other could hardly be more
vividly presented. _In a Balcony_, the one drama in _Men and Women_, has
but a fragment of a plot, but in intensity, reality, and passion it
excels most of Browning's dramas, and, in spite of its long speeches,
has proved effective on the stage.[5] In variety of theme,
subject-matter, and verse-form, the poems of _Men and Women_ defy
classification. Whatever page one turns, there is something novel,
stimulating, captivating. All of Browning's Florentine interests are
represented here--his love of old pictures and little-known music, his
delight in Florence, Venice, Rome, in all Italy, her skies and her
landscapes, the vagrants of her streets, her religious ceremonies, her
church dignitaries, her scholars. Then there are love-poems in all
tones and tempers, the noblest of them all, "One Word More," being
Browning's most direct and personal tribute to his wife. And we see in
its keenest form his intellectual delight in subtle disquisition. The
doctrine of immortality as it appeals to the mind of the cultured,
dissatisfied pagan Cleon; the miracle of Lazarus as it is brooded over
by the Arab physician Karshish; the balancing of faith and doubt in the
clever casuistry of Bishop Blougram--these are topics to Browning's
taste and are treated with skill and mastery. Taken all in all these
poems give to the reader a full impression of Browning's characteristic
force, the darting, penetrating power of his phrase, the rush and energy
and leap of his thought. It is by _Men and Women_, the somewhat similar
_Dramatis Personæ_, and the earlier _Dramatic Lyrics_ and _Dramatic
Romances_, that Browning is most widely and most favorably known.

During the first ten years that the Brownings were in Florence Mrs.
Browning's health was so good that she was able to enjoy social and
outdoor pleasures to a degree that would have been thought impossible
before her marriage. She had also kept up her literary work. A new
edition of her poems appeared in 1849; in 1851 she published _Casa Guidi
Windows_, poems illustrative of her ardent interest in all that
pertained to the fight for Italian freedom; and in 1856 her long-planned
verse novel _Aurora Leigh_ was completed and published. But soon after
this her strength began insensibly to fail and during the last three
years of her life she suffered much from repeated bronchial attacks.
However, her death, in June, 1861, was entirely unexpected. The
Florentines had loved her deeply and had appreciated her utterances in
behalf of a free Italy. She was, accordingly, buried in Florence, with
"extraordinary demonstrations of respect," and the house where she had
lived was marked by the municipality with a commemorative tablet.

Browning's wish was to leave Florence at once and to make the new life
as unlike the old as possible. He went to London, and after some delay
established himself in a house at Warwick Crescent, where he lived till
1887. The first portion of his life in England was one of "unbearable
loneliness." He took care of his son, busied himself with a new edition
of his wife's poems, read and studied and wrote with feverish intensity,
and avoided people. But with the spring of 1863, says Mr. Gosse, "a
great change came over Browning's habits. He had shunned all invitations
into society, but ... it suddenly occurred to him that this mode of life
was morbid and unworthy," and thereupon he entered into the social,
literary, musical, and artistic life of London.

The nine years following 1855 were again a period of small productivity.
_Dramatis Personæ_ was a slender volume to represent so many years, even
though it contained such great poems as "Rabbi Ben Ezra," "A Death in
the Desert," and "Abt Vogler." But during this period a long poem, _The
Ring and the Book_, had been maturing. In 1860, while still at Casa
Guidi, Browning had found at a book-stall the now famous "square old
yellow Book," containing the legal record of a famous Roman murder case.
He read the account on the way home, and before night had so mastered
the details that, as he paced up and down on the terrace in the
darkness, he saw the tragedy unfold before him in picture after picture.
It was not, however, till 1864 that he definitely set to work on the
composition of the poem. It was published in four volumes of three parts
each, in the winter and spring of 1868-9. The poem has a novel
structure. The story is retold ten times by different persons and with
such variations of fact and opinions and style as are dictated by the
knowledge and the character of the speaker. The monologues of Count
Guido, who murdered his wife, of Pompilia the young wife, of Caponsacchi
the "soldier saint" who endeavored to save her, and of the old Pope, are
by far the most interesting portions of the poem, but the whole of it is
remarkable, and it justly takes rank as one of England's greatest poems.
With the appearance of this book Browning's genius received adequate
recognition in high places. _The Athenæum_ called it "the _opus magnum_
of the generation, not merely beyond all parallel the supremest poetic
achievement of the time, but the most precious and profound spiritual
treasure that England has possessed since the days of Shakespeare."

The last ten or twelve years of Browning's life were so crowded with
interests, occupations, publications, friends, honors, that not even a
summary of them can be undertaken here. Mr. Sharp says of this period:

"Everybody wished him to come and dine; and he did his best to gratify
Everybody. He saw everything; read all the notable books; kept himself
acquainted with the leading contents of the journals and magazines;
conducted a large correspondence; read new French, German, and Italian
books of mark; read and translated Euripides and Æschylus; knew all the
gossip of the literary clubs, the salons, and the studios; was a
frequenter of afternoon tea parties; and then, over and above it, he was
Browning--the most profoundly subtle mind that has exercised itself in
poetry since Shakespeare."

Mr. Henry James in commenting on Browning's rich and ample London period
with "its felicities and prosperities of every sort," says that in
contemplating "the wonderful Browning ... the accomplished, saturated,
sane, sound man of the London world and the world of culture," it was
impossible not to believe that "he had arrived somehow, for his own deep
purposes, at the enjoyment of a double identity," so dissociated were
the poet and the "member of society." Phillips Brooks, who met Browning
in England in 1865-6, was impressed by his fullness of life and said he
was "very like some of the best of Thackeray's London men." In public
and on ordinary social occasions Browning is said to have been frank,
charming, friendly--"more agreeable," Mary Anderson said, "than
distinguished." With intimate friends, however, the poet had quite
another sort of charm. "To a single listener," says Mr. Gosse, with whom
he was on familiar terms, "the Browning of his own study was to the
Browning of a dinner party as a tiger cat is to a domestic cat. In such
conversation his natural strength came out. His talk assumed the volume
and the tumult of a cascade. His voice rose to a shout, sank to a
whisper, ran up and down the gamut of conversational melody. Those whom
he was expecting will never forget his welcome, the loud trumpet-note
from the other end of the passage, the talk already in full flood at a
distance of twenty feet. Then, in his own study or drawing-room, what he
loved was to capture his visitor in a low armchair's 'sofa-lap of
leather,' and from a most unfair vantage of height to tyrannize, to walk
around the victim, in front, behind, on this side, on that, weaving
magic circles, now with gesticulating arms thrown high, now groveling on
the floor to find some reference in a folio, talking all the while, a
redundant turmoil of thoughts, fancies, and reminiscences flowing from
those generous lips."

Elsewhere Mr. Gosse summed up his personal impressions of Mr. Browning,
as follows:

"I am bound to tell you that I saw a different Browning from the hero
of all the handbooks and 'gospels' which are now in vogue. People are
beginning to treat this vehement and honest poet as if he were a sort of
Marcus Aurelius and John the Baptist rolled into one. I have just seen a
book in which it is proposed that Browning should supersede the Bible,
in which it is asserted that a set of his volumes will teach religion
better than all the theologies in the world. Well, I did not know that
holy monster.... What I saw was an unostentatious, keen, active man of
the world, one who never failed to give good practical advice in matters
of business and conduct, one who loved his friends and certainly hated
his enemies; a man alive in every eager passionate nerve of him; a man
who loved to discuss people and affairs, and a bit of a gossip; a bit of
a partisan, too, and not without his humorous prejudices. He was simple
to a high degree, simple in his scrupulous dress, his loud, happy voice,
his insatiable curiosity."

Browning's London life was varied by many summer journeyings to French
sea-coast towns, to Wales, and to Scotland. But it was seventeen years
after the death of his wife before he could bring himself to revisit
Italy. Even then he avoided Florence. He took his sister to Northern
Italy; and Asolo and Venice became the towns around which their
affections centered. Two American friends, Mrs. Bloomfield-Moore, and
Mrs. Arthur Bronson,[6] contributed to the happiness of these Italian
sojourns. In 1888 Browning's son, who had married an American girl,
bought the Palazzo Rezzonico in Venice, so that Browning had an
additional personal reason for his trip to Venice in 1889. He was well,
and he took great pleasure in his son's admirably planned restoration of
the old Venetian palace. He worked, walked, talked with nearly normal
vigor. But a bronchial attack proved more than his weakened heart could
withstand, and he died peacefully, almost painlessly, in his son's home
on December 12, 1889. On the day of his death his last book, _Asolando_,
was published, so that his brave-hearted "Epilogue" was really his
valediction to this and his heroic greeting to another world. He could
"greet the unseen with a cheer," because in thought and act he was

   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.

Browning was buried in Westminster Abbey on the last day of the year.
The most pathetic element of the imposing ceremonies was the singing of
Mrs. Browning's poem, "He Giveth His Beloved Sleep."


Before entering upon a discussion of Browning's poetry it will be of
interest to note briefly some of the more striking general
characteristics of the English literature contemporary with his work.
From _Pauline_ to _Asolando_ is over half a century, but as a central
and especially significant portion of Browning's career we may take the
three decades from 1841, when he began the _Bells and Pomegranates_
series, to 1869, when _The Ring and the Book_ appeared, for these years
include all of his dramas and most of the poetry on which his fame
rests. A survey of this period at once reveals the predominance of
fiction. Within these years come nearly all the novels of Charles
Dickens, of William Makepeace Thackeray, of Charlotte Brontë, of Wilkie
Collins, of Charles Kingsley, of Mrs. Gaskell, of Anthony Trollope, of
George Macdonald, of Charles Reade, much of the work of Bulwer Lytton,
all the novels of George Eliot except _Middlemarch_ and _Daniel
Deronda_, and the earliest of George Meredith's books. This is a notable
showing. No previous period in English literature had presented anything
like so wide a range in fiction or had brought forward so large a number
of novels of the first rank. These years were equally rich in essays,
including much of Carlyle's work, all of Macaulay's except the early
"Essay on Milton," the religious polemics of Frederick Dennison Maurice
and John Henry Newman, nearly all of Ruskin's discussions of art and
social history, most of Leigh Hunt's literary criticism, and Matthew
Arnold's important early critical essays. This, too, is a notable
showing. But if we turn to the two realms in which Browning excelled,
poetry and drama, we find different conditions. During the central
period of his career, there was, aside from his own work, not a single
important drama published. The theaters were prosperous, but they
brought out only old plays or new ones of inferior rank. In poetry, too,
if we set aside the great names of Tennyson and Browning, the period was
neither rich nor varied. During Browning's first great productive
period, 1841-46, the only other poems of note were Tennyson's two
volumes in 1842. In the nine years from 1846 to _Men and Women_ in 1855,
the chief poems were Tennyson's _The Princess_, _In Memoriam_, and
_Maud_, for though Wordsworth's _Prelude_ was one of the greatest
publications of the mid-century, it was written years before, and can
hardly be counted as belonging to this era. There are, during the
decade, many poems of secondary rank, the most important of them being
Mrs. Browning's _Sonnets from the Portuguese_ and _Aurora Leigh_, but
besides Tennyson and Browning, the only poet of high rank is Matthew
Arnold, whose slender volumes voice the doubts and difficulties of the
age as Browning's poems voice its optimism. In the fourteen years
between _Men and Women_ and _The Ring and the Book_ poets of a new kind
appear; William Morris's _Defense of Guinevere_, _The Life and Death of
Jason_ and _The Earthly Paradise_, and Swinburne's early poems are alien
to the work of Browning in form, subject-matter, and ideals. The fact
is, the more definitely we try to place Browning in his literary
environment the more distinctly do we perceive that he was _sui generis_
among his contemporaries. He combined in striking fashion the intensity
of the poet and the strong social sense of the prose writer.

It seems also wise to glance at the outset at a few of the main
criticisms that have been made on Browning's poetry, for the result of
his marked originality is that no poet of the time has been so greatly
praised and blamed.

A natural first topic is his really famous "obscurity." This obscurity
is variously ascribed to a diction unduly learned, or almost
unintelligibly colloquial, or grotesquely inventive; to figures of
speech drawn from sources too unfamiliar or elaborated to the point of
confusion; to sentences complicated by startling inversions, by double
parentheses, by broken constructions, or by a grammatical structure
defying analysis. It would be quite possible to illustrate each of these
points from Browning's works, and it cannot be denied that his poetry is
sometimes needlessly and inexcusably hard reading. But in reality the
difficulties in his poems come less from stylistic defects than from the
subject matter. What Mr. Chesterton calls Browning's love for "the
holes and corners of history," leads him to the use of much unfamiliar
detail. A large part of the difficulty in reading _Sordello_ arises from
the fact that all Browning's accumulated knowledge of medieval Italy is
there poured forth in an allusive, taken-for-granted manner, till even
the practiced reader turns away perplexed and overwhelmed. So, too, "Old
Pictures in Florence," "Pictor Ignotus," and "Fra Lippo Lippi" assume on
the part of the reader a minute familiarity with early Florentine art.
Occasionally the poems demand an exceptional technical knowledge of some
sort, as in "Abt Vogler," where only a trained musician can fully
understand the terminology. Many even of the minor poems belong to
realms of thought and experience so remote that only by distinct effort
do we transport ourselves thither. It would, for instance, be absurd to
call "Two in the Campagna" difficult in form or phrasing, yet it
narrates an experience intelligible only to those who have loved deeply
but have found in the very heart of that love a baffling sense of
inevitable personal isolation. Sometimes the difficulty arises from the
extreme subtlety of the thought. "Evelyn Hope," the simplest of poems in
expression, presents novel and elusive ideas. Mr. Chesterton ingeniously
ascribes Browning's obscurity to "intellectual humility," to an
assumption that his readers were in possession of a native endowment and
an acquired intellectual wealth on a par with his own; but the defense
seems rather forced. Mrs. Browning gave one of the best brief analyses
of Mr. Browning's obscurity. He had been attacked as being "misty" and
she wrote to him, "You never _are_ misty, not even in 'Sordello'--never
vague. Your graver cuts deep, sharp lines, always--and there is an extra
distinctness in your images and thoughts, from the midst of which,
crossing each other infinitely, the general significance seems to
escape." But the classic defense of Browning from this point of view
may be found in Swinburne's Introduction to Chapman's _Poems_:

"The difficulty found by many in certain of Mr. Browning's works arises
from a quality the very reverse of that which produces obscurity,
properly so-called. Obscurity is the natural product of turbid forces
and confused ideas; of a feeble and clouded or of a vigorous but unfixed
and chaotic intellect.... Now if there is any great quality more
perceptible than another in Mr. Browning's intellect it is his decisive
and incisive faculty of thought, his sureness and intensity of
perception, his rapid and trenchant resolution of aim.... The very
essence of Mr. Browning's aim and method, as exhibited in the ripest
fruits of his intelligence, is such as implies above all other things
the possession of a quality the very opposite of obscurity--a faculty of
spiritual illumination rapid and intense and subtle as lightning, which
brings to bear upon its object by way of direct and vivid illustration
every symbol and every detail on which its light is flashed in passing."
Browning has himself a word to say on this topic. He wrote to a friend:

"I can have little doubt that my writing has been in the main too hard
for many I should have been pleased to communicate with; but I never
designedly tried to puzzle people as some of my critics have supposed.
On the other hand, I never pretended to offer such literature as should
be a substitute for a cigar or a game at dominoes to an idle man. So,
perhaps, on the whole, I get my deserts, and something over--not a crowd
but a few I value more."

A second charge not infrequently brought against Browning's verse is
that it is harsh, and at times even ugly. This charge, like that of
obscurity, cannot be wholly denied. The harshness results from incorrect
rhymes, from irregular movement of the verse, or from difficult
combinations of vowels and consonants. No reader of Browning's poems can
fail to have been impressed by his intellectual agility in matching odd
rhymes. In dash and originality his rhymes out-rank even those in
Butler's _Hudibras_ and Lowell's _Fable for Critics_. We find in
_Pacchiarotto_, for instance, many rhymes of the gayest, most freakish,
most grotesque character--"monkey, one key," "prelude, hell-hued,"
"stubborn, cub-born," "_was_ hard, hazard," all occur in a single
stanza. An example of exceptional facility in rhyming is found in
"Through the Metidja," where, without repetition of words and without
forcing of the sense thirty-six words rhyme with "ride." It cannot be
denied that this remarkable facility led Browning occasionally into the
use of odd rhymes in poems where no light or comic effect was intended;
but a detailed study of his rhymes[7] shows that the proportion of
incorrect rhymes is really small, that the grotesque rhymes are more
striking than numerous, and that they are usually in places where they
are dramatically appropriate. His use of harsh words and sound-blendings
is also often to be justified on the ground of their appropriateness to
the idea. Compare, for instance, the flowing, easy words, the musical
linking of sounds, in the first stanza of "Love Among the Ruins" with
the harsh words, harshly combined, in the twelfth and thirteenth stanzas
of "Childe Roland." Both effects are artistic because each sort of
combination is in response to the nature of the thought. It is true that
sometimes, perhaps not infrequently, the verse is rugged or uncouth
where the sense does not call for such form, and there are lines that
not only remind us of De Quincey's dictum that certain words should be
"boiled before they are eaten," but which have no metrical flow at all;
they defy any sort of scansion and read like rough prose. But a poet
has a right of appeal to the sum of his manifest excellencies rather
than to his defects, and if we take Browning's best work we find a
harmony of movement superior in musical effect to a more technically
regular meter. In many poems the meter is indissolubly fused with the
pictures, the ideas, the events. Take, for instance, "The Pied Piper of
Hamelin," where the hurry-skurry of the verse is in complete harmony
with the quaint, rapid tale. The hoof-beats of galloping horses is heard
all through "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix." The slow
march, the stately chant, are rhythmically present throughout "A
Grammarian's Funeral." In "The Flight of the Duchess" the change from
the rough servitor's narrative to the incantation of the gypsy-queen is
as exquisitely marked in the metrical movement and in the rhymes as it
is in the diction and tone of thought. Many other examples might be
cited. Mr. Brinton, who has made a detailed and competent study of
Browning's verse, gives his final opinion in these words: "In the
volumes of Browning I maintain that we find so many instances of
profound insight into verbal harmonies, such singular strength of poetic
grouping, and such a marvelous grasp of the rhythmic properties of the
English language that we must assign to him a rank second to no English
poet of this century."[8]

A third charge brought against Browning's art is that he makes all his
characters talk "Browningese"; that is, that he endows all of them with
the power to use such words and sentences and thought processes as are
natural to him and to him only. Mr. Stedman in emphasizing this
characteristic of the poet says of _Pippa Passes_: "The usual fault is
present--the characters, whether students, peasants, or soldiers, all
talk like sages; Pippa reasons like a Paracelsus in pantalettes." It is,
of course, obvious at the first glance that there is a lack of
verisimilitude in Pippa's rich and beautiful soliloquies. Certainly no
fourteen-year-old mill girl could so describe a sunrise, or play so
brilliantly with a sunbeam in a water-basin, or outline so cleverly the
stories of the happiest four in Asolo. The same is true of Phene's long
speech to Jules; no untutored girl brought up in degradation, could
present such thoughts in such words. When we analyze Browning's way of
presenting a character, however, we find that the lack of verisimilitude
is usually external and has to do chiefly with expression. Browning
works on the fundamental assumption that he has a poetic right to make
all sorts of people articulate. He lends his mind out in the service of
their thoughts and feelings. He makes people reveal themselves by
putting into words their elusive, dim, tangled, and even unrecognized
motives and hopes and joys and despairs. He sums up in the speeches all
the potentialities of the situation. All the significance latent in the
type of character and environment is somehow heightened and symbolized.
All this is put in his own highly individual diction. Yet it can hardly
be said that he violates poetic realism in the deeper sense, for he
never puts a halo around a situation, never goes counter to its
potentialities. Instead he strikes fire from it. He shows what is
actually in the situation, but at white heat and laid bare to its
center. When this method has once been recognized, discomfort on the
score of lack of verisimilitude practically disappears, and the reader
yields himself to the joy of the rich, subtle, and stimulating analysis.

We may now turn to a consideration of the subject-matter and the main
ideas of Browning's poetry. From whatever point of view we regard his
work, we find that ultimately the emphasis rests on the same great
central fact, the supremacy of his interest in human nature. This
dominating interest is shown, for instance, by a study of his treatment
of physical nature. To be sure, no one can read his poems without
recognizing the truth that his use of natural facts is distinctive in
kind and very stimulating. A mere reference to the pictures of the sky
in _Pippa Passes_, the vivid descriptions of fruits and flowers in "An
Englishman in Italy," the remarkable studies of small animal life in
"Saul" and "Caliban upon Setebos," of birds in "Home-Thoughts, from
Abroad," of insects in the first part of _Paracelsus_ and in many later
poems, suffices to show that in mature life he did not lose the keenness
of observation and interest characteristic of his youth. Yet it is also
evident that his use of nature by way of direct description, or even as
illustrative material, is far less in amount than that of other notable
nineteenth century poets. He cares much less for "the river's line, the
mountains round it and the sky above" than for the "figures of man,
woman, and child these are frame to." Where nature is drawn upon, it is
almost invariably in complete subordination to some human interest, and
its literary form is almost always that of casual mention, background,
or similitude, and the first of these is the most frequent. Furthermore,
nearly all these passages are a mere statement of observed fact without
comment or interpretation. There is one great passage in _Paracelsus_
where the joy of God in the act of creation is depicted; there are
occasional references to the delight of man in the external world; and
now and then, as in "By the Fireside," man and nature are intimately
fused; but such conceptions rarely occur. In Browning's poetry the
boundary lines between man and nature are clearly marked. In
_Paracelsus_ he definitely protests against man's way of reading his own
moods into nature, and of attributing to her his own qualities and
emotions. He also always accounts man, if he has truly entered into his
spiritual heritage, as consciously superior to nature. The troubadour
Eglamour, in _Sordello_, says that man shrinks to naught if matched with
a quiet sea or sky, but Browning calls that Eglamour's "false thought."
To Browning, nature was to be studied, enjoyed, and used, but it was not
as to Keats a realm of enchantment; or as to Wordsworth the realm where
alone the divine and the human could pass the boundaries of sense and
meet; or as to Matthew Arnold a refuge from pain and disillusionment.
Browning regards the world about him more in the sane, unsentimental,
straightforward, intelligible way of Chaucer or of Shakespeare. The
mystical elements in Wordsworth's feeling for nature were foreign to
Browning's mind. An instructive comparison might be made between
Wordsworth's "Ode on Intimations of Immortality" and Browning's
"Prologue to Asolando." The poems have the same starting point. Each one
attributes sadness to the poet's old age, and each gives as a cause of
the sadness the inevitable fading of the glory with which all nature was
invested to the eye of his youth. But here the resemblance ends.
Wordsworth believes that the youthful vision was a divine revelation to
be regained when the round of existence should be completed by a return
to his immortal home, and on the memory of that vision he founded his
faith in a future life. But Browning welcomed the loss of the vision.
Objects had been to him "palpably fire-clothed"; but with the loss of
"flame" there was a gain in reality. The vision had enthralled and
subjugated him; but with the sight of "a naked world" he had become
conscious of things as they are, and he rejoiced in a justness of
perception that declared what were to him the two great facts of life,
the power and beauty of God, and the glory of the human soul. On these,
not on nature, he put his stress.

Browning's paramount interest in human nature is further illustrated by
his poems on the various arts. Of music, painting, and sculpture he has
written with the intimate and minute knowledge of a specialist in each
art. He is familiar with implements and materials, with the tricks of
the trade, the talk of the studios; but, after all, the art as an art is
of much less interest to him than is the worker. The process and even
the completed product are in Browning's view important only in so far as
they reveal or affect the artist, the musician, the sculptor, or some
phase of life. In such poems as "Abt Vogler," "Fra Lippo Lippi," "Andrea
del Sarto," we are conscious not so much of music and pictures as of the
secret springs of failure, the divine despairs and discontents, the
aspirations, the creative ecstasies, of the men who wrought in these
realms. Andrea del Sarto's art is not the real theme of the poem bearing
his name. It is, rather, his character, of which his art is an
expression. The central fact of the poem is the recognition that a soul
morally impoverished cannot, even with well-nigh perfect technique,
produce great work, while, even with faulty technique, a setting of the
soul to grand issues will secure transcendent meanings. So, too, with
Abt Vogler. His music is not of the greatest, but our concern is with
the musician who, through the completeness of his spiritual absorption
in music, is conducted into a realm of experience beyond that of speech
or even of articulate thought.

Another distinctly human aspect of art interests Browning, and that is
its power to represent and so to recall a vanished civilization. Greek
statues, the devotional pictures of the early Florentines, the work of
the later Italian realists, stand, in "Old Pictures in Florence," as
representatives of the life and thought that produced them. In "A
Toccata of Galuppi's" the music revivifies the superficial gaiety, the
undertone of fear, in the life of eighteenth century Venice. Highly
significant in this connection are the poems in which he traces the
evolution of art. Running through "Old Pictures in Florence" and "Fra
Lippo Lippi" we find an ordered statement of the chief changes in the
ideals of art as Browning saw them. The Greeks, we are told, had
produced in sculpture the most beautiful representations of the human
body. But if their successors had been content merely to admire this
perfect achievement, they would have purchased satisfaction at the price
of their own arrested development. Progress came only when, in the dawn
of Italian art, men turned from Greek perfection, from the supremely
beautiful but limited representations of the human body, to an attempt
to paint the invisible, the spiritual side of man's nature. The work of
these artists was great because it was not imitative and because it
stretched toward an unending and ideal future. But the idealistic and
aspiring temper of early Tuscan art had the defects of its qualities.
Its spiritual ecstasy once conventionalized and reduced to a formula led
to unreality, and, if not to untruth, at least to an unwholesome
ignoring of a part of truth. There was, therefore, an inevitable
reaction to the naturalism described with such verve and gusto by Fra
Lippo Lippi. But this is, after all, social history in terms of art, and
to Browning what has happened in painting is of value chiefly as showing
concretely what has happened in the mind of man.

From the instances already cited it is apparent that Browning's interest
centered, not in abstract or theoretical discussions of human problems,
but in the individuals who face the problems. In this point Browning is
sharply distinguished from his poetic contemporaries as a class. They
felt deeply "all the weary weight of this unintelligible world," so
deeply that while they gave much thought to ideals of social
amelioration, few of them presented individuals with any dramatic
distinctness. Browning stands practically by himself in the nineteenth
century as the poet who gives us both the "doubter and the doubt," who
is able to join with an impressive statement of the hopes and fears of
man, an equally impressive sequence of individual men and women. In this
he harks back to the broad inclusiveness of the Elizabethan dramatists.
In contemporary literature, his nearest congeners are in fiction, not in

The great number and variety of Browning's characters can be illustrated
in different ways. We might, for instance, note how many nationalities
are represented. The personages in "Stafford" and the "Cavalier Tunes"
are Englishmen from the time of the Civil War. "Clive" is a true story
of the Indian Empire. We have from Italian life the numerous characters
in _Sordello_, "Fra Lippo Lippi," "Pictor Ignotus," "The Bishop Orders
His Tomb at St. Praxed's Church," "My Last Duchess," _The Ring and the
Book_, "A Grammarian's Funeral," "Up at a Villa--Down in the City," "In
a Gondola," and many more. "Count Gismond" and "Hervé Riel" are French
stories. _Paracelsus_ and "Abt Vogler" are of German origin.
_Balaustion's Adventure_, _Aristophanes' Apology_, "Pheidippides," and
"Echetlos" celebrate Greek thought and adventure. Very important poems
such as "Saul" and "Rabbi Ben Ezra," have to do with Jewish life. And
unlike Shakespeare, who is not concerned with making Julius Cæsar a
Roman or Duke Theseus a Greek, Browning brings to the creation of each
of these widely divergent characters, a detailed knowledge of the
special habits of life and thought of the nation or race concerned. He
represents also many kinds of human interest. We find in his poems
seekers after knowledge such as Paracelsus, who takes all thought and
fact as his domain; or such as the Grammarian, who found Greek particles
too wide a realm; or such as the pedant Sibrandus Schafnaburgensis,
whose learned rubbish cumbers the land. There are likewise those who
grope after the truths of religion from Caliban on his island to the
learned physician Karshish and the highly cultured Cleon; those who have
the full vision from John to Rabbi Ben Ezra; those who juggle with terms
and creeds as does Bishop Blougram; and out and out frauds like Sludge
the Medium. The church is represented by many men dissimilar in
endowments, tastes, spiritual experiences, and aims. There are Italian
prelates of every sort, from the worldly-minded Bishop of St. Praxed's,
occupied in death with vain thoughts of lapis-lazuli and pure Latin, to
the "soldier-saint," Caponsacchi, who saved Pompilia, and the wise old
Pope who pronounced Guido's doom; from the unworthy priest in the
Spanish Cloister to the very human, kindly Pope in "The Bean Feast." And
from all these it is far down the ages to the evangelical parish priest
of _The Inn Album_, that "purblind honest drudge," who, the deeper to
impress his flock, painted heaven dimly but "made hell distinct." There
are many artists, many musicians. There are poets from Aprile in
_Paracelsus_, and the troubadours Eglamour and Sordello, to Keats and
Shelley. The extremes of social life are given. There are the
street-girls in _Pippa Passes_ and there are kings and queens with royal
retinues. There are statesmen, and warriors, and seekers after romantic
adventure. There are haughty aristocrats of cold and cruel natures, and
there are obscure but high-hearted doers of heroic deeds. Browning's
dictum, "Study man, man, whatever the issue," led him into a world wider
than that known by any other poet of his time, and akin, as has been
pointed out, to that of the great writers of fiction. As an observer of
human life he was not unlike his poor poet of Valladolid who, with his
"scrutinizing hat," went about the streets, absorbed in watching all
kinds of people, all sorts of occupations, "scenting the world, looking
it full in the face." He chose to set forth "the wants and ways" of
actual life. He summed up his work in the "Epilogue to Pacchiarotto":

   Man's thoughts and loves and hates!
   Earth is my vineyard, these grew there:
   From grape of the ground I made or marred
   My vintage.

It is further apparent that Browning's characters are never merely
types, but must always be reckoned with as individuals. It was his
belief that no two beings were ever made similar in head and heart;
hence, even where there are external similarities the essential elements
are strongly differentiated. Take, for instance, three poems in which
the situations are not unlike. In "My Last Duchess," "The Flight of the
Duchess," and _The Ring and the Book_, we have a portrayal of three men
of high lineage, but cold, egotistic, cruel, who have married very young
and lovely women over whom the custom of the times gives them absolute
power. But there the likeness ends. We cannot for a moment class
together the polished, aesthetic, well-bred aristocrat of the first
poem, the absurd little popinjay of the second, and the "tiger-cat" of
the third. Less strongly, but as clearly are the wives differentiated.
To the innocent gaiety of heart, the bright, sweet friendliness of the
hapless lady in "My Last Duchess" must be added for the lady in "The
Flight of the Duchess" a native force of character which, when roused by
the call of the gypsy-queen, enables her to break the yoke imposed on
her by the Duke and his mother and go forth into a life of adventure,
freedom, and love. The delicate, flower-like Pompilia in _The Ring and
the Book_ has also power to initiate and carry through a plan of escape,
but her incentive is no call to romantic freedom. Her passive endurance
changes to active revolt only when motive and energy are supplied by her
love for her child. Or take Pippa and Phene in _Pippa Passes_, two
beautiful young girls brought up in dangerous and evil surroundings, but
both innately pure. In character and experience they are, however, as
unlike as two girls could be. Phene, undeveloped in mind and heart, the
easily duped agent of a cruel trick, appeals to us by her slow,
incredulous, but eager response to goodness and aspiration, the
tremulous opening of her soul to love. But Pippa, with her observant
love of nature, her gay, sportive, winsome fancies, her imaginative
sympathy with the lives of others, her knowledge of good and evil, her
poise, her bright steadiness of soul, carries us into a different and
much more highly evolved world of thought and feeling. So we might go
through the great assemblage of Browning's characters to find that each
one stands out by himself as a person with his own qualities,
possibilities, and problems.

In all this portrayal of individuals the emphasis is on things of the
mind and heart. In these realms Browning found nothing alien or
uninteresting. From point to point his poetry illustrates what he said
in his comment on _Sordello_, "My stress lay on the incidents in the
development of a human soul; little else is worth study." In all his
poetry environment is of importance only in so far as it is the stuff on
which the soul works. It is "the subtle thing called spirit," it is "the
soul's world" to which he devotes himself.

It is only from a study of Browning's many characters that we may arrive
at a statement of some of the distinguishing features of his philosophy
of life. And any such statements must be made with extreme caution
because of his dramatic method. He utters this caution himself when he
says of his poems, "Their contents are always dramatic in principle, and
so many utterances of so many imaginary people." Yet it is possible, by
taking the general trend and scope of his work, to make justifiable
deductions concerning the dominant ideas in the rich field of his poetry
and drama.

In Browning's philosophy of life, words of especial significance are
"growth" and "progress." Domizia in _Luria_ says:

   How inexhaustibly the spirit grows!
   One object, she seemed erewhile born to reach
   With her whole energies and die content--
   So like a wall at the world's edge is stood,
   With naught beyond to live for--is that reached?--
   Already are new undreamed energies
   Outgrowing under, and extending farther
   To a new object.

So, too, John in "A Death in the Desert" sums up his belief in the line,

   I say that man was made to grow, not stop.

Growth here and growth hereafter are the essential elements of
Browning's creed. And there is no other poet in whom all kinds of
thinking and doing are so uniformly tested by their outcome in the
growth of the soul. Does joy stimulate to fuller life; does suffering
bring out moral qualities; do obstacles develop energy; do sharp
temptations become a source of strength and assured soldiership; does
knowledge of evil lead to a new exaltation of good; does sin lead to
self-knowledge and so to regeneration? Then all these are ministers of
grace, for through them the soul has reached greater heights and fuller
life. Whatever bids the soul "nor stand nor sit, but go" is to be
welcomed. The cost of this growth may be great, but the advances of
spirit are represented as worth any sacrifice. The lady in "The Flight
of the Duchess" goes from splendor and ease to hardship and obscurity,
but she wins freedom of thought and of act and the opportunity to test
the qualities of her soul. In _Pippa Passes_ Sebald might have had love
and wealth, Jules might have attained fame along the conventional path
marked out for him by the Monsignor, Luigi had the prospect of an easy
life and happy love, the Monsignor might have had enhanced honor from
the church into whose coffers he could have turned great revenues. But
instead each responds in turn to Pippa's songs; Sebald gains a true view
of sin, Jules gets a new conception of service and attainment, Luigi's
wavering purpose of self-sacrifice for his country's good is
strengthened, the Monsignor is held back from connivance at a crime. In
all these cases the external loss is as nothing compared to the gain in
spiritual knowledge and energy.

Contact with magnetic and superior personalities is a way of growth
particularly noted by Browning. There are men, he says, who bring new
feeling fresh from God, and whose life "reteaches us what life should
be, what faith is, loyalty and simpleness." Pompilia says of

   Through such souls alone
   God stooping shows sufficient of his light
   For us i' the dark to rise by.

The highest souls are "seers" in the noblest sense and they "impart the
gift of seeing to the rest." But the helpful personality need not be
great in knowledge or rank. In Pippa Browning emphasizes the power of
unconscious goodness in clarifying the spiritual vision of others and in
thus stimulating to right action. And in David he shows the power of
poetic charm, innocence, and eager love to drive away from another heart
a mood of black despair.

But outside influences are, after all, says Browning, of secondary
importance. They can, at best, do no more than stimulate and guide. When
Andrea del Sarto attributes his general lowering of ideals and power to
the influence of Lucrezia, he evades the real issue. Incentives must
come from the soul's self. Growth is dependent on personal struggle. Man
is, by his very nature,

             forced to try and make, else fail to grow--
   Formed to rise, reach at, if not grasp and gain
   The good beyond him--which attempt is growth.

So, also, is it better that youth

     should strive, through acts uncouth,
   Toward making, than repose on aught found made.

It is in the independence and originality of such striving that the soul
discovers and frees its innate potentialities.

An inevitable corollary of this idea of progress is the emphasis put
upon aspiration as a habit of the mind. The pursuit of an ideal, a
divine discontent with present accomplishment, are enjoined upon man.
The gleams of heaven on earth are not meant to be permanent or
satisfying, but only to sting man into hunger for full light. When a
human being has achieved to the full extent of his perceptions or
aspirations, he has, thinks Browning, met with the greatest possible
disaster, that of arrested development. Man's powers should ever climb
new heights. For his soul's health he should always see "a flying point
of bliss remote, a happiness in store afar, a sphere of distant glory."
"A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
According to this ideal, man's conception of good is ever changing and
ever widening and hence never in this life to be fully attained; yet the
condition of growth is that he have an unmeasured thirst for good and
that he pursue it with unquenchable ardor.

The importance of love as one of the most effective agencies in
spiritual growth is stated and restated in Browning's poetry and by
exceedingly diverse characters. The Queen in _In a Balcony_ turns away
from her lonely splendor to exclaim,

   There is no good of life but love--but love!
   What else looks good is some shade flung from love;
   Love gilds it, gives it worth.

The Duchess learns from the gypsy

   How love is the only good in the world.

The famous singer in "Dis Aliter Visum" knows that art, verse, music,
count as naught beside "love found, gained, and kept." Browning seems to
regard almost any genuine love as a means of opening out the nature to
fuller self-knowledge, to wider sympathies, and to increased power of
action. Hence he condemns all cautious calculation of obstacles, all
dwelling upon conventional difficulties, in the path of those who have
clearly seen "the love-way." Hence even love unrequited is counted of
inestimable value. In _Colombe's Birthday_ Valence says,

   Is the knowledge of her, naught? the memory, naught?
   --Lady, should such an one have looked on you,
   Ne'er wrong yourself so far as quote the world
   And say, love can go unrequited here!
   You will have blessed him to his whole life's end--
   Low passions hindered, baser cares kept back,
   All goodness cherished where you dwelt--and dwell.

But the love of man and woman is not the only sort. A part of the value
of this individual relationship is that it may be regarded as a
revelation and symbol of the spirit of all-embracing sympathy whereby
mankind should be ruled. When Paracelsus analyzes his life he ascribes
his failure to the fact that he has sought knowledge to the exclusion of
all else; he finally came to see that knowledge, however profound, is of
itself barren of satisfaction. He had meant to serve men by revealing
truth to them, but he found that real service is based on the
understanding given by love. In self condemnation he says,

   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.

Browning's conception of the function and power of love is based on his
belief in its divine origin. Twice at least, in "Easter Day" and "Saul,"
his characters work out from an overpowering recognition of God's
omniscience and omnipotence to a final recognition that his love is
equal in scope with his power and knowledge. And he counts human service
as most complete when, as in David before Saul, it reaches out to God's
love and recruits its failing forces from the divine source.

Underlying Browning's doctrine of the value of love, and his doctrine of
progress and aspiration, is his belief in personal immortality. When he
was charged with being strongly against Darwin, with rejecting the
truths of science and regretting its advance, he answered that the idea
of a progressive development from senseless matter until man's
appearance had been a familiar conception to him from the beginning, but
he reiterated his constant faith in creative intelligence acting on
matter but not resulting from it. "Soul," he said, "is not matter, nor
from matter, but above." Two assumptions which though not susceptible of
proof he regards as "inescapable," are the existence of creative
intelligence and of "the subtle thing called spirit." When he argues out
the question of the immortality of this spirit, as in _La Saisiaz_, he
admits the subjective character of the evidence; but when he speaks
spontaneously out of his own feeling or experience, it is with positive
belief in life after death. To Mr. Sharp he said, "Death, death! It is
this harping on death that I do despise so much! Why, _amico mio_, you
know as well as I that death is life, just as our daily, our momentarily
dying body is none the less alive and ever recruiting new forces of
existence. Without death which is our crape-like church-yardy word for
change, for growth, there could be no prolongation of what we call life.
Pshaw, it is foolish to argue upon such a thing, even. For myself, I
deny death as an end of everything. Never say of me that I am dead!"
When his wife died he wrote in her Testament these words from Dante,
"Thus I believe, thus I affirm, thus I am certain it is, that from this
life I shall pass to another better there where that lady lives of whom
my soul was enamored." This faith in life after death explains much of
Browning's philosophy. The source of the pagan Cleon's profound
discouragement was the fact that man should be dowered with
"joy-hunger," should be given the ability to perceive and comprehend
splendor and breadth of experience, but should, through the straitness
of human limitations, be held back from satisfaction and achievement,
and should be left to die thus dazzled, thus baffled. The secret of
Browning's optimism, on the other hand, is his belief that in heaven
the soul is freed from limitations, and blossoms out into capabilities
of joy and of activity beyond anything suggested by the most golden
dreams of earth. To him all life is a unit, beginning here and destined
to unimaginable development hereafter. Earth is regarded as a place of
tutelage where man may learn to set foot on some one path to heaven. And
no work begun here shall ever pause for death. Even apparent failure
here counts for little so the quest be not abandoned. Each of us may, as
Abt Vogler, look without despair on the broken arcs of earth if his
faith reveals the perfect round in heaven.

From any prolonged study of Browning's poetry we become conscious of
certain dominant qualities of style that may be thought of quite apart
from his themes or message. That his style has the defect of its
qualities has already been pointed out. Here we may appropriately
indicate those qualities as positive elements of his power. His diction,
rich alike in the most learned words and the most colloquial, is
responsive to all demands. His power of phrasing runs the whole gamut
from the most pellucid simplicity to the most triumphant originality.
His figures of speech, drawn from all realms, are penetrating in
quality, of startling aptness. Equally characteristic is his
versification, varying as it does from passages of melodic smoothness
and grace to lines as strident, broken, and harsh as the thought they
dramatically reflect. In narration, whether in the brilliant rapidity
and ease of a short poem like "Hervé Riel" or in the sustained flow of a
long story like that of Pompilia, we find unusual skill. In
disquisition, in the presentation of complicated and elusive
intellectual processes, there is a quite unmatched agility and
dexterity. Probably no two forms of poetry contain more of Browning's
most noteworthy work than the lyric, especially the reflective love
lyric, and that form which is distinctively his own, the dramatic
monologue. In his best poems in this last form he has no competitor. It
is in the presentation of character through the medium of dramatic
monologue that he most fully reveals the unerring precision of his
analysis, his lightning glance into the heart of a mystery, the ease
with which he tracks a motive or mood or thought to its last hiding
place, and his consequent passion and fire of sympathy or scorn.

Finally, whether we consider Browning's style or subject matter or
philosophy of life, we become growingly conscious of his force. The
"clear Virgilian line" of Tennyson is the outcome of a nature
instinctively aristocratic and aloof. Browning is out in the thick of
the fight and almost vociferously demands a hearing. Whatever makes his
thought clear, vivid, active, forcible, seems to him, however prosaic it
may appear at first glance, proper poetic material. The immediate effect
of his verse is the rousing of the mind to great issues. His tremendous
sincerity results in a dispelling of mists, a stripping off of husks.
His demand for the truth is a trumpet note of challenge to our doubt or
fear or indifference. His penetrating study of human problems leads to
an inevitable widening of the horizon of comprehension and sympathy on
the part of his readers. And his courage and optimism constitute an
inspiration and stimulus of an uncommonly virile sort.

It has been said that Browning is "not a poet, but a literature," and in
work so vast and varied that it can be thus characterized there must be
wide extremes of value. It is almost certain that portions of his work
cannot live. They are too difficult, too unliterary. But in the portions
where great thought finds adequate form, the product is a priceless gift
and one not equaled by any other poet of his age.


[Footnote 1: _The Century_, December, 1881, Vol. XXIII, pp. 189-200.]

[Footnote 2: See the article by Mr. F. J. Furnivall in the _Pall Mall
Gazette_ for April, 1890.]

[Footnote 3: The first production of _Pippa Passes_ was given in Copley
Hall, Boston, in 1899, with an arrangement in six scenes by Miss Helen
A. Clarke. _The Return of the Druses_ was arranged and presented by Miss
Charlotte Porter in 1902 and was a dramatic success. _A Blot in the
'Scutcheon_ was brought out by Macready, with Phelps in the chief part
and with Miss Helen Faucit as Mildred. It was played to crowded houses
and received much applause. It was revived by Phelps at Sadler's Wells
in 1848; and by the Browning Society in 1885 at St. George's Hall,
London. In the winter of that year the play was given in Washington by
Lawrence Barrett. It has also within a few years been admirably
presented by Mrs. Lemoyne in New York and elsewhere. _Colombe's
Birthday_, which was published in 1844, was not put upon the stage till
1853, when it was performed at the Haymarket Theater in London with Lady
Martin (Helen Faucit) as Colombe. It was performed in Boston in 1854 and
enthusiastically received. It was revived in 1885 with Miss Alma Murray
as Colombe, when it was commented on as being "charming on the boards,
clearer, more direct in action, more picturesque, more full of delicate
surprises than one imagines it in print." It was also successfully
produced at McVicker's Theater, Chicago, in November, 1894, with Miss
Marlowe as Colombe.]

[Footnote 4: An interesting corroboration of Mrs. Browning's words is
found in the fact that the 1868 edition of Browning's works, by Smith
Elder and Co., was reprinted as Numbers 1-19 of the _Official Guide of
the Chicago and Alton R. R., and Monthly Reprint and Advertiser_, edited
by Mr. James Charlton. A copy is in the British Museum. The reprint
appeared in 1872-1874. See Mrs. Orr's bibliography.]

[Footnote 5: A particularly interesting dramatic event was Mrs.
Lemoyne's presentation of _In a Balcony_ at Wallack's Theater, New York,
in the autumn of 1900. Mrs. Lemoyne was the Queen, Otis Skinner was
Norbet, and Eleanor Robson was Constance. See _The Bookman_, 12, 387.]

[Footnote 6: Mrs. Bronson has given a vivid picture of the Brownings at
Asolo and at Venice in the _Century Magazine_ for 1900 and 1902.]

[Footnote 7: See Miss E. M. Clark in _Poet-Lore_, Volume II. page 480

[Footnote 8: _Poet-Lore_, Volume II. page 246 (1890).]


The great number of books and articles on Browning and his work is shown
by the Bibliography of Biography and Criticism prepared by John P.
Anderson of the British Museum and printed in William Sharp's _Life of
Robert Browning_. The selection to be given here can hardly more than
suggest this large amount of material.

The 1888-9 edition of Browning's _Works_ by Smith, Elder and Company
incorporates Browning's last revisions and his own punctuation. The
Macmillan edition in nine volumes in 1894 reproduces this text.

For biographical material important books are:

_The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett 1845-1846_, two
volumes, 1902, Harper Brothers.

_The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Edited with Biographical
Additions by Frederic G. Kenyon._ Macmillan, 1897. (Two volumes in one,

_The Life and Letters of Robert Browning_ by Mrs. A. Sutherland Orr in
1891. A new edition, revised and in part rewritten by Mr. Frederick G.
Kenyon, was brought out by Houghton, Mifflin and Company in 1908. Mrs.
Orr and Mr. Kenyon were both friends of Browning and could speak with
authority on many details of his life.

_Robert Browning, Personalia_, by Edmund Gosse. Houghton Mifflin and
Company, 1890. This book consists of a reprint of two articles, one from
_The Century Magazine_ on "The Early Career of Robert Browning," and one
from _The New Review_ entitled "Personal Impressions." These articles
are of exceptional interest because Mr. Gosse lived near Mr. Browning at
Warwick Crescent and they were on terms of close friendship. In
_Critical Kit-Kats_, 1896, Mr. Gosse gives the story of _Sonnets from
the Portuguese_.

_Robert Browning._ In _Bookman Biographies_, edited by W. Robertson
Nicholl. Hodder and Stoughton, London. Many interesting illustrations.

_The Century Magazine_ for 1900 and 1902 gives Mrs. Bronson's account of
Browning at Asolo and at Venice.

For general handbooks see:

_The Browning Cyclopædia._ Edward Berdoe, Macmillan, 1902. Elaborate
analysis of each poem. Many textual notes. Interpretations often
involved and far-fetched to the point of being untenable.

_Handbook of Robert Browning's Works._ Mrs. A. Sutherland Orr. First
edition, 1885; sixth edition, 1891. Republished by Bell and Sons,
London, 1902. Explanatory analysis of each poem. Edition of 1902
contains complete bibliography of Browning's works. Written at the
request of the London Browning Society.

For criticism see, as books varying widely in point of view and scope,
but each of distinct interest:

_An Introduction to the Study of Robert Browning's Poetry._ Hiram
Corson. Boston, 1886.

_An Introduction to the Study of Browning._ Arthur Symons. London,
Cassell and Company, 1886.

_Life of Robert Browning._ William Sharp. Walter Scott and Company,
London, 1897.

_The Poetry of Robert Browning._ Stopford A. Brooke. Crowell and
Company, 1902.

_Robert Browning._ G. K. Chesterton. Macmillan, 1903.

_Robert Browning._ C. H. Herford. Dodd, Mead and Company, 1905.

_Interpretations of Poetry and Religion_, by George Santayana,
Scribners, 1900, contains an interesting presentation of Browning's work
in a chapter entitled "The Poetry of Barbarism."

_Browning Study Programmes_ by Charlotte Porter and Helen A. Clarke,
Crowell and Company, 1900, is a series of studies on separate poems or
on groups of poems. Often very suggestive and helpful. In _Poet-Lore_,
edited by Miss Clarke and Miss Porter, are, _passim_, many other
valuable studies and notes on Browning. The Camberwell edition of
Browning's poems, edited by Miss Clarke and Miss Porter with excellent
annotations, was published by Crowell and Company in 1898.

_The London Browning Society's Papers_ and _The Boston Browning
Society's Papers_ contain much valuable material on separate poems or on
various phases of Browning's life and work.


   May 7,    1812.   Robert Browning born in Camberwell, London.
             1824.   _Incondita_ ready for publication.
             1825.   Shelley and Keats read.
             1826.   Left Mr. Ready's school.
             1833.   _Pauline_ published anonymously.
             1833-4. Travels in Russia and Italy.
             1835.   _Paracelsus._
             1837.   _Strafford._ Acted May 1, 1837, Covent Garden.
             1840.   _Sordello._
             1841-6. _Bells and Pomegranates._
             1841.   No. I. _Pippa Passes._
             1842.   No. II. _King Victor and King Charles._
             1842.   No. III. _Dramatic Lyrics._
             1843.   No. IV. _The Return of the Druses._
             1843.   No. V. _A Blot in the 'Scutcheon._ Acted Feb.
                       11, 1843, Drury Lane.
             1844.   No. VI. _Colombe's Birthday._ Acted April 25,
                       1853, Haymarket.
             1845.   No. VII. _Dramatic Romances and Lyrics._
             1846.   No. VIII. _Luria_ and _A Soul's Tragedy_.
   Jan. 10,  1845.   Correspondence between Mr. Browning and Miss
                       Barrett begun.
   May 20,   1845.   Their first meeting.
   Sept. 12, 1846.   Their marriage at Marylebone Church, London.
   Oct.      1846.   to April, 1847. In Pisa.
   April 20, 1847.   Arrival at Florence.
   May       1848.   Settled in permanent home at Casa Guidi.
             1849.   _Poems by Robert Browning._ Two volumes.
   March 9,  1849.   Birth of Wiedemann (or "Penini") Browning.
   March     1849.   Death of Browning's mother.
             1850.   _Christmas Eve and Easter Day._
   June      1851.   Mrs. Browning's _Casa Guidi Windows_.
             1852.   _Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley._ With an
                       introductory essay by Robert Browning.
             1855.   _Men and Women._ In two volumes.
   Oct.      1856.   Mrs. Browning's _Aurora Leigh_.
   June      1860.   Browning found the "Yellow Book."
   June 29,  1861.   Mrs. Browning died. She was buried in Florence.
   July      1861.   Browning left Florence.
             1862.   Established himself at 19 Warwick Crescent, London,
                       where he lived twenty-five years.
             1863.   _The Poetical Works of Robert Browning._ In three
                       volumes. Chapman and Hall.
             1863.   _Selections from the Poetical Works of Robert
                       Browning._ [Editors, B.W. Proctor and John
             1864.   _Dramatis Personæ._
             1866.   Browning's father died and Sarianna came to live
                       with her brother.
             1868.   _The Poetical Works of Robert Browning._ In six
                       volumes. Smith, Elder and Company.
             1868-9. _The Ring and the Book._ In four volumes.
             1871.   _Balaustion's Adventure._
             1871.   _Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau, Saviour of Society._
             1872.   _Fifine at the Fair._
             1873.   _Red Cotton Night-Cap Country._
             1875.   _Aristophanes' Apology._
             1875.   _The Inn Album._
   July      1876.   _Pacchiarotto and How He Worked in Distemper._
             1877.   _The Agamemnon of Æschylus translated._
             1878.   _La Saisiaz; The Two Poets of Croisic._
   Aug.      1878.   Browning first revisited Italy.
             1879.   _Dramatic Idyls._
             1880.   _Dramatic Idyls._ Second Series.
             1881.   The London Browning Society established.
             1883.   _Jocoseria._
             1884.   _Ferishtah's Fancies._
             1887.   Browning moved to De Vere Gardens.
             1887.   _Poetic and Dramatic Works of Robert Browning._
                       Riverside edition: Houghton, Mifflin and Company.
             1888-9. _The Poetical Works of Robert Browning._ In
                       sixteen volumes. Smith, Elder and Company. [All
                       the works collected by the author except
   Dec. 12,  1889.   _Asolando._
   Dec. 12,  1889.   Robert Browning died in the Palazzo Rezzonica, his
                       son's home in Venice.
   Dec. 31,  1889.   Buried in Westminster Abbey.









   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,                                 5
   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                                10
   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,
   Moldering her lute and books among,                                15
   As when a queen, long dead, was young.



     Over the sea our galleys went
   With cleaving prows in order brave
   To a speeding wind and a bounding wave--
     A gallant armament;                                              20
   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,                               25
   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                                   30
   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,                               35
     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,                                  40
   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,                                   45
   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.                           50
   So the stars wheeled round, and the darkness passed,
     And at morn we started beside the mast,
   And still each ship was sailing fast.

   Now one morn land appeared--a speck
   Dim trembling betwixt sea and sky.                                 55
   "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;                            60
   So we broke the cedar pales away,
   Let the purple awning flap in the wind,
     And a statue bright was on every deck!
   We shouted, every man of us,
   And steered right into the harbor thus,                            65
   With pomp and pæan glorious.

   A hundred shapes of lucid stone!
     All day we built its shrine for each,
   A shrine of rock for everyone,
   Nor paused till in the westering sun                               70
     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                                   75
     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                           80
     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.                           85
   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.



     Thus the Mayne glideth                                           90
   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,                                            95
   Though the niggard 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                                100
   Of primroses too faint to catch
   A weary bee.
               And scarce it pushes
   Its gentle way through strangling rushes
   Where the glossy kingfisher
   Flutters when noon-heats are near,                                105
   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                                   110
   In and out the marl and grit
   That seems to breed them, brown as they.
   Naught disturbs its quiet way,
   Save some lazy stork that springs,
   Trailing it with legs and wings,                                  115
   Whom the shy fox from the hill
   Rouses, creep he ne'er so still.




   Kentish Sir Byng stood for his King,
   Bidding the crop-headed Parliament swing;
   And, pressing a troop unable to stoop
   And see the rogues nourish and honest folk droop,
   Marched them along, fifty-score strong,                             5
   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.                       10
   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!                  15
   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                     20
   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!_



   King Charles, and who'll do him right now?
   King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now?
   Give a rouse; here's, in hell's despite now,
   King Charles!

   Who gave me the goods that went since?                              5
   Who raised me the house that sank once?
   Who helped me to gold I spent since?
   Who found me in wine you drank once?
       _King Charles, and who'll do him right now?_
       _King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now?_                  10
       _Give a rouse; here's, in hell's despite now,_
       _King Charles!_

   To whom used my boy George quaff else,
   By the old fool's side that begot him?
   For whom did he cheer and laugh else,                              15
   While Noll's damned troopers shot him?
       _King Charles, and who'll do him right now?_
       _King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now?_
       _Give a rouse; here's, in hell's despite now,_
       _King Charles!_                                                20



   Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!
   Rescue my castle before the hot day
   Brightens to blue from its silvery gray,
     CHORUS.--_Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!_

   Ride past the suburbs, asleep as you'd say;                         5
   Many's the friend there, will listen and pray
   "God's luck to gallants that strike up the lay--
     CHORUS.--_Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"_

   Forty miles off, like a roebuck at bay,
   Flouts Castle Brancepeth the Roundheads' array;                    10
   Who laughs, "Good fellows ere this, by my fay,
     CHORUS.--_Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"_

   Who? My wife Gertrude; that, honest and gay,
   Laughs when you talk of surrendering, "Nay!
   I've better counselors; what counsel they?                         15
     CHORUS.--_Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"_


   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,                  5
     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, honored him,
     Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,                           10
   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 freemen,                      15
     --He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!
   We shall march prospering--not through 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.                  20
   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!
   Life's night begins; let him never come back to us!                25
     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;                          30
   Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us,
     Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne!


   I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;
   I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
   "Good speed!" cried the watch, as the gatebolts undrew;
   "Speed!" echoed the wall to us galloping through;
   Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,                   5
   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,              10
   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;                       15
   At Düffeld '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,                  20
   To stare through the mist at us galloping past,
   And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
   With resolute shoulders, each butting away
   The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray;

   And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back           25
   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.                     30

   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,                    35
   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;       40
   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                   45
   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,                 50
   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                      55
   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.         60



   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,                    5
     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.

   Down this side of the gravel-walk
     She went while her robe's edge brushed the box;                  10
   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;                                15
     But yonder, see, where the rock-plants lie!

   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.                                20
   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.

   Roses, if I live and do well,                                      25
     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,                            30
   And ever I see her soft white fingers
     Searching after the bud she found.

   Flower, you Spaniard, look that you grow not;
     Stay as you are and be loved forever!
   Bud, if I kiss you 'tis that you blow not;                         35
     Mind, the shut pink month 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?                           40

   Where I find her not, beauties vanish;
     Whither I follow her, 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,                        45
     Treasure my lady's lightest footfall!
   --Ah, you may flout and turn up your faces--
     Roses, you are not so fair after all!


   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,                               5
   And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

   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,                                 10
   And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
   Than the two hearts beating each to each!


   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.


   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;                                 5
     Little has yet been changed, I think;
   The shutters are shut, no light may pass
     Save two long rays through the hinge's chink.

   Sixteen years old when she died!
     Perhaps she had scarcely heard my name;                          10
   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--                                15
     And the sweet white brow is all of her.

   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--                              20
   And just because I was thrice as old
     And our paths in the world diverged so wide,
   Each was naught to each, must I be told?
     We were fellow mortals, naught beside?

   No, indeed! for God above                                          25
     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;                      30
   Much is to learn, much to forget
     Ere the time be come for taking you.

   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,                       35
     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.                     40

   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,                       45
     Either I missed or itself missed me;
   And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope!
     What is the issue? let us see!

   I loved you, Evelyn, all the while!
     My heart seemed full as it could hold;                           50
   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!                            55
     You will wake, and remember, and understand.


   Where the quiet-colored end of evening smiles,
               Miles and miles
   On the solitary pastures where our sheep
   Tinkle homeward through the twilight, stray or stop                 5
               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                                             10
   Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
               Peace or war.

   Now--the country does not even boast a tree,
               As you see,
   To distinguish slopes of verdure; certain rills                    15
               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                                          20
   O'er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall
               Bounding all,
   Made of marble, men might march on nor be pressed,
               Twelve abreast.

   And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass                      25
               Never was!
   Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o'erspreads
               And embeds
   Every vestige of the city, guessed alone,
               Stock or stone--                                       30
   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                      35
               Bought and sold.

   Now--the single little turret that remains
               On the plains,
   By the caper overrooted, by the gourd
               Overscored,                                            40
   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 around, the chariots traced                45
               As they raced,
   And the monarch and his minions and his dames
               Viewed the games.

   And I know, while thus the quiet-colored eve
               Smiles to leave                                        50
   To their folding all our many-tinkling fleece
               In such peace,
   And the slopes and rills in undistinguished gray
               Melt away--
   That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair                        55
               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.                                           60

   But he looked upon the city, every side,
               Far and wide,
   All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades'
   All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts--and then,                     65
               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,                                            70
   Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech
               Each on each.

   In one year they sent a million fighters forth
               South and North,
   And they built their gods a brazen pillar high                     75
               As the sky,
   Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force--
               Gold, of course.
   O heart! O blood that freezes, blood that burns!
               Earth's returns                                        80
   For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
               Shut them in,
   With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
               Love is best.



   Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare,
   The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square;
   Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there!

   Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear, at least!
   There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast;           5
   While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no more than a beast.

   Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull
   Just on a mountain-edge as bare as the creature's skull,
   Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to pull!
   --I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's turned         10

   But the city, oh, the city--the square with the houses! Why?
   They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there's something to take the
   Houses in four straight lines, not a single front awry;
   You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters, who hurries by;
   Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when the sun gets     15
   And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly.

   What of a villa? Though winter be over in March by rights,
   'Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have withered well off the
   You've the brown plowed land before, where the oxen steam and wheeze,
   And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint gray                 20

   Is it better in May, I ask you? You've summer all at once;
   In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April suns.
   'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well,
   The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell
   Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick        25
        and sell.

   Is it ever hot in the square? There's a fountain to spout and splash!
   In the shade it sings and springs; in the shine such foam-bows flash
   On the horses with curling fish-tails, that prance and paddle and
   Round the lady atop in her conch--fifty gazers do not abash,
   Though all that she wears is some weeds round her waist in a       30
        sort of sash.

   All the year long at the villa, nothing to see though you linger,
   Except yon cypress that points like death's lean lifted forefinger.
   Some think fireflies pretty when they mix i' the corn and mingle,
   Or thrid the stinking hemp till the stalks of it seem a-tingle.
   Late August or early September, the stunning cicala is             35
   And the bees keep their tiresome whine round the resinous firs on the
   Enough of the seasons--I spare you the months of the fever and chill.

   Ere you open your eyes in the city, the blessed church-bells begin;
   No sooner the bells leave off than the diligence rattles in;
   You get the pick of the news, and it costs you never a pin.        40
   By and by there's the traveling doctor gives pills, lets blood, draws
   Or the Pulcinello-trumpet breaks up the market beneath.
   At the post office such a scene-picture--the new play, piping hot!
   And a notice how, only this morning, three liberal thieves were shot.
   Above it, behold the Archbishop's most fatherly of rebukes,        45
   And beneath, with his crown and his lion, some little new law of the
   Or a sonnet with flowery marge, to the Reverend Don So-and-so,
   Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome, and Cicero;
   "And, moreover" (the sonnet goes rhyming), "the skirts of Saint Paul
        has reached,
   Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than      50
        ever he preached."
   Noon strikes--here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smiling and
   With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her
   _Bang-whang-whang_ goes the drum, _tootle-te-tootle_ the fife;
   No keeping one's haunches still; it's the greatest pleasure in life.

   But bless you, it's dear--it's dear! fowls, wine, at double        55
        the rate.
   They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and what oil pays passing the
   It's a horror to think of. And so the villa for me, not the city!
   Beggars can scarcely be choosers; but still--ah, the pity, the pity!
   Look, two and two go the priests, then the monks with cowls and
   And the penitents dressed in white shirts, a-holding the           60
        yellow candles;
   One, he carries a flag up straight, and another a cross with handles,
   And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for the better prevention of
   _Bang-whang-whang_ goes the drum, _tootle-te-tootle_ the fife.
   Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such pleasure in life!


   O Galuppi, Baldassare, 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!

   Here you come with your old music, and here's all the good it brings.
   What, they lived once thus at Venice where the merchants were       5
        the kings,
   Where Saint Mark's is, where the Doges used to wed the sea with rings?

   Aye, 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.

   Did young people take their pleasure when the sea was warm in      10
   Balls and masks begun at midnight, burning ever to mid-day,
   When they made up fresh adventures for the morrow, do you say?

   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      15

   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?

   What? Those lesser thirds so plaintive, sixths diminished, sigh on
   Told them something? Those suspensions, those solutions--"Must     20
        we die?"
   Those commiserating sevenths--"Life might last! we can but try!"

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

   So an octave struck the answer. Oh, they praised you, I dare       25
   "Brave Galuppi! that was music! good alike at grave and gay!
   I can always leave off talking when I hear a master play!"

   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       30

   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 through every nerve.

   Yes, you, like a ghostly cricket, creaking where a house was burned:
   "Dust and ashes, dead and done with, Venice spent what Venice      35
   The soul, doubtless, is immortal--where a soul can be discerned.

   "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!

   "As for Venice and her people, merely born to bloom and drop,      40
   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?

   "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       45


   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                            5
     In the valley beneath where, white and wide
   And washed by the morning water-gold,
     Florence lay out on the mountain-side.

   River and bridge and street and square
     Lay mine, as much at my beck and call,                           10
   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;                        15
     But why did it more than startle me?

   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!                    20
   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.

   On the arch where olives overhead                                  25
     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,                           30
   In the mild decline of those suns like moons,
     Who walked in Florence, besides her men.

   They might chirp and chaffer, come and go
     For pleasure or profit, her men alive--
   My business was hardly with them, I trow,                          35
     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.                          40

   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,                   45
     Each tinge not wholly escape the plaster,
   --A lion who dies of an ass's kick,
     The wronged great soul of an ancient Master.

   For oh, this world and the wrong it does!
     They are safe in heaven with their backs to it,                  50
   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?                         55
     'Tis their holiday now, in any case.

   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,                     60
   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.

   And here where your praise might yield returns,                    65
     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,                               70
   Called Nature's Ape and the world's despair
     For his peerless painting? (See Vasari.)

   There stands the Master. Study, my friends,
     What a man's work comes to! So he plans it,
   Performs it, perfects it, makes amends                             75
     For the toiling and moiling, and then, _sic transit_!
   Happier the thrifty blind-folk labor,
     With upturned eye while the hand is busy,
   Not sidling a glance at the coin of their neighbor!
     'Tis looking downward that makes one dizzy.                      80

   "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,                          85
     Which the actual generations garble,
   Was re-uttered, and Soul (which Limbs betoken)
     And Limbs (Soul informs) made new in marble.

   So you saw yourself as you wished you were,
     As you might have been, as you cannot be;                        90
   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,                    95
     And your little date, by their forms that stay.

   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.                  100
   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.

   So, testing your weakness by their strength,                      105
     Your meager 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                         110
   That receives life in parts to live in a whole,
     And grow here according to God's clear plan.

   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                       115
     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.                           120

   Today'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                              125
     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.

   'Tis a life-long toil till our lump be leaven--
     The better! What's come to perfection perishes.                 130
   Things learned on earth we shall practice 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!"                     135
     Thy great Campanile is still to finish.

   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?                        140
   Shall Man, such step within his endeavor,
     Man's face, have no more play and action
   Than joy which is crystallized forever,
     Or grief, an eternal petrifaction?

   On which I conclude, that the early painters,                     145
     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:                      150
   To bring the invisible full into play!
     Let the visible go to the dogs--what matters?"

   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,                        155
     Beats the last of the old; 'tis no idle quiddit.
   The worthies began a revolution,
     Which if on earth you intend to acknowledge,
   Why, honor them now! (ends my allocution)
     Nor confer your degree when the folk leave college.             160

   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,            165
     Repeat in large what they practiced in small,
   Through life after life in unlimited series;
     Only the scale's to be changed, that's all.

   Yet I hardly know. When a soul has seen
     By the means of Evil that Good is best,                         170
   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 labor are surely done;
   There remaineth a rest for the people of God;                     175
     And I have had troubles enough, for one.

   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?                                    180
   Nor ever was a man of them all indeed,
     From these to Ghiberti and Ghirlandajo,
   Could say that he missed my critic-meed.
     So, now to my special grievance--heigh-ho!

   Their ghosts still stand, as I said before,                       185
     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!"                190
   (I hope they prefer their inheritance
     Of a bucketful of Italian quicklime.)

   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,             195
     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?                               200

   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 Frà Angelico's;
   But are you too fine, Taddeo Gaddi,                               205
     To grant me a taste of your intonaco,
   Some Jerome that seeks the heaven with a sad eye?
     Not a churlish saint, Lorenzo Monaco?

   Could not the ghost with the close red cap,
     My Pollajolo, the twice a craftsman,                            210
   Save me a sample, give me the hap
     Of a muscular Christ that shows the draftsman?
   No Virgin by him the somewhat petty,
     Of finical touch and tempera crumbly--
   Could not Alesso Baldovinetti                                     215
     Contribute so much, I ask him humbly?

   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?)                     220
   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 honor.

   They pass; for them the panels may thrill,                        225
     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                           230
   At naked High Art, and in ecstasies
     Before some clay-cold vile Carlino!

   No matter for these! But Giotto, you,
     Have you allowed, as the town-tongues babble it--
   Oh, never! it shall not be counted true--                         235
     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?                        240

   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)                         245
     Jewel of Giamschid, the Persian Sofi's eye;
   So, in anticipative gratitude,
     What if I take up my hope and prophesy?

   When the hour grows ripe, and a certain dotard
     Is pitched, no parcel that needs invoicing,                     250
   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                          255
     Over Morello with squib and cracker.

   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_)                          260
   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!

   How we shall prologuize, how we shall perorate,                   265
     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                       270
   Out of the bear's shape into Chimæra's,
     While Pure Art's birth is still the republic's.

   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,                       275
     And turn the bell-tower's _alt_ to _altissimo_:
   And find 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.                        280

   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,                   285
     Thence the new tricolor flaps at the sky?
   At least to foresee that glory of Giotto
     And Florence together, the first am 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--                              5
   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,                          10
          With the bean-flowers' boon,
          And the blackbird's tune,
          And May, and June!

   What I love best in all the world
   Is a castle, precipice-encurled,                                   15
   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)--                             20
   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,                         25
   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, forever crumbles                              30
   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 today--the king                              35
   Was shot at, touched in the liver-wing,
   Goes with his Bourbon arm a sling:
   --She hopes they have not caught the felons.
   Italy, my Italy!
   Queen Mary's saying serves for me--                                40
          (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:                                     45
   So it always was, so shall ever be!


   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                      5
   Round the elm-tree hole are in tiny leaf,
   While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
   In England--now!

   And after April, when May follows,
   And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!                  10
   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                     15
   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!                       20


   Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the Northwest 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 Northeast distance dawned Gibraltar grand and gray;
   "Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?"--say,  5
   Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray,
   While Jove's planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.



   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
   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,          5
   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        10


   "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 heat
   Were now raging to torture the desert!"


                                        Then I, as was meet,
   Knelt down to the God of my fathers, and rose on my feet,          15
   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        20
   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 naught 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         25
   Grew a figure against it, gigantic and blackest of all.
   Then a sunbeam, that burst through the tent-roof, showed Saul.


   He stood as erect as that tent-prop, both arms stretched out wide
   On the great cross-support in the center, that goes to each side;
   He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there as, caught in his          30
   And waiting his change, the king-serpent all heavily hangs,
   Far away from his kind, in the pine, till deliverance come
   With the springtime--so agonized Saul, drear and stark, blind and


   Then I tuned my harp--took off the lilies we twine round its chords
   Lest they snap 'neath the stress of the noontide--those            35
        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      40
   Into eve and the blue far above us--so blue and so far!


   --Then the tune for which quails on the cornland will each leave his
   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 a-musing outside his sand house--          45
   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.


   Then I played the help-tune of our reapers, their wine-song, when
   Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good friendship, and great       50
        hearts expand
   And grow one in the sense of this world's life.--And then, the last
   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
   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     55
   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
   Naught can break; who shall harm them, our friends?--Then, the chorus
   As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned.              60
   But I stopped here; for here in the darkness Saul groaned.


   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            65
   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:


   "Oh, our manhood's prime vigor! No spirit feels waste,
   Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced.         70
   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          75
   And the locust-flesh steeped in the pitcher, the full draft 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 forever in joy!          80
   Hast thou loved the white locks of thy father, whose sword thou didst
   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 hear her faint tongue
   Joining in while it could to the witness, 'Let one more            85
   I have lived, seen God's hand through a lifetime, and all was for
   Then they sung through 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
   And the friends of thy boyhood--that boyhood of wonder and         90
   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
   That, a-work in the rock, helps its labor and lets the gold        95
   High ambition and deeds which surpass it, fame crowning them--all
   Brought to blaze on the head of one creature--King Saul!"


   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         100
   The Lord's army, in rapture of service, strains through its array,
   And upsoareth 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 center, was struck by his name.
   Have ye seen when Spring's arrowy summons goes right to the       105
   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
   A year's snow bound about for a breastplate--leaves grasp of the
   Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet,
   And there fronts you, stark, black, but alive yet, your           110
        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
   --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     115
   For their food in the ardors 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
   Death was past, life not come: so he waited. Awhile his           120
        right hand
   Held the brow, held 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      125
   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.


                               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       130
        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
   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           135
        praise life,
   Gives assent, yet would die for his own part.


                                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        140
        and the sky;
   And I laughed--"Since my days are ordained to be passed with my
   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       145
        that gains,
   And the prudence that keeps what men strive for." And now these old
   Of vague thought came again; I grew surer; so, once more the string
   Of my harp made response to my spirit, as thus--


                                              "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            150
   In our flesh grows the branch of this life, in our soul it bears
   Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree--how its stem trembled
   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      155
        to learn,
   E'en the good that comes in with the palm-fruit. Our dates shall we
   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
   Shall decay, nor be known in their place, while the palm-wine shall
   Every wound of man's spirit in winter. I pour thee such           160
   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
   Dies, revives, goes to work in the world; until e'en as the       165
   Looking down on the earth, though clouds spoil him, though tempests
   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 ardor, till they too        170
        give forth
   A like cheer to their sons, who in turn, fill the South and the
   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 forever take             175
   No! Again a long draft 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 gray mountain of marble heaped four-square, till, built to the
   Let it mark where the great First King slumbers; whose fame       180
        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
   In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they          185
        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      190
   In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art!"


   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        195
   Still be with me, who then at the summit of human endeavor
   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 evening--my voice to my heart      200
   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 gray dewy covert, while Hebron upheaves
   The dawn struggling with night on his shoulder, and Kidron        205
   Slow the damage of yesterday's sunshine.


                                            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           210
   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        215
        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 armor and war-cloak and garments, he leaned there awhile,
   And sat out my singing--one arm round the tent-prop, to           220
   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      225
        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; through my hair
   The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my head,          230
        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        235
   I would give thee new life altogether, as good, ages hence,
   As this moment--had love but the warrant, love's heart to dispense!"


   Then the truth came upon me. No harp more--no song more! outbroke--


   "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          240
   And pronounced on the rest of his handwork--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         245
   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       250
   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.          255
   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        260
   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
   Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth       265
   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,         270
   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 marvelous 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            275
   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?
   Aye, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height
   This perfection--succeed with life's day-spring, death's minute of
   Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul the mistake,       280
   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       285
   By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss,
   And the next world's reward and repose, by the struggles in this.


   "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        290
        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 loath
   To look that, even that in the face too? Why is it I dare
   Think but lightly of such impuissance? What stops my              295
   This;--'tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would
   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!      300
   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        305
   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
   '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         310
   A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
   Thou shalt love and be loved by, forever: a Hand like this hand
   Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ


   I know not too well how I found my way home in the night.
   There were witnesses, cohorts about me, to left and to            315
   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
   And the stars of night beat with emotion, and tingled and         320
   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--      325
   Not so much, but I saw it die out in the day's tender birth;
   In the gathered intensity brought to the gray 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
   Though averted with wonder and dread; in the birds stiff and      330
   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         335
   With their obstinate, all but hushed voices--"E'en so, it is so!"


           All that I know
             Of a certain star
           Is, it can throw
             (Like the angled spar)
           Now a dart of red,                                          5
             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:            10
     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.


   I wonder do you feel today
     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?                                          5

   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.                                            10

   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 weft,                                         15

   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!                                         20

   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.                                    25

   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!                                30

   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?                                            35

   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?                                 40

   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.                                         45

   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.                                         50

   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?                                         55

   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.                                       60


   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,                           5
   How fresh the splinters keep and fine--
   Only a touch and we combine!

   Too long, this time of year, the days!
   But nights, at least the nights are short.
   As night shows where her one moon is,                              10
   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?

   O loaded curls, release your store                                 15
   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,                                 20
   Through lights and darks how manifold--
   The dark inspired, the light controlled!
   As early Art embrowns the gold.

   What great fear, should one say, "Three days
   That change the world might change as well                         25
   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;                                  30
   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.                                 35
   Fear? I shall see her in three days
   And one night, now the nights are short,
   Then just two hours, and that is morn.



   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                       5
   Thy flight, mayst see another child for tending,
     Another still, to quiet and retrieve.

   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                             10
     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.

   I would not look up thither past thy head                          15
     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                        20
     Me, as thy lamb there, with thy garment's spread?

   If this was ever granted, I would rest
     My head beneath thine, while thy healing hands
   Close-covered both my eyes beside thy breast,
     Pressing the brain, which too much thought expands,              25
   Back to its proper size again, and smoothing
   Distortion down till every nerve had soothing,
     And all lay quiet, happy, and suppressed.

   How soon all worldly wrong would be repaired!
     I think how I should view the earth and skies                    30
   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?                      35

   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                        40
   Of work to do, though heaven was opening o'er him,
     And he was left at Fano by the beach.

   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                         45
     --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)--

   And since he did not work thus earnestly                           50
     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?                      55
     This is Ancona, yonder is the sea.


   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,                                    5
     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,                         10
   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 molted feather, an eagle-feather!                                15
     Well, I forget the rest.


   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,                                5
     Legs wide, arms locked behind,
   As if to balance the prone brow
     Oppressive with its mind.

   Just as perhaps he mused, "My plans
     That soar, to earth may fall,                                    10
   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                                    15
     Until he reached the mound.

   Then off there flung in smiling joy,
     And held himself erect
   By just his horse's mane, a boy;
     You hardly could suspect--                                       20
   (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.

   "Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace                         25
     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,                                      30
   Perched him!" The chief's eye flashed; his plans
     Soared up again like fire.

   The chief's eye flashed; but presently
     Softened itself, as sheathes
   A film the mother-eagle's eye                                      35
     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.                                       40



   That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
   Looking as if she were alive.   I call
   That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands
   Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
   Will't please you sit and look at her? I said                       5
   "Frà 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)                           10
   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                            15
   Frà 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                        20
   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 favor at her breast,                        25
   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,                    30
   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                          35
   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                            40
   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;                   45
   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 pretense                             50
   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,                              55
   Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!


   Morning, evening, noon, and night,
   "Praise God!" sang Theocrite.

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

   Hard he labored, long and well;                                     5
   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.                                  10

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

   "As well as if thy voice today
   Were praising God, the Pope's great way.

   "This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome                                 15
   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.                                            20

   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,                              25
   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.                                 30

   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,                                   35
   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:                                  40

   "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                        45
   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,                                           50

   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,                             55
   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.                              60

   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,                                    65
   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.                                     70

   "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;                                        75
   A new Pope dwelt in Peter's dome.

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




   Hamelin 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;                                  5
     But when begins my ditty,
   Almost five hundred years ago,
   To see the townsfolk suffer so
     From vermin was a pity.


   Rats!                                                              10
   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,                              15
   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.                               20


   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--shocking
   To think we buy gowns lined with ermine                            25
   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                         30
   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.


   An hour they sat in council;                                       35
     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,                                 40
   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?"                        45
   (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                         50
   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!"


   "Come in!"--the Mayor cried, looking bigger--                      55
   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,                             60
   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                                     65
   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!"


   He advanced to the council-table:                                  70
   And, "Please your honors," 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!                                      75
   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                              80
     A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
   To match with his coat of the self-same check;
     And at the scarf's end hung a pipe;
   And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying
   As if impatient to be playing                                      85
   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;                        90
   I eased in Asia the Nizam
     Of a monstrous brood of vampire-bats:
   And as for what your brain bewilders,
     If I can rid your town of rats
   Will you give me a thousand guilders?"                             95
   "One? fifty thousand!"--was the exclamation
   Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.


   Into the street the Piper stepped,
     Smiling first a little smile,
   As if he knew what magic slept                                    100
     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;                      105
   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.                     110
   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,                              115
     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,                          120
   Until they came to the river Weser,
     Wherein all plunged and perished!
   --Save one who, stout as Julius Cæsar,
   Swam across and lived to carry
     (As he, the manuscript he cherished)                            125
   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:                                       130
   And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,
   And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
   And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
   And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks:
   And it seemed as if a voice                                       135
       (Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery
   Is breathed) called out, 'O rats, rejoice!
     The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
   So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
   Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!'                             140
   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."                             145


   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,                             150
   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!"


   A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;                       155
   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.                         160
   To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
   With a gypsy 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,                             165
   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                            170
   Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
   Beside, our losses have made us thrifty.
   A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!"


   The Piper's face fell, and he cried,
   "No trifling! I can't wait, beside!                               175
   I've promised to visit by dinner time
   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;                               180
   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."


   "How?" cried the Mayor, "d'ye think I brook                       185
   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!"                             190


   Once more he stepped 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                              195
     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,              200
   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,                         205
   Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
   The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.


   The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
   As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
   Unable to move a step, or cry                                     210
   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,                           215
   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 he turned from South to West,
   And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed,                       220
   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!"                              225
   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,                            230
   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--                               235
   "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,                         240
   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,                    245
   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,                             250
   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!"                             255


   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!                             260
   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,                              265
     And bring the children behind him.
   But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavor,
   And Piper and dancers were gone forever,
   They made a decree that lawyers never
     Should think their records dated duly                           270
   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";                                275
   And the better in memory to fix
   The place of the children's last retreat,
   They called it the Pied Piper's Street--
   Where anyone playing on pipe or tabor
   Was sure for the future to lose his labor.                        280
   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                            285
   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                              290
   Of alien people who ascribe
   The outlandish ways and dress
   On which their neighbors lay such stress,
   To their fathers and mothers having risen
   Out of some subterraneous prison                                  295
   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.


   So, Willy, let me and you be wipers                               300
   Of scores out with all men--especially pipers!
   And, whether they pipe us free from rats or from mice,
   If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise!



   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!                                                          5


   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,                      10
   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,                                      15
   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,                              20
   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,                               25
     Copper-ore and iron-ore,
   And forge and furnace mold 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 seashore,                  30
   --And the whole is our Duke's country.


   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!)                           35
   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,                              40
   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                           45
   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                        50
   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                          55
   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,                                60
   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 "aye," said the Duke with a surly pride.                     65
     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,                                         70
     In a chamber 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!                               75
   They should have got his cheek fresh tannage
   Such a day as today 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                                      80
   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,                           85
   A cup of our own Moldavia fine,
   Cotnar for instance, green as May sorrel
   And ropy with sweet--we shall not quarrel.


   So, at home, the sick, tall, yellow Duchess
   Was left with the infant in her clutches,                          90
   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,                           95
     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.


   And he came back the pertest little ape
   That ever affronted human shape;                                  100
   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;                           105
   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,                              110
   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,         115
   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 periled
   On a lathy horse, all legs and length,
   With blood for bone, all speed, no strength;                      120
   --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!


   Well, such as he was, he must marry, we heard:
   And out of a convent, at the word,                                125
   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                             130
   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,                                135
   Made in a piece of nature's madness,
   Too small, almost, for the life and gladness
     That overfilled her, as some hive
   Out of the bears' reach on the high trees
   Is crowded with its safe, merry bees:                             140
   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,"                        145
   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                          150
   What its true name was, nor ever seemed tired--
   If that was an eagle she saw hover,
   And the green and gray bird on the field was the plover.
   When suddenly appeared the Duke:
     And as down she sprung, the small foot pointed                  155
   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                         160
   Chilled in the rear, like a wind to Nor'ward;
   And up, like a weary yawn, with its pulleys
   Went, in a shriek, the rusty portcullis;
   And, like a glad sky the north-wind sullies,
   The lady's face stopped its play,                                 165
   As if her first hair had grown gray;
   For such things must begin some one day.


   In a day or two she was well again;
   As who should say, "You labor in vain!
   This is all a jest against God, who meant                         170
   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.


   She was active, stirring, all fire--
   Could not rest, could not tire--                                  175
   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!                               180
   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,                    185
   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,                         190
     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                      195
   Would let her advise, and criticize,
   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                          200
   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,                            205
   With his cursed smirk, as he nodded applause,
   And kept off the old mother-cat's claws.


   So, the little lady grew silent and thin,
     Paling and ever paling,
   As the way is with a hid chagrin;                                 210
     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.               215


   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,                           220
     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,               225
   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,                      230
     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,                          235
   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 household took thought and debated.
   Blessed was he whose back ached with the jerkin                   240
   His sire was wont to do forest-work in;
   Blesseder he who nobly sunk "ohs"
   And "ahs" while he tugged on his grandsire's trunk-hose;
   What signified hats if they had no rims on,
     Each slouching before and behind like the scallop,              245
     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 Verderers,
     Might hope for real hunters at length and not murderers,        250
   And, oh, the Duke's tailor, he had a hot time on't!


   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?"                  255
   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                           260
   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                  265
   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                        270
   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                           275
   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,                          280
   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,             285
   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--                          290
   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,                           295
     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                      300
   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;                     305
   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,                            310
     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 through all its quince-tinct.         315
   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              320
   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;                        325
   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                         330
   Unbending of the vertebral column!


   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;                     335
   For the courtyard walls were filled with fog
   You might have cut as an ax chops a log--
   Like so much wool for color and bulkiness;
   And out rode the Duke in a perfect sulkiness,
   Since, before breakfast, a man feels but queasily,                340
     And a sinking at the lower abdomen
     Begins the day with indifferent omen.
   And lo, as he looked around uneasily,
   The sun plowed the fog up and drove it asunder
   This way and that from the valley under;                          345
     And, looking through the court-yard arch,
   Down in the valley, what should meet him
     But a troop of gypsies on their march?
   No doubt with the annual gifts to greet him.


   Now, in your land, gypsies reach you only                         350
     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, a trace there,
   That puts you in mind of a place here, a place there              355
   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.                         360
   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                    365
   With side-bars never a brute can baffle;
   Or a lock that's a puzzle of wards within wards;
   Or, if your colt's forefoot inclines to curve inwards,
   Horseshoes they hammer which turn on a swivel
   And won't allow the hoof to shrivel.                              370
   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 the gypsy glass-makers and potters!
   Glasses they'll blow you, crystal-clear,                          375
   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,                          380
   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,                        385
   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.                    390
   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                             395
   To let that same witch tell us our fortune.
   The oldest gypsy 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.                  400
   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                       405
     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;                                  410
   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 seashore stone holding a dozen fine pebbles),
   Or a porcelain mouthpiece to screw on a pipe-end--                415
   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-marten pelt,                        420
   Ready to put 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.                          425
   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,              430
   She, foolish today, 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                       435
     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                        440
     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,                                   445
   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 goodwill                      450
     Whatever he now might enjoin to fulfill,
   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,               455
     He bade me take the gypsy 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,                             460
   Whose mind and body craved exertion
   And yet shrank from all better diversion.


   Then clapping heel to his horse, the mere curveter,
     Out rode the Duke, and after his hollo
   Horses and hounds swept, huntsman and servitor,                   465
     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:                        470
   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,                      475
   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                             480
   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 unmistakable eye-points duly
     Live and aware looked out of their places.                      485
   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 anyone,
   For since last night, by the same token,                          490
   Not a single word had the lady spoken:
   They went in both to the presence together,
   While I in the balcony watched the weather.


   And now, what took place at the very first of all,
   I cannot tell, as I never could learn it:                         495
   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                             500
     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 my own narration
   Is a little after I took my station                               505
   To breathe the fresh air from the balcony,
   And, having in those days a falcon eye,
   To follow the hunt through the open country,
     From where the bushes thinlier crested
   The hillocks, to a plain where's not one tree.                    510
     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,                         515
   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,                         520
   Was a queen--the gypsy 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,                                   525
   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                              530
   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,                         535
   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                            540
   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                        545
     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,                                     550
   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,                              555
   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                    560
     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,                              565
   The gypsy 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,                           570
   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,                             575
   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,                                 580
   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                                585
     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 through the mixture shall be seen.                          590
   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--                         595
   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,                                   600
   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,                                605
   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                                        610
   With the thrill of the great deliverance,
     Into our arms forevermore;
   And thou shalt know, those arms once curled
     About thee, what we knew before,
   How love is the only good in the world.                           615
   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;                                  620
   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?                            625
   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                                   630
   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,                               635
   Shall someone 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                                   640
   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?                                645
   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,                                      650
   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,                           655
   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,                                      660
   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,                      665
   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;                                    670
   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                                675
   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,                              680
   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 gleam
     Of yet another morning breaks,                                  685
   And like the hand which ends a dream,
   Death, with the might of his sunbeam,
     Touches the flesh and the soul awakes,
            Aye, then indeed something would happen!
     But what? For here her voice changed like a bird's;             690
     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                      695
   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,                                  700
     And did it, not with hobnails but tin-tacks!
   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--                                 705
     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                    710
   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 centered
   All beauties I ever saw or shall see,                             715
   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.                       720
   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,                                   725
   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.                            730
   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;                         735
     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,                                   740
   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.                     745
   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                     750
   To dance on hot plowshares 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,                   755
   (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--                      760
   I say, although she never used me,
   Yet when she was mounted, the gypsy behind her,
   And I ventured to remind her,
   I suppose with a voice of less steadiness
     Than usual, for my feeling exceeded me,                         765
   --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--                      770
   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                    775
     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--                            780
   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--                   785
   I pushed the gate wide, she shook the bridle,
     And the palfrey bounded--and so we lost her.


   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,                790
   And what was the pitch of his mother's yellowness,
     How she turned as a shark to snap the spare-rib
     Clean off, sailors says, from a pearl-diving Carib,
   When she heard, what she called the flight of the feloness
   --But it seems such child's play,                                 795
   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,               800
   She that kept it in constant good humor,
   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,                         805
   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;                         810
   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 gypsies have paid us a visit, I've                 815
   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,                   820
     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 favor you with sundry touches                             825
   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 fucus from mere use of ceruse:                       830
   In short, she grew from scalp to udder
   Just the object to make you shudder.


   You're my friend--
   What a thing friendship is, world without end!
   How it gives the heart and soul a stir-up                         835
     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;                 840
   Each supples a dry brain, fills you its ins-and-outs,
   Gives your life's hourglass 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,                             845
     Jacynth, the gypsy, 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,                      850
   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,                                        855
   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:               860
   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,                 865
   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,                870
     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 staff, what beats the javelin                           875
     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.                          880
   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 labor, then only, we're too old--
   What age had Methusalem when he begat Saul?
   And at last, as its haven some buffeted ship sees,                885
     (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 gypsies,
   And find my lady, or hear the last news of her
   From some old thief and son of Lucifer,                           890
   His forehead chapleted green with wreathy hop,
   Sunburned all over like an Æthiop.
   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,           895
   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?                      900
   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, for strong Cotnar, drank French weak wine,                   905
   He also must be such a lady's scorner!
     Smooth Jacob still robs 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,                        910
   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 further throwing
     Pearls before swine that can't value them. Amen!                915



   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,                            5
           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,                                           10
   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,                             15
           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.                                       20
   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,                    25
           '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!                                     30
   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                35
           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"?                                     40
   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                    45
           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,                                 50
   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,                     55
           "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.                                 60
   Let me know all! Prate not of most or least,
           Painful or easy!
   Even to the crumbs I'd fain eat up the feast,
           Aye, nor feel queasy."
   Oh, such a life as he resolved to live,                            65
           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                                           70
   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                            75
           (Hearten our chorus!)
   That before living he'd learn how to live--
           No end to learning:
   Earn the means first--God surely will contrive
           Use for our earning.                                       80
   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:                    85
           _Calculus_ racked him:
   Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead:
           _Tussis_ attacked him.
   "Now, master, take a little rest!"--not he!
          (Caution redoubled,                                         90
   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)                           95
           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!                                       100
   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                           105
           Just what it all meant?
   He would not discount life, as fools do here,
           Paid by installment.
   He ventured neck or nothing--heaven's success
           Found, or earth's failure:                                110
   "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,                      115
           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.                                           120
   That, has the world here--should 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,                 125
           Ground he at grammar;
   Still, through the rattle, parts of speech were rife:
           While he could stammer
   He settled _Hoti's_ business--let it be!--
           Properly based _Oun_--                                    130
   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,                          135
           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?                                      140
   Here--here'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:                         145
           Loftily lying,
   Leave him--still loftier than the world suspects,
           Living and dying.


(See Edgar's song in _Lear_)

   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                     5
     Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.

   What else should he be set for, with his staff?
     What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
     All travelers who might find him posted there,
   And ask the road? I guessed what skull-like laugh                  10
   Would break, what crutch 'gin write my epitaph
     For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare,

   If at his counsel I should turn aside
     Into the ominous tract which, all agree,
     Hides the Dark Tower. Yet acquiescingly                          15
   I did turn as he pointed: neither pride
   Nor hope rekindling at the end descried,
     So much as gladness that some end might be.

   For, what with my whole world-wide wandering,
     What with my search drawn out through years, my hope             20
     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.
   As when a sick man very near to death                              25
     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 fallen no grieving can amend");                    30

   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                       35
     He may not shame such tender love and stay.

   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               40
   Their steps--that just to fail as they, seemed best,
     And all the doubt was now--should I be fit?

   So, quiet as despair, I turned from him,
     That hateful cripple, out of his highway
     Into the path he pointed. All the day                            45
   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.

   For mark! no sooner was I fairly found
     Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,                       50
     Than, pausing to throw backward a last view
   O'er the safe road, 'twas gone; gray plain all round:
   Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound.
     I might go on; naught else remained to do.

   So, on I went. I think I never saw                                 55
     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 bur had been a treasure-trove.                    60

   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,                65
     Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free."

   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 balk              70
   All hope of greenness? 'tis a brute must walk
     Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents.

   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.                   75
   One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare,
   Stood stupefied, however he came there;
     Thrust out past service from the devil's stud!

   Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,
     With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain,                  80
     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.

   I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart.                        85
     As a man calls for wine before he fights,
     I asked one draft 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.                    90

   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!                      95
     Out went my heart's new fire and left it cold.

   Giles then, the soul of honor--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             100
   Pin to his breast a parchment? His own bands
     Read it. Poor traitor, spit upon and cursed!

   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.                  105
   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.

   A sudden little river crossed my path
     As unexpected as a serpent comes.                               110
     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.

   So petty yet so spiteful! All along,                              115
     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.                 120

   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,                           125
     But, ugh! it sounded like a baby's shriek.

   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                      130
   Soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank,
     Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage--

   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,                       135
   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.

   And more than that--a furlong on--why, there!
     What bad use was that engine for, that wheel,                   140
     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.

   Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood,                   145
     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.              150

   Now blotches rankling, colored 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                        155
     Gaping at death, and dies while it recoils.

   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,                      160
   Sailed past, nor beat his wide wing dragon-penned
     That brushed my cap--perchance the guide I sought.

   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                 165
   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.

   Yet half I seemed to recognize some trick
     Of mischief happened to me, God knows when--                    170
     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!

   Burningly it came on me all at once,                              175
     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!                      180

   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                       185
     He strikes on, only when the timbers start.

   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,                         190
   Chin upon hand, to see the game at bay--
     "Now stab and end the creature--to the heft!"

   Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled
     Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
     Of all the lost adventurers my peers--                          195
   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.

   There they stood, ranged along the hillsides, met
     To view the last of me, a living frame                          200
     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._"


   I only knew one poet in my life:
   And this, or something like it, was his way.

     You saw go up and down Valladolid,
   A man of mark, to know next time you saw.
   His very serviceable suit of black                                  5
   Was courtly once and conscientious still,
   And many might have worn it, though none did;
   The cloak, that somewhat shone and showed the threads,
   Had purpose, and the ruff, significance.
   He walked and tapped the pavement with his cane,                   10
   Scenting the world, looking it full in face,
   An old dog, bald and blindish, at his heels.
   They turned up, now, the alley by the church,
   That leads nowhither; now, they breathed themselves
   On the main promenade just at the wrong time;                      15
   You'd come upon his scrutinizing hat,
   Making a peaked shade blacker than itself
   Against the single window spared some house
   Intact yet with its moldered Moorish work--
   Or else surprise the ferrel of his stick                           20
   Trying the mortar's temper 'tween the chinks
   Of some new shop a-building, French and fine.
   He stood and watched the cobbler at his trade,
   The man who slices lemons into drink,
   The coffee-roaster's brazier, and the boys                         25
   That volunteer to help him turn its winch.
   He glanced o'er books on stalls with half an eye,
   And fly-leaf ballads on the vender's string,
   And broad-edge bold-print posters by the wall.
   He took such cognizance of men and things,                         30
   If any beat a horse, you felt he saw;
   If any cursed a woman, he took note;
   Yet stared at nobody--you stared at him,
   And found, less to your pleasure than surprise,
   He seemed to know you and expect as much.                          35
   So, next time that a neighbor's tongue was loosed,
   It marked the shameful and notorious fact,
   We had among us, not so much a spy,
   As a recording chief-inquisitor,
   The town's true master if the town but knew!                       40
   We merely kept a governor for form,
   While this man walked about and took account
   Of all thought, said and acted, then went home,
   And wrote it fully to our Lord the King
   Who has an itch to know things, he knows why,                      45
   And reads them in his bedroom of a night.
   Oh, you might smile! there wanted not a touch,
   A tang of ... well, it was not wholly ease
   As back into your mind the man's look came.
   Stricken in years a little--such a brow                            50
   His eyes had to live under!--clear as flint
   On either side the formidable nose
   Curved, cut and colored like an eagle's claw.
   Had he to do with A's surprising fate?
   When altogether old B disappeared                                  55
   And young C got his mistress--was't our friend,
   His letter to the King, that did it all?
   What paid the bloodless man for so much pains?
   Our Lord the King has favorites manifold,
   And shifts his ministry some once a month;                         60
   Our city gets new governors at whiles--
   But never word or sign, that I could hear,
   Notified to this man about the streets
   The King's approval of those letters conned
   The last thing duly at the dead of night.                          65
   Did the man love his office? Frowned our Lord,
   Exhorting when none heard--"Beseech me not!
   Too far above my people--beneath me!
   I set the watch--how should the people know?
   Forget them, keep me all the more in mind!"                        70
   Was some such understanding 'twixt the two?

     I found no truth in one report at least--
   That if you tracked him to his home, down lanes
   Beyond the Jewry, and as clean to pace,
   You found he ate his supper in a room                              75
   Blazing with lights, four Titians on the walls,
   And twenty naked girls to change his plate!
   Poor man, he lived another kind of life
   In that new stuccoed third house by the bridge,
   Fresh-painted, rather smart than otherwise!                        80
   The whole street might o'erlook him as he sat,
   Leg crossing leg, one foot on the dog's back,
   Playing a decent cribbage with his maid
   (Jacynth, you're sure her name was) o'er the cheese
   And fruit, three red halves of starved winter-pears,               85
   Or treat of radishes in April. Nine,
   Ten, struck the church clock, straight to bed went he.

     My father, like the man of sense he was,
   Would point him out to me a dozen times;
   "'St--'St," he'd whisper, "the Corregidor!"                        90
   I had been used to think that personage
   Was one with lacquered breeches, lustrous belt,
   And feathers like a forest in his hat,
   Who blew a trumpet and proclaimed the news,
   Announced the bull-fights, gave each church its turn,              95
   And memorized the miracle in vogue!
   He had a great observance from us boys;
   We were in error; that was not the man.

     I'd like now, yet had haply been afraid,
   To have just looked, when this man came to die,                   100
   And seen who lined the clean gay garret-sides
   And stood about the neat low truckle-bed,
   With the heavenly manner of relieving guard.
   Here had been, mark, the general-in-chief,
   Through a whole campaign of the world's life and death,           105
   Doing the King's work all the dim day long,
   In his old coat and up to knees in mud,
   Smoked like a herring, dining on a crust--
   And, now the day was won, relieved at once!
   No further show or need for that old coat,                        110
   You are sure, for one thing! Bless us, all the while
   How sprucely we are dressed out, you and I!
   A second, and the angels alter that.
   Well, I could never write a verse--could you?
   Let's to the Prado and make the most of time.                     115


   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                             5
   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,                        10
   _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                        15
   Three streets off--he's a certain ... how d'ye call?
   Master--a ... Cosimo 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!                            20
   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 prize what comes into their net?
   He's Judas to a tittle, that man is!                               25
   Just such a face! Why, sir, you make amends.
   Lord, I'm not angry! Bid your hangdogs go
   Drink out this quarter-florin to the health
   Of the munificent House that harbors me
   (And many more beside, lads! more beside!)                         30
   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)                 35
   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,                         40
   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              45
   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.                         50
   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,_                                            55
   _I let Lisa go, and what good in life since?_
   _Flower o' the thyme_--and 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,         60
   That's all I'm made of! Into shreds it went,
   Curtain and counterpane and coverlet,
   All the bed-furniture--a dozen knots,
   There was a ladder! Down I let myself,
   Hands and feet, scrambling somehow, and so dropped,                65
   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 I was stealing back again                                   70
   To get to bed and have a bit of sleep
   Ere I rise up tomorrow 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!                              75
   Though your eye twinkles still, you shake your head--
   Mine's shaved--a monk, you say--the 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!                         80
   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,                           85
   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,                            90
   By the straight cut to the convent. Six words there,
   While I stood munching my first bread that month:
   "So, boy, you've minded," quoth the good fat father,
   Wiping his own mouth--'twas refection-time--
   "To quit this very miserable world?                                95
   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                        100
   Have given their hearts to--all at eight years old.
   Well, sir, I found in time, you may be sure,
   'Twas not for nothing--the good bellyful,
   The warm serge and the rope that goes all round,
   And day-long blessed idleness beside!                             105
   "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,_                                            110
   _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,                  115
   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,                           120
   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                   125
   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,                     130
   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.         135
   "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                    140
   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,                   145
   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                     150
   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                  155
   (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,                        160
   Her pair of earrings and a bunch of flowers
   (The brute took growling), prayed, and so was gone.
   I painted all, then cried, "'Tis ask and have;
   Choose, for more's ready!"--laid the ladder flat,
   And showed my covered bit of cloister-wall.                       165
   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                     170
   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?               175
   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,                               180
   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 vapor done up like a new-born babe--                         185
   (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 praising--why not stop with him?                     190
   Why put all thoughts of praise out of our head
   With wonder at lines, colors, 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,                  195
   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,                 200
   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 naught.
   Why can't a painter lift each foot in turn,                       205
   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-saint--is it so pretty
   You can't discover if it means hope, fear,                        210
   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--                       215
   (I never saw it--put the case the same--)
   If you get simple beauty and naught 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.                      220
   "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.                       225
   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!                            230
   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;                          235
   Brother Lorenzo stands his single peer:
   Fag on at flesh, you'll never make the third!"
   _Flower o' the pine,_
   _You keep your mist ... manners, and I'll stick to mine!_
   I'm not the third, then: bless us, they must know!                240
   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 them--sometimes do and sometimes don't;
   For, doing most, there's pretty sure to come                      245
   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,                    250
   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,                   255
   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 forever one way. As it is,                                260
   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;                          265
   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.                           270
   But see, now--why, 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:                        275
   His name is Guidi--he'll not mind the monks--
   They call him Hulking Tom, he lets them talk--
   He picks my practice up--he'll paint apace.
   I hope so--though I never live so long,
   I know what's sure to follow. You be judge!                       280
   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 colors, lights, and shades
   Changes, surprises--and God made it all!                          285
   --For what? Do you feel thankful, aye 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?                      290
   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 works--paint any one, and count it crime                    295
   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                   300
   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,                                305
   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,                       310
   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.                         315
   "Aye, but you don't so instigate to prayer!"
   Strikes in the Prior: "when your meaning's plain
   It does not say to folk--remember matins,
   Or, mind you fast next Friday!" Why, for this
   What need of art at all? A skull and bones,                       320
   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?"                 325
   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                          330
   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!                335

   --That is--you'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!                    340
   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             345
   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                       350
   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                   355
   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                          360
   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 moonstruck--I'm the man!
   Back I shrink--what is this I see and hear?                       365
   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                        370
   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?                          375
   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                   380
   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                            385
   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-by: no lights, no lights!                390
   The street's hushed, and I know my own way back,
   Don't fear me! There's the gray beginning. Zooks!



   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,                5
   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 tomorrow, Love!                          10
   I often am much wearier than you think,
   This evening more than usual, and it seems
   As if--forgive now--should you let me sit
   Here by the window with your hand in mine
   And look a half-hour forth on Fiesole,                             15
   Both of one mind, as married people use,
   Quietly, quietly the evening through,
   I might get up tomorrow to my work
   Cheerful and fresh as ever. Let us try.
   Tomorrow, how you shall be glad for this!                          20
   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--                            25
   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,                            30
   And, I suppose, is looked on by in turn,
   While she looks--no 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 grayness silvers everything--                             35
   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.                                 40
   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.                            45
   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;                   50
   So free we seem, so fettered fast we are!
   I feel He laid the fetter: let it lie!
   This chamber for example--turn your head--
   All that's behind us! You don't understand
   Nor care to understand about my art,                               55
   But you can hear at least when people speak:
   And that cartoon, the second from the door
   --It is the thing, Love! so such thing should be--
   Behold Madonna!--I am bold to say.
   I can do with my pencil what I know,                               60
   What I see, what at bottom of my heart
   I wish for, if I ever wish so deep--
   Do easily, too--when I say, perfectly,
   I do not boast, perhaps: yourself are judge,
   Who listened to the Legate's talk last week,                       65
   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,                          70
   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--                        75
   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,               80
   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,                      85
   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,                             90
   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?                     95
   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-gray
   Placid and perfect with my art: the worse!
   I know both what I want and what might gain,                      100
   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.                             105
   ('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 art--for it gives way;                      110
   That arm is wrongly put--and there again--
   A fault to pardon in the drawing's lines,
   Its body, so to speak: its soul is right,
   He means right--that, a child may understand.
   Still, what an arm! and I could alter it:                         115
   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--                    120
   More than I merit, yes, by many times.
   But had you--oh, 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--                     125
   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!                          130
   Rafael is waiting: up to God, all three!"
   I might have done it for you. So it seems:
   Perhaps not. All is as God overrules.
   Beside, incentives come from the soul's self;
   The rest avail not. Why do I need you?                            135
   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 somewhat--somewhat, too, the power--
   And thus we half-men struggle. At the end,                        140
   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,                     145
   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!                       150
   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,                   155
   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                  160
   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?                          165
   And load you not grown restless ... but I know--
   'Tis done and past; 'twas right, my instinct said;
   Too live the life grew, golden and not gray,
   And I'm the weak-eyed bat no sun should tempt
   Out of the grange whose four walls make his world.                170
   How could it end in any other way?
   You called me, and I came home to your heart.
   The triumph was--to 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,                 175
   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                            180
   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 ...                 185
   (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,                    190
   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,                           195
   Give the chalk here--quick, thus the line should go!
   Aye, 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?)                          200
   If really there was such a chance, so lost--
   Is, whether you're--not grateful--but 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                           205
   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.                      210
   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,                     215
   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?                         220
   Must see you--you, 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?                 225
   I'll pay my fancy. Only let me sit
   The gray 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 more--the Virgin's face,                    230
   Not yours this time! I want you at my side
   To hear them--that is, Michel Agnolo--
   Judge all I do and tell you of its worth.
   Will you? Tomorrow, satisfy your friend.
   I take the subjects for his corridor,                             235
   Finish the portrait out of hand--there, 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,                        240
   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 tonight.
   I regret little, I would change still less.                       245
   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.                             250
   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 labored somewhat in my time
   And not been paid profusely. Some good son                        255
   Paint my two hundred pictures--let him try!
   No doubt, there's something strikes a balance. Yes,
   You loved me quite enough, it seems tonight.
   This must suffice me here. What would one have?
   In heaven, perhaps, new chances, one more chance--                260
   Four great walls in the New Jerusalem,
   Meted on each side by the angel's reed,
   For Leonard, Rafael, Agnolo, and me
   To cover--the three first without a wife,
   While I have mine! So--still they overcome                        265
   Because there's still Lucrezia--as I choose.

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


ROME, 15--

   Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity!
   Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back?
   Nephews--sons mine ... ah God, I know not! Well--
   She, men would have to be your mother once,
   Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was!                             5
   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                            10
   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                          15
   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                    20
   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,                          25
   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.                        30
   --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!               35
   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,                         40
   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,                      45
   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!                    50
   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?                       55
   The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me,
   Those Pan and Nymphs ye wot of, and perchance
   Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so,
   The Savior at his sermon on the mount,
   Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan                               60
   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                               65
   Bricked o'er with beggar's moldy travertine
   Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at!
   Nay, boys, ye love me--all of jasper, then!
   'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I grieve
   My bath must needs be left behind, alas!                           70
   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?                     75
   --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,                        80
   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,                        85
   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:                      90
   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,                           95
   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!                             100
   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,                      105
   Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze,
   Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase
   With grapes, and add a visor and a Term,
   And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx
   That in his struggle throws the thyrsus down,                     110
   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 death--ye wish it--God, ye wish it! Stone--                    115
   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                         120
   --Aye, 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!                           125


     "As certain also of your own poets have  said"--

   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;                             5
   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;                         10
   And one white she-slave from the group dispersed
   Of black and white slaves (like the checker-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                                15
   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-counseled, king, in thy munificence!
   For so shall men remark, in such an act                            20
   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.                          25
   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--                      30
   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 mightst look out to the East.                    35
   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--                     40
   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                           45
   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.                   50
   The image of the sun-god on the phare,
   Men turn from the sun's self to see, is mine;
   The Poecile, o'er-storied its whole length,
   As thou didst hear, with painting, is mine too.
   I know the true proportions of a man                               55
   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,                         60
   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,                        65
   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,                             70
   Great in his way--not 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,                          75
   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?                                 80
   Was the thing done?--then, what's to do again?
   See, in the checkered pavement opposite,
   Suppose the artist made a perfect rhomb,
   And next a lozenge, then a trapezoid--
   He did not overlay them, superimpose                               85
   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,                            90
   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 labor ends.
   Now mark me! those divine men of old time                          95
   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,                         100
   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,                   105
   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 height--and after, void;                        110
   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,                      115
   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                              120
   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 labor lay and where the ease,                      125
   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,                     130
   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,                   135
   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, no--nor carved                   140
   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.                          145
   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:                         150
   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?                               155
   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 varicolored kinds,                         160
   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,                        165
   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 naught.
   Thy life stays in the poems men shall sing,                       170
   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,                           175
   Set on the promontory which I named.
   And that--some supple courtier of my heir
   Shall use its robed and sceptered arm, perhaps,
   To fix the rope to, which best drags it down.
   I go then: triumph thou, who dost not go!"                        180

     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,                           185
   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,                       190
   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,                           195
   Do more for visible creatures than is done?"
   Thou wouldst have answered, "Aye, by making each
   Grow conscious in himself--by that alone.
   All's perfect else: the shell sucks fast the rock,
   The fish strikes through the sea, the snake both swims            200
   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.                               205
   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,                  210
   A quality arise within his soul,
   Which, introactive, 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?                       215
   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.                         220

     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                        225
   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.                      230
   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,                          235
   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,                     240
   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                    245
   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.                      250
   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,                    255
   And mock her with my leave to take the same?
   The artificer has given her one small tube
   Past power to widen or exchange--what boots
   To know she might spout oceans if she could?
   She cannot lift beyond her first thin thread:                     260
   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 happier--for thy use!"
   If this were so, we could not thank our Lord,                     265
   As hearts beat on to doing; 'tis not so--
   Malice it is not. Is it carelessness?
   Still, no. If care--where is the sign? I ask,
   And get no answer, and agree in sum,
   O king, with thy profound discouragement,                         270
   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-gifts--to such a man as I                             275
   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)                   280
   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                                285
   How divers men young, strong, fair, wise, can act--
   Is this as though I acted? If I paint,
   Carve the young Phoebus, am I therefore young?
   Methinks I'm older that I bowed myself
   The many years of pain that taught me art!                        290
   Indeed, to know is something, and to prove
   How all this beauty might be enjoyed, is more:
   But, knowing naught, to enjoy is something, too.
   Yon rower, with the molded muscles there,
   Lowering the sail, is nearer it than I.                           295
   I can write love-odes: thy fair slave's an ode.
   I get to sing of love, when grown too gray
   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!                  300

     "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 Æschylus, because we read his plays!"                         305
   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                           310
   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,                    315
   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,                       320
   I, I the feeling, thinking, acting man,
   The man who loved his life so overmuch,
   Sleep in my urn. It is so horrible,
   I dare at times imagine to my need
   Some future state revealed to us by Zeus,                         325
   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--                     330
   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!                           335

     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                      340
   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?                             345
   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                      350
   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.



   There they are, my fifty men and women
   Naming me the fifty poems finished!
   Take them, Love, the book and me together:
   Where the heart lies, let the brain lie also.


   Rafael made a century of sonnets,                                   5
   Made and wrote them in a certain volume
   Dinted with the silver-pointed pencil
   Else he only used to draw Madonnas:
   These, the world might view--but one, the volume.
   Who that one, you ask? Your heart instructs you.                   10
   Did she live and love it all her lifetime?
   Did she drop, his lady of the sonnets,
   Die, and let it drop beside her pillow
   Where it lay in place of Rafael's glory,
   Rafael's cheek so duteous and so loving--                          15
   Cheek, the world was wont to hail a painter's,
   Rafael's cheek, her love had turned a poet's?


   You and I would rather read that volume
   (Taken to his beating bosom by it),
   Lean and list the bosom-beats of Rafael,                           20
   Would we not? than wonder at Madonnas--
   Her, San Sisto names, and Her, Foligno,
   Her, that visits Florence in a vision,
   Her, that's left with lilies in the Louvre--
   Seen by us and all the world in circle.                            25


   You and I will never read that volume.
   Guido Reni, like his own eye's apple
   Guarded long the treasure-book and loved it.
   Guido Reni dying, all Bologna
   Cried, and the world cried too, "Ours, the treasure!"              30
   Suddenly, as rare things will, it vanished.


   Dante once prepared to paint an angel:
   Whom to please? You whisper "Beatrice."
   While he mused and traced it and retraced it
   (Peradventure with a pen corroded                                  35
   Still by drops of that hot ink he dipped for,
   When, his left hand i' the hair o' the wicked,
   Back he held the brow and pricked its stigma,
   Bit into the live man's flesh for parchment,
   Loosed him, laughed to see the writing rankle,                     40
   Let the wretch go festering through Florence)--
   Dante, who loved well because he hated,
   Hated wickedness that hinders loving,
   Dante standing, studying his angel--
   In there broke the folk of his Inferno.                            45
   Says he--"Certain people of importance"
   (Such he gave his daily, dreadful line to)
   "Entered and would seize, forsooth, the poet."
   Says the poet--"Then I stopped my painting."


   You and I would rather see that angel,                             50
   Painted by the tenderness of Dante--
   Would we not?--than read a fresh Inferno.


   You and I will never see that picture.
   While he mused on love and Beatrice,
   While he softened o'er his outlined angel,                         55
   In they broke, those "people of importance":
   We and Bice bear the loss forever.


   What of Rafael's sonnets, Dante's picture?
   This: no artist lives and loves, that longs not
   Once, and only once, and for one only                              60
   (Ah, the prize!), to find his love a language
   Fit and fair and simple and sufficient--
   Using nature that's an art to others,
   Not, this one time, art that's turned his nature.
   Aye, of all the artists living, loving,                            65
   None but would forego his proper dowry--
   Does he paint? He fain would write a poem--
   Does he write? He fain would paint a picture,
   Put to proof art alien to the artist's,
   Once, and only once, and for one only,                             70
   So to be the man and leave the artist,
   Gain the man's joy, miss the artist's sorrow.


   Wherefore? Heaven's gift takes earth's abatement!
   He who smites the rock and spreads the water,
   Bidding drink and live a crowd beneath him,                        75
   Even he, the minute makes immortal,
   Proves, perchance, but mortal in the minute,
   Desecrates, belike, the deed in doing.
   While he smites, how can he but remember,
   So he smote before, in such a peril,                               80
   When they stood and mocked--"Shall smiting help us?"
   When they drank and sneered--"A stroke is easy!"
   When they wiped their mouths and went their journey,
   Throwing him for thanks--"But drought was pleasant."
   Thus old memories mar the actual triumph;                          85
   Thus the doing savors of disrelish;
   Thus achievement lacks a gracious somewhat;
   O'er-importuned brows becloud the mandate,
   Carelessness or consciousness--the gesture.
   For he bears an ancient wrong about him,                           90
   Sees and knows again those phalanxed faces,
   Hears, yet one time more, the 'customed prelude--
   "How shouldst thou, of all men, smite, and save us?"
   Guesses what is like to prove the sequel--
   "Egypt's flesh-pots--nay, the drought was better."                 95


   Oh, the crowd must have emphatic warrant
   Theirs, the Sinai-forehead's cloven brilliance,
   Right-arm's rod-sweep, tongue's imperial fiat.
   Never dares the man put off the prophet.


   Did he love one face from out the thousands                       100
   (Were she Jethro's daughter, white and wifely,
   Were she but the Ethiopian bondslave),
   He would envy yon dumb patient camel,
   Keeping a reserve of scanty water
   Meant to save his own life in the desert;                         105
   Ready in the desert to deliver
   (Kneeling down to let his breast be opened)
   Hoard and life together for his mistress.


   I shall never, in the years remaining,
   Paint you pictures, no, nor carve you statues,                    110
   Make you music that should all-express me;
   So it seems: I stand on my attainment.
   This of verse alone, one life allows me;
   Verse and nothing else have I to give you.
   Other heights in other lives, God willing:                        115
   All the gifts from all the heights, your own, Love!


   Yet a semblance of resource avails us--
   Shade so finely touched, love's sense must seize it.
   Take these lines, look lovingly and nearly,
   Lines I write the first time and the last time.                   120
   He who works in fresco, steals a hair-brush,
   Curbs the liberal hand, subservient proudly,
   Cramps his spirit, crowds its all in little,
   Makes a strange art of an art familiar,
   Fills his lady's missal-marge with flowerets.                     125
   He who blows through bronze may breathe through silver,
   Fitly serenade a slumbrous princess.
   He who writes may write for once as I do.


   Love, you saw me gather men and women,
   Live or dead or fashioned by my fancy,                            130
   Enter each and all, and use their service.
   Speak from every mouth--the speech, a poem.
   Hardly shall I tell my joys and sorrows,
   Hopes and fears, belief and disbelieving:
   I am mine and yours--the rest be all men's,                       135
   Karshish, Cleon, Norbert, and the fifty.
   Let me speak this once in my true person,
   Not as Lippo, Roland, or Andrea,
   Though the fruit of speech be just this sentence:
   Pray you, look on these my men and women,                         140
   Take and keep my fifty poems finished;
   Where my heart lies, let my brain lie also!
   Poor the speech; be how I speak, for all things.


   Not but that you know me! Lo, the moon's self!
   Here in London, yonder late in Florence,                          145
   Still we find her face, the thrice-transfigured.
   Curving on a sky imbrued with color,
   Drifted over Fiesole by twilight,
   Came she, our new crescent of a hair's-breadth.
   Full she flared it, lamping Samminiato,                           150
   Rounder 'twixt the cypresses and rounder,
   Perfect till the nightingales applauded.
   Now, a piece of her old self, impoverished,
   Hard to greet, she traverses the house-roofs,
   Hurries with unhandsome thrift of silver,                         155
   Goes dispiritedly, glad to finish.


   What, there's nothing in the moon noteworthy?
   Nay: for if that moon could love a mortal,
   Use, to charm him (so to fit a fancy),
   All her magic ('tis the old sweet mythos),                        160
   She would turn a new side to her mortal,
   Side unseen of herdsman, huntsman, steersman--
   Blank to Zoroaster on his terrace,
   Blind to Galileo on his turret,
   Dumb to Homer, dumb to Keats--him, even!                          165
   Think, the wonder of the moonstruck mortal--
   When she turns round, comes again in heaven,
   Opens out anew for worse or better!
   Proves she like some portent of an iceberg
   Swimming full upon the ship it founders,                          170
   Hungry with huge teeth of splintered crystals?
   Proves she as the paved work of a sapphire
   Seen by Moses when he climbed the mountain?
   Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu
   Climbed and saw the very God, the Highest,                        175
   Stand upon the paved work of a sapphire.
   Like the bodied heaven in his clearness
   Shone the stone, the sapphire of that paved work,
   When they ate and drank and saw God also!


   What were seen? None knows, none ever shall know.                 180
   Only this is sure--the sight were other,
   Not the moon's same side, born late in Florence,
   Dying now impoverished here in London.
   God be thanked, the meanest of his creatures
   Boasts two soul-sides, one to face the world with,                185
   One to show a woman when he loves her!


   This I say of me, but think of you, Love!
   This to you--yourself my moon of poets!
   Ah, but that's the world's side, there's the wonder,
   Thus they see you, praise you, think they know you!               190
   There, in turn I stand with them and praise you--
   Out of my own self, I dare to phrase it.
   But the best is when I glide from out them,
   Cross a step or two of dubious twilight,
   Come out on the other side, the novel                             195
   Silent silver lights and darks undreamed of,
   Where I hush and bless myself with silence.


   Oh, their Rafael of the dear Madonnas,
   Oh, their Dante of the dread Inferno,
   Wrote one song--and in my brain I sing it,                        200
   Drew one angel--borne, see, on my bosom.



   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,                  5
     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          10
   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           15
     Founded it, fearless of flame, flat on the nether springs.

   And another would mount and march, like the excellent minion he was,
     Aye, 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:           20
   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

   In sight? Not half! for it seemed, it was certain, to match        25
        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 splendors burst forth, grew familiar and dwelt with mine,
     Not a point nor peak but found and fixed its wandering           30
   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,      35
     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           40
        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 verse--still, effect proceeds         45
        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!      50
   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 naught;
     It is everywhere in the world--loud, soft, and all is said:
   Give it to me to use! I mix it with two in my thought:             55
     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.        60
   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: aye, what was, shall

   Therefore to whom turn I but to thee, the ineffable Name?          65
     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 naught, is silence implying sound;          70
   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              75
     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.        80

   And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence
     For the fullness 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,                85
     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.              90
   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        95
     The C Major of this life: so, now I will try to sleep.


             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,                            5
   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;                         10
   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!                             15
             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                              20
   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                                    25
             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.           30

             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;                       35
   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,                                    40
             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?                   45
             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                                   50
   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!                         55
             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!"              60

             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                                  65
   Possessions of the brute--gain most, as we did best!

             Let us not always say,
             "Spite of this flesh today
   I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole!"
             As the bird wings and sings,                             70
             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:                    75
             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                                 80
   Once more on my adventure brave and new:
             Fearless and unperplexed,
             When I wage battle next,
   What weapons to select, what armor to indue.

             Youth ended, I shall try                                 85
             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.                90

             For note, when evening shuts,
             A certain moment cuts
   The deed off, calls the glory from the gray:
             A whisper from the west
             Shoots--"Add this to the rest,                           95
   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,                       100
             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 tomorrow what he learns today:                             105
             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,                    110
   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                                115
             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.           120

             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,                           125
   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                               130
             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;                 135
             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,                             140
   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                            145
             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.         150

             Aye, 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,                          155
   "Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize today!"

             Fool! All that is, at all,
             Lasts ever, past recall;
   Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
             What entered into thee,                                 160
             _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:                165
             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                            170
   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!                              175
             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 aglow!
   Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what need'st thou with earth's     180

             But I need, now as then,
             Thee, God, who moldest men;
   And since, not even while the whirl was worst,
             Did I--to the wheel of life
             With shapes and colors rife,                            185
   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!                                190
             Perfect the cup as planned!
   Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!


     "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself."

   ['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,                  5
   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,                          10
   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,                      15
   Touching that other, whom his dam called God.
   Because to talk about Him, vexes--ha,
   Could He but know! and time to vex is now,
   When talk is safer than in wintertime.
   Moreover Prosper and Miranda sleep                                 20
   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.                    25

   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.                      30

   '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                         35
   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)                   40
   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.                45
   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                     50
   That pricks deep into oakwarts 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 hole--He made all these and more,                      55
   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:                         60
   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.                       65
   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--                  70
   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,                                75
   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 offense,                         80
   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,                   85
   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                  90
   Not take my fancy: I might hear his cry,
   And give the manikin 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,                         95
   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                        100
   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;                      105
   '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,                       110
   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 naught at all,                  115
   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                    120
   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!"           125
   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,                   130
   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                      135
   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                      140
   It works on! 'Careth but for Setebos
   The many-handed as a cuttlefish,
   Who, making Himself feared through what He does,
   Looks up, first, and perceives he cannot soar
   To what is quiet and hath happy life;                             145
   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, aye, and sport.
   Himself peeped late, eyed Prosper at his books                    150
   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                         155
   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:                             160
   '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                   165
   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                       170
   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,                     175
   Or overscale my flesh 'neath joint and joint,
   Like an orc's armor? Aye--so spoil His sport!
   He is the One now: only He doth all.

   'Saith, He may like, perchance, what profits Him.
   Aye, himself loves what does him good; but why?                   180
   'Gets good no otherwise. This blinded beast
   Loves whoso places fleshmeat 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,                                 185
   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 summertime,
   And he wants little, hungers, aches not much,                     190
   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,                        195
   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!                  200
   One hurricane will spoil six good months' hope.
   He hath a spite against me, that I know,
   Just as He favors Prosper, who knows why?
   So it is, all the same, as well I find.
   'Wove wattles half the winter, fenced them firm                   205
   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 labor flat: so much for spite.               210
   '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.                      215
   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;                     220
   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:                        225
   'Spareth a squirrel that it nothing fears
   But steals the nut from underneath my thumb,
   And when I threat, bites stoutly in defense:
   'Spareth an urchin that contrariwise,
   Curls up into a ball, pretending death                            230
   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
   Tomorrow and next day and all days to come,
   Saying, forsooth, in the inmost of its heart,                     235
   "Because he did so yesterday with me,
   And otherwise with such another brute,
   So must he do henceforth and always."--Aye?
   Would teach the reasoning couple what "must" means!
   'Doth as he likes, or wherefore Lord? So He.                      240
   '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--                  245
   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.                    250
   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.                   255
   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                   260
   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;                           265
   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?"            270
   '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                          275
   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,                   280
   That some strange day, will either the Quiet catch
   And conquer Setebos, or likelier He
   Decrepit may doze, doze, as good as die.

          *       *       *       *       *

   [What, what? A curtain o'er the world at once!
   Crickets stop hissing; not a bird--or, yes,                       285
   There scuds His raven that has told Him all!
   It was fool's play, this prattling! Ha! The wind
   Shoulders the pillared dust, death's house o' the move,
   And fast invading fires begin! White blaze--
   A tree's head snaps--and there, there, there, there, there,       290
   His thunder follows! Fool to gibe at Him!
   Lo! 'Lieth flat and loveth Setebos!
   'Maketh his teeth meet through his upper lip,
   Will let those quails fly, will not eat this month
   One little mess of whelks, so he may 'scape!]                     295


   I wish that when you died last May,
     Charles, there had died along with you
   Three parts of spring's delightful things;
     Aye, and, for me, the fourth part, too.

   A foolish thought, and worse, perhaps!                              5
     There must be many a pair of friends
   Who, arm in arm, deserve the warm
     Moon-births and the long evening-ends.

   So, for their sake, be May still May!
     Let their new time, as mine of old,                              10
   Do all it did for me: I bid
     Sweet sights and sounds throng manifold.

   Only, one little sight, one plant,
     Woods have in May, that starts up green
   Save a sole streak which, so to speak,                             15
     Is spring's blood, spilt its leaves between--

   That, they might spare; a certain wood
     Might miss the plant; their loss were small:
   But I--whene'er the leaf grows there,
     Its drop comes from my heart, that's all.                        20


   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,                     5
           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,                                     10
   Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
           The reward of it all.
   I was ever a fighter, so--one fight more,
           The best and the last!
   I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,             15
           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.                               20
   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,              25
           Then a light, then thy breast,
   O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
           And with God be the rest!


   If one could have that little head of hers
     Painted upon a background of pale gold,
   Such as the Tuscan's early art prefers!
     No shade encroaching on the matchless mold
   Of those two lips, which should be opening soft                     5
     In the pure profile; not as when she laughs,
   For that spoils all; but rather as if aloft
     Yon hyacinth, she loves so, leaned its staff's
   Burthen of honey-colored buds to kiss
   And capture 'twixt the lips apart for this.                        10
   Then her lithe neck, three fingers might surround,
   How it should waver on the pale gold ground
   Up to the fruit-shaped, perfect chin it lifts!
   I know, Correggio loves to mass, in rifts
   Of heaven, his angel faces, orb on orb                             15
   Breaking its outline, burning shades absorb;
   But these are only massed there, I should think,
     Waiting to see some wonder momently
     Grow out, stand full, fade slow against the sky
     (That's the pale ground you'd see this sweet face by),           20
     All heaven, meanwhile, condensed into one eye
   Which fears to lose the wonder, should it wink.


   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--                           5
   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 glory--to drop down,
   To toil for man, to suffer or to die--                             10
   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--                        15
   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.                       20
   Thither where eyes, that cannot reach, yet yearn
   For all hope, all sustainment, all reward,
   Their utmost 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,               25
   Some wanness where, I think, thy foot may fall!


   Oh, the old wall here! How I could pass
     Life in a long midsummer day,
   My feet confined to a plot of grass,
     My eyes from a wall not once away!

   And lush and lithe do the creepers clothe                           5
     Yon wall I watch, with a wealth of green:
   Its bald red bricks draped, nothing loth,
     In lappets of tangle they laugh between.

   Now, what is it makes pulsate the robe?
     Why tremble the sprays? What life o'erbrims                      10
   The body--the house, no eye can probe--
     Divined as, beneath a robe, the limbs?

   And there again! But my heart may guess
     Who tripped behind; and she sang perhaps;
   So, the old wall throbbed, and its life's excess                   15
     Died out and away in the leafy wraps!

   Wall upon wall are between us; life
     And song should away from heart to heart!
   I--prison-bird, with a ruddy strife
     At breast, and a lip whence storm-notes start--                  20

   Hold on, hope hard in the subtle thing
     That's spirit: though cloistered fast, soar free;
   Account as wood, brick, stone, this ring
     Of the rueful neighbors, and--forth to thee!


   Shall I sonnet-sing you about myself?                              25
     Do I live in a house you would like to see?
   Is it scant of gear, has it store of pelf?
     "Unlock my heart with a sonnet-key"?

   Invite the world, as my betters have done?
     "Take notice: this building remains on view,                     30
   Its suites of reception every one,
     Its private apartment and bedroom too;

   "For a ticket, apply to the Publisher."
     No: thanking the public, I must decline.
   A peep through my window, if folk prefer;                          35
     But, please you, no foot over threshold of mine!

   I have mixed with a crowd and heard free talk
     In a foreign land where an earthquake chanced
   And a house stood gaping, naught to balk
     Man's eye wherever he gazed or glanced.                          40

   The whole of the frontage shaven sheer,
     The inside gaped; exposed to day,
   Right and wrong and common and queer,
     Bare, as the palm of your hand, it lay.

   The owner? Oh, he had been crushed, no doubt!                      45
     "Odd tables and chairs for a man of wealth!
   What a parcel of musty old books about!
     He smoked--no wonder he lost his health!

   "I doubt if he bathed before he dressed.
     A brasier?--the pagan, he burned perfumes!                       50
   You see it is proved, what the neighbors guessed:
     His wife and himself had separate rooms."

   Friends, the goodman of the house at least
     Kept house to himself till an earthquake came;
   'Tis the fall of its frontage permits you feast                    55
     On the inside arrangement you praise or blame.

   Outside should suffice for evidence;
     And whoso desires to penetrate
   Deeper, must dive by the spirit-sense--
     No optics like yours, at any rate!                               60

   "Hoity-toity! A street to explore,
     Your house the exception! '_With this same key
   Shakespeare unlocked his heart_,' once more!"
     Did Shakespeare? If so, the less Shakespeare he!


   So, friend, your shop was all your house!                          65
     Its front, astonishing the street,
   Invited view from man and mouse
     To what diversity of treat
     Behind its glass--the single sheet!

   What gimcracks, genuine Japanese:                                  70
     Gape-jaw and goggle-eye, the frog;
   Dragons, owls, monkeys, beetles, geese;
     Some crush-nosed human-hearted dog:
     Queer names, too, such a catalogue!

   I thought, "And he who owns the wealth                             75
     Which blocks the window's vastitude,
   --Ah, could I peep at him by stealth
     Behind his ware, pass shop, intrude
     On house itself, what scenes were viewed!

   "If wide and showy thus the shop,                                  80
     What must the habitation prove?
   The true house with no name a-top--
     The mansion, distant one remove,
     Once get him off his traffic-groove!

   "Pictures he likes, or books perhaps;                              85
     And as for buying most and best,
   Commend me to these City chaps!
     Or else he's social, takes his rest
     On Sundays, with a lord for guest.

   "Some suburb-palace, parked about                                  90
     And gated grandly, built last year;
   The four-mile walk to keep off gout;
     Or big seat sold by bankrupt peer--
     But then he takes the rail, that's clear.

   "Or, stop! I wager, taste selects                                  95
     Some out o' the way, some all-unknown
   Retreat; the neighborhood suspects
     Little that he who rambles lone
     Makes Rothschild tremble on his throne!"

   Nowise! Nor Mayfair residence                                     100
     Fit to receive and entertain--
   Nor Hampstead villa's kind defense
     From noise and crowd, from dust and drain--
     Nor country-box was soul's domain!

   Nowise! At back of all that spread                                105
     Of merchandise, woe's me, I find
   A hole i' the wall where, heels by head,
     The owner couched, his ware behind
     --In cupboard suited to his mind.

   For why? He saw no use of life                                    110
     But, while he drove a roaring trade,
   To chuckle, "Customers are rife!"
     To chafe, "So much hard cash outlaid
     Yet zero in my profits made!

   "This novelty costs pains, but--takes?                            115
     Cumbers my counter! Stock no more!
   This article, no such great shakes,
     Fizzes like wildfire? Underscore
     The cheap thing--thousands to the fore!"

   'Twas lodging best to live most nigh                              120
     (Cramp, coffinlike as crib might be)
   Receipt of Custom; ear and eye
     Wanted no outworld: "Hear and see
     The bustle in the shop!" quoth he

   My fancy of a merchant-prince                                     125
     Was different. Through his wares we groped
   Our darkling way to--not to mince
     The matter--no black den where moped
     The master if we interloped!

   Shop was shop only: household-stuff?                              130
     What did he want with comforts there?
   "Walls, ceiling, floor, stay blank and rough,
     So goods on sale show rich and rare!
     '_Sell and scud home_' be shop's affair!"

   What might he deal in? Gems, suppose!                             135
     Since somehow business must be done
   At cost of trouble--see, he throws
     You choice of jewels, everyone,
     Good, better, best, star, moon, and sun!

   Which lies within your power of purse?                            140
     This ruby that would tip aright
   Solomon's scepter? Oh, your nurse
     Wants simply coral, the delight
     Of teething baby--stuff to bite!

   Howe'er your choice fell, straight you took                       145
     Your purchase, prompt your money rang
   On counter--scarce the man forsook
     His study of the "Times," just swang
     Till-ward his hand that stopped the clang--

   Then off made buyer with a prize,                                 150
     Then seller to his "Times" returned;
   And so did day wear, wear, till eyes
     Brightened apace, for rest was earned;
     He locked door long ere candle burned.

   And whither went he? Ask himself,                                 155
     Not me! To change of scene, I think.
   Once sold the ware and pursed the pelf,
     Chaffer was scarce his meat and drink,
     Nor all his music--money-chink.

   Because a man has shop to mind                                    160
     In time and place, since flesh must live,
   Needs spirit lack all life behind,
     All stray thoughts, fancies fugitive,
     All loves except what trade can give?

   I want to know a butcher paints,                                  165
     A baker rhymes for his pursuit,
   Candlestick-maker much acquaints
     His soul with song, or, haply mute,
     Blows out his brains upon the flute!

   But--shop each day and all day long!                              170
     Friend, your good angel slept, your star
   Suffered eclipse, fate did you wrong!
     From where these sorts of treasures are,
     There should our hearts be--Christ, how far!



   On the sea and at the Hogue, sixteen hundred ninety-two,
     Did the English fight the French--woe to France!
   And, the thirty-first of May, helter-skelter through the blue,
     Like a crowd of frightened porpoises a shoal of sharks pursue,
     Came crowding ship on ship to Saint Malo on the Rance,            5
   With the English fleet in view.


   'Twas the squadron that escaped, with the victor in full chase;
     First and foremost of the drove, in his great ship, Damfreville;
           Close on him fled, great and small,
           Twenty-two good ships in all;                              10
   And they signaled to the place,
   "Help the winners of a race!
     Get us guidance, give us harbor, take us quick--or, quicker still,
     Here's the English can and will!"


   Then the pilots of the place put out brisk and leapt on            15
     "Why, what hope or chance have ships like these to pass?" laughed
   "Rocks to starboard, rocks to port, all the passage scarred and
   Shall the _Formidable_ here, with her twelve and eighty guns,
     Think to make the river-mouth by the single narrow way,
   Trust to enter--where 'tis ticklish for a craft of twenty tons,    20
           And with flow at full beside?
           Now, 'tis slackest ebb of tide.
     Reach the mooring? Rather say,
   While rock stands or water runs,
     Not a ship will leave the bay!"                                  25


   Then was called a council straight.
   Brief and bitter the debate:
   "Here's the English at our heels; would you have them take in tow
   All that's left us of the fleet, linked together stern and bow,
   For a prize to Plymouth Sound?                                     30
   Better run the ships aground!"
           (Ended Damfreville his speech).
   "Not a minute more to wait!
     Let the Captains all and each
     Shove ashore, then blow up, burn the vessels on the beach!       35
   France must undergo her fate.


   "Give the word!" But no such word
   Was ever spoke or heard;
     For up stood, for out stepped, for in struck amid all these
   --A Captain? A Lieutenant? A Mate--first, second, third?           40
     No such man of mark, and meet
     With his betters to compete!
     But a simple Breton sailor pressed by Tourville for the fleet,
   A poor coasting-pilot he, Hervé Riel the Croisickese.


   And "What mockery or malice have we here?" cries Hervé Riel;       45
     "Are you mad, you Malouins? Are you cowards, fools, or rogues?
   Talk to me of rocks and shoals, me who took the soundings, tell
   On my fingers every bank, every shallow, every smell
     'Twixt the offing here and Grève where the river disembogues?
   Are you bought by English gold? Is it love the lying's for?        50
           Morn and eve, night and day,
           Have I piloted your bay,
   Entered free and anchored fast at the foot of Solidor.
     Burn the fleet and ruin France? That were worse than fifty Hogues!
       Sirs, they know I speak the truth! Sirs, believe me            55
        there's a way!
   Only let me lead the line,
     Have the biggest ship to steer,
     Get this _Formidable_ clear,
   Make the others follow mine,
   And I lead them, most and least, by a passage I know well,         60
     Right to Solidor past Grève,
         And there lay them safe and sound;
     And if one ship misbehave
         --Keel so much as grate the ground,
   Why, I've nothing but my life;--here's my head!" cries Hervé       65


   Not a minute more to wait.
   "Steer us in, then, small and great!
     Take the helm, lead the line, save the squadron!" cried its chief.
   Captains, give the sailor place!
     He is Admiral, in brief.                                         70
   Still the north-wind, by God's grace!
   See the noble fellow's face
   As the big ship, with a bound,
   Clears the entry like a hound,
   Keeps the passage as its inch of way were the wide sea's           75
     See, safe through shoal and rock,
     How they follow in a flock;
   Not a ship that misbehaves, not a keel that grates the ground,
     Not a spar that comes to grief!
   The peril, see, is past.                                           80
   All are harbored to the last,
   And just as Hervé Riel hollas, "Anchor!"--sure as fate
   Up the English come--too late!


   So, the storm subsides to calm:
     They see the green trees wave                                    85
     On the heights o'erlooking Grève.
   Hearts that bled are stanched with balm.
   "Just our rapture to enhance;
     Let the English rake the bay,
   Gnash their teeth, and glare askance                               90
     As they cannonade away!
   'Neath rampired Solidor pleasant riding on the Rance!"
   How hope succeeds despair on each Captain's countenance!
   Out burst all with one accord,
     "This is Paradise for Hell!                                      95
     Let France, let France's King
     Thank the man that did the thing!"
   What a shout, and all one word, "Hervé Riel!"
   As he stepped in front once more,
     Not a symptom of surprise                                       100
     In the frank blue Breton eyes,
   Just the same man as before.


   Then said Damfreville, "My friend,
   I must speak out at the end,
     Though I find the speaking hard.                                105
   Praise is deeper than the lips;
   You have saved the King his ships,
     You must name your own reward.
   'Faith, our sun was near eclipse!
   Demand whate'er you will,                                         110
   France remains your debtor still.
   Ask to heart's content and have! or my name's not Damfreville."


   Then a beam of fun outbroke
   On the bearded mouth that spoke,
   As the honest heart laughed through                               115
   Those frank eyes of Breton blue:
   "Since I needs must say my say,
     Since on board the duty's done,
     And from Malo Roads to Croisic Point, what is it but a run?--
   Since 'tis ask and have, I may--                                  120
     Since the others go ashore--
   Come! A good whole holiday!
     Leave to go and see my wife, whom I call the Belle Aurore!"
     That he asked and that he got--nothing more.


   Name and deed alike are lost.                                     125
   Not a pillar nor a post
     In his Croisic keeps alive the feat as it befell;
   Not a head in white and black
   On a single fishing smack,
   In memory of the man but for whom had gone to wrack               130
     All that France saved from the fight whence England bore the bell.
   Go to Paris: rank on rank
     Search the heroes flung pell-mell
   On the Louvre, face and flank!
     You shall look long enough ere you come to Hervé Riel.          135
   So, for better and for worse,
   Hervé Riel, accept my verse!
   In my verse, Hervé Riel, do thou once more
   Save the squadron, honor France, love thy wife, the Belle Aurore!


   Good, to forgive;
     Best, to forget!
     Living, we fret;
   Dying, we live.
   Fretless and free,                                                  5
     Soul, clap thy pinion!
     Earth have dominion,
   Body, o'er thee!

   Wander at will,
     Day after day--                                                  10
     Wander away,
   Wandering still--
   Soul that canst soar!
     Body may slumber:
     Body shall cumber                                                15
   Soul-flight no more.

   Waft of soul's wing!
     What lies above?
     Sunshine and Love,
   Skyblue and Spring!                                                20
   Body hides--where?
     Ferns of all feather,
     Mosses and heather.
   Yours be the care!


   Such a starved bank of moss
     Till, that May-morn,
   Blue ran the flash across:
     Violets were born!

   Sky--what a scowl of cloud                                          5
     Till, near and far,
   Ray on ray split the shroud:
     Splendid, a star!

   World--how it walled about
     Life with disgrace                                               10
   Till God's own smile came out:
     That was thy face!


   What a pretty tale you told me
     Once upon a time
   --Said you found it somewhere (scold me!)
     Was it prose or was it rhyme,
   Greek or Latin? Greek, you said,                                    5
   While your shoulder propped my head.

   Anyhow there's no forgetting
     This much if no more,
   That a poet (pray, no petting!)
     Yes, a bard, sir, famed of yore,                                 10
   Went where suchlike used to go,
   Singing for a prize, you know.

   Well, he had to sing, nor merely
     Sing but play the lyre;
   Playing was important clearly                                      15
     Quite as singing--I desire,
   Sir, you keep the fact in mind
   For a purpose that's behind.

   There stood he, while deep attention
     Held the judges round,                                           20
   --Judges able, I should mention,
     To detect the slightest sound
   Sung or played amiss--such ears
   Had old judges, it appears!

   None the less he sang out boldly,                                  25
     Played in time and tune,
   Till the judges, weighing coldly
     Each note's worth, seemed, late or soon,
   Sure to smile, "In vain one tries
   Picking faults out; take the prize!"                               30

   When, a mischief! Were they seven
     Strings the lyre possessed?
   Oh, and afterwards eleven,
     Thank you! Well, sir--who had guessed
   Such ill luck in store?--it happed                                 35
   One of those same seven strings snapped.

   All was lost, then! No! a cricket
     (What "cicada"? Pooh!)
   --Some mad thing that left its thicket
     For mere love of music--flew                                     40
   With its little heart on fire,
   Lighted on the crippled lyre.

   So that when (ah, joy!) our singer
     For his truant string
   Feels with disconcerted finger,                                    45
     What does cricket else but fling
   Fiery heart forth, sound the note
   Wanted by the throbbing throat?

   Aye and, ever to the ending,
     Cricket chirps at need,                                          50
   Executes the hand's intending,
     Promptly, perfectly--indeed
   Saves the singer from defeat
   With her chirrup low and sweet.

   Till, at ending, all the judges                                    55
     Cry with one assent,
   "Take the prize--a prize who grudges
     Such a voice and instrument?
   Why, we took your lyre for harp,
   So it shrilled us forth F sharp!"                                  60

   Did the conqueror spurn the creature,
     Once its service done?
   That's no such uncommon feature
     In the case when Music's son
   Finds his Lotte's power too spent                                  65
   For aiding soul-development.

   No! This other, on returning
     Homeward, prize in hand,
   Satisfied his bosom's yearning
     (Sir, I hope you understand!)                                    70
   --Said, "Some record there must be
   Of this cricket's help to me!"

   So, he made himself a statue:
     Marble stood, life-size;
   On the lyre he pointed at you                                      75
     Perched his partner in the prize;
   Never more apart you found
   Her, he throned, from him, she crowned.

   That's the tale--its application?
     Somebody I know                                                  80
   Hopes one day for reputation
     Through his poetry that's--oh,
   All so learned and so wise
   And deserving of a prize!

   If he gains one, will some ticket,                                 85
     When his statue's built,
   Tell the gazer, "'Twas a cricket
     Helped my crippled lyre, whose lilt
   Sweet and low, when strength usurped
   Softness' place i' the scale, she chirped?                         90

   "For as victory was nighest,
     While I sang and played--
   With my lyre at lowest, highest,
     Right alike--one string that made
   'Love' sound soft was snapped in twain,                            95
   Never to be heard again--

   "Had not a kind cricket fluttered,
     Perched upon the place
   Vacant left, and duly uttered,
     'Love, Love, Love,' whene'er the bass                           100
   Asked the treble to atone
   For its somewhat somber drone."

   But you don't know music! Wherefore
     Keep on casting pearls
   To a--poet? All I care for                                        105
     Is--to tell him that a girl's
   "Love" comes aptly in when gruff
   Grows his singing. (There, enough!)


[Greek: Chairete, nikômen.]

   First I salute this soil of the blessed, river and rock!
   Gods of my birthplace, daemons and heroes, honor to all!
   Then I name thee, claim thee for our patron, coequal in praise
   --Aye, with Zeus the Defender, with Her of the ægis and spear!
   Also ye of the bow and the buskin, praised be your peer,            5
   Now, henceforth and forever--O latest to whom I upraise
   Hand and heart and voice! For Athens, leave pasture and flock!
   Present to help, potent to save, Pan--patron I call!

   Archons of Athens, topped by the tettix, see, I return!
   See, 'tis myself here standing alive, no specter that speaks!      10
   Crowned with the myrtle, did you command me, Athens and you,
   "Run, Pheidippides, run and race, reach Sparta for aid!
   Persia has come, we are here, where is She?" Your command I obeyed,
   Ran and raced; like stubble, some field which a fire runs through,
   Was the space between city and city. Two days, two nights did      15
        I burn
   Over the hills, under the dales, down pits and up peaks.

   Into their midst I broke; breath served but for "Persia has come!
   Persia bids Athens proffer slaves'-tribute, water and earth;
   Razed to the ground is Eretria--but Athens, shall Athens sink,
   Drop into dust and die--the flower of Hellas utterly die,          20
   Die, with the wide world spitting at Sparta, the stupid, the
   Answer me quick, what help, what hand do you stretch o'er
        destruction's brink?
   How--when? No care for my limbs!--there's lightning in all and some--
   Fresh and fit your message to bear, once lips give it birth!"

   O my Athens--Sparta love thee? Did Sparta respond?                 25
   Every face of her leered in a furrow of envy, mistrust,
   Malice--each eye of her gave me its glitter of gratified hate!
   Gravely they turned to take counsel, to cast for excuses. I stood
   Quivering--the limbs of me fretting as fire frets, an inch from dry
   "Persia has come, Athens asks aid, and still they debate?          30
   Thunder, thou Zeus! Athené, are Spartans a quarry beyond
   Swing of thy spear? Phoibos and Artemis, clang them 'Ye must'!"
   No bolt launched from Olumpos! Lo, their answer at last!

   "Has Persia come--does Athens ask aid--may Sparta befriend?
   Nowise precipitate judgment--too weighty the issue at stake!       35
   Count we no time lost time which lags through respect to the gods!
   Ponder that precept of old, 'No warfare, whatever the odds
   In your favor, so long as the moon, half-orbed, is unable to take
   Full circle her state in the sky!' Already she rounds to it fast:
   Athens must wait, patient as we--who judgment suspend."            40

   Athens--except for that sparkle--thy name, I had moldered to ash!
   That sent a blaze through my blood; off, off and away was I back,
   --Not one word to waste, one look to lose on the false and the vile!
   Yet "O gods of my land!" I cried, as each hillock and plain,
   Wood and stream, I knew, I named, rushing past them again,         45
   "Have ye kept faith, proved mindful of honors we paid you erewhile?
   Vain was the filleted victim, the fulsome libation! Too rash
   Love in its choice, paid you so largely service so slack!

   "Oak and olive and bay--I bid you cease to enwreathe
   Brows made bold by your leaf! Fade at the Persian's foot,          50
   You that, our patrons were pledged, should never adorn a slave!
   Rather I hail thee, Parnes--trust to thy wild waste tract!
   Treeless, herbless, lifeless mountain! What matter if slacked
   My speed may hardly be, for homage to crag and to cave
   No deity deigns to drape with verdure? At least I can breathe,     55
   Fear in thee no fraud from the blind, no lie from the mute!"

   Such my cry as, rapid, I ran over Parnes' ridge;
   Gully and gap I clambered and cleared till, sudden, a bar
   Jutted, a stoppage of stone against me, blocking the way.
   Right! for I minded the hollow to traverse, the fissure across:    60
   "Where I could enter, there I depart by! Night in the fosse?
   Athens to aid? Though the dive were through Erebos, thus I obey--
   Out of the day dive, into the day as bravely arise! No bridge
   Better!"--when--ha! what was it I came on, of wonders that are?

   There, in the cool of a cleft, sat he--majestical Pan!             65
   Ivy drooped wanton, kissed his head, moss cushioned his hoof;
   All the great god was good in the eyes grave-kindly--the curl
   Carved on the bearded cheek, amused at a mortal's awe,
   As, under the human trunk, the goat-thighs grand I saw.
   "Halt, Pheidippides!"--halt I did, my brain of a whirl.            70
   "Hither to me! Why pale in my presence?" he gracious began;
   "How is it--Athens, only in Hellas, holds me aloof?

   "Athens, she only, rears me no fane, makes me no feast!
   Wherefore? Than I what godship to Athens more helpful of old?
   Aye, and still, and forever her friend! Test Pan, trust me!        75
   Go, bid Athens take heart, laugh Persia to scorn, have faith
   In the temples and tombs! Go, say to Athens, 'The Goat-God saith:
   When Persia--so much as strews not the soil--is cast in the sea,
   Then praise Pan who fought in the ranks with your most and least,
   Goat-thigh to greaved-thigh, made one cause with the free and      80
        the bold!'

   "Say Pan saith: 'Let this, foreshowing the place, be the pledge!'"
   (Gay, the liberal hand held out this herbage I bear
   --Fennel--I grasped it a-tremble with dew--whatever it bode)
   "While, as for thee" ... But enough! He was gone. If I ran hitherto--
   Be sure that, the rest of my journey, I ran no longer, but         85
   Parnes to Athens--earth no more, the air was my road;
   Here am I back. Praise Pan, we stand no more on the razor's edge!
   Pan for Athens, Pan for me! I too have a guerdon rare!

          *       *       *       *       *

   Then spoke Miltiades. "And thee, best runner of Greece,
   Whose limbs did duty indeed--what gift is promised thyself?        90
   Tell it us straightway--Athens the mother demands of her son!"
   Rosily blushed the youth; he paused; but, lifting at length
   His eyes from the ground, it seemed as he gathered the rest of his
   Into the utterance--"Pan spoke thus: 'For what thou hast done
   Count on a worthy reward! Henceforth be allowed thee release       95
   From the racer's toil, no vulgar reward in praise or in pelf!'

   "I am bold to believe, Pan means reward the most to my mind!
   Fight I shall, with our foremost, wherever this fennel may grow--
   Pound--Pan helping us--Persia to dust, and, under the deep,
   Whelm her away forever; and then--no Athens to save--             100
   Marry a certain maid, I know keeps faith to the brave--
   Hie to my house and home; and, when my children shall creep
   Close to my knees--recount how the God was awful yet kind,
   Promised their sire reward to the full--rewarding him--so!"

          *       *       *       *       *

   Unforeseeing one! Yes, he fought on the Marathon day;             105
   So, when Persia was dust, all cried, "To Akropolis!
   Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due!
   'Athens is saved, thank Pan,' go shout!" He flung down his shield,
   Ran like fire once more; and the space 'twixt the Fennel-field
   And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through,  110
   Till in he broke: "Rejoice, we conquer!" Like wine through clay,
   Joy in his blood bursting his heart, he died--the bliss!

   So, to this day, when friend meets friend, the word of salute
   Is still "Rejoice!"--his word which brought rejoicing indeed.
   So is Pheidippides happy forever--the noble strong man            115
   Who could race like a god, bear the face of a god, whom a god loved
        so well;
   He saw the land saved he had helped to save, and was suffered to tell
   Such tidings, yet never decline, but, gloriously as he began,
   So to end gloriously--once to shout, thereafter be mute:
   "Athens is saved!"--Pheidippides dies in the shout for his        120


   If a stranger passed the tent of Hóseyn, he cried, "A churl's!"
   Or haply, "God help the man who has neither salt nor bread!"
   --"Nay," would a friend exclaim, "he needs nor pity nor scorn
   More than who spends small thought on the shore-sand, picking pearls,
   --Holds but in light esteem the seed-sort, bears instead            5
   On his breast a moon-like prize, some orb which of night makes morn.

   "What if no flocks and herds enrich the son of Sinán?
   They went when his tribe was mulct, ten thousand camels the due,
   Blood-value paid perforce for a murder done of old.
   'God gave them, let them go! But never since time began,           10
   Muléykeh, peerless mare, owned master the match of you,
   And you are my prize, my Pearl; I laugh at men's land and gold!'

   "So in the pride of his soul laughs Hóseyn--and right, I say.
   Do the ten steeds run a race of glory? Outstripping all,
   Ever Muléykeh stands first steed at the victor's staff.            15
   Who started, the owner's hope, gets shamed and named, that day.
   'Silence,' or, last but one, is 'The Cuffed,' as we use to call
   Whom the paddock's lord thrusts forth. Right, Hóseyn, I say, to

   "Boasts he Muléykeh the Pearl?" the stranger replies: "Be sure
   On him I waste nor scorn nor pity, but lavish both                 20
   On Duhl the son of Sheybán, who withers away in heart
   For envy of Hóseyn's luck. Such sickness admits no cure.
   A certain poet has sung, and sealed the same with an oath,
   'For the vulgar--flocks and herds! The Pearl is a prize apart.'"

   Lo, Duhl the son of Sheybán comes riding to Hóseyn's tent,         25
   And he casts his saddle down, and enters and "Peace!" bids he.
   "You are poor, I know the cause: my plenty shall mend the wrong.
   'Tis said of your Pearl--the price of a hundred camels spent
   In her purchase were scarce ill paid; such prudence is far from me
   Who proffer a thousand. Speak! Long parley may last too            30

   Said Hóseyn, "You feed young beasts a many, of famous breed,
   Slit-eared, unblemished, fat, true offspring of Múzennem:
   There stumbles no weak-eyed she in the line as it climbs the hill.
   But I love Muléykeh's face; her forefront whitens indeed
   Like a yellowish wave's cream-crest. Your camels--go gaze on       35
   Her fetlock is foam-splashed too. Myself am the richer still."

   A year goes by; lo, back to the tent again rides Duhl.
   "You are open-hearted, aye--moist-handed, a very prince.
   Why should I speak of sale? Be the mare your simple gift!
   My son is pined to death for her beauty; my wife prompts,          40
   Beg for his sake the Pearl! Be God the rewarder, since
   God pays debts seven for one; who squanders on Him shows thrift.'"

   Said Hóseyn, "God gives each man one life, like a lamp, then gives
   That lamp due measure of oil; lamp lighted--hold high, wave wide
   Its comfort for others to share! once quench it, what help is      45
   The oil of your lamp is your son, I shine while Muléykeh lives.
   Would I beg your son to cheer my dark if Muléykeh died?
   It is life against life--what good avails to the life-bereft?"

   Another year, and--hist! What craft is it Duhl designs?
   He alights not at the door of the tent as he did last time,        50
   But, creeping behind, he gropes his stealthy way by the trench
   Half-round till he finds the flap in the folding, for night combines
   With the robber--and such is he: Duhl, covetous up to crime,
   Must wring from Hóseyn's grasp the Pearl, by whatever the wrench.

   "He was hunger-bitten, I heard; I tempted with half my store,      55
   And a gibe was all my thanks. Is he generous like Spring dew?
   Account the fault to me who chaffered with such an one!
   He has killed, to feast chance comers, the creature he rode; nay,
   For a couple of singing-girls his robe has he torn in two--
   I will beg! Yet I nowise gained by the tale of my wife and         60

   "I swear by the Holy House, my head will I never wash
   Till I filch his Pearl away. Fair dealing I tried, then guile,
   And now I resort to force. He said we must live or die;
   Let him die, then--let me live! Be bold--but not too rash!
   I have found me a peeping-place; breast, bury your breathing       65
   I explore for myself! Now, breathe! He deceived me not, the spy!

   "As he said--there lies in peace Hóseyn--how happy! Beside
   Stands tethered the Pearl; thrice winds her headstall about his
   'Tis therefore he sleeps so sound--the moon through the roof reveals.
   And, loose on his left, stands too that other, known far and       70
   Buhéyseh, her sister born; fleet is she yet ever missed
   The winning tail's fire-flash a-stream past the thunderous heels.

   "No less she stands saddled and bridled, this second, in case some
   Should enter and seize and fly with the first, as I mean to do.
   What then? The Pearl is the Pearl--once mount her we both          75
   Through the skirt-fold in glides Duhl--so a serpent disturbs no leaf
   In a bush as he parts the twigs entwining a nest; clean through,
   He is noiselessly at his work; as he planned, he performs the rape.

   He has set the tent-door wide, has buckled the girth, has clipped
   The headstall away from the wrist he leaves thrice bound as        80
   He springs on the Pearl, is launched on the desert like bolt from
   Up starts our plundered man; from his breast though the heart be
   Yet his mind has the mastery. Behold, in a minute more,
   He is out and off and away on Buhéyseh, whose worth we know!

   And Hóseyn--his blood turns flame, he has learned long since       85
        to ride,
   And Buhéyseh does her part--they gain--they are gaining fast
   On the fugitive pair, and Duhl has Ed-Dárraj to cross and quit,
   And to reach the ridge El-Sabán--no safety till that be spied!
   And Buhéyseh is, bound by bound, but a horse-length off at last,
   For the Pearl has missed the tap of the heel, the touch of         90
        the bit.

   She shortens her stride, she chafes at her rider the strange and
   Buhéyseh is mad with hope--beat sister she shall and must,
   Though Duhl, of the hand and heel so clumsy, she has to thank.
   She is near now, nose by tail--they are neck by croup--joy! fear!
   What folly makes Hóseyn shout, "Dog Duhl, Damned son of the        95
   Touch the right ear and press with your foot my Pearl's left flank!"

   And Duhl was wise at the word, and Muléykeh as prompt perceived
   Who was urging redoubled pace, and to hear him was to obey,
   And a leap indeed gave she, and evanished for evermore.
   And Hóseyn looked one long last look as who, all bereaved,        100
   Looks, fain to follow the dead so far as the living may;
   Then he turned Buhéyseh's neck slow homeward, weeping sore.

   And, lo, in the sunrise, still sat Hóseyn upon the ground
   Weeping; and neighbors came, the tribesmen of Bénu-Asád
   In the vale of green Er-Rass, and they questioned him of his      105
   And he told from first to last how, serpent-like, Duhl had wound
   His way to the nest, and how Duhl rode like an ape, so bad!
   And how Buhéyseh did wonders, yet Pearl remained with the thief.

   And they jeered him, one and all: "Poor Hóseyn is crazed past hope!
   How else had he wrought himself his ruin, in fortune's            110
   To have simply held the tongue were a task for boy or girl,
   And here were Muléykeh again, the eyed like an antelope,
   The child of his heart by day, the wife of his breast by night!"--
   "And the beaten in speed!" wept Hóseyn. "You never have loved my


           Wanting is--what?
           Summer redundant,
           Blueness abundant,
           --Where is the blot?
   Beamy the world, yet a blank all the same
   --Framework which waits for a picture to frame;                     5
   What of the leafage, what of the flower?
   Roses embowering with naught they embower!
   Come then, complete incompletion, O comer,
   Pant through the blueness, perfect the summer!
           Breathe but one breath                                     10
           Rose-beauty above,
           And all that was death
           Grows life, grows love,
             Grows love!


     Never the time and the place
       And the loved one all together!
     This path--how soft to pace!
       This May--what magic weather!
     Where is the loved one's face?                                    5
   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,                         10
   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                                             15
     Yet doubt if the Future hold I can?
   This path so soft to pace shall lead
   Through the magic of May to herself indeed!
   Or narrow if needs the house must be,
   Outside are the storms and strangers; we--                         20
   Oh, close, safe, warm sleep I and she
     --I and she!


   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.                                        5

   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?"                     10

   Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
     To give it my loving friends to keep!
   Naught man could do, have I left undone;
     And you see my harvest, what I reap
   This very day, now a year is run.                                  15

   There's nobody on the housetops 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.                               20

   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.                               25

   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.                               30



   Of the million or two, more or less,
   I rule and possess,
   One man, for some cause undefined,
   Was least to my mind.


   I struck him; he groveled, of course--                              5
   For what was his force?
   I pinned him to earth with my weight
   And persistence of hate;
   And he lay, would not moan, would not curse,
   As his lot might be worse.                                         10


   "Were the object less mean, would he stand
   At the swing of my hand!
   For obscurity helps him and blots
   The hole where he squats."
   So I set my five wits on the stretch                               15
   To inveigle the wretch.
   All in vain! Gold and jewels I threw;
   Still he couched there perdue;
   I tempted his blood and his flesh,
   Hid in roses my mesh,                                              20
   Choicest cates and the flagon's best spilth;
   Still he kept to his filth.


   Had he kith now or kin, were access
   To his heart, did I press;
   Just a son or a mother to seize!                                   25
   No such booty as these.
   Were it simply a friend to pursue
   'Mid my million or two,
   Who could pay me in person or pelf
   What he owes me himself!                                           30
   No; I could not but smile through my chafe;
   For the fellow lay safe
   As his mates do, the midge and the nit
     --Through minuteness, to wit.


   Then a humor more great took its place                             35
   At the thought of his face,
   The droop, the low cares of the mouth,
   The trouble uncouth
   'Twixt the brows, all that air one is fain
   To put out of its pain.                                            40
   And, "no!" I admonished myself,
   "Is one mocked by an elf,
   Is one baffled by toad or by rat?
   The gravamen's in that!
   How the lion, who crouches to suit                                 45
   His back to my foot,
   Would admire that I stand in debate!
   But the small turns the great
   If it vexes you--that is the thing!
   Toad or rat vex the king?                                          50
   Though I waste half my realm to unearth
   Toad or rat, 'tis well worth!"


   So I soberly laid my last plan
   To extinguish the man.
   Round his creep-hole, with never a break,                          55
   Ran my fires for his sake;
   Overhead, did my thunder combine
   With my underground mine:
   Till I looked from my labor content
   To enjoy the event.                                                60


   When sudden ... how think ye, the end?
   Did I say "without friend"?
   Say, rather, from marge to blue marge
   The whole sky grew his targe
   With the sun's self for visible boss,                              65
   While an Arm ran across
   Which the earth heaved beneath like a breast
   Where the wretch was safe pressed!
   Do you see? Just my vengeance complete,
   The man sprang to his feet,                                        70
   Stood erect, caught at God's skirts, and prayed!
   --So, _I_ was afraid!


   That second time they hunted me
   From hill to plain, from shore to sea,
   And Austria, hounding far and wide
   Her bloodhounds through the countryside.
   Breathed hot and instant on my trace--                              5
   I made six days a hiding-place
   Of that dry green old aqueduct
   Where I and Charles, when boys, have plucked
   The fireflies from the roof above,
   Bright creeping through the moss they love:                        10
   --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                                    15
   With signal fires; well, there I lay
   Close covered o'er in my recess,
   Up to the neck in ferns and cress,
   Thinking of Metternich our friend,
   And Charles's miserable end,                                       20
   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                                    25
   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,                                 30
   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,                            35
   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;                                 40
   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;                              45
   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;                                         50
   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,                                55
   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,                           60
   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                                 65
   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.                             70
   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,                                     75
   And wait till Tenebræ 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;                                  80
   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                                  85
   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 sunrise                                          90
   Than 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                               95
   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                                100
   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                                 105
   Upon her head--"This faith was shown
   To Italy, our mother; she
   Uses my hand and blesses thee."
   She followed down to the seashore;
   I left and never saw her more.                                    110

       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                                    115
   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.                               120
   I would grasp Metternich until
   I felt his red wet throat distill
   In blood through these two hands. And next
   --Nor much for that am I perplexed--
   Charles, perjured traitor, for his part,                          125
   Should die slow of a broken heart
   Under his new employers. Last
   --Ah, there, what should I wish? For fast
   Do I grow old and out of strength.
   If I resolved to seek at length                                   130
   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                                   135
   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                               140
   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                              145
   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                           150
   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,                              155
   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.                                  160

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


   Round us the wild creatures, overhead the trees,
   Underfoot the moss-tracks--life and love with these!
   I to wear a fawn-skin, thou to dress in flowers;
   All the long lone summer day, that greenwood life of ours!

   Rich-pavilioned, rather--still the world without--                  5
   Inside--gold-roofed, silk-walled silence round about!
   Queen it thou on purple--I, at watch and ward,
   Couched beneath the columns, gaze, thy slave, love's guard!

   So, for us no world? Let throngs press thee to me!
   Up and down amid men, heart by heart fare we!                      10
   Welcome squalid vesture, harsh voice, hateful face!
   God is soul, souls I and thou; with souls should souls have place.


     "The Poet's age is sad: for why?
       In youth, the natural world could show
     No common object but his eye
       At once involved with alien glow--
     His own soul's iris-bow.                                          5

     "And now a flower is just a flower;
       Man, bird, beast are but beast, bird, man
    Simply themselves, uncinct by dower
       Of dyes which, when life's day began,
     Round each in glory ran."                                        10

     Friend, did you need an optic glass,
       Which were your choice? A lens to drape
     In ruby, emerald, chrysopras,
       Each object--or reveal its shape
     Clear outlined, past escape,                                     15

     The naked very thing?--so clear
       That, when you had the chance to gaze,
     You found its inmost self appear
       Through outer seeming--truth ablaze,
     Not falsehood's fancy-haze?                                      20

     How many a year, my Asolo,
       Since--one step just from sea to land--
     I found you, loved yet feared you so--
       For natural objects seemed to stand
     Palpably fire-clothed! No--                                      25

     No mastery of mine o'er these!
       Terror with beauty, like the Bush
     Burning but unconsumed. Bend knees,
       Drop eyes to earthward! Language? Tush!
     Silence 'tis awe decrees.                                        30

     And now? The lambent flame is--where?
       Lost from the naked world; earth, sky,
     Hill, vale, tree, flower--Italia's rare
     O'errunning beauty crowds the eye--
     But flame? The Bush is bare.                                     35

     Hill, vale, tree, flower--they stand distinct,
       Nature to know and name. What then?
     A Voice spoke thence which straight unlinked
       Fancy from fact; see, all's in ken:
     Has once my eyelid winked?                                       40

   No, for the purged ear apprehends
       Earth's import, not the eye late dazed.
     The Voice said, "Call my works thy friends!
       At Nature dost thou shrink amazed?
     God is it who transcends."


   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,                              5
           Trust, that's purer than pearl--
   Brightest truth, purest trust in the universe--all were for me
           In the kiss of one girl.


   At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time,
     When you set your fancies free,
   Will they pass to where--by death, fools think, imprisoned--
     Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so,
           --Pity me?

   Oh, to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken!                       5
     What had I on earth to do
   With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly?
   Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did I drivel

   One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward,
     Never doubted clouds would break,                                10
   Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
   Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
           Sleep to wake.

   No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work time
     Greet the unseen with a cheer!
   Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be,              15
   "Strive and thrive!" cry "Speed--fight on, fare ever
           There as here!"




   Foreign Students.
   Austrian Police.
   LUIGI and his Mother.
   Poor Girls.
   MONSIGNOR and his Attendants.



SCENE.--_A large, mean, airy chamber. A girl_, PIPPA, _from the
silk-mills, springing out of bed_.

   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,                               5
   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,                      10
   Rose, reddened, and its seething breast
   Flickered in bounds, grew gold, than 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                                  15
   (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 labor or leisure,
   Then shame fall on Asolo, mischief on me!                          20

   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                      25
   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                            30
   Me, who am only Pippa--old-year's sorrow,
   Cast off last night, will come again tomorrow;
   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                            35
   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--                  40
   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                        45
   Beats fiercest on her shrub-house windowpane,
   He will but press the closer, breathe more warm
   Against her cheek; how should she mind the storm?
   And, morning past, if midday shed a gloom
   O'er Jules and Phene--what care bride and groom                    50
   Save for their dear selves? 'Tis 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                           55
   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,                         60
   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                              65
   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 Pippa--just one such mischance would spoil
   Her day that lightens the next twelve-month's toil                 70
   At wearisome silk-winding, coil on coil!
     And here I let time slip for naught!
   Aha, you foolhardy sunbeam, caught
   With a single splash from my ewer!
   You that would mock the best pursuer,                              75
   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--                                   80
   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 ...                                         85
   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!                 90
   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!                                      95
   And each fleshy blossom
   Preserve I not--safer
   Than leaves that embower it,
   Or shells that embosom--
   From weevil and chafer?                                           100
   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 today?                     105
   My morn, noon, eve, and night--how spend my day?
   Tomorrow 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;                            110
   I may fancy all day--and 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 hillside yonder, through the morning,
   Someone shall love me, as the world calls love;                   115
   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;                          120
   And therefore, till the shrub-house door uncloses,
   I--what now?--give abundant cause for prate
   About me--Ottima, I mean--of late,
   Too bold, too confident she'll still face down
   The spitefullest of talkers in our town.                          125
   How we talk in the little town below!
     But love, love, love--there'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                         130
   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--                             135
   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                                       140
   Should cover close her pale
   Pure cheeks--a 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?             145
   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                                     150
   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?                       155
   Oh, no--not 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?                              160
   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,                           165
   Commune inside our turret; what prevents
   My being Luigi? While that mossy lair
   Of lizards through the wintertime is stirred
   With each to each imparting sweet intents
   For this new-year, as brooding bird to bird                       170
   (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,                          175
   And schemed for, safe in love as with a charm;
   Let me be Luigi! If I only knew
   What was my mother's face--my father, too!
     Nay, if you come to that, best love of all
   Is God's; then why not have God's love befall                     180
   Myself as, in the palace by the Dome,
   Monsignor?--who tonight 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 tonight at least,                        185
   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:_                          190
     _If now, as formerly he trod_
     _Paradise, his presence fills_
     _Our earth, each only as God wills_
     _Can work--God's puppets, best and worst,_
     _Are we; there is no last nor first._                           195

     _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_                         200
     _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 none--being just as great, no doubt,
   Useful to men, and dear to God, as they!                          205
   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 gray with dew,                                210
   Under the pine-wood, blind with boughs,
   Where the swallow never flew
   Nor yet cicala dared carouse--
   No, dared carouse!                       [_She enters the street_


SCENE.--_Up the Hillside, inside the Shrub-house._ LUCA'S _wife,_
OTTIMA, _and her paramour, the German_ SEBALD.

   _Sebald_ [_sings_].

          _Let the watching lids wink!
           Day's ablaze with eyes, think!
           Deep into the night, drink!_

   _Ottima._ Night? Such may be your Rhineland nights, perhaps;
   But this blood-red beam through the shutter's chink                 5
   --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                      10
   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._             Aye, thus it used to be.
   Ever your house was, I remember, shut                              15
   Till midday; 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.                     20
   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                          25
   And said, "The old man sleeps with the young wife."
   This house was his, this chair, this window--his!

   _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!                30
   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                      35
   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                        40
   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 instance--let those two words mean "His blood"                 45
   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--                            50

   _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 cutthroat, you are--

   _Ottima._                      Here's the wine;
   I brought it when we left the house above,                         55
   And glasses too--wine of both sorts. Black? White then?

   _Sebald._ But am not I his cutthroat? 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,                      60
   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 pass--at first, I say, I used--
   Now, so has that dumb figure fastened on me,                       65
   I rather should account the plastered wall
   A piece of him, so chilly does it strike.
   This, Sebald?

   _Sebald._      No, the white wine--the white wine!
   Well, Ottima, I promised no new year
   Should rise on us the ancient shameful way;                        70
   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                       75
   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?                                               80

   _Sebald._       Hark you, Ottima!
   One thing to guard against. We'll not make much
   One of the other--that 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,                       85
   To show I love you--yes, still love you--love 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                          90
   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 him--am I
   So surely yours?--therefore forever yours?                         95

   _Ottima._ Love, to be wise (one counsel pays another),
   Should we have--months 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                                100

   _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                         105
   In poring now upon it? For 'tis 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                      110
   His two dead hands, and say, "I hate you worse,
   Luca, than"--

   _Sebald._      Off, off--take your hands off mine,
   'Tis the hot evening--off! 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                           115
   Anywhere in the whole wide house tonight.

   _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.                        120

   _Ottima._ This dusty pane might serve for looking-glass.
   Three, four--four gray hairs! Is it so you said
   A plait of hair should wave across my neck?
   No--this way.

   _Sebald._ Ottima, I would give your neck,
   Each splendid shoulder, both those breasts of yours,              125
   That this were undone! Killing! Kill the world,
   So Luca lives again!--aye, lives to sputter
   His fulsome dotage on you--yes, and feign
   Surprise that I return at eve to sup,
   When all the morning I was loitering here--                       130
   Bid me dispatch 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;                         135
   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                         140
   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!                                           145

   _Ottima._          My poor lost friend!

   _Sebald._                               He gave me
   Life, nothing else; 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?                 150
   Could he do less than make pretense to strike?
   'Tis not the crime's sake--I'd commit ten crimes
   Greater, to have this crime wiped out, undone!
   And you--oh, how feel you? Feel you for me?

   _Ottima._ Well then, I love you better now than ever,             155
   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                     160
   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?                       165
   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.                            170
   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 me--your face
   So seemed athirst for my whole soul and body!

   _Ottima._ And when I ventured to receive you here,                175
   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._          Ah--my sign was, the sun
   Inflamed the sear side of yon chestnut-tree                       180
   Nipped by the first frost.

   _Sebald._                   You would always laugh
   At my wet boots: I had to stride through 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,                 185
   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;                  190
   Swift ran the searching tempest overhead;
   And ever and anon some bright white shaft
   Burned through the pine-tree roof, here burned and there,
   As if God's messenger through the close wood screen
   Plunged and replunged his weapon at a venture,                    195
   Feeling for guilty thee and me; then broke
   The thunder like a whole sea overhead--

          *       *       *       *       *

   _Sebald._                                Slower, Ottima!
   Do not lean on me!

   _Ottima._          Sebald, as we lay,
   Who said, "Let death come now! 'Tis right to die!
   Right to be punished! Naught completes such bliss                 200
   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!                             205

   _Sebald._ I kiss you now, dear Ottima, now and now!
   This way? Will you forgive me--be 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                         210
   My great white queen, my spirit's arbitress,

   [_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;_                                     215
           _The hillside'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!_                             220

                                                   [PIPPA _passes_.

   _Sebald._ God's in his heaven! Do you hear that?
   Who spoke?
   You, you spoke!

   _Ottima._        Oh--that 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-mills--their inside?                    225
   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 on--dress, those shoulders!

   _Ottima._                                   Sebald?

   _Sebald._ Wipe off that paint! I hate you.                        230

   _Ottima._                                  Miserable!

   _Sebald._ My God, and she is emptied of it now!
   Outright now!--how miraculously gone
   All of the grace--had she not strange grace once?
   Why, the blank cheek hangs listless as it likes,
   No purpose holds the features up together,                        235
   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 me--not of me.

   _Sebald._ That round great full-orbed face, where not an          240
   Broke the delicious indolence--all broken!

   _Ottima._ To me--not of me! Ungrateful, perjured cheat!
   A coward, too: but ingrate's worse than all!
   Beggar--my slave--a fawning, cringing lie!
   Leave me! Betray me! I can see your drift!                        245
   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,                          250
   And fascinate by sinning, show herself
   Superior--guilt 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,                           255
   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 torments--let the world take credit thence--
   I, having done my deed, pay too its price!                        260
   I hate, hate--curse you! God's in his heaven!

   _Ottima._                               --Me!
   Me! no, no, Sebald, not yourself--kill me!
   Mine is the whole crime. Do but kill me--then
   Yourself--then--presently--first hear me speak
   I always meant to kill myself--wait, you!                         265
   Lean on my breast--not 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 now--quite drowned: all I feel
   Is ... is, at swift-recurring intervals,                          270
   A hurry-down within me, as of waters
   Loosened to smother up some ghastly pit:
   There they go--whirls from a black, fiery sea!

   _Ottima._ Not me--to him, O God, be merciful!

_Talk by the way, while_ PIPPA _is passing from the hillside 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                 5
   suffered to hurt his bride when the jest's found out.

   _2nd Student._ All here! Only our poet's away--never
   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          10
   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,                  15
   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.--_Æsculapius, an Epic. Catalogue
   of the drugs: Hebe's plaister--One strip Cools_                    20
   _your lip. Phoebus's emulsion--One bottle Clears your
   throttle. Mercury's bolus--One 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.                                        25

   _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,                 30
   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 spokesman--the verses              35
   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 again--oh, alone          40
   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            45
   a coxcomb as much as you choose, still, for this mere
   coxcombry, you will have brushed off--what do folks
   style it?--the bloom of his life.

   Is it too late to alter? These love-letters now, you
   call his--I can't laugh at them.                                   50

   _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          55
   girl--loves 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 aspiration;              60
   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?          65

   _Schramm._ Nothing worth keeping is ever lost in this
   world: look at a blossom--it 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,            70
   because its earliest favorite, 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          75
   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                80
   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             85
   day! Canova's gallery--you know: there he marches first
   resolvedly past great works by the dozen without vouchsafing
   an eye; all at once he stops full at the
   pass that old acquaintance without a
   nod of encouragement--"In your new place, beauty?                  90
   Then behave yourself as well here as at Munich--I see
   you!" Next he posts himself deliberately before the unfinished
   _Pietà_ for half an hour without moving, till up he
   starts of a sudden, and thrusts his very nose into--I say,
   into--the group; by which gesture you are informed that            95
   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-joint--and that, likewise,
   has he mastered at length! Good-by, therefore, to poor
   Canova--whose gallery no longer needs detain his successor        100
   Jules, the predestinated novel thinker in marble!

   _5th Student._ Tell him about the women; go on to the

   _1st Student._ Why, on that matter he could never be
   supercilious enough. How should we be other (he said)             105
   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 Greek--real Greek girl at             110
   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 swears--that hag Natalia, who
   helps us to models at three _lire_ an hour. We selected           115
   this girl for the heroine of our jest. So first, Jules received
   a scented letter--somebody had seen his Tydeus at the
   Academy, and my picture was nothing to it: a profound
   admirer bade him persevere--would make herself known to him
   ere long. (Paolina, my little friend of the _Fenice_,             120
   transcribes divinely.) And in due time, the mysterious
   correspondent gave certain hints of her peculiar charms--the
   pale cheeks, the black hair--whatever, in short, had
   struck us in our Malamocco model: we retained her name,
   too--Phene, which is, by interpretation, sea-eagle. Now,          125
   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
   dispatch! I concocted the main of it: relations were in           130
   the way--secrecy must be observed--in fine, would he
   wed her on trust, and only speak to her when they were
   indissolubly united? St--st--Here they come!

   _6th Student._ Both of them! Heaven's love, speak
   softly, speak within yourselves!                                  135

   _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               140
   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              145

   _1st Student._ Oh, Natalia's concern, that is! We settle
   with Natalia.

   _6th Student._ She does not speak--has evidently let
   out no word. The only thing is, will she equally remember         150
   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! Pity--pity!

   _1st Student._ They go in; now, silence! You three--not
   nearer the window, mind, than that pomegranate--just              155
   where the little girl, who a few minutes ago passed
   us singing, is seated!


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 workroom's single seat. I over-lean
   This length of hair and lustrous front; they turn                   5
   Like an entire flower upward: eyes, lips, last
   Your chin--no, last your throat turns: 'tis their scent
   Pulls down my face upon you. Nay, look ever
   This one way till I change, grow you--I could
   Change into you, beloved!
                              You by me,                              10
   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?                        15
   Where must I place you? When I think that once
   This roomfull 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,                   20
   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?                   25
   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,                           30
   Of beauty--to the human archetype.
   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                     35
   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
   Bister and azure by Bessarion's scribe--                           40
   Read this line--no, shame--Homer'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;                           45
   _"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 that--better that will look
   When cast in bronze--an Almaign Kaiser, that,                      50
   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.                              55
   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.                         60
   '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 labored to express your thought.
   Quite round, a cluster of mere hands and arms,                     65
   (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 center: who with eyes
   Sightless, so bend they back to light inside                       70
   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--                          75
   Sings, pausing as the patron-ghosts approve,
   Devoutly their unconquerable hymn.
   But you must say a "well" to that--say "well!"
   Because you gaze--am I fantastic, sweet?
   Gaze like my very life's-stuff, marble--marbly                     80
   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                         85
   Of beauty--to the human archetype.
   On every side occurred suggestive germs
   Of that--the tree, the flower--or take the fruit--
   Some rosy shape, continuing the peach,
   Curved beewise o'er its bough; as rosy limbs,                      90
   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                      95
   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                    100
   More pliable than jelly--as 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                        105
   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               110
   By the swift implement sent home at once,
   Flushes and glowings radiate and hover
   About its track?
                     Phene? what--why is this?
   That whitening cheek, those still dilating eyes!
   Ah, you will die--I knew that you would die!                      115

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.                             120
   Oh, you--what 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,                           125
   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 forever up to them,                               130
   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,                               135
   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!                                                  140
                     But you sink, for your eyes
   Are altering--altered! 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 stay--I will repeat
   Their speech, if that contents you! Only change                   145
   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.                     150
   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,                    155
   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,                               160
   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;                   165
   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                               170
   Where he seeks sweetness' soul, he may find--this!
   --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."                        175
   And so he read what I have got by heart:
   I'll speak it--"Do not die, love! I am yours"--
   No--is 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?                180

           _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--_                       185
           _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,_          190
           _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;_                       195
           _But lo, where I flung myself prone, couched Love_
           _Where the shadow threefold fell._
           _(The meaning--those black bride's-eyes above,_
           _Not a painter's lip should tell!)_

   "And here," said he, "Jules probably will ask,                    200
   '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,_                        205
           _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!_              210
           _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_             215
           _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,_                  220
           _Where my soul may surely reach_
           _The essence, naught less, of each,_
           _The Hate of all Hates, the Love_
           _Of all Loves, in the Valley or Grove--_
           _I find them the very warders_                            225
           _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,_             230
           _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--_                      235
           _Ask this, my Jules, and be answered straight_
           _By thy bride--how the painter Lutwyche can hate!_

                     JULES _interposes_

   Lutwyche! Who else? But all of them, no doubt,
   Hated me: they at Venice--presently
   Their turn, however! You I shall not meet:                        240
   If I dreamed, saying this would wake me.
   What's here, the gold--we 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.                         245
   This--and 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                 250
   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!_
           _How--can this arm establish her above me,_               255
           _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,_
           _"'Tis only a page that carols unseen,_                   260
           _Crumbling your hounds their messes!")_

           _Is she wronged?--To the rescue of her honor,_
           _My heart!_
           _Is she poor?--What costs it to be styled a donor?_
           _Merely an earth to cleave, a sea to part_.               265
           _But that fortune should have thrust all this upon her!_
           _("Nay, list!"--bade Kate the Queen;_
           _And still cried the maiden, binding her tresses,_
           _"'Tis only a page that carols unseen_
           _Fitting your hawks their jesses!")_                      270

                                                   [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                         275
   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;                             280
   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 worshiper,
   The blessing or the blest-one, queen or page,
   Why should we always choose the page's part?                      285
   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,                                     290
   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                  295
   Fastened their image on its passiveness;
   Now, it will wake, feel, live--or die again!
   Shall to produce form out of unshaped stuff
   Be Art--and further, to evoke a soul
   From form be nothing? This new soul is mine!                      300

   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                   305
   Henceforth, not God.
                         To Ancona--Greece--some 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 it--which takes pains to know.                 310
     Scatter all this, my Phene--this mad dream!
   Who, what is Lutwyche, what Natalia's friends,
   What the whole world except our love--my own,
   Own Phene? But I told you, did I not,
   Ere night we travel for your land--some isle                      315
   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 unsuspected isle in the far seas!                            320
   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 now--as now--as now!                          325
   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               5
   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
   faggot, Every tune a jig!_ In fact, I have abjured all religions;
   but the last I inclined to was the Armenian: for                   10
   I have traveled, 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            15
   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: 'twas the Grand
   Rabbi's abode, in short. Struck with curiosity, I lost no
   time in learning Syriac--(these are vowels, you dogs--follow       20
   my stick's end in the mud--_Celarent, 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_               25
   _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 ass returned
   a salaam._" In no wise! "_Shackabrack--Boach--somebody
   or other--Isaach, Re-cei-ver, Pur-cha-ser, and_                    30
   _Ex-chan-ger of--Stolen Goods!_" So, talk to me of the
   religion of a bishop! I have renounced all bishops save
   Bishop Beveridge--mean to live so--and die--_As some
   Greek dog-sage, dead and merry, Hellward bound in
   Charon's wherry with food for both worlds, under and_              35
   _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 Intendant--I possess a
   burning pocketful of _zwanzigers_) _To pay Stygian Ferry!_

   _1st Policeman._ There is the girl, then; go and deserve           40
   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 silk-mills        45
   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.                           50

   _Bluphocks._ Only, cannot you tell me something of
   this little Pippa I must have to do with? One could
   make something of that name. Pippa--that is, short for
   Felippa--rhyming to _Panurge consults Hertrippa--Believest
   thou, King Agrippa?_ Something might be done                       55
   with that name.

   _2nd Policeman._ Put into rhyme that your head and a
   ripe muskmelon would not be dear at half a _zwanziger_!
   Leave this fooling, and look out; the afternoon 's over
   or nearly so.                                                      60

   _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             65
   obstacles in his way"; oblong dot at the end--"Detain
   him till further advices reach you"; scratch at bottom--"Send
   him back on pretense 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                  70
   don't concern myself, but my instructions amount to
   this: if Signor Luigi leaves home tonight 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 tonight--there    75
   has been the pretense we suspect, the accounts of
   his corresponding and holding intelligence with the Carbonari
   are correct, we arrest him at once, tomorrow
   comes Venice, and presently Spielberg. Bluphocks
   makes the signal, sure enough! That is he, entering the            80
   turret with his mother, no doubt.


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, no--in farther,
   Where the echo is made, on the ridge.

   _Luigi._                          Here surely, then.
   How plain the tap of my heel as I leaped up!                        5
   Hark--"Lucius Junius!" The very ghost of a voice
   Whose body is caught and kept by--what are those?
   Mere withered wall flowers, waving overhead?
   They seem an elvish group with thin bleached hair
   That lean out of their topmost fortress--look                      10
   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!"              15

   _Mother._ Let him not meet it, my Luigi--do 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.                                                  20

   _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                            25
   Do A and B not kill him themselves?

   _Luigi._                             They teach
   Others to kill him--me--and, 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?                 30
   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 times--nay, even as now
   We sit--I think my mind is touched, suspect                        35
   All is not sound; but is not knowing that
   What constitutes one sane or otherwise?
   I know I am thus--so, all is right again.
   I laugh at myself as through the town I walk,
   And see men merry as if no Italy                                   40
   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,                        45
   And old quaint turns and passages of my youth,
   Dreams long forgotten, little in themselves,
   Return to me--whatever may amuse me,
   And earth seems in a truce with me, and heaven
   Accords with me, all things suspend their strife,                  50
   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                             55
   This evening, mother!

   _Mother._              But mistrust yourself--
   Mistrust the judgment you pronounce on him!

   _Luigi._ Oh, there I feel--am sure that I am right!

   _Mother._ Mistrust your judgment, then, of the mere means
   To this wild enterprise. Say you are right--                       60
   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                             65
   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?                        70
   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                  75
   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 azure--and that day                               80
   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? 'Tis true--
   Voluptuousness, grotesqueness, ghastliness,                        85
   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 threshold--how?

   _Luigi._             Oh, that's if we conspired!                   90
   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.                               95
   Everyone 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                             100
   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;                       105
   In I shall march--for 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                    110
   Through guards and guards--I 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 pass--they'll never blab                115
   Each to the other, he knows not the favorite,
   Whence he is bound and what's his business now.
   Walk in--straight up to him; you have no knife:
   Be prompt, how should he scream? Then, out with you!
   Italy, Italy, my Italy!                                           120
   You're free, you're free! Oh, mother, I could dream
   They got about me--Andrea 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                              125
   To acquire: he loves himself--and next, the world--
   If he must love beyond--but naught between:
   As a short-sighted man sees naught midway
   His body and the sun above. But you
   Are my adored Luigi, ever obedient                                130
   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--                     135
   (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 telltale cuckoo; spring's his confidant,
   And he lets out her April purposes!)                              140
   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 tonight?                   145
   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                   150
   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                         155
   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 grown--with her blue eyes upturned                    160
   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,_                            165
           _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--_                              170
           _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)_                175
           _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,_                          180
           _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_                  185
           _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 lid and burning cheek,_                    190
           _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_           195
           _On knees and elbows, belly and breast,_
           _Worm-like into the temple--caught_
           _He was by the very god,_
           _Whoever in the darkness strode_
           _Backward and forward, keeping watch_                     200
           _O'er his brazen bowls, such rogues to catch!_
           _These, all and everyone,_
           _The king judged, sitting in the sun._

   _Luigi._ That king should still judge sitting in the sun!

           _His councilors, on left and right,_                      205
           _Looked anxious up--but no surprise_
           _Disturbed the king's old smiling eyes,_
           _Where the very blue had turned to white._
           _'Tis said, a Python scared one day_
           _The breathless city, till he came,_                      210
           _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_                  215
           _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,_                     220
           _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,                   225
   Lurk in by-corners lest they fall his prey.
   Are crowns yet to be won in this late time,
   Which weakness makes me hesitate to reach?
   Tis 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. Poor_ Girls
_sitting on the steps._

   _1st Girl._ There goes a swallow to Venice--the 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 old--somebody I know,
   Grayer and older than my grandfather,                               5
   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:                                 10
   Since had he not himself been late this morning,
   Detained at--never mind where--had he not--
   "Eh, baggage, had I not!"--

   _2nd Girl._                  How she can lie!

   _3rd Girl._ Look there--by the nails!

   _2nd Girl._                  What makes your fingers red?

   _3rd Girl._ Dipping them into wine to write bad words with         15
   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;                   20
   And have new milk to drink, apples to eat,
   Deuzans and junetings, leather-coats--ah, I should say,
   This is away in the fields--miles!

   _3rd Girl._                         Say at once
   You'd be at home--she'd always be at home!
   Now comes the story of the farm among                              25
   The cherry orchards, and how April snowed
   White blossoms on her as she ran. Why, fool,
   They've rubbed the chalk-mark out, how tall you were,
   Twisted your starling's neck, broken his cage,
   Made a dunghill of your garden!

   _1st Girl._                      They destroy                      30
   My garden since I left them? Well--perhaps
   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:                       35
   _Cric_--_cric_--I think I hear the wasps o'erhead
   Pricking the papers strung to flutter there
   And keep off birds in fruit-time--coarse long papers,
   And the wasps eat them, prick them through and through.

   _3rd Girl._ How her mouth twitches! Where was I?--before           40
   She broke in with her wishes and long gowns
   And wasps--would I be such a fool!--Oh, here!
   This is my way: I answer everyone
   Who asks me why I make so much of him--
   (If you say, "you love him"--straight "he'll not be gulled!")      45
   "He that seduced me when I was a girl
   Thus high--had 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--                     50
   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.   55
   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 color--any lighter tint, indeed,                              60
   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                 65
   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!                      70
   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 you--what fun!

   _2nd Girl_ [_sings_].

        _You'll love me yet!--and I can tarry_                        75
          _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_                                80
        _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._                     85
          _What's death? You'll love me yet!_

   _3rd Girl_ [_to_ PIPPA, _who approaches._] Oh, you may
   come closer--we 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.      90


SCENE.--_Inside the Palace by the Duomo._ MONSIGNOR, _dismissing his_

   _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                   5
   mild, very unlike winter weather; but I am a Sicilian, you
   know, and shiver in your Julys here. To be sure, when
   'twas 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             10
   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--                                             15

   _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           20
   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

   _Monsignor._ This night, Ugo. You have managed my                  25
   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         30
   so far back: they will hardly bear looking into, so far back.

   _Monsignor._ Aye, aye, 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,                 35
   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 marvelous change that has happened in his notions
   of Art. Here's his letter: "He never had a clearly conceived       40
   Ideal within his brain till today. Yet since his hand
   could manage a chisel, he has practiced 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           45
   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          50
   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 may--probably will--fail egregiously; but
   if there should arise a new painter, will it not be in some        55
   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!                          60

   _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.             65
   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                70
   other article in those papers--why 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!--                          75

   _Intendant._ I have your brother's hand and seal to all I
   possess: now ask me what for! what service I did him--ask me!

   _Monsignor._ I would better not: I should rip up old
   disgraces, let out my poor brother's weaknesses. By the            80
   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--                         85

   _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                90
   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 rivaled them           95
   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             100
   of their wrong, however; so far as my brother's ill-gotten
   treasure reverts to me, I can stop the consequences
   of his crime--and not one _soldo_ shall escape me. Maffeo,
   the sword we quiet men spurn away, you shrewd knaves
   pick up and commit murders with; what opportunities               105
   the virtuous forego, the villainous 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       110
   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? No--if my cough would but                  115
   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 do it in.       120
   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,               125
   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.                                 130

   _Intendant._ And suppose the villas are not your
   brother's to give, nor yours to take? Oh, you are hasty
   enough just now!

   _Monsignor._ 1, 2--No. 3!--aye, can you read the substance
   of a letter, No. 3, I have received from Rome? It                 135
   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 brother--that the Pontiff enjoins on me not               140
   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          145
   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             150
   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                  155
   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 produce--as
   you say--howsoever, wheresoever, and whensoever.

   _Monsignor._ Liar!                                                160

   _Intendant._ Strike me? Ah, so might a father chastise!
   I shall sleep soundly tonight at least, though the gallows
   await me tomorrow; 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           165
   remonstrate, he will confess all to the good bishop--you!

   _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                  170
   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 you--the girl--here close           175
   at hand; not the stupid obvious kind of killing; do not
   speak--know nothing of her nor of me! I see her every
   day--saw 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 thither--have indeed begun            180
   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
   it--assent I do not say--but you will let me convert my
   present havings and holdings into cash, and give me time          185
   to cross the Alps? Tis 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. 'Tis
   as well settled once and forever. Some women I have               190
   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;_             195
           _There was naught above me, naught below,_
           _My childhood had not learned to know:_
           _For, what are the voices of birds_
           _--Aye, and of beasts--but words, our words,_
           _Only so much more sweet?_                                200
           _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_                         205
           _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 people--one and                  210
   all--all-within there! Gag this villain--tie him hand and
   foot! He dares--I know not half he dares--but
   remove him--quick! _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,
   While winter away;
   But the firefly and hedge-shrew and lobworm, I pray,                5
   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 tomorrow so soon put away!                            10
   But winter hastens at summer's end,
   And firefly, hedge-shrew, lobworm, pray,
   How fare they?
   No bidding me then to--what did Zanze say?
   "Pare your nails pearlwise, get your small feet shoes              15
   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:                    20
   No foreigner, that I can recollect,
   Came, as she says, a month since, to inspect
   Our silk-mills--none with blue eyes and thick rings
   Of raw-silk-colored hair, at all events.
   Well, if old Luca keep his good intents,                           25
   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                        30
   Above us--bound 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, but--ah, but, all the same,                               35
   No mere mortal has a right
   To carry that exalted air;
   Best people are not angels quite:
   While--not the worst of people's doings scare
   The devil; so there's that proud look to spare!                    40
     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 turret--doubtlessly departed                            45
   On some good errand or another,
   For he passed just now in a traveler's trim,
   And the sullen company that prowled
   About his path, I noticed, scowled
   As if they had lost a prey in him.                                 50
   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,                                  55
   Ill or well, I must be content.
     Even my lily's asleep, I vow:
   Wake up--here's a friend I've plucked you!
   Call this flower a heart's-ease now!
   Something rare, let me instruct you,                               60
   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;                                65
   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,                                   70
   I have made her gorge polenta
   Till both cheeks are near as bouncing
   As her--name there's no pronouncing!
   See this heightened color too,
   For she swilled Breganze wine                                      75
   Till her nose turned deep carmine;
   'Twas 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                                      80
   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!                          85
   Day's turn is over, now arrives the night's.
   O lark, be day's apostle
   To mavis, merle, and throstle,
   Bid them their betters jostle
   From day and its delights!                                         90
   But at night, brother owlet; over the woods,
   Toll the world to thy chantry;
   Sing to the bats' sleek sisterhoods
   Full complines with gallantry:
   Then, owls and bats,                                               95
   Cowls and twats,
   Monks and nuns, in a cloister's moods,
   Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!
           [_After she has began to undress herself._
   Now, one thing I should like to really know:
   How near I ever might approach all these                          100
   I only fancied being, this long day--
   Approach, I mean, so as to touch them, so
   As to--in some way ... move them--if you please,
   Do good or evil to them some slight way.
   For instance, if I wind                                           105
   Silk tomorrow, 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.                           110
                               [_As she lies down._
   God bless me! I can pray no more tonight.
   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._                     115

                                                   [_She sleeps._



The poem _Paracelsus_ is divided into five parts, each of which
describes an important period in the experience of Paracelsus, the
celebrated German-Swiss physician, alchemist, and philosopher of the
sixteenth century. Book I tells of the eagerness and pride with which he
set out in his youth to compass all knowledge; he believed himself
commissioned of God to learn Truth and to give it to mankind. Books II
and III show him followed and idolized by multitudes to whom he imparts
the fragments of knowledge he has gained. But though these fragments
seem to his disciples the sum and substance of wisdom, his own mind is
preoccupied with a desolating certainty that he has hardly touched on
the outer confines of truth. In Book IV, after experiencing the
ingratitude of his fickle adherents, he is represented as abjuring the
dreams of his youth. At this point comes the first of the three songs
given in the text. He builds an imaginary altar on which he offers up
the aspirations, the hopes, the plans, with which he had begun his


1-3. _Cassia_ is an unidentified fragrant plant; the wood of the
_sandal_ tree is also fragrant; _labdanum_ or _ladanum_, is a resinous
gum of dark color and pungent odor, exuding from various species of the
cistus, a plant found around the Mediterranean; _aloe-balls_ are made
from a bitter resinous juice extracted from the leaves of aloe-plants;
_nard_ is an ointment made from an aromatic plant and used in the East
Indies. These substances have long been traditionally associated in
literature. In _Psalms_ xlv, 8 we read: "All thy garments smell of
myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they
have made thee glad." Milton in _Paradise Lost_, v, 293, speaks of
"flowering odors, cassia, nard, and balms."

4. _Such balsam_. The meaning of II. 4-8 is obscure. "Sea-side mountain
pedestals" are presumably cliffs. In the tops of the trees on these
cliffs the wind, weary of its rough work on the ocean, has gently
dropped the fragrant things it has swept up from the island.

9-16. In this stanza the faint sweetness from the spices used in
embalming, and the perfume still clinging to the tapestry in an ancient
royal room carry suggestions of vanished power and beauty that add an
appropriate pathos to the richly piled altar on which Paracelsus is to
offer up the "lovely fancies" of his youth. "Shredded" is a transferred
epithet, referring really to "arras," but transferred to the perfume of
the arras.

SONG II. (Book IV)

When Paracelsus confesses the failure of his pursuit of absolute
knowledge, his friend Festus urges him to redeem the past by making new
use of what he has gained; but Paracelsus has no courage to attempt a
reorganization of his life in accordance with a new ideal. His answer to
Festus is the second of the three songs. He afterwards calls it,

   "The sad rhyme of the men who proudly clung
   To their first fault and withered in their pride."

The song is a beautiful and clear allegory, vivid in its pictures, rapid
and musical.

SONG III. (Book V)

In Book V Paracelsus is described as lying ill in the Hospital of St.
Sebastian. Festus is endeavoring to divert the current of his dying
friend's fierce, delirious thoughts into a gentler channel. He brings up
one picture after another of the early happy life of Paracelsus, and
dwells on the grandeur of his mind and achievements, and on the fame
that shall be his. But the desired peace comes only when Festus sings
the song of the river Mayne beside which their youth had been spent. At
the end of the song Paracelsus exclaims,

   "My heart! they loose my heart, those simple words;
   Its darkness passes which naught else could touch."

The Mayne, or Main, is the most important of the right-hand tributaries
of the Rhine. Wurzburg, where Festus and Paracelsus had been as
students, is on its banks. Its University was especially noted for its
medical department. Mr. Stopford Brooke (_The Poetry of Robert
Browning_, p. 99) says of this lovely lyric: "I have driven through that
gracious country of low hill and dale and wide water-meadows, where
under flowered banks only a foot high the slow river winds in
gentleness; and this poem is steeped in the sentiment of the scenery.
But, as before, Browning quickly slides away from the beauty of
inanimate nature into a record of the animals that haunt the streams. He
could not get on long with mountains and rivers alone. He must people
them with breathing, feeling things; anything for life!"


These three, stirring songs represent the gay, reckless loyalty of the
Cavaliers to the cause of King Charles I and their contempt for his
Puritan opposers. The Puritans wore closely cropped hair; hence the
Parliament which came together in 1640 and was controlled by the
opponents of the King, is dubbed "crop-headed." John Pym and John
Hampden were leaders in the struggle against the tyranny of the King.
Hazelrig, Fiennes, and young Sir Henry Vane were also adherents of
Oliver Cromwell. Rupert, Prince of the Palatinate, was a nephew of
Charles I and was a noted cavalry leader on the royal side during the
Civil War. The followers of the King unfurled the royal standard at
Nottingham in August, 1642; Kentish Sir Byng raised a troop and hurried
on to join the main royal army. In September occurred the battle of
Edgehill. The "Noll" (l. 16 of "Give a Rouse") is Oliver Cromwell. The
third song was entitled originally "My Wife Gertrude." It was she who
held the castle of Brancepeth against the Roundheads.


This poem indignantly records a poet's defection from the cause of
progress and liberty. Who this poet might be was for some time a matter
of conjecture. Wordsworth, Southey, and Charles Kingsley, all of whom
had gone from radicalism in their youth to conservatism in their old
age, were severally proposed as the original of Browning's portrait. The
poem was published in 1845, two years after Wordsworth was made poet
laureate. Early in 1845 Wordsworth was presented at court, a proceeding
which aroused comment--sometimes amused, sometimes indignant--from those
who recalled the poet's early scorn of rank and titles. Browning and
Miss Barrett exchanged several gay letters on this subject in May, 1845.
In commenting on a letter from Miss Martineau describing Wordsworth in
his home in 1846, Browning wrote, "Did not Shelley say long ago, 'He had
no more imagination than a pint-pot'--though in those days he used to
walk about France and Flanders like a man. _Now_, he is 'most
comfortable in his worldly affairs' and just this comes of it! He lives
the best twenty years of his life after the way of his own heart--and
when one presses in to see the result of his rare experiment--what the
_one_ alchemist whom fortune has allowed to get all his coveted
materials and set to work at last with fire and melting pot--what he
produces after all the talk of him and the like of him; why, you get
_pulvis et cinis_--a man at the mercy of the tongs and shovel." In later
life, however, Browning spoke of Wordsworth in a different tone. In a
letter to Mr. Grosart, written Feb. 24, 1875, he said, "I have been
asked the question you now address me with, and as duly answered, I
can't remember how many times. There is no sort of objection to one more
assurance, or rather confession, on my part, that I _did_ in my hasty
youth presume to use the great and venerated personality of Wordsworth
as a sort of painter's model; one from which this or the other
particular feature may be selected and turned to account. Had I intended
more--above all such a boldness as portraying the entire man--I should
not have talked about 'handfuls of silver and bits of ribbon.' These
never influenced the change of politics in the great poet--whose
defection, nevertheless, accompanied as it was by a regular face-about
of his special party, was, to my private apprehension, and even mature
consideration, an event to deplore. But, just as in the tapestry on my
wall I can recognize figures which have _struck out_ a fancy, on
occasion, that though truly enough thus derived, yet would be
preposterous as a copy; so, though I dare not deny the original of my
little poem, I altogether refuse to have it considered as the 'very
effigies' of such a moral and intellectual superiority." For an
interesting parallelism in theme, see Whittier's "Ichabod."

20. _Whom._ The reference is to the lower classes, whom the Liberals
were endeavoring to rouse to aspiration and action. The Conservatives
opposed such beginnings of independence.

29. _Best fight on well._ It is the deserting leader who is exhorted to
fight well. Though it is pain to have him desert their party, they have
gloried in his power and it would be an even greater pain to see him
weak. They wish him to fight well even though their cause is thereby


This poem was written during Mr. Browning's first journey to Italy, in
1838. He sailed from London in a merchant vessel bound for Trieste, on
which he found himself the only passenger. The weather was stormy and
for the first fortnight Browning was extremely ill. As they passed
through the straights of Gibraltar the captain supported him upon deck
that he might not lose the sight. Of the Composition of the poem he
says, "I wrote it under the bulwark of a vessel off the African coast,
after I had been at sea long enough to appreciate even the fancy of a
gallop on the back of a certain good horse 'York' there in my stable at
home." The poem was written in pencil on the flyleaf of Bartoli's
_Simboli_, a favorite book of his. Browning says that there was no sort
of historical foundation for the story, but the Pacification of Ghent in
1576 has been suggested as an appropriate background. The incident
narrated could naturally belong to the efforts of the united cities of
Holland, Zealand, and the Southern Netherlands to combat the tyranny of
Philip II.

6. Of this line Miss Barrett wrote: "It drew us out into the night as

13. _'Twas moonset._ The distance from Ghent to Aix is something over a
hundred miles. The first horse gave out at Hasselt, about eighty miles
from Ghent; the second horse failed at Dalhem in sight of Aix. Roland
made the whole distance between midnight of one day and sunset of the
next. The minute notes of time are for dramatic and picturesque effect
rather than as exact indications of progress. Even the towns are not
used with the exactness of a guide-book, for Looz and Tongres are off
the direct route.

17. _Mecheln._ Flemish for Mechlin. The chimes they heard were probably
from the cathedral tower.

41. _Dome-spire._ Over the polygonal monument founded by Charlemagne in
Aix-la-Chapelle is a dome 104 feet high and 48 feet in diameter. The
reference is probably to this dome.


This poem and "Sibrandus Schafnaburgensis," a companion poem, appeared
in _Hood's Magazine_, July, 1844, under the title of "Garden Fancies."
"The Flower's Name" is a description of a garden by a lover whose
conception of its beauty is heightened and made vital by the memories it
enshrines. Of this poem Miss Barrett wrote to Browning, "Then the
'Garden Fancies'--some of the stanzas about the name of the flower, with
such exquisite music in them, and grace of every kind--and with that
beautiful and musical use of the word 'meandering,' which I never
remember having seen used in relation to sound before. It does to mate
with your '_simmering_ quiet' in _Sordello_, which brings the summer air
into the room as sure as you read it." (_Letters of R. B. and E. B. B._,
I, 134.)

10. _Box._ An evergreen shrub, dwarf varieties of which are used for low
hedges or the borders of flower-beds.


These poems were published originally simply as "Night" and "Morning."
The second of these love lyrics is somewhat difficult to interpret. If
the man is speaking, the "him" in l. 3 must refer to the sun. In any
case, after the isolation with the woman he loved as described in the
first poem, there comes with the morning a sense of the world of action
to which the man must return. The two poems are fully discussed in
_Poet-Lore_, Volume VII, April, May, June-July. The poems are noteworthy
for the fusion of human emotion and natural scenery and for the
startlingly specific phrasing of the first quatrain.


In this lyric are embodied Browning's faith in personal immortality, his
belief in the permanence of true love and in the value of love though
unrequited in this world.

34. _What meant._ From this point on through line 52 the lover repeats
what he shall say to Evelyn Hope when in the life to come he claims


A man is on his way across the fields to a turret where he is to meet
the girl he loves. As he walks through the solitary pastures he mentally
recreates the powerful life and varied interests of the city which,
tradition has it, once occupied this site, and he seems to be absorbed
in a melancholy recognition of the evanescence of human glory. The girl
is not mentioned till stanza 5. Does the emphasis on the scenery and its
historic associations unduly minimize the love element of the poem? Or
is the whole picture of vanished joy and woe, pride and defeat, but a
background against which stands out more clearly the rapture of the
meeting in the ruined turret?

80. _Earth's returns._ This phrase refers to the ruins which are all
that now remains of the centuries of folly, noise, and sin. "Them" in l.
81 refers apparently to the "fighters" and the others of the first part
of the stanza.


"It is an admirable piece of work crowded with keen descriptions of
Nature in the Casentino, and of life in the streets of Florence. And
every piece of description is so filled with the character of the
'Italian person of quality' who describes them--a petulant, humorous,
easily angered, happy, observant, ignorant, poor gentleman--that
Browning entirely disappears. The poem retains for us in its verse, and
indeed in its light rhythm, the childlikeness, the naïveté, the simple
pleasures, the ignorance and the honest boredom with the solitudes of
Nature--of a whole class of Italians, not only of the time when it was
written, but of the present day. It is a delightful, inventive piece of
gay and pictorial humor." (Stopford Brooke, _The Poetry of Browning_, p.

33. _Corn._ In Great Britain the word is generally applied to wheat,
rye, oats, and barley, not to maize as in America.

34. _Stinking hemp._ In Chapter I of James Lane Allen's _The Reign of
Law_ is the following passage on the odor of the hemp-field: "And now
borne far through the steaming air floats an odor, balsamic, startling:
the odor of those plumes and stalks and blossoms from which is exuding
freely the narcotic resin of the great nettle." When the long swaths of
cut hemp lies across the field, the smell is represented as strongest,
"impregnating the clothing of the men, spreading far throughout the
air." To many this odor is essentially unpleasant.

42. _Pulcinello-trumpet._ Pulcinello was originally the clown in the
Neapolitan comedy. Later he became the Punch in Punch and Judy shows.
The trumpet announces that one of these puppet plays is to be given in
the public square.

43. _Scene-picture._ A picture advertising the new play.

44. _Liberal thieves._ Members of the liberal party, the party striving
for Italian independence. The Person of Quality is, of course, of the
aristocratic party.

47. _A sonnet._ Laudatory poetical tributes with ornamental borders were
posted in public places as a method of doing homage. In this case the
unknown "Reverend Don So-and-so" is ranked by his admirer with Dante,
Boccaccio, and Petrarch, the greatest Italian poets; with St. Jerome,
one of the most celebrated Fathers of the Latin Church; with Cicero, one
of the greatest of Roman orators; and with St. Paul, the greatest of
Christian preachers.

51. _Our Lady._ The seven swords represent symbolically the seven
sorrows of the Virgin Mary, but this Person of Quality regards the gilt
swords and the smart pink gowns merely as gay decorations. Religious
processions of the sort described here and in lines 60-64 are frequent
in European countries.

55. _It's dear._ According to the system of taxation in Italy, town dues
must be paid on all provisions brought into the city.

60. _Yellow candles._ Used at funerals and in penitential processions in
the Roman Church.


Mrs. Ireland says of this poem: "The Toccata as a form of composition is
not the measured, deliberate working-out of some central musical theme
as is the Sonata or _sound_-piece. The _Toccata_, in its early and pure
form, possessed no decided subject, made such by repetition, but bore
rather the form of a capricious Improvisation, or 'Impromptu.'" ("A
Toccata of Galuppi's" by Mrs. Alexander Ireland, published in _London
Browning Society Papers_.)

1. _Galuppi._ Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1784) was an Italian composer
born near Venice. He spent many years in England and Russia. In 1768 he
became organist at St. Mark's, Venice.

4. _Your old music._ At the sound of the music Browning imaginatively
re-creates the Venetian social life of the eighteenth century.

6. _St. Mark's._ The great cathedral. The Doge of Venice used to throw a
ring into the sea from the ship _Bucentaur_ to "denote that the Adriatic
was subject to the republic of Venice as a wife is subject to her

8. _Shylock's bridge._ The Rialto, a bridge over the Grand Canal. It has
two rows of shops under arcades.

18. _Clavichord._ An instrument with keys and strings, something like a

19-30. The musical terms in these lines show Browning's knowledge of the
technicalities of the art. To one without such expert knowledge the
exact musical connotation is doubtless obscure. But the epithets and
phrases are in themselves sufficient to suggest the varying moods of
the Venetian merrymakers. The plaintiveness, the sighs, the sense of
death, the trembling hope that life may last, the renewed love-making,
the new round of futile pleasures or evil deeds, the end of it all in
the grave, are clearly brought forth. An elaborate explanation of the
musical terms is given in the notes to the Camberwell edition of
Browning's poems.

31. _But when I sit down to reason._ The first thirty lines of the poem
have recorded the effect of the music in re-creating in the poet's
imagination the gay, careless life of eighteenth century Venice, and its
close in death. Now when the poet endeavors to turn from that picture of
death lurking under smiles, he finds that the cold music has filled his
mind with an inescapable sense of the futility of life, and even his own
chosen mental activities seem to him, along with the rest, hardly more
than dust and ashes. Ambition and enthusiasm fade before the spell of
the music.


3. _Aloed arch._ The genus aloe includes trees, shrubs, and herbs. The
American variety is the century-plant. Browning's hill-side villa
evidently had aloes trained to grow in an arch.

15. _The startling bell-tower Giotto raised._ Giotto began the Campanile
in 1334, and after his death in 1337 the work was continued by Andrea
Pisano. Its striking beauty impresses the poet as he looks out over the
city. But it does more than that, for it rouses in him reflections on
the progress and meaning of art.

17-24. The address to Giotto, thrown in here as it is with
conversational freedom, is partially explained in lines 184-248. See
note on l. 236.

30. _By a gift God grants me._ The power to re-create vividly and
minutely the past. The artists of bygone centuries are called back by
his imagination to their old haunts in Florence.

44. _Stands One._ The "one" (l. 44), "a lion" (l. 47), "the wronged
great soul" (l. 48), and "the wronged great souls" (l. 58), all refer to
the unappreciated early artists.

50. _They._ That is, the famous great artists such as Michael Angelo and
Raphael. Critics "hum and buzz" around them with praise to which they
are indifferent.

59. _Where their work is all to do._ Their place in the development of
art is not yet understood. It must be made clear, Browning thinks, that
painters like Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) come in natural succession
from earlier obscure artists like Dello, that art is a real and
continuous record of the human mind and heart.

67. _The mastiff girns._ When some influential critic snarls, all the
imitative inferior critics take the same tone. Cf. Shelley's "Adonais,"
stanzas 28, 37, 38.

69. _Stefano._ A pupil of Giotto and called "Nature's ape" because his
accurate representations of the human body.

72. _Vasari._ Author of _Lives of the Most Eminent Painters and
Sculptors_. (Published 1550. Translated by Mrs. Foster in _Bohn's
Library_.) In his studies of art Browning made constant use of this

76. _Sic transit. Sic transit gloria mundi._ "So passes away the glory
of the world."

84. _In fructu._ "As fruit." The fruit of Greek art at its best was that
it presented in marble ideally perfect human bodies.

98. _Theseus._ The kingly statue of the reclining Theseus in the frieze
of the Parthenon.

99. _Son of Priam._ In the sculptures of Æsina, Paris, the son of Priam,
kneeling and drawing his bow, has a grace beyond that of any man who
might think to pose as a model.

101. _Apollo._ At Delphi Apollo slew an enormous python.

102. _Niobe._ Through the vengeance of Apollo and Diana, Niobe's seven
sons and seven daughters were all slain. In the Imperial Gallery of
Florence there is a statue of Niobe clasping her last child.

103. _The Racer's frieze._ In the Parthenon.

104. _The dying Alexander._ A piece of ancient Greek sculpture at

108. _To submit is a mortal's duty._ The supreme beauty of the statues
led men to content themselves with admiration and imitation.

113. _Growth came._ New life came to art when men ceased to rest in the
perfect achievement of the past, and found a new realm opened up to them
in representing the subtler activities of the soul. Lines 145-152 state
the ideals that actuated the new art. The reference is to the religious
art of the Italian Renaissance.

115-144. These lines sum up the reasons for the importance of the art
that strives "to bring the invisible full into play" (l. 150). It may be
rough-hewn and faulty; but it is greater and grander than Greek art
because of its greater range, variety, and complexity, and because it
reaches beyond any possible present perfection into eternity.

134. _Thy one work ... done at a stroke._ Giotto when asked for a proof
of his skill to send to the Pope, drew with one stroke of his brush a
perfect circle, whence the proverb, "Rounder than the O of Giotto."

156. _Quiddit._ Quibble. The humorous rhyme "did it--quiddit" is but one
of the many whimsical rhyming effects in the poem. The use of a light,
semi-jocose form to give the greater emphasis to serious subject-matter
is characteristic of Browning. Lowell in "A Fable for Critics" employs
the same device.

161-176. Not Browning's usual attitude. Even this poem is a deification
of progress through effort, not through repose.

178. _Art's spring-birth._ Nicolo the Pisan and Cimabue lived in the
second half of the thirteenth century. From them to Ghiberti
(1381-1455), who made the famous bronze doors of the Baptistry at
Florence, and Ghirlandajo (1449-1494), a Florentine fresco painter, was
a period in which Browning was especially interested. Mrs. Orr says that
he owned pictures by all the artists mentioned here.

192. _Italian quicklime._ Many of the fine old Italian fresco paintings
have been whitewashed over.

198. _Dree._ The pictures "endure" the doom of captivity. But they might
be ferreted out if the ghosts of the old painters would only indicate
where the lost works are.

201-224. He does not hope to get pictures of the famous Florentine
painters, Bigordi (probably another name for Ghirlandajo), Sandro,
Botticelli, Lippino (son of Fra Lippo Lippi), or Fra Angelico. But he
might hope for better success in finding pieces by the obscure painters
mentioned in lines 205-224. These painters are so described that we know
concerning each one, some characteristic quality or work.

206. _Intonaco._ The plaster that forms the ground for fresco work.

214. _Tempera._ A pigment mixed with some vehicle soluble in water
instead of with oil as in oil paintings.

218. _Barret._ A kind of cap.

230. _Zeno._ The founder of the sect of Stoics, and hence supposedly not
stirred by "naked High Art."

232. _Some clay-cold vile Carlino._ Commercial dealers in art are
unmoved by true beauty, but they go into ecstasies over uninspired work
like that of Carlino. (Carlo Dólci, 1616-1686.)

236. _A certain precious little tablet._ Mr. Browning wrote to Professor
Corson that this was a lost "Last Supper" praised by Vasari. The stanza
in which this line occurs explains ll. 17-24.

237. _Buonarroti._ Michael Angelo.

241. _San Spirito_, etc. "Holy Spirit" and "All Saints," old churches in

244. _Detur amanti._ "Let it be given to the one who loves it."

245. _Koh-i-noor._ A famous Indian diamond presented to Queen Victoria
in 1850.

246. _Jewel of Giamschid._ The splendid fabulous ruby of Sultan
Giamschid, sometimes called "The Cup of the Sun" and "The Torch of
Night." Byron ("The Giaour") says that the dark eyes of Leila were
"bright as the jewel of Giamschid." The carbuncle of Giamschid is one of
the treasures sought by the Caliph in Beckford's _Caliph Vathek_.

246. _The Persian Sofi._ The Sufi or Sofi is a title or surname of the
Shah of Persia.

249. _A certain dotard_, etc. Radetsky (1766-1858) was in 1849-1857
governor of the Austrian possessions in Upper Italy. "The worse side of
the Mont St. Gothard" is the Swiss side. "Morello" is a mountain near
Florence. There had been frequent insurrections against Austria, but
they had been fruitless. Browning prophesies the time when there shall
be a great national council (a Witanagemot) by which, when Freedom has
been restored to Florence, a new and vigorous Art shall be brought in.
It will then be perceived that a monarchy nourishes the false and
monstrous in art, and that "Pure Art" must come from the people.

258. _The stone of Dante._ The stone where Dante used to draw his chair
out to sit. For this and other references in stanza XXXIV see Mrs.
Browning's "Casa Guidi Windows," Part I. In this poem she suggests "a
parliament of the lovers of Italy."

260. _Quod videas ante_--"Which you may have seen before."

263. _Hated house._ The poet hates the rule of the House of Lorraine,
and prefers the days of the painter Orgagna, in the fourteenth century,
when Italy was free.

273. _Tuscan._ The literary language of Italy and not given to
superlatives such as are indicated by "_issimo_."

275. _Cambuscan:_ a reference to "The Squire's Tale," left unfinished by

276. _Alt to altissimo._ "High to highest."

277. _Beccaccia._ A woodcock.

281. _Shall I be alive._ According to Giotto's plan the tower was to
have had a spire fifty braccia or cubits (about 95 feet) high. This
spire has never been built.


The whole phrase is _De gustibus non disputandum_--"there is no
disputing about tastes." Browning is writing to a friend who prefers an
English landscape while the poet himself declares in favor of Italy.

2. _If our loves remain._ If we have a life after death.

4. _A cornfield._ The picture is a field of wheat with red poppies
scattered through the wheat.

23. _Cypress._ It is interesting to note how many of the trees, shrubs,
flowers, and fruits in Browning's poems are those of southern Europe.
His poetry of nature is almost as distinctively Italian as Tennyson's is
English. "The Englishman in Italy" is especially rich in vivid,
picturesque details of southern scenes.

36. _Liver-wing._ The right wing. The shot hit the king in the right

37. _Bourbon._ Mr. and Mrs. Browning were rejoicing at any indications
that the people of Italy were awake to revolt against the Bourbons. See
Mrs. Browning's "Casa Guidi Windows" and "First News from Villa Franca"
and Mr. Browning's "The Italian in England."

40. _Queen Mary's saying._ For two hundred years Calais had been one of
England's most important possessions. It was taken by the French in
1588, the last year of the reign of Queen Mary. What Queen Mary said of
Calais, Browning says of Italy.


Compare the sentiment of this poem with that of "De Gustibus--" written
ten years later. In "Home Thoughts from Abroad" we have one of
Browning's rare uses of the scenery of his own country.

14. _That's the wise thrush._ The power of these lines in presenting
both the musical and the emotional quality of the bird's song is rivaled
only by Wilson Flagg's "The Bobolink" (quoted in John Burroughs's _Birds
and Poets_) and Wordsworth's "To the Cuckoo."


This poem and the preceding one express two phases of the poet's love of
country; his affection for the physical beauty of England, and his pride
in her political freedom. In the first poem, he turns, in thought, from
the glowing color of Italy, to the more delicate loveliness of England
in April; in the second poem, he longs to repay the service his country
has rendered him in defeating foreign foes.

"Home-Thoughts from the Sea" was written at the same time and under the
same circumstances as "How they brought the Good News from Ghent to
Aix." The poet, aboard a vessel coasting along the shore of Africa,
could see to the northwest the Portuguese Cape Vincent, near which, in
1797, England won a naval victory over Spain; southeast of Cape Vincent,
on the Spanish coast, Cadiz Bay, where, in 1796, England defeated the
second Spanish Armada; and southeast of Cadiz Bay, Cape Trafalgar,
where, in 1805, Nelson won a famous victory over the allied fleets of
France and Spain. To the northeast, the poet could see Gibraltar, the
great fortress which England acquired from Spain by the Peace of
Utrecht, 1713.


1. _Abner._ The cousin of Saul and the commander of his army. _I Samuel_
xiv, 50.

9. _Saul and the Spirit._ For the conflict between Saul and the evil
spirit, and the refreshment that came to him when David played, see _I
Samuel_ xvi, 14-23.

12. _Gracious gold hair._ For the personal appearance of David, see _I
Samuel_ xvi, 12, 18; xvii, 42.

12. _Those lilies ... blue._ Mrs. Coleridge wrote to Mr. Kenyon to know
whether Mr. Browning had any authority for "blue lilies." Mr. Browning
answered, "Lilies are of all colors in Palestine--one sort is
particularized as _white_ with a dark blue spot and streak--the water
lily, lotus, which I think I meant, is _blue_ altogether." (_Letters of
R. B. and E. B. B._, i, 523, 556.)

31. _The king-serpent._ Probably the boa-constrictor. In poetry the
characteristic most often attributed to a snake is malignancy. But in
this picture of the serpent lying dormant and waiting for the sloughing
of its old skin in the springtime, when it will come forth with new
beauty and power, the idea presented is that of tremendous force
temporarily in abeyance.

42. _Then the tune._ The boy, alone in the field, tries all sorts of
experiments in musical attraction on the animals about him. Professor
Albert S. Cook suggests that Browning is here indebted to the Greek
pastoral romance of _Daphnis and Chloe_. See Smith's translation in the
Bohn edition. The passages read in part as follows: "He ran through all
variations of pastoral melody; he played the tune which the oxen obey,
and which attracts the goats--that in which the sheep delight.

"He took his pipe from his scrip, and breathed into it very gently. The
goats stood still, merely lifting up their heads. Next he played the
pasture tune, upon which they all put down their heads and began to
graze. Now he produced some notes soft and sweet in tone; at once his
herd lay down. After this he piped in a sharp key, and they ran off to
the woods as if a wolf were in sight." These quotations serve at least
to show how old is the fancy that animals are affected by music.

60. The service enjoined on the men of the House of Levi is described in
_I Chronicles_ xxiii, 24-32.

65. _Male-sapphires._ The male sapphire exhibits, through some
peculiarity of crystalline structure, a star of bright rays. It is also
known as "the star sapphire" and "the asteriated sapphire." The ruby
shows a clear red light at the center.

76. _Locust-flesh._ In _Leviticus_, Chapter xi, are given the laws
concerning "what beasts may and what may not be eaten." See verse 22 for
the rule about locusts. Cf. _Matthew_ iii, 4 for the food of John the

102. _The cherubim chariot._ The first chapter of _Ezekiel_ seems to be
the source of this picture.

105. _Have ye seen_, etc. The simile in lines 104-115 could have been
written only by one familiar with mountain regions. Browning knew the
Alps and Apennines. Did David at any time live in a mountainous country?

124. _Slow pallid sunsets._ Note the character of the similitudes so far
used in describing Saul. In his agony he is like the king-serpent. His
rage is like the earthquake that may tear open the rock but at the same
time sets the gold free. His final release from the evil spirit is
described by the sudden fall of the avalanche from the mountain summit.
The look in his eyes as he comes back to life, yet seeing nothing in
life to desire, is compared to pale autumn sunsets seen over the ocean,
or to slow sunsets seen over a desolate hill country. All the figures
contribute to our impression of Saul's power and majesty.

141. _Since my days_, etc. Compare this passage with _Pippa Passes_,
Prologue, 104-113.

172. _Carouse in the past._ This line marks a change in the direction of
David's thought. Up to stanza X it was the glorious past that he had
been urging upon Saul's attention. But now he realizes that true
inspiration comes not so much from a re-living of one's achievements, as
from the thought of the permanence of one's fame and one's deeds.

192. _And behold while I sang._ At this point David is overcome by the
memory of the sudden spiritual illumination that came to him in his
interview with Saul. He had reached the summit of his endeavor (l. 191)
and yet knew himself powerless to give the King new life. Then there
flashed upon him the truth expressed in stanzas XVII-XIX. He breaks off
in lines 192-205, going, in his strong feeling, ahead of his story and
commenting on what is described in stanza XIX. In stanza XV he resumes
his narrative.

204. _Hebron._ David watches the slow coming of the dawn over the hill
on which is situated the town of Hebron.

205. _Kidron._ A brook near Jerusalem. It is fed by springs, and the
amount of water in it is sensibly decreased by the extreme heat of the

214. _Ere error had bent._ In _I Samuel_, Chapter xv, is an account of
Saul's disobedience and punishment. The choosing of Saul to be king is
described in _I Samuel_, Chapters ix and x.

292. _Sabaoth._ The word means "hosts" and is ordinarily used in the
phrase "The Lord of hosts." It represents the omnipotence of God.

303. _Nor leave up nor down_, etc. At the end of stanza xv, the thought
that had come to David was that God had proved supreme in all the ways
in which a human being could test knowledge and power, but that in the
one way of love the creature might surpass the Creator. At line 302 he
has come to believe in the infinitude of God's love as well as in the
infinitude of His power. It is interesting to note that George Eliot in
_Silas Marner_ gives to ignorant Dolly Winthrop an experience and a
philosophy of life almost identical with those of Browning's David.

307-312. A prophecy of the revelation of the divine in the human, the
coming of God in the person of Christ. It is the human in the divine
that men seek and love. In the Old Testament days such an idea, though
foretold and longed for, could be but vaguely conceived except in
moments of especial insight in the minds of poet-prophets like David.
Mr. Herford (_Robert Browning_, p. 120) says of this passage:

"David is occupied with no speculative question, but with the practical
problem of saving a ruined soul; and neither logical ingenuity nor
divine suggestion, but the inherent spiritual significance of the
situation, urges his thought along the lonely path of prophecy. The love
for the old King, which prompted him to try all the hidden paths of his
soul in quest of healing, becomes a lighted torch by which he tracks out
the meaning of the world and the still unrevealed purposes of God; until
the energy of thought culminates in vision and the Christ stands full
before his eyes."

313-335. In this stanza David represents all existences, good and evil
spirits, all animals, all forms of nature, as stirred by the great news
of the future manifestation of the love of God as shown in Christ.


A love lyric generally supposed to refer to Mrs. Browning.

4. _The angled spar._ A prism. In looking at a prism the colors one sees
are determined by the point of view. The idea of the poem is amplified
in "One Word More," stanzas xvi-xviii.


The Campagna, a plain around the city of Rome, was in ancient times the
seat of many cities; it is now dotted with ruins. "There is a solemnity
and beauty about the Campagna entirely its own. To the reflective mind,
this ghost of old Rome is full of suggestion; its vast, almost limitless
extent as it seems to the traveler; its abundant herbage and floral
wealth in early spring; its desolation, its crumbling monuments, and its
evidences of a vanished civilization, fill the mind with a sweet
sadness, which readily awakens the longing for the infinite spoken of in
the poem." (Berdoe, _Browning Cyclopædia_, p. 553.)

6. _I touched a thought._ The elusive thought which he fancifully
pursues from point to point in the surrounding landscape finds statement
in lines 34-60. Of these lines Sharp (_Life of Browning_, p. 159) says,
"There is a gulf which not the profoundest search can fathom, which not
the strongest-winged love can overreach: the gulf of individuality. It
is those who have loved most deeply who recognize most acutely this
always pathetic and often terrifying isolation of the soul. None save
the weak can believe in the absolute union of two spirits ... No man, no
poet assuredly, could love as Browning loved, and fail to be aware,
often with vague anger and bitterness, no doubt, of this insuperable
isolation even when spirit seemed to leap to spirit, in the touch of a
kiss, in the evanishing sigh of some one or other exquisite moment."


"Another poem of waiting love is 'In Three Days.' And this has the
spirit of a true love lyric in it. It reads like a personal thing; it
breathes exaltation; it is quick, hurried, and thrilled. The delicate
fears of chance and changes in the three days, or in the years to come,
belong of right and nature to the waiting, and are subtly varied and
condensed. It is, however, the thoughtful love of a man who can be
metaphysical in love." (Stopford Brooke, _The Poetry of Robert
Browning_, p. 253.)


_Fano._ This poem was written in the summer of 1848 after a visit of
three days at Fano. It is addressed to Alfred Domett, one of Browning's
warm friends, who was at that time in New Zealand on the Wairoa River.
For a vivid description of him see Browning's "Waring." The picture at
Fano, the details of which are fully brought out in the poem, has been
reproduced in _Illustrations to Browning's Poems_, Part I, published by
the Browning Society. Mrs. Browning (_Letters_ i, 380) speaks of it as
"a divine picture of Guercino's worth going all that way to see."

6. _Another child for tending._ With a longing for guidance and
protection Browning imagines himself as a child under the guardianship
of the angel.

16. _Like that child._ The child in the picture looks into the heavens.
Browning would look only at the gracious face of the angel.

46. _My angel._ Cf. "My love," l. 54. Both refer to Mrs. Browning.


_Pauline_ (1832) has many references to Shelley; note especially lines
151-229; 1020-1031. Browning's "Essay on Shelley" appeared in 1852.
"Memorabilia" was composed in 1853-4.

18-28. That later in life Browning "came to think unfavorably of Shelley
as a man and to esteem him less highly as a poet" is shown by a letter
written to Dr. Furnivall: "For myself I painfully contrast my notions of
Shelley the _man_ and Shelley, well, even the _poet_, with what they
were sixty years ago." (Quoted by Mr. Dowden: _Robert Browning_, p. 10.)
Mr. Browning declined an invitation to be president of the Shelley
Society. For a discussion of Shelley's influence on Browning see
_Poet-Lore_, Volume VII, January, 1895.


Ratisbon, a city of Bavaria, was stormed by Napoleon in 1809. The story
told in the poem is a true one, but its hero was a man, not a boy.


The original title in _Dramatic Lyrics_, 1842, was "Italy." It is a poem
of the Italian Renaissance. Frà Pandolf and Claus of Innsbruck are,
however, imaginary artists.


There is no known original for the story of Theocrite, but it is in
accord with the Roman Catholic belief that angels watch over human
beings and are interested in their affairs. In the last line is the
fundamental lesson of the poem. Compare the thought of Pippa in the song
"All service ranks the same with God." See Leigh Hunt's "King Robert of
Sicily" (in _A Jar of Honey_, ch. vi.) and Longfellow's "King Robert of
Sicily" (in _Tales of a Wayside Inn_) for an analogous legend.


This poem was written to amuse little Willie Macready who was ill and
wished a poem for which he could make illustrations. There are many
legends that deal with the refusal of a reward promised to a magician
for some stipulated service. Mr. Berdoe (_Browning Cyclopædia_, p. 339)
says that the story given here is based on an account by Verstegan in
his _Restitution of Decayed Intelligence_ (1634). Verstegan gives
"Bunting" as the name of the piper; the town, as Hamelin in Brunswick on
the Weser; and the mountain into which the children were led as the


When Mr. Browning was little more than a child he heard a woman one Guy
Fawkes's Day sing, in the street a strange song whose burden was
"Following the Queen of the Gypsies, O!" The singular refrain haunted
his memory for many years, and out of it was ultimately born this poem.

6-31. The Duke's medieval castle was apparently in Northern Germany,
near the sea.

78. _Rough-foot merlin._ A species of hawk formerly trained to pursue
other birds and game. A "falcon-lanner" is a long-tailed hawk. The word,
when used in falconry, is restricted to the female hawk, which is larger
than the male.

101. _Struck at himself._ Amazed at his own importance.

130. _Urochs._ The aurochs, the European bison, a species nearly extinct
but preserved in the forests of Lithuania and the Caucasus. The "buffle"
is the buffalo.

135-153. Compare this lady with the one in "My Last Duchess."

216. _Well, early in autumn._ In writing "The Flight of the Duchess"
Browning was interrupted by a friend on some important business which
temporarily drove the story out of the poet's mind. Some months after
the publication of the first part in _Hood's Magazine_, April, 1845, he
was staying at Bettisfield Park in Shropshire when someone in commenting
on the early approach of winter said that already the deer had to break
the ice in the pond. This chance phrase roused the poet's fancy, and
when he returned home he completed his poem.

238. _St. Hubert._ Before his conversion St. Hubert had been
passionately fond of hunting; hence he became the patron saint of

240-247. "The jerkin" or short coat; the "trunk-hose," or full breeches
extending from the waist to the middle of the thigh; the big rimless
hats with broad projections back and front and highly ornamented, were
medieval articles of attire revived by the Duke for his "Middle Age"
hunting party.

249. _Venerers, Prickers, and Verderers_ are ancient names for huntsmen,
horsemen, and preservers of venison.

263. _Horns wind a mort._ Horns announce the death of the stag; "at
siege" probably means "brought to the appointed station." Possibly it
means "at bay," in which case "wind a mort" must mean "announce that the
death of the stag is imminent."

264. _Prick forth._ Spur her horse forth. She was to ride a jennet, a
small Spanish horse known in the Middle Ages.

315. _Quince-tinct._ Tincture of quince was used as a cosmetic.

322. _Fifty-part canon._ "Mr. Browning explained that a 'canon, in
music, is a piece wherein the subject is repeated in various keys, and
being strictly obeyed in the repetition, becomes the canon, the
imperative law to what follows.' Fifty of such parts would be indeed a
notable peal; to manage three is enough of an achievement for a good
musician." Berdoe, _Browning Cyclopædia_: page 180.

480. _The band-roll._ Her head was ornamented with a band on which were
strung Persian coins.

533. _Gor-crow's flappers._ Wings of carrion crow.

581. _Like the spots._ Effects of phosphorescence.

845. _I have seen my little lady._ It is not clear where or when he saw
her. Possibly he refers only to his revived memory of her.

852. _And ... floats me._ This construction is what is known as the
"ethical dative." The old servant merely says in jocose fashion that
telling his story has made his blood course more rapidly and freely.


_The Revival of Learning._ The Revival of Learning, or the Renaissance,
began as early as the tenth century. Its period of most rapid progress
was from the twelfth century to the fifteenth. One phase of the interest
in the revival of learning was the effort to restore Latin to its
ancient purity. The word "grammarian" was more widely inclusive than
now, meaning one who devoted himself to general learning. Of this poem
Dr. Burton in "Renaissance Pictures in Browning" (_Poet-Lore_, Vol. x,
pp. 60-76, No. 1, 1898) says: "I know of no lyric of the poet's more
representative of his peculiar and virile strength than this, in that it
makes vibrant and thoroughly emotional an apparently unemotional theme.
In relation to the Renaissance, the revival of learning, the moral is
the higher inspiration derived from the new wine of the classics, so
that what in later times has cooled down too often to a dry-as-dust
study of the husks of knowledge is shown to be, at the start, a
veritable reveling in the delights of the fruit."

Mr. Stopford Brooke in _The Poetry of Browning_, p. 155, says, "This is
the artist at work, and I doubt whether all the laborious prose written,
in history and criticism, on the revival of learning, will ever express
better than this short poem the inexhaustible thirst of the Renaissance
in its pursuit of knowledge, or the enthusiasm of the pupils of a New
Scholar for his desperate strife to know in a short life the very center
of the universe."

3. _Leave we the common crofts._ As the procession starts up the hill
they leave behind them the small farms and little villages of the plain.

8. _Rock-row._ Day is just breaking over the rocky summits of the

9. _There, man's thought._ The smoking crater of a volcano, described as
a censer from which rise the fumes of incense, portends an outbreak of
subterranean fire. The speaker fancifully considers this an appropriate
spot in which to bury the scholar whose passionate eagerness of thought
chafed continually against the bounds of custom and ignorance and human

14. _Sepulture._ Pronounced here, _sepúlture_. A burial place or tomb.

25. _Step to a tune._ Here and in various other places, as lines 41, 73,
76, etc., are directions to the pallbearers.

34. _Lyric Apollo._ The god Apollo was the ideal of manly beauty. The
Grammarian was, it seems, endowed with rare charm of face and form.

35. _Long he lived nameless._ Youth had passed before the Grammarian
really entered upon his quest for knowledge. But he did not despair. His
vanishing of youth was but a signal to "leave play for work."

45. _Grappled with the world._ The world of knowledge, especially
ancient learning, which was recovered slowly and with difficulty.

49. _Theirs._ He wishes to study the "shaping" or writings of poets and

50. _Gowned._ Put on the scholastic gown.

64. _Queasy._ Sick at the stomach. He could not get knowledge enough to
make him feel a distaste for it.

65-68. "It" in l. 66 refers to l. 67. The "it" in l. 68 refers to "such
a life," l. 65.

70. _Fancy the fabric._ Under the figure of making a complete plan
before beginning to build a house, he describes the Grammarian's purpose
to know the whole scheme of life before he lived out any part of it.

86. _Calculus_ and _tussis_ (l. 88) are diseases, the stone and
bronchitis, that attacked him.

95. _Soul-hydroptic._ "Hydroptic" is a rare word for "thirsty."

103. _God's task_, etc. He neglected the body, magnified the mind, and
believed that the full realization of his aspirations would come in "the
heavenly period."

113. _That low man_. This comparison between the "low man" and the "high
man" could be effectively illustrated from "Andrea del Sarto." Andrea is
the "low man" who with his skillful hand "goes on adding one to one"
till he attains his "hundred," or excellence of technique. But the other
painters, the ones with the "truer light of God" in them, reach the
heaven above and take their place there although what they see
transcends the power of their art to tell. They miss the "unit" of an
adequate technique, but they gain the "million" of spiritual insight.

129. _Hoti ... Oun ... De._ Points in Greek grammar concerning which
there was much learned discussion.


Mrs. Orr (_Handbook of Browning's Works_, p. 274) says of this poem: "We
can connect no idea of definite pursuit or attainment with a series of
facts so dream-like and so disjointed: still less extract from it a
definite moral; and we are reduced to taking the poem as a simple work
of fancy, built up of picturesque impressions which have, separately or
collectively, produced themselves in the author's mind." And she adds in
a note: "I may venture to state that these picturesque materials
included a tower which Mr. Browning once saw in the Carrara Mountains, a
painting which caught his eye years later in Paris; and the figure of a
horse in the tapestry in his own drawing-room--welded together in the
remembrance of the line from '_King Lear_,' which forms the heading of
the poem." The possible allegorical signification of the poem has been
the subject of much, and often of singularly futile discussion. Dr.
Furnivall said he had asked Browning if it was an allegory, and in
answer had on three separate occasions received an emphatic statement
that it was simply a dramatic creation called forth by a line of
Shakspere's. (Porter-Clarke, _Study Programmes_, p. 406.) Yet
allegorical interpretations continue to be made. According to one line
of interpretation the pilgrim is a "truth-seeker, misdirected by the
lying spirit" (the hoary cripple), and when he blows the slug-horn it is
as a warning to others that he has failed in his quest, and that the way
to the dark tower is the way of destruction and death. (Berdoe,
_Browning Cyclopædia_, p. 105) According to other readings of the tale
the blast which the pilgrim blows at the end of his quest is one of
"spiritual victory and incitement to others." When the Rev. John S.
Chadwick visited the poet and asked him if constancy to an ideal--"He
that endureth to the end shall be saved"--was not a sufficient
understanding of the central purpose of the poem, Browning said: "Yes,
just about that." With constancy to an ideal as the central purpose, the
details of this poem, without being minutely interpreted, may yet serve
as a representation of the depression, the hopelessness, the dullness
and deadness of soul, the doubt and terror even of the man who travels
the last stages of a difficult journey to a long-sought but unknown
goal. His victory consists in the unfaltering persistence of his search.
The "squat tower," when he reaches it, is prosaic and ugly, but finding
it is after all not the essential point. The essential element of his
success is that, encircled by the last temptations to despair, he holds
heart and brain steady, and carries out his quest to its last detail.
(See an article in _The Critic_, May 3, 1886, by Mr. Arlo Bates, in
opposition to any definite allegory. Mr. Nettleship in _Robert Browning_
[p. 89] devotes a chapter to a paraphrase and an allegorical

Mr. Herford (_Life of Browning_, p. 94) calls the poem "a great romantic
legend" and emphasizes its intensity and boldness of invention. He
compares its "horror-world" with that of Coleridge in "The Ancient
Mariner." "What 'The Ancient Mariner' is in the poetry of the mysterious
terrors and splendors of the sea, that 'Childe Roland' is in the poetry
of bodeful horror, of haunted desolation, of waste and plague, ragged
distortion, and rotting ugliness in landscape. The Childe, like the
Mariner, advances through an atmosphere and scenery of steadily
gathering menace."

Mr. Chesterton says of the scenery: "It is ... the poetry of the shabby
and hungry aspect of the earth itself. Daring poets who wished to escape
from the conventional gardens and orchards had long been in the habit of
celebrating the poetry of rugged and gloomy landscapes, but Browning is
not content with this. He insists on celebrating the poetry of mean
landscapes. That sense of scrubbiness in nature, as of a man unshaved,
had never been conveyed with this enthusiasm and primeval gusto before."
(_Robert Browning_, p. 159.)


This poem is the story of an obscure poet in the Spanish city of
Valladolid. It brings out his actual life and the townfolk's
misinterpretations of it. Reports multiply upon themselves and take new
meanings till the harmless poet is generally accounted the King's spy
and the real agent of all royal edicts, the town's master, in fact. The
interest which, as a poet, he takes in all manifestations of life is
popularly supposed to be the alertness of a secret agent of the
government. The reams of poetry he writes are transformed into letters
of information to the King. Rumor translates the poet's perfectly
decent, regular, meager life into secret sybaritic extravagances.

7. _Though none did._ His suit had once been fashionable, but, though
still serviceable, was of a sort no longer worn by his fellow townsmen.

25. _The coffee-roaster's brazier._ The coffee is roasted in a dish that
is made to revolve over the coals in an open pan or basin.

74. _Beyond the Jewry._ Beyond the Jew's quarter, a squalid portion of
the city.

90. _The Corregidor._ The Spanish title for a magistrate.

104. _Here had been._ The poet, misconceived by his generation, poor,
and lonely, has yet a great spiritual personality. Men see the old coat.
God, the King for whom he works, sees his real nature; hence heavenly
guards attend when this man comes to die.

115. _The Prado._ The chief fashionable promenade of Madrid.


Fra Lippo Lippi was born in Florence in 1406. See Vasari's _Lives of the
Painters_ for the account of his life on which Browning based his poem.
(Vasari's account is quoted in Cooke's _Browning Guide Book_.)

2. _You need not clap your torches._ Throughout this lively dramatic
monologue it is important to mark every indication of the words or
gestures of the auditors; for instance, in lines 13, 18, 26, etc.

7. _The Carmine._ Fra Lippo Lippi's entrance into the monastery of the
friars del Carmine and his education there are described later in the
poem. He lived there till he was twenty-six. He had no vocation for the
life of a monk and wished to devote himself to painting. He apparently
left the monastery on good terms with the friars.

17. _Master--a Cosimo of the Medici._ Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464) was a
rich Florentine banker and statesman. He was a magnificent patron of art
and literature. The old Medici palace (l. 17), now known as _Palazzo
Riccardi_, is on the corner of the _Via Cavour_ and the _Via Gori_. The
church of _San Lorenzo_ (the "Saint Laurence" of l. 67) is a short
distance farther west on the Via Gori.

22. _Pick up a manner_. The painter protests against the rough usage to
which he has been subjected.

23. _Zooks._ An interjection formerly written "gadzooks." _Pilchards_
are a common cheap fish of the Mediterranean and are taken in seines.

28. _Quarter-florin._ The florin was a gold coin of Florence. It was
first struck off in the twelfth century and was called a florin because
it had a flower stamped on one side.

31. _I'd like his face._ The painter cannot look upon the crowd of men
about him without seeing faces he would like to draw. One man would do
as a model for Judas. Another would do well in a picture Fra Lippo's
imagination quickly conjures up of a slave holding the head of John the
Baptist by the hair. In Fra Lippo's real picture of the beheading of
John the Baptist the head is brought in by Salome, the daughter of
Herodias, on a great platter.

46. _Carnival._ The days preceding Lent. A period marked by much gaiety,
street revelry, masking, etc.

53. _Flower o' the broom._ These flower songs, called _stornelli_, are
improvised by the peasants at their work. "The _stornelli_ consists of
three lines. The first line usually contains the name of a flower which
sets the rhyme and is five syllables long. Then the love theme is told
in two lines of eleven syllables each, agreeing by rhyme, assonance, or
repetition with the first." (Porter and Clarke note in Camberwell
Edition.) Browning does not follow the model strictly.

73. _Jerome._ St. Jerome was one of the Fathers of the Christian Church.
During a part of his early life he was given up to worldly pleasures,
and for this he did penance by living for a number of years in a cave in
a desert region. The penitent St. Jerome was a popular devotional
subject in early Christian art. "The scene is generally a wild rocky
solitude; St. Jerome, half-naked, emaciated, with matted hair and beard,
is seen on his knees before a crucifix, beating his breast with a
stone." (Mrs. Jameson, _Sacred and Legendary Art_, i, 308.)

80. _What am I a beast for?_ If you had happened, says Fra Lippo, to
catch Cosimo in a frolic like this, of course you would have said
nothing; but you think a monk is a beast if he indulges in these
nocturnal pleasures. Yet why should the fact that I break monastic rules
make you consider me a beast? Just let me tell you how I happened to
become a monk.

83. _I starved there._ Note the vivid picture of the life of a street
gamin here and in lines 112-126.

88. _Aunt Lapaccia._ Vasari says, "The child was for some time under the
care of a certain Mona Lapaccia, his aunt, 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." "Trussed," means "firmly

117. _Which gentlemen_, etc. Gentlemen clad in fine ecclesiastical robes
walk in the religious procession and carry tall wax candles or torches;
the drippings from these candles the street-urchin wishes to catch in
order to sell them again, but it is against the law, and the fine
gentlemen if not kindly disposed may call in the magistrates ("The
Eight") and have the boy whipped.

130. _The antiphonary's marge._ He scrawled his sketches on the margins
of the book used by the choir, and he made faces out of the notes, which
were then square with long stems.

139. _We Carmelites._ The three orders of monks, the Carmelites, the
Camaldolese, and the Dominicans (called "Preaching Brothers" by Pope
Innocent III) owned various monasteries and churches, and were each
ambitious to possess the greatest sacred paintings.

145-163. These lines describe the different figures painted on the wall
by Fra Lippo when the prior bade him "daub away." The monks dressed in
black or white according to the garb of their orders; the old women
waiting to confess small thefts; the row of admiring little children
gazing at a bearded fellow, a murderer who, still breathing hard with
the run that has brought him in safety to the altar steps, defies the
"white anger" of his victim's son, who has followed him into the church;
the girl who loves the brute of a murderer, and brings him flowers,
food, and her earrings to aid him when he shall escape--all these are
painted on the wall. Then the young artist took down the ladder by means
of which he had reached the bit of cloister-wall where he had been
recording his observations of life, and called the monks to see.

156. _Whose sad face._ The purpose of Christ's suffering ("passion") on
the cross was to bring love into the world, but after a thousand years
of his teaching his image looks down upon theft, anger, murder.

172. _My triumph's straw-fire._ Lippo's triumph was as short-lived as a
fire of straw. The monks were delighted with the realism of the
painting, but when the Prior and the critics came they declared that
such "homage to the perishable clay" was a mere "devil's game." The
business of the painter, they said, was to ignore the body and paint the

184. _Man's soul._ Note the difficulty the Prior experiences when he
tries to describe the "soul" he wishes the artist to paint. Lines
185-186 represent an old superstition.

189-198. In contrast to the homely realism of Fra Lippo's picture of
ordinary people are the idealism, the religious symbolism, of the
pictures of Giotto, a painter a century and a half earlier than Fra
Lippo, and the greatest master of the early school of Italian art.

198-214. An exposition of Fra Lippo's idea of painting. He says that it
is nonsense to ignore the body in order to make the soul preëminent,
that the painter should go a "double step" and paint both body and soul.
He may make the face of a girl as lovely and life-like as possible, and
at the same time show her soul in her face.

215-220. A defense of the value of beauty for its own sake. Cf. Keats,
"Ode to a Grecian Urn," and the beginning of his "Endymion." Fra Lippo
Lippi has been long out of convent limitations, but he cannot forget how
certain the monks were that he had chosen the wrong path, and that he
could never equal the great painter, Fra Angelico (1389-1455), who,
kneeling in adoration, painted lovely saints and angels, nor even
Lorenzo Monaca, a Florentine painter with the same tendencies as

257. _Out at grass._ _Grass_ in this passage stands for enjoyment of
life as opposed to asceticism.

276. _Guidi._ Tommaso Guidi, ordinarily known as Masaccio, or
Tomassacio, Slovenly or Hulking Tom. Browning followed good authority in
making Masaccio a pupil of Fra Lippo Lippi, but in point of fact he was
probably the master whose works Fra Lippo studied. Lübke (_History of
Art_ ii, 207) says of Guidi: "In his exceedingly short life he rapidly
traversed the various stages of development of earlier art, and pressed
on with a bold confidence to a greatness and power of vision which have
rendered his works the characteristic ones of an epoch, and his example
a decisive influence in all the art of the fifteenth century.... Almost
every master in the fifteenth century ... studied these great works and
learned from them. One of the first of these masters was Fra Lippo
Lippi." The important point is that Fra Lippo and Masaccio were both
pioneers in the new art which took infinite pains in the representation
of the body. Masaccio is said to have been the first Italian artist to
paint a nude figure.

323. _A Saint Laurence ... at Prato._ Prato a town near Florence,
attracted many artists in the fifteenth century, so that one finds there
many specimens of Early Renaissance painting. Some of the most important
of Fra Lippo Lippi's large works are in the Cathedral at Prato.

326-334. The people have been so enraged at the slaves who are pictured
as assisting in the martyrdom of St. Laurence that the faces of these
slaves have been scratched from the wall. The monks think the picture a
huge success because it has thus roused religious zeal.

339. _Chianti wine._ A famous wine named from Chianti, a mountain group
near Siena, Italy.

346. _Sant Ambrogio's._ The picture described here is the "Coronation of
the Virgin" now in the _Accademia delle Belle Arti_ of Florence. _Sant'
Ambrogio_ is a Florentine church named after St. Ambrose, a Bishop of

354. _St. John._ The Baptist. Note the reference to camel's hair raiment
in l. 375. _The Battistero_, the original cathedral of Florence, was
dedicated to John the Baptist. Some say the reliefs on one of its famous
bronze doors represent scenes from his life. To this church all children
born in Florence are brought to be baptized.

357. _Job._ See _Job_ i, 1.

360. _Up shall come._ Artists not infrequently painted their own
portraits in their pictures. In the "Coronation of the Virgin" Fra
Lippo's round tonsured head is seen in the lower right hand corner.

377. _Iste perfecit opus._ "This one did the work."

381. _Hot cockles._ An old English game in which a blind-folded player
tries to guess the names of those who touch or strike him.


Andrea del Sarto's father was a tailor (_Sarto_) and so the son was
nicknamed "The Tailor's Andrew." He was born in 1486. His first
paintings were seven frescoes in the Church of the Annunziata in
Florence. They were "marvelous productions for a youth who was little
over twenty, and remain Andrea's most charming and attractive works."
(Julia Cartwright, _The Painters of Florence_.) Algernon Charles
Swinburne in _Essays and Studies_ ("Notes and Designs on the Old Masters
at Florence") says of Andrea's early paintings in comparison with his
later work: "These are the first fruits of his flowering manhood, when
the bright and buoyant genius in him had free play and large delight in
its handiwork; when the fresh interest of invention was still his, and
the dramatic sense, the pleasure in the play of life, the power of
motion and variety; before the old strength of sight and of flight had
passed from weary wing and clouding eye, the old pride and energy of
enjoyment had gone out of hand and heart.

"How the change fell upon him, and how it wrought, anyone may see who
compares his later with his earlier work.... The time came when another
than Salome [referring to Andrea del Sarto's picture of Salome dancing
before Herod] was to dance before the eyes of the painter; and she
required of him the head of no man, but his own soul; and he paid the
forfeit into her hands.... In Mr. Browning's noblest poem--his noblest,
it seems to me--the whole tragedy is distilled into the right words, the
whole man raised up and reclothed with flesh. One point only is but
lightly touched upon--missed it could not be by an eye so sharp and
skillful--the effect upon his art of the poisonous solvent of love. How
his life was corroded by it, and his soul burnt into dead ashes we are
shown in full, but we are not shown in full what as a painter he was
before, what as a painter he might have been without it."

The bare facts of this poem are taken from Vasari's _Lives of the
Painters_. Vasari, once a pupil of Andrea del Sarto, hated Lucrezia and
in his account spared no details of her evil influence. Later chronicles
give a somewhat more favorable view of her, but the main facts of the
story remain undisputed. Of the origin of the poem, Mrs. Andrew Crosse
(see "John Kenyon and His Friends" in _Temple Bar Magazine_, April,
1900) writes; "When the Brownings were living in Florence, Kenyon had
begged them to procure him a copy of the portrait in the Pitti of Andrea
del Sarto and his wife. Mr. Browning was unable to get the copy made
with any promise of satisfaction, and so wrote the exquisite poem of
Andrea del Sarto--and sent it to Kenyon!" For another literary
presentation of Andrea del Sarto see _Andre del Sarto_, a play by Alfred
de Musset.

15. _Fiesole_. A town on a hill above the Arno about three miles
northwest of Florence. See _Pippa Passes_.

40. _We are in God's hand._ Andrea's fatalistic view of life aids him in
escaping the poignancy of remorse.

65. _The Legate's talk._ The representative of the Pope praised Andrea's
work. For the high esteem accorded Andrea when he was in Paris at the
court of Francis I, see lines 149-161.

82. _This low-pulsed forthright craftsman's hand._ Eugene Muntz (quoted
in _Masters of Art_ series, in the number entitled "Andrea del Sarto")
says of Andrea's skill: "No painter has excelled him in the rendering of
flesh.... No painter, moreover, has surpassed him in his grasp of the
infinite resources of the palette. All the secrets of richness,
softness, and _morbidenza_, all the mysteries of _pastoso_ and _sfumato_
were his. It is not then as a technician that we must deny Andrea del
Sarto the right to rank with the very greatest. It is as an artist
(using the word in its highest sense) that he falls below them, for he
was lacking in the loftier qualities of imagination, sentiment, and,
worst of all, conviction." _Histoire de l'Art pendent la Renaissance_.

93. _Morello_. A mountain of the Apennines and visible from Florence.

98. _Or what's a heaven for._ According to Browning's theory, perfection
gained and rested in means stagnation. Aspiration toward the
unattainable is the condition of growth. The artist who can satisfy
himself with such themes as can be completely expressed by his art, is
on a low level of experience and attainment.

105. _The Urbinate._ Raphael Sanzio of Urbino, one of the greatest of
Italian painters. He died in 1520; hence the date of this poem is
supposed to be 1525.

136. _Agnolo._ Michael Agnolo (less correctly, Angelo), 1475-1566, great
both as sculptor and painter.

149. _Francis._ Francis I of France was a patron of the arts. When
Andrea was thirty-two and had been married five years, King Francis sent
for him to come to Fontainebleau, the most sumptuous of the French royal
palaces. Andrea greatly enjoyed the splendor and hospitality of the
French court, and he was happy in his successful work, when Lucrezia
called him home. He obtained a vacation of two months and took with him
money with which to make purchases for the French king. This money he
used to buy a house for Lucrezia.

241. _Scudi._ Italian coins worth about ninety-six cents each.

261. _Four great walls._ _Revelation_, xxi, 15-17.

263. _Leonardo._ Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), one of the greatest of
Italian painters.


There is an old church in Rome named in honor of St. Praxed or Praxedes.
The Bishop's Tomb, however, "is entirely fictitious, although something
which is made to stand for it is now shown to credulous sightseers."
(Mrs. Orr, _Handbook to Robert Browning's Works_, p. 247.)

Ruskin says of this poem: "Robert Browning is unerring in every sentence
he writes of the Middle Ages--always vital, right, and profound, so
that in the matter of art, with which we are specially concerned, there
is hardly a principle connected with the medieval temper that he has not
struck upon in these seemingly careless and too rugged lines of his....
I know no other piece of modern English prose or poetry in which there
is so much told, as in these lines, of the Renaissance spirit--its
worldliness, inconsistency, pride, hypocrisy, ignorance of itself, love
of art, of luxury, and of good Latin. It is nearly all that I have said
of the central Renaissance, in thirty pages of 'The Stones of Venice,'
put into as many lines, Browning's also being the antecedent work."
(_Modern Painters_, Vol. iv, pp. 337-9.) "It was inevitable that the
great period of the Renaissance should produce men of the type of the
Bishop of St. Praxed; it would be grossly unfair to set him down as the
type of the churchmen of his time." Berdoe, _Browning Cyclopædia_, p.

1. _Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity._ Cf. ll. 8-9, 51-52, as
illustrative of the religious professionalism of the Bishop's talk. He
drops into the ecclesiastical conception of life and death, and into the
phraseology of his order.

21. _Epistle-side._ The right-hand side facing the altar, where the
epistle is read by the priest acting as celebrant, the gospel being read
from the other side by the priest acting as assistant.

29. _Peach-blossom marble._ This rosy marble delights the Bishop as much
as the pale cheap onion-stone offends him. The lapis-lazuli, a rich blue
stone (l. 42), the antique-black (Nero-antico), a rare black marble (l.
34), the beautiful green jasper (l. 68), the elaborate carving planned
for the bronze frieze (l. 56-62, 106-111), show not only that the Bishop
covets what is costly, but that his highly cultivated taste knows real

34. _That conflagration._ The eagerness of the Bishop for the lump of
the lapis-lazuli has made him steal even from his own church.

41. _Olive-frail._ A basket made of rushes, used for packing olives.

57. _Those Pans and Nymphs._ The underlying paganism of the Bishop
produces a strangely incongruous mixture on his tomb--the Savior, St.
Praxed, Moses, Pan, and the Nymphs.

58. _Thyrsus._ The ivy-coiled staff or spear stuck in a pine-cone,
symbol of the Bacchic orgy.

68. _Travertine._ A white limestone, the name being a corruption of
Tiburninus, from Tibur, now Tivoli, near Rome, whence this stone comes.

77. _Choice Latin._ The Bishop's scholarship was as good as his taste in
marbles. The _Elucescebat_ ("he was illustrious") of l. 99 Browning
called "dog-latin" and he called "Ulpian, the golden jurist, a copper
latinist." (See letter to D. G. Rossetti. Quoted by A. J. George,
_Select Poems of Browning_, p. 366.) Tully's Latin was Cicero's (Marcus
Tullius Cicero), the purest classic style. The Grammarian in "The
Grammarian's Funeral" was equally intense on a point of elegance or
correctness in the ancient languages.

80-84. The Bishop rejoices in all that has to do with the forms and
ceremonies of the church. Note in ll. 119-121 his insistence on form and

91. _Strange thoughts._ From this point on the Bishop's mind seems to

108. _A visor and a Term._ The visor is a mask. A term is any bust or
half-statue not placed upon but incorporated with, and as it were
immediately springing out of, the square pillar which serves as its


The quotation preceding this poem is from _Acts_ xvii, 28, and is, in
full, "As certain also of your own poets have said, 'For we are also his
offspring.'" The poet thus referred to by Paul was Aratus, a Greek poet
from Tarsus, Paul's own city. The Cleon and Protus of Browning's poem
are not historical characters, but they are representative of the tone
of thought and inquiry on the part of the Greek philosophers at the time
of Paul. Lines 1-158 give an account of the achievements of Cleon, a man
who has attained eminence in the various realms of poetry, philosophy,
painting, and sculpture. He is not in any one accomplishment equal to
the great poets, musicians, or artists of the past, and yet he
represents progress because he is able to enter into sympathy with the
great achievements in all these realms.

1. _Sprinkled isles._ Presumably the Sporades, the "scattered isles."

4. _Profits in his Tyranny._ Free government [in Greece] having
superseded the old hereditary sovereignties, all who obtained absolute
power in a state were called tyrants, or rather despots; for the term
indicates the irregular way in which the power was given rather than the
way in which it was exercised. Tyrants might be mild in exercise of
authority, and, like Protus, liberal in their patronage of the arts.

8. _Gift after gift._ Protus, a patron of the arts, shows his
appreciation of the work of Cleon by many royal gifts. Chief among the
slaves, black and white, sent by Protus, is one white woman in a bright
yellow wool robe, who is especially commissioned to present a beautiful
cup. Lines 136-8 are also descriptive of this girl.

41. _Zeus._ The chief of the Grecian gods.

47. _That epos._ An epic poem by Cleon engraved on golden plates.

51. _The image of the sun-god on the phare._ Cleon has made a statue of
Apollo for a lighthouse. _Phare_ is from the island of Pharos where
there was a famous lighthouse.

53. _The Poecile._ The Portico of Athens painted with battle pictures
by Polygnotus.

69. _For music._ "In Greek music the scales were called moods or modes
and were subject to great variation in the arrangement of tones and
semitones." (Porter-Clarke, note in Camberwell edition.)

82. _The checkered pavement._ This pavement of black and white marble in
an elaborate pattern of various sorts of four-sided figures was a gift
to Cleon from his own nation.

100-112. The similitude is involved but fairly clear. The water that
touches the sphere here and there, one point at a time, as the sphere is
revolved, represents the power of great geniuses who, each at one point,
have reached great heights. The air that fills the sphere represents the
composite modern mind that synthesizes the parts into a great whole.

132. _Drupe._ Any stone-fruit. The contrast is between the wild plum and
the cultivated plum.

139. _Homer._ The poet to whom very ancient tradition assigns the
authorship of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_. _Terpander_, the father of
Greek music, flourished about 700-650 B.C. Phidias, a famous Athenian
sculptor, lived 500-432 B.C. His friend was Pericles, the ruler of

304. _Sappho._ A Greek poetess. She wrote about 600 B.C.

305. _Æschylus_, a Greek tragic poet, 525-456 B.C.

340. _Paulus._ Paul died about 64 A.D. The date of this poem is
therefore about the last quarter of the first century A.D. Cleon had
heard so vaguely about the Christian religion that he did not know the
difference between Christ and Paul. The "doctrine" spoken of in the last
line was the Christian teaching concerning immortality. The Greek,
Cleon, had felt a longing to believe in another existence in which man
would have unlimited capability for joy, but Zeus had revealed no such
doctrine, and the cultivated Greek was not ready to receive it at the
hands of a man like Paul.


A poem directly addressed to Mrs. Browning. It was originally appended
to the collection of Poems called _Men and Women_. For other tributes by
great poets to their wives see Wordsworth's "She was a phantom of
delight," and "O dearer far than life and light are dear;" and
Tennyson's "Dear, near and true." Mrs. Browning's love for her husband
had found passionate expression in _Sonnets from the Portuguese_.

2. _Naming me._ Giving a name to the volume for me.

5-31. Raphael's "lady of the sonnets" was Margharita (La Fornarina), the
baker's daughter, whose likeness appears in several of his most
celebrated pictures. The Madonnas enumerated in ll. 22-25 are the
Sistine Madonna, now in the Dresden Gallery; the Madonna di Foligno, so
called because it had been painted as a votive offering for Sigismund
Corti of Foligno; the Madonna del Granduca (Petti Palace, Florence) in
which the Madonna is represented as appearing to a votary in a vision;
and probably the Madonna called La Belle Jardiniere in the Louvre. There
is no evidence that Raphael wrote more than one sonnet, or three at
most. The "century of sonnets" attributed to him by Browning "is
probably an example of poetical license." The volume Guido Reni
treasured and left to his heir was a volume with a hundred designs by
Raphael. (Berdoe, _Browning Cyclopædia_, p. 297)

32-57. Dante's chief work was his great poem, the _Inferno_, in which
were caustic sketches of evil men of various sorts. The sketch in the
lines 35-41 is made up from two descriptions (_Inferno_, Cantos 32, 33)
of traitors, the one to his country, the other to a familiar friend. The
second of these was still alive when Dante wrote (W. M. Rossetti,
_Academy_, Jan. 10, 1891). Beatrice, or Bice, was the woman Dante loved.
It was on the first anniversary of her death that he began to draw the
angel. Dante tells of this in the _Vita Nuovo_, xxxv, and there
describes the interruption of the "people of importance."

63-4. To Raphael painting is an art that has become his nature; to
Dante, poetry is an art that has become his nature. But this one time,
for the woman of his love, each chooses the art in which he may have
some natural skill but for which he has had no technical training.

73-108. The "artist's sorrow" as contrasted with the "man's joy" is
illustrated from the experiences of Moses in conducting the children of
Israel out of Egypt (_Exodus_ xvii). His achievement savors of disrelish
because of the grumbling unbelief of the people, and because of the
ungracious irritation into which he has been betrayed even when taxing
his God-given power to the utmost in their behalf. He must hold steadily
to his majesty as a prophet or he cannot control and so serve the crowd,
but he covets the man's joy of doing supreme service to the woman whom
he loves.

97. _Sinai-forehead's cloven brilliance._ _Exodus_ xix, 9, 16; xxxiv,

101. _Jethro's daughter._ Zipporah, the wife of Moses. _Exodus_ ii, 16,

121. _He who works in fresco._ The fresco painter uses large free
strokes of the brush. But in order to give something distinctive to the
lady of his love he will try painting tiny illuminations on the margins
of her missal.

143. _Be how I speak._ That is, he usually writes dramatically, giving
the experience and uttering the words of the characters he has created,
such as the Arab physician, Karshish; the Greek Cleon; Norbert, the man
whom the Queen loved in "In a Balcony"; the painter, Fra Lippo Lippi;
the heroic pilgrim, Childe Roland; the painter, Andrea del Sarto. But
now, for once, he speaks in his own person, directly to the woman he

144-156. In Florence they had seen the new moon, a mere crescent over
the hill Fiesole, and had watched its growth till it hung, round and
full, over the church of San Miniato. Now, in London, the moon is in its
last quarter.

163. _Zoroaster._ Founder of the Irano-Persian religion, the chief god
of which, Varuna, was the god of light and of the illuminated

164. _Galileo._ A celebrated Italian astronomer (1564-1642).

165. _Dumb to Homer._ Homer celebrated the moon in the "Hymn to Diana."
Keats wrote much about the moon and the hero of his poem "Endymion" was
represented as in love with the moon.

172-179. See _Exodus_ xxiv.


Abbé (or Abt) Vogler (1749-1814) was a Catholic priest well known a
century ago as an organist and a composer. He founded three schools of
music, one at Mannheim, one at Stockholm, and one at Darmstadt. He was
especially noted for his organ recitals, as many as 7000 tickets having
been sold for a single recital in Amsterdam. In 1798 it was said that he
had then given over a thousand organ concerts. His knowledge of
acoustics and his consequent skill in combining the stops enabled him to
bring much power and variety from organs with fewer pipes than were
generally considered necessary. The remodeling and simplification of
organs was one of his most eagerly pursued activities. He not only
rearranged the pipes, but he introduced free reeds. Through some
skillful Swedish organ-builders he was at last enabled to have an organ
small enough to be portable and constructed according to his ideas. This
he called an "orchestrion." Of Vogler's power as an organist Rinck says,
"His organ playing was grand, effective in the utmost degree." It was,
however, when he was improvising that his power was most astonishing.
Once at a musical soirée Vogler and Beethoven extemporized alternately,
each giving the other a theme, and Gansbacher records the pitch of
enthusiasm to which he was roused by Vogler's masterly playing. Three of
Voglers most famous pupils at Darmstadt were Meyerbeer, Gansbacher, and
Carl Maria von Weber. The last of these gives an attractive picture of
the musician extemporizing in the old church at Darmstadt. "Never," says
Weber, "did Vogler in his extemporization drink more deeply at the
source of all beauty, than when before his three dear boys, as he liked
to call us, he drew from the organ angelic voices and word of thunder."
Browning's poem records the experiences of the musician in one of these
moods of rapturous creation.

The argument of the poem is thus given by Mr. Stopford Brooke in _The
Poetry of Robert Browning_, page 149:

"When Solomon pronounced the Name of God, all the spirits, good and bad,
assembled to do His will and build His palace. And when I, Abt Vogler,
touched the keys, I called the Spirits of Sound to me, and they have
built my palace of music; and to inhabit it all the Great Dead came back
till in the vision I made a perfect music. Nay, for a moment, I touched
in it the infinite perfection; but now it is gone; I cannot bring it
back. Had I painted it, had I written it, I might have explained it. But
in music out of the sounds something emerges which is above the sounds,
and that ineffable thing I touched and lost. I took the well-known
sounds of earth, and out of them came a fourth sound, nay not a
sound--but a star. This was a flash of God's will which opened the
Eternal to me for a moment; and I shall find it again in the eternal
life. Therefore, from the achievement of earth and the failure of it, I
turn to God, and in Him I see that every image, thought, impulse, and
dream of knowledge or beauty--which, coming whence we know not, flit
before us in human life, breathe for a moment, and then depart; which,
like my music, build a sudden palace in imagination; which abide for an
instant and dissolve, but which memory and hope retain as a ground of
aspiration--are not lost to us though they seem to die in their
immediate passage. Their music has its home in the Will of God and we
shall find them completed there."

3. _Solomon._ In Jewish legend it is said that Solomon had power over
angels and demons through a seal on which "the most great name of God
was engraved."

13. _And one would bury his brow._ This description of the foundations
of the palace is not unlike Milton's account of the work of the fallen
angels in building the palace in hell. (_Paradise Lost_, I, 170.) That
"fabric huge" was as magical in its construction as the palace of Abt
Vogler, for, though it was not built by music, it

   "Rose like an exhalation with the sound
   Of Dulcet Symphonies and voices sweet."

16. _Nether Springs._ Remotest origins.

23. _Rome's dome._ The illumination of St. Peter's was formerly one of
the customary spectacles on the evening of Easter Sunday. "At Ave-Maria
we drove to Piazza of St. Peter's. The lighting of the lanternoni, or
large paper lanterns, each of which looks like a globe of ethereal fire,
had been going on for an hour, and by the time we arrived there was
nearly completed.... The whole of this immense church--its columns,
capitals, cornices, and pediments--the beautiful swell of the lofty dome
... all were designed in lines of fire, and the vast sweep of the
circling colonnades ... was resplendent with the same beautiful light."
(C. A. Eaton, _Rome in the Nineteenth Century_, II, 208.)

23. _Space to spire._ From the wide opening between the colonnades to
the cross on the top of the lantern surmounting the dome.

34. _Protoplast._ Used apparently for protoplasm, a substance
constituting the physical basis of life in all plants and animals.

39. Into his musical palace came the wonderful Dead in a glorified form,
and also Presences fresh from the Protoplast, while, for the moment, he
himself in the ardor of musical creation felt himself raised to the
level of these exalted ones.

53. _Consider it well._ On the mystery of musical creation and on its
permanence see Cardinal Newman's sermon on "The Theory of Development in
Christian Doctrine." (Quoted in part, in Berdoe's _Browning

57. _Palace of music._ Cf. the description of the glowing banquet-room
in Keats's "Lamia":

   "A haunting music, sole perhaps and lone
   Supportress of the faery-roof, made moan
   Throughout, as fearful the whole charm might perish."

The damsel with the dulcimer in Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" sings of Mount
Abora, and the poet says:

   "Could I revive within me
   Her sympathy and song
   To such a deep delight 'twould win me
   That with music loud and long
   I would build that dome in air,
   That sunny dome, those caves of ice!
   And all who heard should see them there."

In Tennyson's "Gareth and Lynette" (l. 270), Merlin says to Gareth in
describing Camelot,

   "For and ye heard a music, like enow
     They are building still, seeing the city is built
   To music, therefore never built at all,
     And therefore built forever."

There are also more ancient accounts of this union of music and
architecture. Amphion, King of Thebes, played on his lyre till the
stones moved of their own accord into the wall he was building. When
King Laomedan built the walls of Troy, Apollo's lyre did similar service
to that of Amphion in Thebes. For an interesting account of "Voice
Figures" see _The Century Magazine_, May 1891.

64. _What was, shall be._ For this faith in the actual permanence of
what seemed so evanescent, compare Adelaide Procter's "Lost Chord."

69. _There shall never be one lost good._ Whatever of good has existed
must always exist. Evil, being self-destructive, finally "is null, is
naught." This is the Hegelian doctrine. Walt Whitman said on reading
Hegel, "Roaming in thought over the Universe I saw the little that is
Good steadily hastening towards immortality. And the vast all that is
called Evil I saw hastening to merge itself and become lost and dead."
(Berdoe, _Browning Cyclopædia_, page 40.)

81. _A triumph's evidence._ Failure in high heroic attempts seems to
point forward to some more favorable future where noble effort is
crowned with due success. Cf. "Cleon," lines 186-7:

   "Imperfection means perfection hid,
   Reserved in part to grace the after time."

96. _The C Major of this life._ The musical terms in this passage are
fully explained by Mrs. Turnbull and Miss Omerod in _Browning Society
Papers_. Symbolically this line describes the musician as he comes back
to everyday life, proud because of the vision that has been granted him,
but with a consciousness that experiences so exalted are not for "human
nature's daily food," and that their true function is to send one back
to ordinary pains and pleasures with a new acquiescence.

(In _The Browning Society Papers_ are Mrs. Turnbull's "Abt Vogler," and
three papers by Miss Helen Omerod: (1) "Abt Vogler the Man." (2) "Some
Notes on Browning's Poems relating to Music." (3) "Andrea del Sarto and
Abt Vogler.")


Ben Ezra was an eminent Jewish Rabbi of the Middle Ages. His
_Commentaries_ on the books of the Old Testament are of great value. Mr.
A. J. Campbell, who has studied Browning's poem in connection with the
writings of the real Rabbi Ben Ezra, thinks that the distinctive
features of the Rabbi of the poem, and the philosophy ascribed to him,
were drawn from the works of the historical Rabbi, the keynote of whose
teaching was that the essential life of man is the life of the soul, and
that age is more important than youth. (Berdoe, _Browning Cyclopædia_.
Cf. also Berdoe, _Browning's Message to His Times_, pp. 157-172.)

1. _Grow old along with me._ Cf. _Saul_, lines 161-162. See Matthew
Arnold's "'Tis time to grow old" for a beautiful statement of the
pessimistic attitude toward old age.

7-15. It would be folly, says the Rabbi, to object to the unreasoning
ambitions, the fluctuations of desire, the hopes and fears of youth. In
fact (ll. 16-30), he counts these very aspirations toward the
impossible, this very state of mental and spiritual unrest and doubt, a
proof of the spark of divinity which separates men from beasts and
allies them to God. It is a characteristic Browning doctrine that
conflict, struggle, the pangs and throes of learning, are the stimuli
through which character develops.

40-42. Cf. _Saul_, l. 295.

49-72. In lines 43-48 the Rabbi had urged the subservience of the body
to the soul, but in these lines he shows that the life of the flesh is
not to be underestimated, that ideal progress comes from a just alliance
Of the soul and the body. See Tennyson's "St. Simeon Stylites" for an
account of the ascetic ideal in its lowest form.

81. _Adventure brave and new._ In "Prospice" death is reckoned an
adversary to be courageously met and overcome. Here the Rabbi is
represented as fearless and unperplexed as he contemplates the new life
he will lead after death. In both poems we find unquestioning belief in
an active and progressive and happy life after death.

85. _Youth ended, I shall try_, etc. Compare Tennyson's "By an

87. _Leave the fire ashes._ In this figure the "fire" stands for the
conflicts of life, the "gold" for whatever has proved of permanent
worth, and the "ashes" for whatever has failed to stand the test of time
and experience.

92. _A certain moment._ The moment between the fading of the sunset
glory and the shutting down of evening darkness is here selected as the
moment in which to appraise the work of the day. In the application of
the simile to the life of man (lines 97-102) the "moment" apparently
refers to old age when man has leisure and wisdom to appraise the Past.

102. _The Future._ The life of his "adventure brave and new" after

109-111. In "Old Pictures in Florence" Browning applies this idea to the
development of art. As soon as men were content to repose in the
perfection of Greek art (the thing "found made") stagnation ensued; the
new life of art came when men strove for something new and original,
even though their first attempts were crude ("acts uncouth").

120. _Nor let thee feel alone._ The solitude of age gives a chance for
unhampered thought.

133-150. One of the things he has learned is that any judgment to be
fair must take into account instincts, efforts, desires, as well as

151-186. This metaphor of the wheel is found in _Isaiah_ lxiv, 8;
_Jeremiah_ xviii, 2-6; _Romans_ ix, 21. Throughout this metaphor as
Browning uses it, man seems to be "passive clay" in the hands of the
potter, and under the power of the "machinery" the potter uses to give
the soul its bent. The tone of the whole poem is, however, one of
strenuous endeavor. Ardor, effort, progress, are the keynotes of life
from youth to age. But life is finally counted a divine training for the
service of God, and in this training the pious Rabbi sees joined the
will of man and the care and guidance of God.

157. _All that is_, etc. Cf. "Abt Vogler," ll. 69-80.


The idea of this poem was evolved from Shakspere's Caliban, a strange,
misshapen, fish-like being, one of the servants of Prospero in _The
Tempest_. He was the son of a foul witch who had potent ministers and
could control moon and tides, but could not undo her own hateful
sorceries, and who worshiped a god called Setebos. Morally, Shakspere's
Caliban was insensible to kindness, had bestial passions, was cowardly,
vengeful, superstitious. He had keen animal instincts and knew the
island well. He understood Prospero in some measure; learned to talk, to
know the stars, to compose poetry, and took pleasure in music.

_Thou thoughtest_, etc. A quotation from _Psalms_ 1, 21. This sentence
is the keynote of Caliban's theological speculations.

1. _Will_. For "he will" instead of "I will." Through most of the poem
Caliban speaks of himself in the third person as a child does. But note
lines 68-97, where Caliban rises to unusual mental heights under the
stimulus of the gourd-fruit-mash and uses the first person. How is it in
ll. 100-108, 135-136, 160?

1-23. This portion of Caliban's soliloquy and the portion in lines
284-295 give the setting for his speculations. The hot, still summer day
creates a mood in which Caliban's ideas flow out easily into speech. The
thunderstorm at the end abruptly calls him back from his speculations to
his normal state of subservience and superstitious fear.

24. _Setebos._ The god of the Patagonians. When the natives were taken
prisoners by Magellan, they "cryed upon their devil Setebos to help
them." Eden, _History of Travaile_.

25. _He._ The pronoun of the third person when referring to Setebos is

31. _It came of being ill at ease._ Each step in Caliban's reasoning
proceeds from some personal experience or observation. In this case he
reasons from the fish to Setebos. Caliban attributes to Setebos
unlimited power to create and control in whatever is comparatively near
at hand and changeable. But Caliban had been affected by the mystery of
the starry heavens. The remoteness and fixedness of the stars had
suggested a quiet, unalterable, passionless force beyond Setebos, who
must, therefore, have limitations. He did not make the stars (l. 27), he
cannot create a mate like himself (ll. 57-8), he cannot change his
nature so as to be like the Quiet above him (ll. 144-5). Hence, like the
fish, Setebos had a dissatisfied consciousness of a bliss he was not
born for. Discontent with himself, spite, envy, restlessness, love of
power as a means of distraction, are the motives that, according to
Caliban's reasoning, actuated Setebos in his creation of the world.

45. _The fowls here, beast and creeping thing._ Browning's remarkably
minute and accurate knowledge of small animals is well illustrated by
this poem. For further illustration see _Saul_, the last soliloquy in
_Pippa Passes_, and the lyric "Thus the Mayne glideth."

75. _Put case_, etc. In determining the natural attitude of Setebos
toward his creations, the formula Caliban uses is, Caliban plus power
equals Setebos. The illustration from the bird (ll. 75-97) shows
cruelty, and unreasoning, capricious exercise of power. The caprice of
Setebos is further emphasized in ll. 100-108.

117. _Hath cut a pipe._ In his attitude toward his creatures Setebos is
envious of all human worth or happiness if it is for a moment
unconscious of absolute dependence on him.

150. _Himself peeped late_, etc. As Caliban gets some poor solace out of
imitating Prospero, so one reason for Setebos's creation of the world
was a half-scornful attempt to delude himself into apparent content. His
imitations, his "make believes," are the unwilling homage his weakness
pays to the power of the Quiet.

170-184. The weaknesses of all living beings were special devices
whereby Setebos could, through need and fear, torture and rule.

185-199. Setebos worked also out of pure ennui. He liked the exercise of
power, he liked to use his "wit," and he needed distraction.

200-210. Setebos hates and favors human beings without discoverable

211-285. It is impossible to discover a way to please Setebos. His favor
goes by caprice as does Caliban's with the daring squirrel and the
terrified urchin, who please one day, and, doing the same things the
next, would bring down vengeance. The only philosophy at which Caliban
can arrive is that it is best not to be too happy. Simulated misery is
more likely to escape than any show of happiness.


In memory of Browning's cousin, James Silverthorne, the "Charles" of the
poem. The "one plant" of the last two stanzas is supposed to be the
_Spotted Persicaria_, "a common weed with purple stains upon its rather
large leaves." According to popular tradition this plant grew beneath
the Cross, and the stains were made by drops of blood from the Savior's
wounds. (Berdoe, _Browning Cyclopædia_, page 268, quoting from Rev. H.
Friend, _Flowers and Flower Lore_.)


"Prospice" ("Look forward") was written in the autumn following Mrs.
Browning's death. "It ends with the expression of his triumphant
certainty of meeting her, and breaks forth at last into so great a cry
of pure passion that ear and heart alike rejoice. Browning at his best,
Browning in the central fire of his character, is in it." (Brooke, _The
Poetry of Browning_, page 251.)


"No poem in the volume of _Dramatis Personæ_ is connected with pictorial
art, unless it be the few lines entitled 'A Face,' lines of which Emily
Patmore, the poet's wife, was the subject, and written, as Browning
seldom wrote, for the mere record of beauty. That 'little head of hers'
is transferred to Browning's panel in the manner of an early Tuscan
piece of ideal loveliness." (Dowden, _Life of Browning_.)

14. _Correggio._ A famous Italian painter of the Lombard school. These
lines well describe his style.


These are the closing lines of the first book of _The Ring and the
Book_. The passage is generally and probably rightly interpreted as an
invocation to the spirit of his wife.


This poem was written and printed as the Prologue to _Pacchiarotto and
How he Worked in Distemper_, published in 1876. It was, however, given
the title "A Wall" when published in 1880 in _Selections from Robert
Browning's Poems, Second Series_. The last two stanzas express one of
the fundamental ideas of Browning's poetry. Under the figure of the wall
with its pulsating robe of vines and the eagerness of the lover to
penetrate to the life within the house, he sets forth his thought of the
barrier between himself and a longed-for future life in heaven. The
"forth to thee" is to be interpreted as referring to his wife.


Three of Browning's poems, "At the Mermaid," "House," and "Shop," refer
with more or less explicitness to Shakspere. The last stanza in "House"
contains a quotation from Wordsworth's "Scorn not the Sonnet" to the
effect that in his sonnets Shakspere revealed the most intimate facts of
his life. "At the Mermaid" and "House" both combat this idea. In "At the
Mermaid" Browning in the person of Shakspere says:

   "Which of you did I enable
     Once to slip within my breast,
   There to catalogue and label
     What I like least, what love best,
   Hope and fear, believe and doubt of,
     Seek and shun, respect--deride?
   Who has right to make a rout of
     Rarities he found inside?"

As applied to Browning the poems represent the indignation with which he
regarded such personal revelations, such utterance of sighs and groans,
as characterized Byron (the "Last King" of "At the Mermaid"); but they
overstate the impersonal nature of Browning's own work which is
frequently a very direct statement of his own emotions and views, while
even from his dramatic work it is not difficult to find his "hopes and
fears, beliefs and doubts." In stanzas 10-12 of "At the Mermaid," for
example, just after he has protested against "leaving bosom's gate
ajar," he fully sets forth the joy, the optimism, of his own outlook on
life. "Shop" is an indirect protest against the assumption that
Shakspere wrote mainly for money, caring merely for the material success
of his work. (See _Poet-Lore_, Vol. III, pp. 216-221, April, 1889, for
Browning's tribute to Shakspere.) More directly the poem represents the
starved life of the man whom "shop," the business necessary to earn a
living, occupies "each day and all day long" with no spirit-life behind.


This poem was written during Browning's second visit to Le Croisic in
Brittany, in September, 1867. It was published in _The Cornhill
Magazine_, March, 1871, the proceeds of one hundred guineas being sent
by Browning to the Paris Relief Fund, to provide food for the people
after the siege of Paris. The story is historic. Mrs. Lemoyne, in 1884,
read "Hervé Riel" to Browning and he then told her that it was his
custom to learn all about the heroes and legends of any town that he
stopped in and that he had thus, in going over the records of the town
of St. Malo, come upon the story of Hervé Riel, which he narrated just
as it happened in 1692, except that in reality the hero had a life
holiday. "The facts of the story had been forgotten, and were denied at
St. Malo; but the reports of the French Admiralty were looked up, and
the facts established." (Dr. Furnivall quoted in Berdoe, _Browning


This little poem was written and printed as the Prologue to _La Saisiaz_
in 1878, but in the _Selections_ it appeared as No. 3 of


Prefatory stanzas to _The Two Poets of Croisic_.


This fate of the musician and the cricket has the same fundamental idea
as the prefatory stanzas, the power of love to soften what is gruff and
brighten what is somber in life.

64. _Music's son._ Goethe. The "Lotte" of the next line, the heroine of
Goethe's _Sorrows of Werther_, was modeled in part on Charlotte Buff,
with whom Goethe was at one time in love.


[Greek: Chairete, nikômen.] Rejoice we conquer!

2. _Dæmons._ In Greek mythology a superior order of beings between men
and the gods.

4. _Her of the ægis and spear._ Athena, whose ægis was a scaly cloak or
mantle bordered with serpents and bearing Medusa's head.

5. _Ye of the bow and the buskin._ Artemis or Diana, the huntress.
Ancient statues represent her as wearing shoes laced to the ankle.

8. _Pan._ The god of nature, half goat and half man. To him was ascribed
the power of causing sudden fright by his voice and appearance. He came
suddenly into the midst of the Persians on the field of Marathon--so the
legend runs--and threw them into such a "panic" that, for this reason,
they lost the battle.

9. _Archons of Athens, topped by the tettix._ _Archon._ One of the nine
rulers of Athens. _Tettix._ A grasshopper. "The Athenians sometimes wore
golden grasshoppers in their hair as badges of honor, because these
insects are supposed to spring from the ground, and thus they showed
they were sprung from the original inhabitants of the country." (Berdoe,
_Browning Cyclopædia_, p. 336.)

12. _Reach Sparta for aid._ The distance between Athens and Sparta is
about 135 miles.

18. _Persia bids Athens proffer slaves'-tribute, water and earth._ The
Persians sent to those states which they wished to subject, messengers
who were to ask earth and water as symbols of submission.

19. _Eretria._ An important city on the island of Euboea.

20. _Hellas._ Greece.

38. _The moon, half-orbed._ Spartan troops finally came to Athens after
the full moon.

47. _Filleted victim._ A victim whose head was decked with ribbons.

52. _Parnes._ Herodotus refers in this connection to the Parthenian

62. _Erebos._ Hades, the abode of shades or departed spirits.

83. _Fennel._ The Greek word Marathon means fennel.

89. _Miltiades._ One of the ten Athenian generals.

105. _Unforeseeing one._ The poet finishes the story, which he has
hitherto allowed Pheidippides to tell for himself.

105. _Marathon day._ In the month of September, B. C. 490.

106. _Akropolis._ The stronghold of Athens.


The love of the Arab for his horse is traditional. "The story is a
common one and seems adapted from a Bedouin's anecdote told in Rollo
Springfield's _The Horse and His Rider_." (Berdoe, _Browning
Cyclopædia_, p. 280.)


This poem is in the nature of a prelude to the group of poems published
under the title _Jocoseria_, 1883. Each poem in this volume shows the
lack of some element that would have brought the human action or
experience to perfection.

8. _Comer._ The invocation probably refers to the spirit of love with
its inspiring, transforming power.


This poem was published in _Jocoseria_ in 1883. It is doubtless to be
grouped with the poems that refer directly to Mrs. Browning.


Browning says that this poem has no direct historical reference. He
calls it "An Old Story," because in all ages men have experienced this
unjust reversal of public approval. The poem is merely an imaginative,
dramatic representation of the fickleness of popular favor.


The title of this poem means "Threatening Tyrant." It comes from
Horace's "Ode on the Just Man," in _Odes_, III, 3, i. The just man is
not frightened by the frown of the threatening tyrant--_non vullus
instantis tyranni_. Archdeacon Farrar refers the incidents to
persecution of the early Christians. The poem certainly deals with some
period when the ruler of a great realm had unlimited power to follow out
his most insignificant animosities, and when just men and just causes
had no human recourse.

The general idea of the poem is clear and forcible, but there are many
minor difficulties of interpretation.

6. _What was his force?_ An ironic question. The man groveled because he
was powerless to resist, and (line 10) because resistance might bring
even worse punishment.

11. _Were the object_, etc. If the man could be made rich, if his life
could be crowded with pleasures, if there could be found relatives or
friends whom he loved, then there would be obvious ways of hurting him,
he would stand forth in sufficient importance to make the swing of the
tyrant's hand effective. But as it is, the man's poverty and
friendlessness and meagerness of life render it difficult to find out
vulnerable points of attack. He remains hidden (_perdue_) and, like the
midge of the egg of an insect (_nit_), is safe through his very

21. _spilth._ That which is poured out profusely. The _flagon_ is a
vessel with one handle and a long narrow neck or spout.

35. _Then a humor_, etc. The tyrant goes through various changes of mood
in his attitude toward his enemy. In lines 35-43 he feels a moment of
contemptuous compunction at the man's suffering, and recognizes the
absurdity of a contest between a great king and a person as
insignificant as a tricksy elf, a toad, or a rat. But in line 44 his
mood turns. He perceives that the burden (_gravamen_) of the whole
matter lies in the incredibly petty nature of this unconquerable,
baffling opposition to his will. He sees how the situation would awaken
the wonder of the great lords who abjectly obey his lightest word, but
he concludes that, after all, the small becomes great if it vexes you.

53. _I soberly_, etc. Even the tyrant sees a kind of grotesque humor as
he narrates first the elaborate plans to entrap and crush so seemingly
powerless a foe, and then the striking reversal of position when the man
proves to have God on his side, and the tyrant becomes the one to cower
in fear.


At the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, Lombardy and Venetia were assigned
to Austria. Most of the inhabitants submitted to the foreign rule, but
there were always small bands of patriots who stirred up revolutions
against Austria. The chief revolution was that led by Mazzini in 1848,
and when he was in exile he read this poem with much appreciation. In
_Pippa Passes_ (1840), in the story of Luigi and the Austrian police,
Browning had already given a picture based on Italy's struggle for
freedom. In 1844 he visited Italy and then wrote "The Italian in
England," which appeared in 1845. This poem does not represent a
definite historic incident, but such a one as might have occurred in the
life of some Italian patriot. For a similar feeling towards Italian
independence see Mrs. Browning's _Casa Guidi Windows_ (written
1848-1851). For earlier poems see Byron's "Ode" beginning "O Venice,
Venice, when thy marble walls," Shelley's "Lines Written Among the
Euganean Hills," and the following sonnet by Wordsworth:

     "Once did She hold the gorgeous east in fee;
   And was the safeguard of the west: the worth
   Of Venice did not fall below her birth,
   Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty.
   She was a maiden City, bright and free;
   No guile seduced, no force could violate;
   And, when she took unto herself a Mate,
   She must espouse the everlasting Sea.
   And what if she had seen those glories fade,
   Those titles vanish, and that strength decay;
   Yet shall some tribute of regret be paid
   When her long life hath reached its final day:
   Men are we, and must grieve when even the Shade
   Of that which once was great, is passed away."

8. _Charles._ Carlo Alberto, King of Sardinia. He had used severe
measures against "Young Italy," the party founded by Mazzini.

19. _Metternich._ A noted Austrian diplomat and one of the most powerful
enemies of Italian freedom.

75. _Duomo._ The most famous church in Padua.

78. _Tenebræ._ _Darkness._ A religious service commemorative of the
crucifixion. Fifteen lighted candles are put out one at a time,
symbolizing the growing darkness of the world up to the time of the


The first interlude in _Ferishtah's Fancies_. These interludes are love
lyrics which follow the separate Fables and Fancies of the Persian
Dervish Ferishtah, and state in terms of the affections the truth
embodied in didactic or philosophical fashion in the fables. In the
first fable, "The Eagle," the Dervish observes an eagle feeding some
deserted ravens. His first inference is that men will be cared for as
the ravens, without effort of their own; later he sees that men should
be as eagles and provide for the weak. The Dervish at once seeks the
largest sphere of human usefulness with the words

                         "And since men congregate
   In towns, not woods--to Ispahan forthwith!"

The lyric protests against the temptation to self-centered seclusion on
the part of those who are entirely satisfied in each other's love.


The volume of poems entitled _Asolando_ was, by a strange chance,
published on the day of Browning's death. Most of these poems were
written in 1888-1889. The book was dedicated to Mrs. Arthur Bronson. The
"Prologue" should be compared with Wordsworth's "Ode on Intimations of

13. _Chrysopras._ The ruby and the emerald of this passage stand for
rich red and green. The chrysopras is also green (an apple green variety
of Chalcedony), but the first part of the word is from the Greek
[Greek: chrysos], "gold," and that may be the color intended


The title means, The Chief Good. The poem came out in _Asolando_ in


In the _Pall Mall Gazette_, Feb. 1, 1890 the following incident is given
concerning the third stanza of this poem:

"One evening just before his death illness, the poet was reading this
from a proof to his daughter-in-law and sister. He said: 'It almost
looks like bragging to say this, and as if I ought to cancel it; but
it's the simple truth; and as it's true, it shall stand.'"

Compare this poem and Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar."


Mrs. Sutherland Orr writes that while Browning was one day strolling
through Dulwich Wood "the image flashed upon him of someone walking ...
alone through life; one apparently too obscure to leave a trace of his
or her passage, yet exercising a lasting though unconscious influence at
every step of it; and the image shaped itself into the little
silk-winder of Asolo, Felippa, or Pippa."


_Asolo in the Trevisan._ Asolo, a fortified medieval town at the foot of
a hill surmounted by the ruins of a castle, and situated in the center
of the silk-growing and silk-spinning industries, is in the province of
Treviso about thirty-three miles northwest of Venice.

62. _Monsignor._ A title conferred upon prelates in the Roman Catholic
church. This Monsignor is the chief personage in Part III, or _Night_.

88. _Martagon._ A kind of lily with light purplish flowers. The common
name is Turk's Cap. Perhaps that suggested to Browning his comparison to
the round bunch of flesh on the head of a Turk bird, or turkey.

131. _Possagno church._ Designed by Canova, who was born at Possagno, an
obscure village near Asolo.

181. _The Dome._ The Duomo, or Cathedral, in the center of the town. The
palace of the Bishop's brother is close by.


28. _St. Mark's._ There is an extensive view from Asolo. Venice, with
its cupolas and steeples, is seen to the east. Ottima detects the belfry
of the Church of St. Mark. The towns of Vicenza and Padua are also

59. _The Capuchin._ A branch of the Franciscan order of monks. Their
habit is brown.

170. _Campanula chalice._ The flower of any one of a large genus of
flowers with bell-shaped corollas.


27. _El canibus nostris._ Virgil, _Eclogues_ iii, 67. "_Notior ut jam
sit canibus non Delia nostris_"--"So that now not Delia's self is more
familiar to our dogs." The boy Giovacchino of whose poetry they are
making fun evidently had ideals not in harmony with the ways of these
Venetian art students. These "dissolute, brutalized, heartless
bunglers," as Jules calls them, attack with quick, clever, merciless
tongues whatever savors of idealism, aspiration, purity. Their revenge
for the scornful superiority manifested towards them by Jules is to
secure, by a well-managed trick, a marriage between him and a paid

86. _Canova's gallery._ Possagno was the birthplace of the sculptor
Canova, and the circular church there was designed by him. In the
gallery at Possagno is his Psyche (_Psiche-fanciulla_, or Psyche the
young girl); his Pietà (the mother with the dead Christ in her arms) is
in the church.

111. _Malamocco._ A little town on an island near Venice.

111. _Alciphron._ A Greek writer (about 200 A. D.) of fictitious letters
famous for the purity of their style and for the knowledge they give of
Greek social customs.

115. _Lire._ Plural of lira, an Italian coin equal to 18.6 cents in our

117. _A scented letter._ Forged letters have represented this fourteen
year old, ignorant model as delicate, shy, reserved, intellectually
alert, with lofty poetic and artistic ideals.

117. _Tydeus._ One of the Seven Allies in the enterprise against Thebes.
Jules is supposed to have modeled a statue of him for the Venetian
Academy of Fine Arts. From Scene II, 14, we see that it is still in

120. _Paolina._ Some actress at the Phenix, the leading theater of

140. _Hannibal Scratchy._ In jest they burlesque the name of Annibale
Caracci, a famous Italian artist, and apply it to one of their number.


39. _This minion._ This favorite. Bessarion (1395-1472), a learned Greek
cardinal, discovered a poem, "The Rape of Helen," written by a Greek
epic poet, Coluthus, in the sixth century, and Bessarion's scribe copied
it out on parchment with blue, red, and dark-brown lettering.

43. _Odyssey._ Homer's account of the adventures of Ulysses. The quoted
passage is in the _Odyssey_, Bk. XXII, 10. When Ulysses reached home he
wreaked vengeance on the suitors of his wife. Antinous was the first to
fall. The story of the "bitter shaft" blotted out by a flower is
symbolic of the story of the hatred of Lutwyche, which was robbed of its
bitterness by Phene's love.

50. _Almaign Kaiser._ The German Emperor. _Swart-green_ is really
"black-green"; here it means the "dark-green" of bronze. The Emperor's
truncheon is a short staff, the emblem of his office.

54. _Hippolyta._ The Queen of the Amazons on a fine horse from Numidia.

59. _Bay-filleted._ The bay or laurel with which victors were crowned
was supposed to be an antidote against thunder because it was the tree
of Apollo. Pliny says that Tiberius and some other Roman emperors wore a
wreath of bay leaves as an amulet, especially in thunder-storms. (See
Brewer, _Dictionary of Phrase and Fable_; also Byron, _Childe Harold_,
IV, 41.)

61. _Hipparchus._ In B. C. 514 Harmodius and Aristogeiton conspired
against the tyrants Hippias and Hipparchus, and carrying swords hid in
myrtle, they slew Hipparchus. Cf. Byron, _Childe Harold_, III, 20.

                                  "All that most endears
   Glory, is when the myrtle wreathes a sword
   Such as Harmodius drew on Athens' tyrant lord."

75. _Parsley._ An aromatic herb used in ancient time in crowns worn at

86. _Archetype._ The original pattern or model. Beautiful colors and
shapes in flowers, in flames, trees, and fruit suggested to the poet the
beauty of perfect human forms. The rosy bloom of the peach bending close
over the bough and nestled among the leaves is sufficient to suggest
rosy limbs, and from that suggestion comes the whole imaginative picture
of the dryad, the nymph of the woods.

95. _Facile chalk._ Jules exults in the facility with which the artist,
in any realm of art, manipulates his implements and his materials. His
especial enthusiasm is for marble, which he has come to regard as an
original, primitive substance, containing in itself all other
substances. It may be made to seem as light and clear as air, as
brilliant as diamonds. Sometimes as his chisel strikes, it seems to be
metal. Again it seems to be actual flesh and blood. At moments when the
sculptor works with swift intensity it seems to flush and glow like

181. _I am a painter_, etc. The poem by Lutwyche is professedly "slow,
involved, and mystical." But Jules gradually perceives the purport of
the words. Lutwyche's hate is to have its most hideous possible aspect
because it is to appear suddenly through Love's rose-braided mask.

272. _The Cornaro._ Catharine Cornaro was the wife of James, King of
Cyprus. After his death she was induced to abdicate in favor of the
Republic of Venice, which took possession of Cyprus in 1487. She was
assigned a palace and court at Asolo. She was generous, kind, just, and
deeply beloved. Her life seemed to hold all possible external conditions
of happiness. The song is further explained in lines 275-279.

306. _Ancona._ A lovely city in eastern Italy.


1. _Bluphocks._ Browning's note on this character reads, "He maketh his
sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just
and on the unjust." (_Matthew_ v, 45.)

2. _Your Bishop's Intendant._ The Bishop's Superintendent (whose real
name is Maffeo) has charge of the estate the Bishop has just inherited
from his brother. The money Bluphocks has is the bribe given him by
Maffeo to destroy Pippa, who is really the heir to the estate. Maffeo
expects the Bishop to reward him well for this service.

11. _Prussia Improper._ "The arm of land bounded on the north by the
Baltic and on the south by Poland was long called 'Prussia Proper' to
distinguish it from the other provinces of the kingdom. Königsberg is
just over the boundary of Brandenberg." (Rolfe, _Select Poems of

14. _Chaldee._ A Semitic dialect.

21. _Celarent_, _Darii_, _Ferio_. Coined words used in logic to
designate certain valid forms of syllogism.

24. _Posy._ A brief inscription or motto originally in verse, and
suitable for a ring or some trinket.

25. _How Moses_, etc. For the story of Moses and the plagues of Egypt
see _Exodus_ viii and x. For the story of Jonah (who was commanded,
however, not to go to Tarshish) see _Jonah_ i. For Balaam and his ass
see _Numbers_ xxii, 22.

33. _Bishop Beveridge._ There was a Bishop of that name, but of course
Bluphocks is making a pun.

35. _Charon's wherry._ Charon was a god of hell. It was his business to
carry the dead across the river Styx. People thus carried over the
Stygian ferry paid Charon by a small coin put between their lips.

36. _Lupine-seed._ "In plant-lore 'lupine' means wolfish, and is
suggestive of the Evil One." (Berdoe, _Browning Cyclopædia_.)

36. _Hecate's supper._ Hecate was a goddess of hell to whom offerings of
food were made. An _obolus_ is a silver coin worth about fifteen cents.

39. _Zwanziger._ A twenty-kreuzer piece of money.

47. _Prince Metternich._ A celebrated Austrian statesman. (1773-1859.)

54. _Panurge._ A prominent character in _Gargantua and Pantagruel_ by
Rabelais. Hertrippa is a magician who gives Panurge advice on the
subject of marriage. Bluphocks is simply racking his brain for words to
rhyme with "Pippa," so that he may write doggerel poetry to or about
her. For "King Agrippa" see _Acts_ xxvi, 27.

77. _Carbonari._ All persons leaving a city had to have a passport
officially signed giving the destination and the date of departure.
Luigi had obtained such a passport for Vienna for that night. It was,
however, suspected that this was a mere trick to give a wrong notion of
his whereabouts. If the passport should prove to be a pretense, other
suspicions against Luigi would be confirmed; it would be taken for
granted that he belonged to the Carbonari, a secret society of Italian
patriots; he would be arrested and sent to the prison at Spielberg. But
if he should go to Vienna he is to be let alone. The officers are, of
course, on the wrong track. If Luigi goes to Vienna it is to carry out
his purpose of killing the tyrant. If he stays in Asolo it means that he
has abandoned that purpose.


6. _Lucius Junius._ This name comes easily to Luigi's lips because
Lucius Junius Brutus inspired the Romans against Tarquin.

14. _Old Franz._ The Austrian Emperor, Francis, I. Luigi's fancy is
caught by the echoes and the flowers, but they play into his dominant
idea of the freedom of Italy.

19. _Pellicos._ Silvio Pellico was an Italian patriot who had suffered a
long imprisonment in Spielberg Castle.

122. _Andrea_, etc. Three former Italian patriots who had conspired
against Austria.

135-143. Note in these lines how little Luigi really understands of the
point at issue. His emotional temperament has been stirred to the point
of desperate action, but the "ground for killing the King" he hardly

152. _Jupiter._ The largest of the planets. When a planet rises after
midnight it becomes a morning star.

163. _Titian at Treviso._ Treviso is seventeen miles from Venice. Its
cathedral contains a fine Annunciation by Titian which Luigi and his
betrothed Chiara had planned to see together.

164. _A king lived long ago._ This song was published in 1835 and later
adapted for this poem. The song has a great effect on Luigi because
beside his mental picture of the hated Austrian ruler he now places his
old folk-king who judged his people wisely, whose dignity and grace awed
even a python, and whom the gods loved. The possibility of having good
kings stirs his waning determination to rid the earth of evil ones.


6. _The same treat._ The feast of the girl is made up of fig-peckers
(birds that feed on figs), lampreys (eel-like fish esteemed a delicacy),
and red wine from Breganze, a town noted for its wines.

17. _Spring's come_, etc. These girls are well differentiated. The
"first girl" is set apart from the others by her superior refinement, by
her longing for her country home, and by her unhappiness with Cecco. The
"third girl" seems to be the leader in the plan against Pippa.

22. _Deuzans_, etc. Varieties of apples.

64. _Ortolans._ Birds about the size of larks, and an expensive

66. _Polenta._ A coarse corn-meal pudding.

89. _Great rich handsome Englishman._ Bluphocks, who has been hired by
the Intendant to lure Pippa into evil courses.


1. _Monsignor._ The Bishop has come from Messina in Sicily to take
possession of his dead brother's estate. The "Ugo" to whom he speaks is
the Intendant mentioned at the beginning of _Interlude II_.

4. _Benedicto benedicatur._ A form of blessing for the repast. "Let it
be consecrated with a good saying."

9. _Assumption Day._ The festival of the Assumption of the Virgin into
Heaven comes August 25.

36. _Jules._ This is the Jules of _Noon_. His history is thus carried on
beyond the point where we left him at the close of his interview with

51. _Correggio._ An Italian artist (1494-1534).

72. _Podere._ (Plural, _poderi_.) A small farm or manor.

83. _Cesena._ An Episcopal city about twelve miles from Forli.

108. _Millet-cake._ A cake made of an Italian grain and eaten only by
the poorest classes.

135. _Letter No. 3._ The information from Rome is based on a wrong
assumption. The elder brother had an infant heir whom the second brother
endeavored to put out of the way in order that he might himself inherit
the estate. He hired Maffeo to destroy the child, and, according to the
information from Rome, Maffeo did so. On this assumption Maffeo is to be
arrested and the money and land given him by the second brother to keep
the deed a secret are now to revert to the church.

154. _So old a story._ In reality Maffeo has been more astute than they
thought. He did not kill the child but kept it ready to produce as the
heir to the estates if the second brother at any time proved delinquent
in the required payments.

174. _Let us understand one another._ He believes that when the Bishop
sees himself about to lose the estate, he too will show himself ready
for a bargain. The Bishop is simply to keep still and Maffeo will see
that the heir--who is Pippa--shall be finally brought to shame and
death. The Bishop is to have the estates, and Maffeo is to keep his
ill-gotten gains and be given a chance to escape. The Bishop is
apparently listening to the tempter when he hears Pippa's song. Its
fresh lilting sweetness, and especially, perhaps, the wording of the
last line, touch his heart and his conscience, and he suddenly orders
Maffeo's arrest, at the same time uttering the prayer, "Have mercy upon
me, O God."


7. _My Zanze._ Zanze was evidently the "third girl" who took Pippa in
charge at the end of _Interlude III_.

30. _Monsignor's people._ Zanze was apparently talking to Pippa under
the Monsignor's window. Pippa broke off the unwelcome talk by her song,
and Zanze had hardly time to begin again when there came the noise of
the arrest of Maffeo.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note

The following changes have been made to the text:

Page 44: "Rabbi Ben Erza" changed to "Rabbi Ben Ezra".

Page 89: Numbered line 25.

Page 199: Numbered line 90.

Page 323: Numbered line 5.

Page 392: "opposed such beginings" changed to "opposed such beginnings".

Page 395: "Baldasarre Galuppi" changed to "Baldassare Galuppi".

Page 417: "name to to the volume" changed to "name to the volume".

Page 419: "Voglers masterly playing" changed to "Vogler's masterly

Page 423: "deveolpment of art" changed to "development of art".

Page 425: "Pacchiarotte" changed to "Pacchiarotto".

Page 436: "Chiari" changed to "Chiara".

Page 436: "Breganza" changed to "Breganze".

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