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Title: Browning and the Dramatic Monologue
Author: Curry, S. S. (Samuel Silas), 1847-1921
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 "Browning and the Dramatic Monologue" ***

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_Of eminent value._--DR. LYMAN ABBOTT.

_Both method and spirit practically without precedent._--J. M. LEVEQUE,
Editor Morning World, New Orleans.

PROVINCE OF EXPRESSION. A study of the general problems regarding delivery
and the principles underlying its development. $1.50; to teachers, $1.20.

The work of a highly intellectual man who thinks and feels deeply, who is
in earnest and whose words are entitled to the most thoughtful
consideration.--WILLIAM WINTER.

LESSONS IN VOCAL EXPRESSION. Study of the modulations of the voice as
caused by action of the mind.

It is the best book on expression I ever read, far ahead of anything
published.--PROF. GEORGE A. VINTON, _Chicago_.

IMAGINATION AND DRAMATIC INSTINCT. Creative action of the mind, insight,
sympathy, and assimilation in vocal expression.

The best book ever published on elocution.--_A prominent teacher and
public reader._


Deserves the attention of everyone.--_The Scotsman, Edinboro._

Will serve to abolish "hardshell" reading where "hardshell" preaching is
no longer tolerated.--DR. LYMAN ABBOTT.

FOUNDATIONS OF EXPRESSION. Principles and fundamental steps in the
training of the mind, body, and voice in speaking.

"By its aid I have accomplished double the usual results."

BROWNING AND THE DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE. Introduction to Browning's poetry and
dramatic platform art. Studies of some later phases of dramatic
expression. $1.25; to teachers, $1.10 postpaid.

CLASSICS FOR VOCAL EXPRESSION. $1.25; to teachers, $1.10 postpaid.


Join the Expression League by sending the names of three persons
interested, and information will be Sent you regarding all these books.


Room 308, Pierce Building, Copley Sq. BOSTON, MASS.








  Part I


     I. A NEW LITERARY FORM                          1

    II. THE SPEAKER                                 12

   III. THE HEARER                                  30

    IV. PLACE OR SITUATION                          64

     V. TIME AND CONNECTION                         78

    VI. ARGUMENT                                    86


  VIII. HISTORY OF THE MONOLOGUE                   113

  Part II


    IX. NECESSITY OF ORAL RENDITION                133

     X. ACTIONS OF MIND AND VOICE                  147

    XI. ACTIONS OF MIND AND BODY                   172

   XII. THE MONOLOGUE AND METRE                    195

  XIII. DIALECT                                    222

   XIV. PROPERTIES                                 230


   XVI. IMPORTANCE OF THE MONOLOGUE                248


  INDEX                                            305




Why were the poems of Robert Browning so long unread? Why was his real
message or spirit understood by few forty years after he began to write?

The story is told that Douglas Jerrold, when recovering from a serious
illness, opened a copy of "Sordello," which was among some new books sent
to him by a friend. Sentence after sentence brought no consecutive
thought, and at last it dawned upon him that perhaps his sickness had
wrecked his mental faculties, and he sank back on the sofa, overwhelmed
with dismay. Just then his wife and sister entered and, thrusting the book
into their hands, he eagerly demanded what they thought of it. He watched
them intently, and when at last Mrs. Jerrold exclaimed, "I do not
understand what this man means," Jerrold uttered a cry of relief, "Thank
God, I am not an idiot!" Browning, while protesting that he was not
obscure, used to tell this story with great enjoyment.

What was the chief cause of the almost universal failure to understand
Browning? Many reasons are assigned. His themes were such as had never
before been found in poetry, his allusions and illustrations so unfamiliar
as to presuppose wide knowledge on the part of the reader; he had a very
concise and abrupt way of stating things.

Yet, after all, were these the chief causes? Was he not obscure because he
had chosen a new or unusual dramatic form? Nearly every one of his poems
is written in the form of a monologue, which, according to Professor
Johnson, "may be termed a novelty of invention in Browning." Hence, to the
average man of a generation ago, Browning's poems were written in almost a
new language.

This secret of the difficulty of appreciating Browning is not even yet
fully realized. There are many "Introductions" to his poems and some
valuable works on his life, yet nowhere can we find an adequate discussion
of his dramatic form, its nature, and the influence it has exerted upon
modern poetry.

Let us endeavor to take the point of view of the average man who opened
one of Browning's volumes when first published; or let us imagine the
feeling of an ordinary reader to-day on first chancing upon such a poem as
"The Patriot."

The average man beginning to read, "It was roses, roses," fancies he is
reading a mere story and waits for the unfolding of events, but very soon
becomes confused. Where is he? Nothing happens. Somebody is talking, but
about what?

One who looks for mere effects and not for causes, for facts and not for
experiences, for a mere sequence of events, and not for the laying bare of
the motives and struggles of the human heart, will be apt soon to throw
the book down and turn to his daily paper to read the accounts of stocks,
fires, or murders, disgusted with the very name of Browning, if not with

If he look more closely, he will find a subtitle, "An Old Story," but this
confuses him still more. "Story" is evidently used in some peculiar
sense, and "old" may be used in the sense of ancient, familiar, or
oft-repeated; it may imply that certain results always follow certain
conditions. If a careful student glance through the poem, he will find



  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.

  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?"

  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.

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

  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.

  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.

that the Patriot is one who entered the city a year before, and who during
this time has done his best to secure reforms, but at the end of the year
is led forth to the scaffold. The poem pictures to us the thoughts that
stir his mind on the way to his death. He recognizes the same street, he
remembers the roses, the myrtle, the house-roofs so crowded that they seem
to heave and sway, the flags on the church spires, the bells, the
willingness of the multitude to give him even the sun; but he it is who
aimed at the impossible--to give his friends the sun. Having done all he
could, now comes his reward. There is nobody on the house-tops, and only a
few too old to go to the scaffold have crept to the windows. The great
crowd is at the gate or at the scaffold's foot. He goes in the rain, his
hands tied behind him, his forehead bleeding from the stones that are
hurled at him. The closing thought, so abruptly expressed, the most
difficult one in the poem, is a mere hint of what might have happened had
he triumphed in the world's sense of the word. He might have fallen
dead,--dead in a deeper sense than the loss of life; his soul might have
become dead to truth, to noble ideals, and to aspiration. Had he done what
men wanted him to do, he would have been paid by the world. He has
certainly not done the world's bidding, and in a few short words he
reveals his resignation, his heroism, and his sublime triumph.

                        "Now instead,
  'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so."

The first line of the last stanza in the first edition of the poem
contained the word "Brescia," suggesting a reference to the reformer
Arnold. But Browning later omitted "Brescia," because the poem was not
meant to be in any sense historical, but rather to represent the reformer
of every age whose ideals are misunderstood and whose noblest work is
rewarded by death. "History," said Aristotle, "tells what Alcibiades did,
poetry what he ought to have done." "The Patriot" is not a matter-of-fact
narrative, but a revelation of human experience.

The reader must approach such a poem as a work of art. Sympathetic and
contemplative attention must be given to it as an entirety. Then point
after point, idea after idea, will become clear and vivid, and at last the
whole will be intensely realized.

For another example of Browning's short poems take "A Woman's Last Word."

Suppose one tries to read this as if it were an ordinary lyric. One is
sure to be greatly confused as to its meaning. What is it all about? The
words are simple enough, and while the ordinary man recognizes this, he is
all the more perplexed. Perceiving certain merits, he exclaims, "If a man
can write such beautiful individual lines, why does he not make his whole
story clear and simple?"

If, however, one will meditate over the whole, take hints here and there
and put them together, a distinct picture is slowly formed in the mind. A
wife, whose husband demands that she explain to him something in her past
life, is speaking. She has perhaps loved some one before him, and his
curiosity or jealousy is aroused. The poem really constitutes her appeal
to his higher nature and her insistence upon the sacredness of their
present relation, which she fears words may profane. She does not even
fully understand the past herself. To explain would be false to him, hence
with love and tenderness she pleads for delay. Yet she promises to speak
his "speech," but "to-morrow, not to-night." Perhaps she hopes that his
mood will change; possibly she feels that he is not now in the right
attitude of mind to understand or sympathize with her experiences.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this poem a most delicate relation between two human beings is
interpreted. Short though it is, it yet goes deeper into motives,
concentrates attention more energetically upon one point of view, and is
possibly more impressive than if the theme had been unfolded in a play or
novel. It turns the listener or reader within himself, and he feels in his
own breast the response to her words.

All great art discharges its function by evoking imagination and feeling,
but it is not always the intellectual meaning which first appears.

However far apart these two poems may be in spirit or subject, there are
certain characteristics common to them; they are both monologues.

The monologue, as Browning has exemplified it, is one end of a
conversation. A definite speaker is conceived in a definite, dramatic
situation. Usually we find also a well-defined listener, though his
character is understood entirely from the impression he produces upon the
speaker. We feel that this listener has said something and that his
presence and character influence the speaker's thought, words, and manner.
The conversation does not consist of abstract remarks, but takes place in
a definite situation as a part of human life.

We must realize the situation, the speaker, the hearer, before the meaning
can become clear; and it is the failure to do this which has caused many
to find Browning obscure.

For example, observe Browning's "Confessions."


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here, evidently, the speaker, who has "come to die," has been aroused by
some "reverend sir," who has been expostulating with him and uttering
conventional phrases about the vanity of human life. Such superficial
pessimism awakens protest, and the dying man remonstrates in the words of
the poem.

The speaker is apparently in bed and hardly believes himself fully
possessed of his senses. He even asks if the curtain is "green or blue to
a healthy eye," as if he feared to trust his judgment, lest it be
perverted by disease.

An abrupt beginning is very characteristic of a monologue, and when given
properly, the first words arrest attention and suggest the situation.

After the speaker's bewildered repetition of the visitor's words and his
blunt answer "not I," which says such views are not his own, he talks of
his "bedside hand," turns a row of bottles into a street, and tells of the
sweetest experience of his life. He refuses to say that it was not sweet;
he will not allow an abnormal condition such as his sickness to determine
his views of life. The result is an introspection of the deeper hope found
in the heart of man.

The poem is not an essay or a sermon, it is not the lyric expression of a
mood; it portrays the conflict of individual with individual and reveals
the deepest motives of a character. It is not a dialogue, but only one end
of a conversation, and for this reason it more intensely and definitely
focuses attention. We see deeper into the speaker's spirit and view of
life, while we recognize the superficiality of the creed of his visitor.
The monologue thus is dramatic. It interprets human experience and

No one who intelligently reads Browning can fail to realize that he was a
dramatic poet; in fact he was the first, if not the only, English dramatic
poet of the nineteenth century. With his deep insight into the life of his
age, as well as his grasp of character, he was the one master whose
writing was needed for the drama of that century; yet he early came into
conflict with the modern stage and ceased to write plays before he had
mastered the play as a work of art.

He was, however, by nature so dramatic in his point of view that he could
never be anything else than a dramatic poet. Hence, he was led to invent,
or adopt, a dramatic form different from the play. From the midst of the
conflict between poet and stage, between writer and stage artist, the
monologue was evolved, or at least recognized and completed as an
objective dramatic form.

Any study of the monologue must thus centre attention upon Browning. As
Shakespeare reigns the supreme master of the play, so Browning has no peer
in the monologue. Others have followed him in its use, but his monologues
remain the most numerous, varied, and expressive.

The development of the monologue, in some sense, is connected with the
struggles of the modern stage to express the conditions of modern life. A
great change has taken place in human experience. In modern civilization
the conflicts and complex struggles of human character are usually hidden.
Men and women now conceal their emotions. Self-control and repression form
a part of the civilized ideal. Men no longer shed tears in public as did
Homer's heroes. In our day, a man who is injured does not avenge himself,
or if he does he rarely retains the sympathy of his fellow-men. On the
contrary, the person wronged now turns over his wronger to the law;
conflicts of man with man are fought out in the courts, and a well-ordered
government inflicts punishment and rights wrongs.

All modern life and experience have become more subjective; hence, it is
natural that dramatic art should change its form. Let no one suppose,
however, that this change marks the death of dramatic representation.
Dramatic art in some shape is necessary as a means of expression in every
age. It has become more subtle and suggestive, but it is none the less

An important phase of the changes in the character of dramatic art is the
recognition of the monologue. The adoption of this form shows the tendency
of dramatic art to adapt itself to modern times.

The dramatic monologue, however, did not arise in opposition to the play,
but as a new and parallel aspect of dramatic art. It has not the same
theme as the play, does not deal with the expression of human life in
movement or the complex struggles of human beings with each other, but it
reveals the struggle in the depths of the soul. It exhibits the dramatic
attitude of mind or the point of view. It is more subjective, more
intense, and also more suggestive than the play. It reveals motives and
character by a flash to an awakened imagination.

However this new dramatic form may be explained, whatever may be its
character, there is hardly a book of poetry that has appeared in recent
years that does not contain examples. Many popular writers, it may be
unconsciously, employ this form almost to the exclusion of all others. The
name itself occurs rarely in English books; but the name is nothing,--the
monologue is there.

The presence of the form of the monologue before its full recognition is a
proof that it is natural and important. Forms of art are not invented;
they are rather discovered. They are direct languages; each expresses
something no other can say. If the monologue is a distinct literary form,
then it possesses certain possibilities in expressing the human spirit
which are peculiar to itself. It must say something that nothing else can
say so well. Its use by Browning, and the greater and greater frequency of
its adoption among recent writers, seems to prove the necessity of a
careful study of its peculiarities, possibilities, and rendition.


What is there peculiar about the monologue? Can its nature or structure be
so explained that a seemingly difficult poem, such as a monologue by
Browning, may be made clear and forcible?

In the first place, one should note that the monologue gets its unity from
the character of the speaker. It is not merely an impersonal thought, but
the expression of one individual to another. It was Hegel, I think, who
said that all art implies the expression of a truth, of a thought or
feeling, to a person.

In nature we find everywhere a spontaneous unfolding, as in the blooming
of a flower. There is no direct presentation of a truth to the
apprehension of some particular mind; no modification of it by the
character, the prejudice, or the feeling of the speaker. The lily unfolds
its loveliness, but does not adapt the time or the direction of its
blooming to dominate the attention of some indifferent observer, or
express its message so definitely and pointedly as to be more easily

Man, however, rarely, if ever, expresses a truth without a personal
coloring due to his own character and the character of the listener. The
same truth uttered by different persons appears different. Occasionally a
little child, or a man with a childlike nature, may think in a blind,
natural way without adapting truth to other minds; but such direct,
spontaneous, and truthful expression is extremely rare. It is one of the
most important functions of art to teach us the fact that there is always
"an intervention of personality," which needs to be realized in its
specific interpretation.

The monologue is a study of the effect of mind upon mind, of the
adaptation of the ideas of one individual to another, and of the
revelation this makes of the characters of speaker and listener.

The nature of the monologue will be best understood by comparing it with
some of the literary forms which it resembles, or with which it is often
unconsciously confused.

On account of the fact that there is but one speaker, it has been confused
with oratory. A monologue is often conceived as a kind of stilted
conversational oration; and the word monologue is apt to call to mind some
talker, like Coleridge, who monopolized the whole conversation.

A monologue, however, is not a speech. An oration is the presentation of
truth to an audience by a personality. There is some purpose at stake; the
speaker must strengthen convictions and cause decisions on some point at
issue. But a monologue is not an address to an audience; it is a study of
character, of the processes of thinking in one individual as moulded by
the presence of some other personality. Its theme is not merely the
thought uttered, but primarily the character of the speaker, who
consciously or unconsciously unfolds himself.

Again, the monologue has been confused with the lyric poem. Browning
called one of his volumes "Dramatic Lyrics"; another, "Dramatic Idyls";
and another, "Dramatic Romances and Lyrics." Though many monologues are
lyric in spirit, they are more frequently dramatic.

A lyric is the utterance of an individual intensely realizing a specific
situation, and implies deep feeling. But the monologue may or may not be
emotional. No doubt it may result from as intense a realization as the
lyric poem. It resembles a lyric in being simple and in being usually
short, but is unlike it in that its theme is chiefly dramatic, its
interest indirect, and that it lays bare to a far greater degree human
motives in certain situations and under the ruling forces of a life.

The monologue is like a lyric also in that it must be recognized as a
complete whole. Each clause must be understood in relation to others as a
part of the whole. An essay can be understood sentence after sentence. A
story gives a sequence of events for their own sake. A discussion may
consist of a mere recital or succession of facts. In all these the whole
is built up part by part. But the monologue differs from all these in that
the whole must be felt from the beginning.

Further, in the monologue ideas are not given directly, as in the story or
essay, but usually the more important points are suggested indirectly. The
attention of the reader or hearer is focussed upon a living human being.
What is said is not necessarily a universal and impersonal truth, it is
the opinion of a certain type of man. We judge what is said by the
character of the speaker, by the person to whom he speaks, and by the

Mr. Furnivall may prefer to have every man speak directly from the
shoulder and may write slightingly of such an indirect way of stating a
truth as we find in the monologue. We may all prefer, or think we do, the
direct way of speaking,--a sermon or lecture, for example,--and dislike
what Edmund Spenser called a "dark conceit"; but soon or late we shall
agree with Spenser, the master of allegory, that the artistic method is
"more interesting," and that example is better than precept.

The monologue is one of the examples of the indirect method common to all
art--a method which is necessary on account of the peculiarities of human
nature. One person finds it difficult to explain a truth directly to
another. Nine-tenths of every picture is the product, not of perception,
but of apperception. Hence, without the aid of art, we express in words
only half truths. The monologue makes human expression more adequate. It
is like a nut; the shell must be penetrated before we can find the kernel.
The real truth of the monologue comes only after comprehension of the
whole. It reserves its truth until the thought has slowly grown in the
mind of the hearer. It holds back something until all parts are
co-ordinated and "does the thing shall breed the thought." Accordingly,
there are many things to settle in a monologue before the truth it
contains can possibly be realized.

In the first place, we must decide who the speaker is, what is his
character, and the specific attitude of his mind. It is not merely the
thought uttered that makes the impression. As a picture is something
between a thought and a thing, not an idea on the one hand nor an object
on the other, but a union of the two, so the monologue unites a truth or
idea with the personality that utters it. An idea, a fact, may be
valuable, but it becomes clear and impressive to some human consciousness
only by being united with a human soul, and stated from one point of view
and with the force of an individual life.

The story of Count Gismond, for example, is told by the woman he saved
from disgrace, who loves him of all men, and who is now his wife. We feel
the whole story colored by her gratitude, devotion, and tenderness. The
reader must conceive the character of the speaker, and enter into the
depths of her motives, before understanding the thought; but after he has
done so, he receives a clearer and more forcible impression than is
otherwise possible.

The stories of Sam Lawson by Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe are essentially
monologues. In Professor Churchill's rendering of them the peculiarities
of this Yankee were truly shown to be the chief centre of interest. As we
realize the spirit of these stories, we easily imagine ourselves on the
"shady side of a blueberry pasture," listening to Sam talking to a group
of boys, or possibly to only one boy, and our interest centres in the
revelation of the working of his mind. His repose, his indifference to
work, his insight into human nature, his quaint humor and sympathy, are
the chief causes of the pleasure given by these stories.

Possibly the letter is the literary form nearest to the monologue. We can
easily see why. A good letter writer is dominated by his attention to one
individual. The peculiar character of that individual is ever before him.
The intimacy and abandon of the writer in pouring out his deepest thoughts
is due to the sympathetic, confidential, conversational attitude of one
human being to another.

"Blessed be letters!" said Donald G. Mitchell. "They are the monitors,
they are also the comforters, they are the only true heart-talkers." There
is, however, a great difference between letters and conversation. In
conversation "your truest thought is modified during its utterance by a
look, a sign, a smile, or a sneer. It is not individual; it is not
integral; it is social, and marks half of you and half of others. It
bends, it sways, it multiplies, it retires, it advances, as the talk of
others presses, relaxes, or quickens."

This effect of others upon the speaker is especially expressed in the
monologue, particularly in examples of a popular and humorous character.

While the monologue is the accentuation of some specific attitude of one
human being as modified by contact with another, in a letter the attitude
toward the other person is usually prolonged, due to past relationship; is
more subjective, and expressed without any change caused by the presence
of the person addressed. In some very animated letters, however, the
attitude of the future reader's mind is anticipated or realized by the
writer, and there is more or less of an approximation to the monologue. At
any rate, this realization of what the other will think colors the
composition. Letters are animated in proportion as they possess this
dramatic character, and are at times practically monologues.

The skilful writer of a monologue omits obscure references in words to the
sneers and looks of the hearer, except those which directly change the
current of the speaker's thought. All must centre in the impression made
upon the character speaking. In conversation, at times, a talker becomes
more or less oblivious of his companion, yet the presence of his listener
all the time affects the attitude of his mind.

If we render a letter artistically to a company of people, we necessarily
turn it into a monologue. We read the letter with the person in our mind,
as a listener, to whom it is directed. We do not give its deeper ideas and
personal or dramatic suggestions to a company as a speech.

It is not surprising to find many monologues in epistolary form.
Browning's "Cleon," in which is so truly presented the spirit of the
Greeks,--to whom Paul spoke and wrote and among whom he worked,--is a
letter written by Cleon, a Greek poet, to King Protus, his friend. Protus
has written to Cleon concerning the opinions held by one Paulus, a rumor
of whose preaching of the doctrine of immortality has reached him. "An
epistle containing the strange Medical Experiments of Karshish, the Arab
Physician," is a letter from Karshish to his old teacher describing the
strange case of Lazarus with an account of an interview with him after he
had risen from the dead.

This poem illustrates also the fact that a monologue may not be on the
personal plane. Browning is seemingly the only writer in English who has
been able to present a character completely negative, or one without
personal relations to the events. The character in this poem has a purely
scientific attribute of mind and looks upon this event from a purely
neutral point of view. It is only to him a curious case. By this method,
the deeper significance may be given to the events while at the same time
accentuating a peculiar type of mind, or it may be a rare moment in the
life of nearly every individual. This poem is accordingly very interesting
from a psychological point of view. It illustrates the scientific temper.
The French have many examples of such writers, but Browning gives the
best,--in fact almost the only illustration in English literature.

"The Biglow Papers," by Lowell, though in the form of letters, are really
dramatic monologues. Each character is made to speak dramatically or in
his own peculiar way. The chief interest of every one of these poems
centres in the character speaking. The mental action is sustained
consistently; the dramatic completeness, the definite point of view, and
the dialect, enable us to picture the peculiar characters who think and
feel, live and move, talk and act for our enjoyment.

The monologue, accordingly, is nearer to the dialogue than to a letter.
The differences between the dialogue and the monologue are the chief
differences between the monologue and the play. In a dialogue there is a
constant and immediate effect of another personality upon the speaker. The
same is true of the monologue. The speaker of the monologue must
accentuate the effect of his interlocutor as flexibly and freely as in the
case of the dialogue. In the dialogue, however, the speaker and the
listener change places; the monologue has but one speaker, and can only
suggest the views or character of a listener by revealing some impression
produced upon the speaker while in the act of speaking. This makes pauses
and expressive modulations of the voice even more necessary in the
monologue than in the dialogue.

Yet the mere fact that a poem or literary work has but one speaker does
not make it a monologue; it may be a speech. Burns's "For A' That and A'
That" is a speech. Matthew Arnold may not be quite fair when he says that
it is mere preaching, that Burns was not sincere, and that we find the
real Burns in "The Jolly Beggars." Still, all must feel in reading it that
Burns is exhorting others and railing a little at the world, but not
revealing a character unconsciously or indirectly, through contact with
either a man of another type, or through the exigencies of a given
situation. Burns is boasting a little and asserting his independence.

The monologue demands not only a speaker, but a speaker in such a
situation as will cause him to reveal himself unconsciously and
indirectly, and such a moment as will lay bare his deepest motives. He
must speak also in a natural, lifelike way. There must be no suggestion of
a platform, no conscious presentation of truth for a definite end, as with
the orator.

It is a peculiar fact that the most difficult of all things is to tell the
truth. Every man "knows a good many things that are not so." For every
affirmation of importance, we demand witnesses. Whenever a man speaks, we
look into his character, into the living, natural languages which are
unconscious witnesses of the depth of his earnestness and sincerity. Even
in every-day life men judge of truth by character. What a man is, always
colors, if it does not determine, what he says. But the essence of the
monologue is to bring what a man says and what he is into harmony.

The interpreter of a monologue must be true to the character of the
speaker. He must faithfully portray, not his own, but the attitude and
bearing, feelings and impression, of this character. Every normal person
would greatly admire the beauties of "the villa," but the "Italian person
of quality," in Browning's monologue, feels for it great contempt.

In Browning's "Youth and Art" we feel continually the point of view, the
feeling, and the character of the speaker.


  It once might have been, once only:
    We lodged in a street together,
  You, a sparrow on the housetop lonely,
    I, a lone she-bird of his feather.

  Your trade was with sticks and clay,
    You thumbed, thrust, patted, and polished,
  Then laughed, "They will see, some day,
    Smith made, and Gibson demolished."

  My business was song, song, song;
    I chirped, cheeped, trilled, and twittered,
  "Kate Brown's on the boards ere long,
    And Grisi's existence imbittered!"

  I earned no more by a warble
    Than you by a sketch in plaster:
  You wanted a piece of marble,
    I needed a music-master.

  We studied hard in our styles,
    Chipped each at a crust like Hindoos,
  For air, looked out on the tiles,
    For fun, watched each other's windows.

  You lounged, like a boy of the South,
    Cap and blouse--nay, a bit of beard, too;
  Or you got it, rubbing your mouth
    With fingers the clay adhered to.

  And I--soon managed to find
    Weak points in the flower-fence facing,
  Was forced to put up a blind
    And be safe in my corset-lacing.

  No harm! It was not my fault
    If you never turned your eye's tail up
  As I shook upon E _in alt._,
    Or ran the chromatic scale up;

  For spring bade the sparrows pair,
    And the boys and girls gave guesses,
  And stalls in our street looked rare
    With bulrush and water-cresses.

  Why did not you pinch a flower
    In a pellet of clay and fling it?
  Why did not I put a power
    Of thanks in a look, or sing it?

  I did look, sharp as a lynx
    (And yet the memory rankles)
  When models arrived, some minx
    Tripped up stairs, she and her ankles.

  But I think I gave you as good!
    "That foreign fellow--who can know
  How she pays, in a playful mood,
    For his tuning her that piano?"

  Could you say so, and never say,
    "Suppose we join hands and fortunes,
  And I fetch her from over the way,
    Her, piano, and long tunes and short tunes?"

  No, no; you would not be rash,
    Nor I rasher and something over:
  You've to settle yet Gibson's hash,
    And Grisi yet lives in clover.

  But you meet the Prince at the Board.
    I'm queen myself at _bals-parés_,
  I've married a rich old lord,
    And you're dubbed knight and an R. A.

  Each life's unfulfilled, you see;
    It hangs still patchy and scrappy;
  We have not sighed deep, laughed free,
    Starved, feasted, despaired,--been happy.

  And nobody calls you a dunce,
    And people suppose me clever;
  This could but have happened once,
    And we missed it, lost it forever.

The theme is the dream and experience of two lovers. The speaker is
married to a rich old lord, and her lover of other days, a sculptor, is
"dubbed knight and an R. A." Stirred by her youthful dreams, or it may be
by the meeting of her lover in society, or possibly in imagination,--as a
queen of "_bals-parés_" would hardly talk to a "knight and an R. A." in
this frank manner,--it is the woman who breaks forth suddenly with the
dream of her old love--

  "It once might have been, once only,"--

and relates the story of the days when they were both young students, she
of singing and he of sculpture, and describes, or lightly caricatures,
their experience. Is her laughter, as she goes on in such a playful mood
describing the different events of their lives, an endeavor to conceal a
hidden pain? Has she grown worldly minded, sneering at every youthful
dream, even her own, or is she awakening from this worldly point of view
to a realization at last of "life unfulfilled"?

Browning, instead of an abstract discussion, presents in an artistic form
an important truth, that he who lives for the world does not live at all.
By introducing this woman to us in a serious attitude of mind, reflecting
on the one hand a worldly mood, on the other the deep, abiding love of a
true woman, he makes the desired impression. The last line throbs with
deep emotion, and we feel how slowly and sadly she would acknowledge the
failure of life:

  "And we missed it, lost it forever."

Browning's "Caliban upon Setebos" furnishes a forcible illustration of the
importance of the speaker and the necessity of preserving his character
and point of view in the monologue. "'Will sprawl" begins a long
parenthesis which implies the first intention of Caliban to lie flat in
"the pit's much mire." He describes definitely the position he likes "in
the cool slush." The words express Caliban's feelings at his noonday rest
and the position he takes for enjoyment. He has not yet risen to the
dignity of the consciousness of the ego. He does not use the pronoun "I"
or the possessive "my." His verbs are impersonal,--"'Will sprawl," not "I
will sprawl,"--and he

  "Talks to his own self, howe'er he please,
  Touching that other whom his dam called God."

He lies down in this position to have a good "think" regarding his "dam's
God, Setebos." Notice the continual recurrence of the impersonal
"thinketh" without any subject. Here we have a most humorous but really
profound meditation of such a creature with all the elements of "natural
theology in the island." The subheading before the monologue, "Thou
thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself," indicates the
current of Browning's ideas.

When we have once pictured Caliban definitely in our minds with his
"saith" and "thinketh," we perceive the analogy which he establishes after
the manner of men between his own low nature and that of deity.

To read such a work without a definite conception of the character
talking, makes utter nonsense of the reading. Every sentiment and feeling
in the poem regarding God is dramatic. However deep or profound the lesson
conveyed, it is entirely indirect.

How different is the story of the glove and King Francis, as treated by
Leigh Hunt, from its interpretation by Browning! Leigh Hunt centres
everything in the sequence of events and the simple statement of facts.

  "King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport,
  And one day as his lions fought, sat looking on the court."

But Browning! He chooses a distinct character, Peter Ronsard, a poet, to
tell the story, and adopts a totally different point of view, centring all
in the speaker's justification of the woman who threw the glove.
Practically the same facts are told; even the King's words are almost
identical with those given by Hunt:

  "'Twas mere vanity,
  Not love, set that task to humanity!"

and he gives the ordinary point of view:

  "Lords and ladies alike turned with loathing
  From such a proved wolf in sheep's clothing."

But human character and motive is given a deeper interpretation and the
poet does not accept their views:

  "Not so, I; for I caught the expression
  In her brow's undisturbed self-possession
  Amid the court's scoffing and merriment;--
  As if from no pleasing experiment,
  She rose, yet of pain not much heedful
  So long as the process was needful."

The poet followed her and asked what it all meant, and if she did not wish
to recall her rash deed.

  "For I, so I spoke, am a poet,
  Human nature,--behooves that I know it!"

So he tells you she explained that he had vowed and boasted what he would
do, and she felt that she would put him to the test. Browning represents
her as rejecting Delorge, whose admiration was shown by this incident to
be superficial, and as marrying a humble but true-hearted lover.

"The Ring and the Book" illustrates possibly more amply than any other
poem the peculiar dramatic force of the monologue.

The story, out of which is built a poem twice as long as "Paradise Lost,"
can be told in a few words. Guido, a nobleman of Arezzo, poor, but of
noble family, has sought advancement at the Papal Court. Embittered by
failure, he resolves to establish himself by marriage with an heiress, and
makes an offer for Pompilia, an innocent girl of sixteen, the only child
of parents supposed to be wealthy. The father, Pietro, refuses the offer,
but the mother arranges a secret marriage, and Pietro accepts the
situation. The old couple put all their property into the hands of the
son-in-law and go with him to Arezzo. The marriage proves unhappy, and
Guido robs and persecutes the old people until they return poor to Rome.
The mother then makes the unexpected revelation that Pompilia is not her
child. She had bought her, and Pietro and the world believe that she was
her own. On this account they seek to recover Pompilia's dowry. Pompilia
suffers outrageous treatment from her husband, who wishes to be rid of her
and yet keep her property, and lays all kinds of snares in the endeavor to
drive her away. She at length flees, and is aided in so doing by a
noble-hearted priest. On the road they are overtaken by the husband, who
starts proceedings for a divorce at Rome. The divorce is refused, but the
wife is placed in mild imprisonment, though later she is allowed to return
to her so-called parents, in whose home she gives birth to a son. Guido
now tries to get possession of the child, as, by this means he secures all
rights to the property. With some hirelings he goes to the lonely house,
and murders Pompilia and her parents. Pompilia does not die immediately,
but lives to give her testimony against her husband. Guido flees, is
arrested on Roman territory, and is tried and condemned to death. An
appeal is made to the Pope, who confirms the sentence.

This story is told ten or twelve times, all interest centring in the
characters of the speakers, in their points of view and attitudes of mind.
More fully, perhaps, than any other poem, "The Ring and the Book" shows
that every one in relating the simplest events or facts gives a coloring
to the truth of his character.

In Book I Browning speaks in his own character, and states the facts and
how the story came into his hands. In Book II, called "Half-Rome," a
Roman, more or less in sympathy with the husband, tells the story. In Book
III, styled "The Other Half-Rome," one in sympathy with the wife tells the
story. In Book IV, called "Tertium Quid," a society gentleman, who prides
himself on his critical acumen, tells the story in a drawing-room. Each
speaker in these monologues has a character of his own, and the facts are
strongly colored according to his nature and point of view. In Book V
Guido makes his defence before the judges. He is a criminal defending
himself, and puts facts in such a way as to justify his actions. In Book
VI the priest who assisted Pompilia to escape passionately proclaims the
lofty motives which actuated Pompilia and himself. In Book VII Pompilia,
on her deathbed, gives her testimony, telling the story with intense
pathos. In Book VIII a lawyer, with all the ingenuity of his profession,
speaks in defence of Guido, but without touching upon the merits of the
case. In Book IX Pompilia's advocate, endeavoring to display his fine
cultured style, gives a legal justification of her course. In Book X the
Pope decides against Guido, and gives the reasons for this decision. Book
XI is Guido's last confession as a condemned man; here his character is
still more definitely unfolded. He tries to bribe his guards; though still
defiant, he shows his base, cowardly nature at the close, and ends his
final weak and chaotic appeal by calling on Pompilia, thus giving the
highest testimony possible to the purity and sweetness of the woman he

  "Don't open! Hold me from them! I am yours,
  I am the Granduke's--no, I am the Pope's!
  Abate,--Cardinal,--Christ,--Maria,--God, ...
  Pompilia, will you let them murder me?"

In his defence he was concealing his real deeds and character, and
justifying himself. In this book he reveals himself with great frankness.

In Book XII the case is given as it fades into history, and the poem
closes with a lesson regarding the function or necessity of art in telling

"The Ring and the Book" affords perhaps the highest example of the value
of the monologue as a form of art. Men who have only one point of view are
always "cranks,"--able, that is, to turn only one way. A preacher who can
appreciate only the point of view of his own denomination will never get
very near the truth. The statesman who declares "there is but one side to
a question" may sometime by his narrowness assist in plunging his country
into a great war. No man can help his fellows if unable to see things from
their point of view. "The Ring and the Book" shows every speaker coloring
the truth unconsciously by his own character, and Browning, by putting the
same facts in the mouths of different persons, enables us to discover the
personal element.

This is the specific function of the monologue. It artistically interprets
truth by interpreting the soul that realizes it. This excites interest in
the speaker and shows its dramatic character.

Browning, by its aid, interprets peculiarities of human nature before
unnoticed. Dramatic instinct is given a new literary form and expression.
Human nature receives a profounder interpretation. We are made more
teachable and sympathetic. The monologue exhibits one person drawing quick
conclusions, another meeting doubt with counter-doubt, or still another
calmly weighing evidences; it occupies many points of view, thus giving a
clearer perception of truth through the mirror of human character.


To comprehend the spirit of the monologue demands a clear conception, not
only of the character of the speaker, but also of the person addressed.
The hearer is often of as great importance to the meaning of a monologue
as is the person speaking.

It is a common blunder to consider dramatic instinct as concerned only
with a speaker. Nearly every one regards it as the ability to "act a
character," to imitate the action or the speech of some particular
individual. But this conception is far too narrow. The dramatic instinct
is primarily concerned with insight into character, with problems of
imagination, and with sympathy. By it we realize another's point of view
or attitude of mind towards a truth or situation, and identify ourselves
sympathetically with character.

Dramatic instinct is necessary to all human endeavor. It is as necessary
for the orator as it is for the actor. While it is true that the speaker
must be himself and must succeed by the vigor of his own personality, and
that the actor must succeed through "fidelity of portraiture," still the
orator must be able not only to say the right word, but to know when he
says it, and this ability results only from dramatic instinct. The actor
needs more of the personating instinct or insight into motives of
character; the speaker, more insight into the conditions of human thought
and feeling.

While one function of dramatic instinct is the ability to identify one's
self with another, it is much easier to identify one's self with the
speaker than with the listener. Even on the stage the most difficult task
for the actor is to listen in character; that is, to receive impressions
from the standpoint of the character he is representing.

Possibly the fundamental element in dramatic instinct is the ability to
occupy a point of view, to see a truth as another sees it. This shows why
dramatic instinct is the foundation of success. It enables a teacher to
know whether his student is at the right point of view to apprehend a
truth, or in the proper attitude of mind towards a subject. It tells him
when he has made a truth understood. It gives the speaker power to adapt
and to illustrate his truth to others, and to see things from his hearers'
point of view. It gives the writer power to impress his reader. Even the
business man must intuitively perceive the point of view and the mental
attitude of those with whom he deals.

Dramatic instinct as applied to listening on the stage, and everywhere, is
apt to be overlooked. It is comparatively easy when quoting some one to
stand at his point of view and to imitate his manner, or to contrast the
differences between a number of speakers; but a higher type of dramatic
power is exhibited in the ability to put ourselves in the place and
receive the impressions of some specific type of listener.

The speeches of different characters are given formally and successively
in a drama. Hence, the writer of a play, or the actor, is apt to centre
attention, when speaking, upon the character, without reference to the
shape his thought takes from what the other character has said, and
especially from those attitudes or actions of the other character which
are not revealed by words. The same is true in the novel, and even in epic
poetry. True dramatic instinct in any form demands that the speaker show
not only his own thought and motive by his words, but that of the
character he is portraying, and the influence produced upon him at the
instant by the thought and character of the listener.

While the dialogue is not the only form of dramatic art, still its study
is required for the understanding of the monologue, or almost any aspect
of dramatic expression. The very name "dialogue" implies a listener and a
speaker who are continually changing places. The listener indicates by his
face and by actions of the body his impression, his attention, the effect
upon him of the words of the speaker, his objection or approval. Thus he
influences the speaker in shaping his ideas and choosing his words.

In the monologue the speaker must suggest the character of both speaker
and listener and interpret the relation of one human being to another. He
must show, as he speaks, the impression he receives from the manner in
which his listener is affected by what he is saying. A public reader, or
impersonator, of all the characters of a play must perform a similar
feat; he must represent each character not only as speaker, but show that
he has just been a listener and received an impression or stimulus from
another; otherwise he cannot suggest any true dramatic action.

In the monologue, as in all true dramatic representation, the listener as
well as the speaker must be realized as continuously living and thinking.
The listener, though he utters not a word, must be conceived from the
effect he makes upon the speaker, in order to perceive the argument as
well as the situation and point of view.

The necessity of realizing a listener is one of the most important points
to be noted in the study of the monologue. Take, as an illustration,
Browning's "Incident of the French Camp."


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

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

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

  "Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace
    We've got you Ratisbon!
  The Marshal's in the market-place,
    And you'll be there anon
  To see your flag-bird flap his wings
    Where I, to heart's desire,
  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
    When her bruised eaglet breathes:
  "You're wounded!" "Nay," his soldier's pride
    Touched to the quick, he said:
  "I'm killed, Sire!" And, his Chief beside,
    Smiling the boy fell dead.

I have heard prominent public readers give this as a mere story without
affording any definite conception of either speaker or listener. In the
first reading over of the poem, one may find no hint of either. But the
student catches the phrase "we French," and at once sees that a Frenchman
must be speaking. He soon discovers that the whole poem is colored by the
feeling of some old soldier of Napoleon who was either an eye-witness of
the scene or who knew Napoleon's bearing so well that he could easily
picture it to his imagination. The poem now becomes a living thing, and
its interpretation by voice and action is rendered possible. But is this
all? To whom does the soldier speak? The listener seems entirely in the
background. This is wise, because the other in telling his story would
naturally lose himself in his memories and grow more or less oblivious of
his hearer. But the conception of a sympathetic auditor is needed to
quicken the fervor and animation of the speaker. Does not the phrase "we
French" imply that the listener is another Frenchman whose patriotic
enthusiasm responds to the story? The short phrases, and suggestive hints
through the poem, are thus explained. The speaker seems to imply that
Napoleon's bearing is well known to his listener. Certainly upon the
conception of such a speaker and such a hearer depends the spirit,
dramatic force, and even thought of the poem.

I have chosen this illustration purposely, because, of all monologues,
this lays possibly the least emphasis on a listener; yet it cannot be
adequately rendered by the voice, or even properly conceived in thought,
without a distinct realization of such a person.

In Browning's "Rabbi Ben Ezra," the speaker is an old man. "Grow old along
with me!" indicates this, and we feel his age and experience all through
the poem. But without the presence of this youth, who must have expressed
pity for the loneliness and gloom of age, the old man would never have
broken forth so suddenly and so forcibly in the portrayal of his noble
philosophy of life. He expands with joy, love for his race, and reverence
for Providence. "Grow old along with me!" "Trust God: see all, nor be
afraid!" His enthusiasm, his exalted realization of life, are due to his
own nobility of character. But his earnestness, his vivid illustrations,
his emphasis and action, spring from his efforts to expound the philosophy
of life to his youthful listener and to correct the young man's one-sided
views. The characters of both speaker and listener are necessary in order
that one may receive an understanding of the argument.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  And I shall thereupon take rest, ere I be gone
    Once more on my adventure brave and new;
  Fearless and unperplexed, when I wage battle next,
    What weapons to select, what armor to indue.

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

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

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

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

  As it was better, youth should strive, through acts uncouth,
    Toward making, than repose on aught found made;
  So, better, age, exempt from strife, should know, than tempt
    Further. Thou waitedst age; wait death nor be afraid!

  Enough now, if the Right and Good and Infinite
    Be named here, as thou callest thy hand thine own,
  With knowledge absolute, subject to no dispute
    From fools that crowded youth, nor let thee feel alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even when the words are the same, the delivery changes according to the
peculiarities of the hearer. No one tells a story in the same way to
different persons. When it is narrated to a little child, greater emphasis
is placed on points; we make longer pauses and more salient, definite
pictures; but if it is told to an educated man, the thought is sketched
more in outline. To one who is ignorant of the circumstances many details
are carefully suggested. Even the figures and illustrations are
consciously or unconsciously so chosen by one with the dramatic instinct
as to adapt the truth to the listener.

In "The Englishman in Italy," the story is told to a child. After the
quotation, "such trifles," the Englishman speaking would no doubt laugh.
The spirit of the poem is shown by the fact that it is spoken by an
Englishman to a little child that is an Italian.

A monologue shows the effect of character upon character, and hence nearly
always implies the direct speaking of one person to another. In this it
differs from a speech. Still, the principle applies even to the speaker.
He cannot present a subject in the same way to an educated and to an
uneducated audience, but instinctively chooses words common to him and to
his hearers and finds such illustrations as make his meaning obvious to
them. All language is imperfect. Truth is not made clear by being made
superficial, but by the careful choosing of words and illustrations
understood by the hearer. The speaker, accordingly, must feel his
audience. The imperfection of ordinary teaching and speaking is thus
explained by a form of dramatic art. Browning says at the close of "The
Ring and the Book":

  "Why take the artistic way to prove so much?
  Because, it is the glory and good of Art,
  That Art remains the one way possible
  Of speaking truth, to mouths like mine, at least.
  How look a brother in the face and say
  'Thy right is wrong, eyes hast thou, yet art blind,
  Thine ears are stuffed and stopped, despite their length,
  And, oh, the foolishness thou countest faith!'
  Say this as silvery as tongue can troll--
  The anger of the man may be endured,
  The shrug, the disappointed eyes of him
  Are not so bad to bear--but here's the plague,
  That all this trouble comes of telling truth,
  Which truth, by when it reaches him, looks false,
  Seems to be just the thing it would supplant,
  Nor recognizable by whom it left;
  While falsehood would have done the work of truth.
  But Art,--wherein man nowise speaks to men,
  Only to mankind,--Art may tell a truth
  Obliquely, do the thing shall breed the thought,
  Nor wrong the thought, missing the mediate word."

In "A Woman's Last Word," already explained (p. 6), the listening husband,
his attitude towards his wife, his jealousy and suspicion, all serve to
call forth her love and nobility of character. He is the cause of the
monologue, and must be as definitely conceived as the speaker. Without a
clear conception of his character, her words cannot receive the right

In "Bishop Blougram's Apology," the listener, Mr. Gigadibs, is definitely,
though indirectly, portrayed. He is a young man of thirty, impulsive,
ideal, but has not yet struggled with the problems of life. His criticisms
of Blougram are answered by that worldly-minded ecclesiastic, who can
declare most truly the fact that an absolute faith is not possible, and
then assume--and thus contradict himself--that to ignorant people he must
preach an absolute faith. The character of the Bishop is strongly
conceived, and his perception of the highest possibility of life, as well
as his failure to carry it out, are portrayed with marvellous complexity
and full recognition of the difficulties of reconciling idealism with
realism. But the character of his young, enthusiastic, and earnest critic,
who lacks his experience and who may be partially silenced, is as
important as the apology of Blougram. The poem is a debate between an
idealist and a realist, the speech of the realist alone being given. We
catch the weakness and the strength of both points of view, and thus enter
into the comprehension of a most subtle struggle for self-justification.

It is some distance from Bishop Blougram to Mr. Dooley, but the necessity
for a listener in the monologue, a listener of definite character, is
shown in both cases.

Dooley's talks are a departure from the regular form of the monologue, in
the fact that Hennessey now and then speaks a word directly; but this
partial introduction of dialogue does not change the fact that all of
these talks are monologues. Such interruptions are not the only types of
departure from the strict form of the monologue. Browning gives a
narrative conclusion to "Pheidippides" and "Bishop Blougram's Apology,"
and many variations are found among different authors. Hennessey's remarks
may be introduced as a way of arousing in the imagination of ordinary
people a conception of the listener. The relationship of the two
characters is thus possibly more easily pictured to the ordinary

Of the necessity of Hennessey there can be no doubt. Mr. Dooley would
never speak in this way but for the sympathetic and reverently attentive
Hennessey. The two are complemental and necessary to each other.

Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures were very popular, perhaps partly because
of the silence expressing the patience of Caudle, though there were
appendices that indicated remarks written down by Mr. Caudle, but long
afterwards and when alone. There are some advantages in the pure form; the
mind is kept more concentrated. So without Hennessey's direct remarks the
picture of Dooley might have been even better sustained. The form of a
monologue, however, must not be expected to remain rigid. The point here
to be apprehended is the necessity of recognizing a listener as well as a

Every Dooley demands a listener. He must have appreciation. These
monologues are a humorous, possibly unconscious, presentation of this
principle. The audience or the reader is turned by the author into a
contemplative spectator of a simple situation. A play demands a struggle,
but here we have all the restfulness, ease, and repose of life itself. We
all like to sit back and observe, especially when a character is unfolding

In the monologue as well as in the play there is no direct teaching.
Things happen as in life, and we see the action of a thought upon a
certain mind and do our own exhorting or preaching.

The monologue adapts itself to all kinds of characters and to every
species of theme. It does not require a plot, or even a great struggle, as
in the case of the play. Attention is fixed upon one individual; we are
led into the midst of the natural situations of every-day life, and
receive with great force the impressions which events, ideas, or other
characters make upon a specific type of man.

Eugene Field often makes children talk in monologues. Some persons have
criticized Field's children's poems and said they were not for children at
all. This is true, and Field no doubt intended it so. He made his children
talk naturally and freely, as if to each other, but not as they would talk
to older people.

"Jes' 'Fore Christmas" is true to a boy's character, but we must be
careful in choosing a listener. The boy would not speak in this way to an
audience, to the family at the dinner table, nor to any one but a
confidant. He must have, in fact, a Hennessey,--possibly some other boy,
or, more likely, some hired man.

It is a mistake, unfortunately a common one, to give such a poem as a
speech to an audience. It is not a speech, but only one end of a
conversation. It is almost lyric in its portrayal of feeling, but still it
concerns human action and the relations of persons to each other.
Therefore, it is primarily dramatic, and a monologue. The words must be
considered as spoken to some confidential listener.

A proper conception of the monologue produces a higher appreciation of the
work of Field. As monologues, his poems are always consistent and
beautiful. When considered as mere stories for children, their artistic
form has been misconceived, and interpreters of them with this conception
have often failed.

Even "Little Boy Blue," a decided lyric, has a definite speaker, and the
objects described and the events indicated are intensely as well as
dramatically realized. Notice the abrupt transitions, the sudden changes
in feeling. It is more easily rendered with a slight suggestion of a
sympathetic listener.

Many persons regard James Whitcomb Riley's "Knee-deep in June" as a lyric;
but has it enough unconsciousness for this? To me it is far more flexible
and spontaneous when considered as a monologue. The interpreter of the
poem can make longer pauses. He can so identify himself with the character
as to give genial and hearty laughter, and thus indicate dramatically the
sudden arrival of ideas. To reveal the awakening of an idea is the very
soul of spontaneous expression, and such awakening is nearly always
dramatic. So in the following conception, what a sudden, joyous discovery
can be made of

  "Mr. Blue Jay full o' sass,
  In them base-ball cloes o' hisn."

Notice also the sudden breaks in transition that can be indicated in

  "Blue birds' nests tucked up there
  Conveniently for the boy 'at's apt to be
  Up some other apple tree."

Notice after "to be" how he suddenly enjoys the birds' cunning and laughs
for the moment at the boys' failure. You can accentuate, too, his dramatic
feeling for May and "'bominate its promises" with more decision and point.

The "you" in this poem and the frequent imperatives indicate the
conception in the author's mind of a speaker and a sympathetic companion
out in the fields in June. It certainly detracts from the simplicity,
dramatic intensity, naturalness, and spontaneity to make of it a kind of
address to an audience. The same is true of the "Liztown Humorist,"
"Kingsby's Mill," "Joney," and many others which are usually considered
and rendered as stories. They are monologues. Possibly a completer title
for them would be lyric monologues.

While the interpreter of these monologues can easily turn his auditors
into a sympathetic and familiar group who might stand for his listener, he
can transport them in imagination to the right situation; and while this
is often done by interpreters with good effect, to my mind this does not
change their character as monologues.

Granting, however, that some of Riley's poems are more or less speeches,
it must be admitted that he has written some definite and formal poems
which cannot be so conceived. "Nothin' to Say," for example, is one of the
most decided and formal monologues found anywhere. In this the listener


  Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!--
  Gyrls that's in love, I've noticed, ginerly has their way!
  Yer mother did afore you, when her folks objected to me--
  Yit here I am, and here you air; and yer mother--where is she?

  You look lots like yer mother: Purty much same in size;
  And about the same complected; and favor about the eyes:
  Like her, too, about her _livin_ here,--because _she_ couldn't stay:
  It'll 'most seem like you was dead--like her!--But I hain't got nothin'
      to say!

  She left you her little Bible--writ yer name acrost the page--
  And left her ear-bobs fer you, ef ever you come of age.
  I've allus kep' 'em and gyuarded 'em, but ef yer goin' away--
  Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!

  You don't rikollect her, I reckon? No; you wasn't a year old then!
  And now yer--how old air you? W'y, child, not "_twenty!_" When?
  And yer nex' birthday's in Aprile? and you want to git married that day?
  ... I wisht yer mother was livin'!--But--I hain't got nothin' to say!

  Twenty year! and as good a gyrl as parent ever found.
  There's a straw ketched onto yer dress there--I'll bresh it off--turn
  (Her mother was jes' twenty when us two run away!)
  Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!

can be as definitely located as the speaker. To conceal his own tears, the
speaker turns or stops and pretends to brush off a straw caught on his
daughter's dress. We have here in this monologue also something unusual,
but very suggestive and strictly dramatic,--an aside wherein he evidently
turns away from his daughter--

  ("Her mother was jes' twenty when us two run away.")

Since the daughter is definitely located as listener and the other
speeches are spoken to her, this can be given easily as a contrast, as an
aside to himself, and a slight turn of the body will serve to emphasize,
even as an aside often does in a play, the location of the daughter, and
the speaker's relation to her. The sentiment also serves to emphasize the
character of the speaker.

In "Griggsby's Station" we have a most decided monologue. Who is speaking,
and to whom is the monologue addressed? Is the speaker the daughter in a
family suddenly grown rich, talking to her mother? The character of the
speaker and of the listener must be definitely conceived and carefully
suggested in order to give truth to the rendering or even to realize its

The same is true regarding many of Holman Day's stories in his "Up in
Maine," and other books. With hardly any exception these are best rendered
as monologues.

Many of the poems of Sam Walter Foss and other popular writers of the
present are monologues. The homelike characters demand sympathetic
listeners, who are, by implication, of the same general type and character
as the speaker. Even "The House by the Side of the Road" is better given
with the spirit of the monologue. It is too personal, too dramatic, to be
turned into a speech.

Again, notice Mrs. Piatt's "Sometime," and a dozen examples in Webb's
"Vagrom Verse"; also "With Lead and Line along Varying Shores"; and in
Oscar Fay Adams's "Sicut Patribus," where you would hardly expect
monologues, you find that "At Bay" and "Conrad's Choir" have the form of

Many monologues in our popular writers seem at first simple and without
the formal and definite construction of those employed by Browning, yet
after careful examination we feel that the conception of the monologue has
slowly taken possession of our writers, it may be unconsciously, and that
the true interpretation of many of the most popular poems demands from the
reader a dramatic conception.

For the comprehension of any monologue, those points where the speaker is
directly affected by the hearer need especial attention. The speaker
occasionally echoes the words of his hearer. Mrs. Caudle, for instance,
often quotes the words of her spouse, and these were printed by Douglas
Jerrold in italics and even in separate paragraphs. "For the love of mercy
let you sleep?" for example, was thus printed to emphasize the
interruption by Caudle. These words would be echoed by her with affected
surprise. Then she would pour out her sarcasm: "Mercy indeed; I wish you
would show a little of it to other people." In most authors these echoed
speeches are indicated by quotation marks. Browning sometimes has words in
parentheses. Note "(What 'cicada'? Pooh!)" in "A Tale." "Cicada" was
certainly spoken by the listener, but the other words in the parentheses
and other parentheses in this monologue are more personal remarks by the
speaker. They have reference, however, to the listener's attitude.

In some cases Browning gives no indication by even quotation marks that
the speaker is echoing words of the hearer. The attitude of the listener
must be varied by the dramatic instinct of the reader. The grasp of the
situation greatly depends upon this. It is one of the most important
aspects of the dramatic instinct. ("Up at a Villa--Down in the City," see
p. 65.) "Why" and "What of a Villa" certainly refers to the words, or at
least the attitude, of the listener, which is realized from the manner of
the speaker.

In the same poem the question "Is it ever hot in the square?" may be the
echo of a word or a thought of the listener. In this case the speaker
would answer it more abruptly and positively when he says, "There is a
fountain to spout and splash." If, on the contrary, the thought is his
own, and comes up naturally in his mind as one of the points in his
description or as a result of living over his experience down in the city,
he would give it less abruptly, with less force or emphasis. In general, a
quotation or the echo of the words of a listener are given by the speaker
with a different manner.

Tennyson, though the fact is often overlooked, has written many

Some readers give "Lady Clara Vere de Vere" as a mere story. Is there,
then, no thought of the character of the yeoman who is talking with
burning indignation at the death of his friend?


  Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
    Of me you shall not win renown:
  You thought to break a country heart
    For pastime, ere you went to town.
  At me you smiled, but unbeguiled
    I saw the snare, and I retired:
  The daughter of a hundred earls,
    You are not one to be desired.

  Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
    I know you proud to bear your name,
  Your pride is yet no mate for mine,
    Too proud to care from whence I came.
  Nor would I break for your sweet sake
    A heart that doats on truer charms.
  A simple maiden in her flower
    Is worth a hundred coats of arms.

  Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
    Some meeker pupil you must find,
  For were you queen of all that is,
    I could not stoop to such a mind.
  You sought to prove how I could love,
    And my disdain is my reply.
  The lion on your old stone gates
    Is not more cold to you than I.

  Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
    You put strange memories in my head;
  Nor thrice your branching limes have blown
    Since I beheld young Laurence dead.
  Oh, your sweet eyes, your low replies:
    A great enchantress you may be:
  But there was that across his throat
    Which you had hardly cared to see.

  Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
    When thus he met his mother's view,
  She had the passions of her kind,
    She spake some certain truths of you.
  Indeed I heard one bitter word
    That scarce is fit for you to hear:
  Her manners had not that repose
    Which stamps the caste of Vere de Vere.

  Lady Clara Vere de Vere,
    There stands a spectre in your hall:
  The guilt of blood is at your door:
    You changed a wholesome heart to gall.
  You held your course without remorse,
    To make him trust his modest worth,
  And, last, you fixed a vacant stare,
    And slew him with your noble birth.

  Trust me, Clara Vere de Vere,
    From yon blue heavens above us bent
  The gardener Adam and his wife
    Smile at the claims of long descent.
  Howe'er it be, it seems to me,
    'Tis only noble to be good.
  Kind hearts are more than coronets,
    And simple faith than Norman blood.

  I know you, Clara Vere de Vere,
    You pine among your halls and towers:
  The languid light of your proud eyes
    Is wearied of the rolling hours.
  In glowing health, with boundless wealth,
    But sickening of a vague disease,
  You know so ill to deal with time,
    You needs must play such pranks as these.

  Clara, Clara Vere de Vere,
    If Time be heavy on your hands,
  Are there no beggars at your gate,
    Nor any poor about your lands?
  Oh! teach the orphan-boy to read,
    Or teach the orphan-girl to sew,
  Pray Heaven for a human heart,
    And let the foolish yeoman go.

The character of the speaker must be realized from first to last. But
there is something more. Did the yeoman win or lose his case? Does
Tennyson give us no sign of the effect of his words upon the lady to whom
his rebuke was directed? All whom I have heard read it, cause one to think
that she remains stolid, unresponsive, and cold, or else she was not
really present, and the poem is a kind of lyric. But you will notice that
in the last stanza the speaker drops the "Lady," and says "Clara, Clara,"
which certainly shows a change in feeling. There are also other
indications that she was affected by his words, and that the speaker saw
it. In the line, "You know so ill to deal with time," he may be excusing
her conduct, while in the last lines he suggests how she should live to
atone for the past:

  "Oh! teach the orphan-boy to read,
  Or teach the orphan-girl to sew."

He certainly would not have spoken thus if she had not by word or look
shown indications of repentance. Truth must accomplish its results. Art
must reflect the victory of truth. We perceive the signs of victory in the
very words of the poem, and the character of the speaker's expression must
reflect the response in her. The reader who dramatically or truly
interprets the poem, feeling this, will show a change in feeling and
movement, and give tender coloring to the closing words.

Of course there is much moralizing in this and a smoother movement than in
a monologue by Browning. Tennyson is not a master of the monologue. Some
may think that Clara would never have endured this long lecture, and that
it is unnatural for us to conceive of her as being really present; but,
though poetry usually takes fewer words to say something than would be
used in life, sometimes--and here possibly--it takes more. Certainly
Tennyson often takes more, and this is one reason why he is not a dramatic
poet. The poem, however, can be effectively rendered as a monologue, and
thus receive a more adequate interpretation.

There is frequently more than one listener. In "The Bishop orders his Tomb
at Saint Praxed's Church," the Bishop speaks to many "sons," though he
calls out Anselm especially, his chief heir, perhaps. In "The Ring and the
Book" some of the speakers address the court and almost make speeches, as
do the lawyers in their pleas, for instance. But the Pope, who acts, it
will be remembered, as the judge, is in many cases the person addressed.
The principle is the same, though the situations may differ. In every
case, such a situation, listener, or listeners are chosen as will best
express the character of the speaker. Notice, for example, that Pompilia
tells her story on her dying bed to the sympathetic nuns, who would best
call forth the points in her story.

The listener is sometimes changed, or may change, positions. In Riley's
"There, Little Girl, Don't Cry," the three great periods in a woman's life
are portrayed, and the location of the listener must be changed to show
the different situations and changes of time and place as well as the
character of the listener. Long pauses and extreme variations in the
modulations of the voice are also necessary in such a transition. This
poem also affords an example of the age and experience of the listener
affecting expression.

In many monologues the person about whom the speaker talks is of great
importance. In "The Flight of the Duchess" we almost entirely lose sight
of the speaker and of the hearer, and our thought successively centres
upon the Duke, on his mother, on the old crone, and, above all, on the
Duchess. These characters are made to live before us, and we see the
impressions they produce upon a simple, loyal heart. The beauty of this
wonderful monologue lies in the portrayal of the honest nature of the
speaker and the revelation of the impressions made upon him by those who
have played parts in his life.

The series of monologues or soliloquies styled by Browning "James Lee's
Wife" were called "James Lee" in his first edition, and many feel that
Browning made a mistake in changing the title; for the theme in these is
the character, not of the woman who speaks so much as of the man about
whom she speaks.

In Browning's "Clive," the speaker, who "is by no means a Clive,"
according to Professor Dowden, "has to betray something of his own
character and at the same time to set forth the character of the hero of
his tale." Here, of course, both speaker and listener are subordinated to
Clive, the person spoken of. Hence some may be tempted to think that
"Clive" is a mere story. Dowden, Chesterton, and others speak of it as a
story, but it has the movement, the dramatic action, the unity and spirit
of a monologue. The fact that the chief character is the one about whom
the speaker talks makes the poem none the less dramatic. The more "Clive"
is studied, the more will the student feel that its chief theme is the
contact and conflict of characters, and the more, too, will he perceive
that its atmosphere and peculiarities are caused by the sense of a speaker
and a listener, each of a distinct type.

This indirect narration or suggestion is often important, but in every
case it is the speaker who reflects as from a mirror impressions produced
upon him by the characters of those about whom he speaks.

The study of the relations of speaker and hearer requires discrimination
to be made between the soliloquy and the monologue.

Shakespeare's soliloquies may be thought to be unnatural. No man ever
talked to his fellows as Hamlet talks when alone, and Juliet at the window
is made to reveal her deepest feelings. But all love songs express what
the words of the ordinary man can never reveal. All art, and especially
all literature, is a kind of objective embodiment of feeling or the
processes of thinking. While Shakespeare's soliloquies may not seem as
natural as conversation, in one sense they are more natural expressions of
thinking and feeling. The highest poetry may be as natural as prose, or
even more natural; all depends upon the mood or theme. In all art and
literature, naturalness is due not to mere external accidents, but to the
truthfulness of the expression of deeper emotions of the human heart.

Many feel that any representation in words of a mood or feeling is a
lyric; hence they regard most monologues as lyrics. But are not
Shakespeare's soliloquies dramatic? The lyric spirit gives objective form
to feeling, but dramatic poetry does this in a way to show character and
motives as well as moods.

To a certain extent, the lyric spirit and the dramatic can never be
completely separated. There has never been a good play that was not lyric
as well as dramatic. There has never been a true lyric poem that has not
revealed some trait of human character and implied certain relations of
human beings to each other. It is only the predominance of feeling and
mood that makes a poem lyric, or the predominance of relations or
conflicts of human beings that makes a passage dramatic. All the elements
of poetry are inseparably united because they express living aspects of
the human heart.

Shakespeare's soliloquies deserve careful study as the best introduction
to the deep nature of the monologue. They are objective embodiments in
words of feelings and moods of which the speaker himself is only partly
conscious. This is the very climax of literature,--to word what no
individual ever words. In a sense, this is true of a lyric, which may
interpret in the many words of a song what in life is a mere look or the
hardly revealed attitude of a soul. The deepest feelings of love can never
be expressed in the prose of conversation. They can be suggested only in
the exalted language of poetry.

These principles apply especially to the appreciation of a soliloquy. Of
this phase of dramatic or literary art there has been but one master, and
that was Shakespeare. He could make Hamlet think and feel before us
without relation to another human being. He is the only author,
practically, who has ever been able to portray a character entirely alone.
In the great climaxes of his plays, we feel that he is dealing with the
interpretation of the deepest moods and motives of life.

The exclamation, "Oh, that this too, too solid flesh would melt," after
the departure of the King and the Court, reveals to us Hamlet's real
condition, his impression or premonition that something is wrong. We are
thus prepared for the effect of the news brought by Horatio and Marcellus,
because his attitude has been first revealed to us by Shakespeare.
Shakespeare alone could perform this marvellous feat. Again, one of the
most important acts closes with a soliloquy which reveals Hamlet's spirit
more definitely than could be done in any other way. This soliloquy comes
naturally. Hamlet drives all from him, that he may arrange the dozen lines
which he wishes to add to the play. This plan has come to him while he was
listening to the actor, and must be shown by his action during the actor's
speech. Hamlet, in a proper stage arrangement, is so placed as to occupy
the attention of the audience while the actor is reciting. The impressions
produced upon him, and not the player's rehearsal, form the centre of
interest. By turning away while listening to the actor, he can indicate
his agitation and the action of his mind in deciding upon the plan which
is definitely stated in the soliloquy and forms the culmination of the

Notice, too, how Shakespeare makes this soliloquy come naturally between
his dismissal of the two emissaries of the King and the writing of the
addition to the play. Hamlet's soul is laid bare. He is roused to a pitch
of great excitement over the grief of the actor and his own indifference
to his father's murder. Then, taking up the play, he begins to prepare his
extra lines, and with this closes the most passionate of all soliloquies.

Strictly speaking, a soliloquy is only a revelation of the thinking of a
person entirely alone and uninfluenced by another; but a monologue implies
thinking influenced by some peculiar type of hearer.

Browning's soliloquies are practically monologues. We feel that the
character almost "others" itself and talks to itself as if to another
person. This is also natural. We know it by observing children. But it is
very different from the lonely soul revealing itself in Shakespeare's
soliloquies. In fact, the monologue has taken such hold upon Browning that
even Pippa's soliloquies in "Pippa Passes" are practically monologues.

In the "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister," the monk talks to himself
almost as to another person, and his every idea is influenced by Brother
Lawrence, whom he sees in the garden below him, but to whom he does not
speak and who does not see him.


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

  At the meal we sit together:
    _Salve tibi!_ I must hear
  Wise talk of the kind of weather,
    Sort of season, time of year:
  _Not a plenteous cork-crop: scarcely
    Dare we hope oak-galls, I doubt:
  What's the Latin name for "parsley"?_
    What's the Greek name for Swine's Snout?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this "soliloquy" we have, in a few lines, possibly the strongest
interpretation of hypocrisy in literature. The soliloquy begins with the
speaker's accidental discovery of the kindly-hearted monk, Brother
Lawrence, attending to his flowers in the court below, and the sight
causes an explosion of rage. So intense is his feeling that, in his
imagination, he talks directly to Brother Lawrence. Note, for example,
such suggestions as, "How go on your flowers?" Of course, Brother Lawrence
knows nothing of the speaker's presence; that worthy, with gusto, answers
his own questions to himself.

Notice also the abrupt transitions. Browning, even in his soliloquies,
often introduces events. "There his lily snaps!" is given with sudden glee
as the speaker discovers the accident.

The difference between Browning and Shakespeare may be still more clearly
conceived. "Shakespeare," says some one, "makes his characters live;
Browning makes his think." Shakespeare reveals character by making a man
think alone, or, in contact with others, act. Browning fixes our attention
upon an individual, and shows us what he is by making him think, and
usually he suggests the cause of the thinking in some relation to objects,
events, or characters. The situation in every case is most favorable to
the expression of thought and feeling, and of deeper motives. The chief
difference between Shakespeare and Browning is the difference between a
play and a monologue. The point of view of the two men is not the same,
and we must appreciate that of both.

Browning's "Saul" may be regarded as a soliloquy. David is alone.
Browning's words here help us to an appreciation of his peculiar kind of

  "Let me tell out my tale to its ending--my voice to my heart
  Which can scarce dare believe in what marvels last night I took part,
  As this morning I gather the fragments, alone with my sheep,
  And still fear lest the terrible glory evanish like sleep!"

"My voice to my heart" is very suggestive. Browning always made his
speaker, when alone, talk to himself. He divides the personality of the
individual much more than did Shakespeare. Shakespeare simply makes a man
think aloud, while Browning almost makes consciousness dual.

Some one may ask,--Why not take any story or lyric and give it directly to
an imaginary listener, and only indirectly to the audience?

This is exactly what should be done in some cases. Who can declaim as a
speech or as if to an audience "John Anderson, my Jo," or "The Lover's
Appeal," and not feel the situation to be ludicrous?

Some of the tenderest lyric poems should be given as though to an
imaginary auditor somewhat to one side. As the lyric is subjective, the
turning to one side is a help to the subjective sympathetic condition,
especially in cases where the words of the lyric are supposed to be
addressed to some individual character. It is very difficult for readers
to speak to an audience directly and not pass into the oratoric attitude
of mind. A little turn to the side, when simple, suggests the indirect
nature of a poem. It gives power to change attention and suggests degrees
of subjectivity, and thus tends to prevent the true spirit of the poem
from being destroyed by oratorical or declamatory effects.

Perhaps Charles Lamb's famous saying, that recitation perverts a beautiful
poem, would have been qualified had some poem been read to him with full
recognition of its artistic character. The poem is not a speech, but a
work of art, and the speaker must be clearly conceived, his emotion
sympathetically realized, and given, not to an audience, but to an
imaginary listener; thus all the delicacy and tenderness may be truthfully
revealed and declamation and unnaturalness avoided.

In general, every kind of literature can be adequately rendered aloud. The
true spirit of those poems that have been considered unadapted to such
rendering can possibly be shown by the voice if we find the real
situation, and do not try to give the words the directness of an oration
or a lesson, or the objectivity of a play.

When a story or a poem can be made more natural and more effective by
being conceived as spoken by a character of a definite type to a definite
type of hearer, it should usually be regarded as a monologue. Readers who
picture not only the peculiar character speaking, but the person to whom
he speaks, will receive and give a more adequate impression, one more
dramatic, more simple, and far more expressive of character than those who
confuse it with a lyric or a story.

Dramatic art, in fact all art, is indirect, except in some forms of
speaking. The true orator or speaker, however, while having a direct
purpose, never directly commands or dominates his audience. Every true
artist, painter, musician, or even orator, simply awakens the faculties
and powers of others, and leads men to decide for themselves. The true
speaker should appeal to imagination and reason, and not attempt to force
men to accept his ideals and convictions. That would be domination, not
oratory. True art is on the rational basis of kinship of nature. Faculty
awakens faculty, vision quickens vision.

No hard and fast line can be drawn between the arts, even between the
oration and the monologue. But the oration is more direct, more conscious;
speaker and listener understand, as a rule, exactly the purpose and the
intention. The monologue, on the contrary, is indirect. Its interpreter
endeavors faithfully to portray human nature. He reveals the impressions
produced upon him instead of endeavoring directly to produce a specific
impression upon an audience.

The conception of the listener in the monologue is different from that of
the listener in the oration. In every monologue, the interpreter shows the
contact of a speaker with a listener and conveys a definite impression
made upon him by each. He especially conveys, not only his identification
with the character speaking, but that character's mental or conversational
attitude towards another human being and the unconscious variation of
mental action resulting from such a relationship.


Whether or not we agree with the ancient rules of the unities regarding
place, time, and action as laws of the drama, every one must recognize the
fact that all three conceptions are in some sense necessary to an
illusion. A dramatic action or position implies not only character, but
specific location and circumstance. The situation helps to reveal the
character and shows its relation to human life.

Therefore, dramatic effect implies more than contact of different
characters. It is concerned with such a placing of the characters as will
reveal something of motives.

Two men may meet continually in society or in the ordinary and
conventional relations of business and the peculiar characteristics of
neither may ever be revealed. Steel and flint may lie passively side by
side or may be frozen in the same ice without any suggestion of heat. The
steel must strike the flint suddenly to bring forth a spark of fire. In
the same way, character must collide with character in such a situation,
such a conflict of interests, such opposite determinations or ambitions,
as will cause a revelation of motives and dispositions. Steel and flint
illustrate character. The stroke is the situation, the spark the dramatic
result. Place, accordingly, is often of great importance in dramatic art.

The monologue is no exception to this. The reader must definitely imagine
not only a speaker and a listener, but also a location or situation. From
a dramatic point of view, situation is perhaps more necessary to a
monologue than to a play. Without a situation, nothing can be dramatic.

In Browning's "Up at a Villa--Down in the City," is the speaker located in
the city, at the villa, or at some point between the two?



  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;
  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's 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 wool.

  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 eye!
  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 high;
  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 heights.
  You've the brown ploughed land before, where the oxen steam and wheeze,
  And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint gray olive-trees.

  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 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 pash
  Round the lady atop in the conch--fifty gazers do not abash,
  Though all that she wears is some weeds round her waist in a sort of

  All the year long at the villa, nothing's to see though you linger,
  Except yon cypress that points like Death's lean lifted forefinger.
  Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix in 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 shrill,
  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.
  By and by there's the travelling 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,
  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
  Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than ever he
  Noon strikes,--here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smiling and
  With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her heart!
  _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 the rate.
  They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and what oil pays passing the gate
  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 sandals,
  And the penitents dressed in white shirts, a-holding the 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!

Of course, there are arguments in favor of placing the "person of quality"
in the city near his beloved objects. One of the last lines, beginning
"Look, two and two go the priests," seems to imply the discovery and
actual presence of the procession. But if Browning had located the speaker
in the city, would he not say "here" and not "there," as he does at the
end of the third line?

If at the villa, why does he say to his listener, "Well, now, look at our
villa!" The fact that he points to it and says,

                      "stuck like the horn of a bull
  Just on a mountain's edge,"

seems to imply, though in plain sight of it, that he is some distance
away. Again, if at the villa, how can he discover the procession?

Was the monologue spoken during a walk? We can easily imagine the "person
of quality" and his companion starting from the villa and talking while
coming down into the city. But this is hardly possible, because when
Browning changes his situation in this way, he always suggests definitely
the stages of the journey. He never makes a mistake regarding the location
or situation of his characters. His conceptions are so dramatic that he is
always consistent regarding his characters and the situations or points of
view they occupy. However obscure he may be in other points, he never
confuses time and place or dramatic situation.

Is it not best to imagine him as having walked out with a friend to some
point where the villa above and the city below are both clearly visible?
And as the humor of the monologue consists in the impressions which the
two places make upon the speaker, the contrasts are sharp and sudden. In
such a position we can distinctly realize him now looking with longing
towards the city that he loves and then turning with disgust and contempt
towards the villa he despises.

Possibly his listener is located on the side towards the villa, as that
unknown and almost unnoticed personage seems once or twice, at least, to
make a mild defence. That his listener does not wholly agree with him, is
indicated by "Why?" at the end of the eleventh line, to which he replies,
heaping encomiums upon the city, careless of the fact that his arguments
would make any lover of beauty smile: "Houses in four straight lines."

  "And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly."

"What of a villa?" may also be an echo of the listener's question or
remark, or apply to a look expressive of his attitude of mind. "Is it ever
hot in the square?" suggests some satire on his part. The listener,
however, is barely noticed, as the speaker seems to scorn the slightest
opposition or expression of opinion.

In such a position, we can easily imagine him with the whole city at his
feet in sufficiently plain view to allow him to discover enough of the
procession to waken memory and enthusiasm, and bring all up as a present
reality. The procession can be easily imagined as starting from some
convent outside the walls and appearing below them on its way to town. All
the facts of the procession need not be discovered. It is a scene he has
often observed and delighted in, and distance would lend enchantment to
the speaker and serve as the climax of his enthusiasm, as he portrayed to
his less responsive friend the details of the procession.

Some of his references to both villa and city are certainly from memory.
For example, the different sights and sounds that he has seen and heard
from time to time in the city, such as the "diligence," the "scene-picture
at the post-office."

The spirit of the monologue, the enthusiasm and exultation over what
gives anything but pleasure to others, requires such a character as will
enjoy "the travelling doctor" who "gives pills, lets blood, draws teeth."
Notice Browning's touch for the reformers, he makes such a man rejoice at
the news, "only this morning three liberal thieves were shot." The
"liberal thieves" are doubtless three Italian reformers who had been
trying to deliver their country. It is possible to imagine the procession
as wholly from memory, and "noon strikes" to be simply a part of his
imagination and exultation. How gaily he skips as our Lady, the Madonna,

                                      "borne smiling and smart,
  With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her

He has no conception of the symbol of the seven deadly sins, but dances
away at the music, "No keeping one's haunches still." Later, however, when
he exclaims to his listener, "Look," he seems to make an actual discovery.
Does he start as he actually sees a procession in the distance? A real one
coming before him would give life and variety to the monologue. Browning
intentionally leaves the conceptions gradually to dawn in the imagination.
The doubts, and the questions which may be asked, have been dwelt upon in
order to emphasize the point that the speaker must be conceived in a
definite situation. When once a situation is located, this will modify
some of the shades of feeling and expression.

The point, then, is, that a reader or interpreter must conceive the
speaker as occupying a definite place, and when this is done, the position
will determine somewhat the feeling and the expression. Difference in
situation causes many differences in action and in voice modulations.
Whatever location, therefore, the reader decides upon, everything else
must be consistent with it.

One point in this monologue may be especially obscure, where reference is
made to the city being "dear!" "fowls, wine, at double the rate." I was
one of three in a carriage who were once stopped at a gate in Florence and
examined to see whether we carried any "salt," "oil," or anything on which
there was a tax, which, according to the owner of the villa, "is a horror
to think of." Some Italian cities do not have free trade with the
surrounding country; food stuffs are taxed upon "passing the gate," thus
making life in the city more expensive. And here is the reason why this
man sadly mourns:

                              "And so, the villa for me, not the city!
  Beggars can scarcely be choosers: but still--ah, the pity, the pity!"

Whatever may be said regarding Browning's obscurity, however far he may
have gone into the most technical knowledge of science in any department
of life, however remote his allusions to events or objects or lines of
knowledge which are unfamiliar to the world, there is one thing about
which he is always definite, possibly more definite than any other writer.
In every monologue we can find an indication of the place or situation in
which the monologue is located.

Browning has given us one monologue which takes place during a walk, "A
Grammarian's Funeral." The speaker is one of the band carrying the body of
his master from the "common crofts," and so he is represented as looking
up to the top of the hill and talking about the appropriateness of
burying the master on the hilltop. Browning's intimate knowledge of Greek
was shown by the phrase "gave us the doctrine of the enclitic _De_." The
London "Times" criticized this severely when the poem was published,
saying that with all respect to Mr. Browning, there was no such enclitic.
Browning answered in a note that proved his fine scholarship, and called
attention to the fact that this was the point in dispute which the
grammarian had tried to settle.

Even the stages of the journey are shown,

  "Here's the town-gate reached: there's the market-place
            Gaping before us."

In another place he says,

            "Caution redoubled,
  Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly!"

while all the time he pours out his tribute to his master:

  "Oh, if we draw a circle premature
            Heedless of far gain,
  Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure
            Bad is our bargain!...
  That low man seeks a little thing to do,
            Sees it and does it:
  This high man, with a great thing to pursue,
            Dies ere he knows it.
  That low man goes on adding one to one,
            His hundred's soon hit:
  This high man, aiming at a million,
            Misses an unit.
  That, has the world here--should he need the next,
            Let the world mind him!
  This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed
            Seeking, shall find him."

Then, when they arrive at the top, he says,

  "Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place,"

and addressing the birds,

  "All ye highfliers of the feathered race,"

he continues, giving his thoughts, as suggested by the very situation:

  "This man decided not to Live but Know--
            Bury this man there?
  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:
            Loftily lying,
  Leave him, still loftier than the world suspects,
            Living and dying."

Browning's "At the 'Mermaid'" reproduces a scene of historic interest. The
inn where Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and other sympathetic friends used to
meet, is presented to the imagination, and Shakespeare is the speaker.
Some one has proposed a toast to him as the next poet. Shakespeare
protests, and the poem is his answer. Here are shown his modesty, his
optimism, his reverence, and his noble views of life. He smilingly points
to his works and talks about them to these his friends in a simple, frank

  "Look and tell me! Written, spoken,
    Here's my lifelong work: and where--
  Where's your warrant or my token
    I'm the dead king's son and heir?

  "Here's my work: does work discover--
    What was rest from work--my life?
  Did I live man's hater, lover?
    Leave the world at peace, at strife?...

  "Blank of such a record, truly,
    Here's the work I hand, this scroll,
  Yours to take or leave; as duly,
    Mine remains the unproffered soul.
  So much, no whit more, my debtors--
    How should one like me lay claim
  To that largest elders, betters
    Sell you cheap their souls for--fame?...

  "Have you found your life distasteful?
    My life did, and does, smack sweet.
  Was your youth of pleasure wasteful?
    Mine I saved and hold complete.
  Do your joys with age diminish?
    When mine fail me, I'll complain.
  Must in death your daylight finish?
    My sun sets to rise again....

  "My experience being other,
    How should I contribute verse
  Worthy of your king and brother?
    Balaam-like I bless, not curse.
  I find earth not gray, but rosy,
    Heaven not grim, but fair of hue.
  Do I stoop? I pluck a posy.
    Do I stand and stare? All's blue....

  "Meanwhile greet me--'friend, good fellow,
    Gentle Will,' my merry men!
  As for making Envy yellow
    With 'Next Poet'--(Manners, Ben!)"

It is difficult to imagine any other situation, any other place, any other
group of friends, chosen by Browning, that would have been more favorable
to the frank unfolding by Shakespeare of the motives which underlie his
work and his character. This any one may recognize, whatever his opinions
may be regarding the success of this monologue.

The poem is meaningless without a grasp of the situation. "Manners, Ben!"
at the close is a protest against Ben's drinking too soon. Is this a
delicate hint at Ben's habits? Or was his beginning to drink a method by
which Browning suggests a comment of Ben's to the effect that Shakespeare
talked too much?

Browning here brings out the true Shakespeare spirit, not, of course, to
the satisfaction of those who have their hobbies and systems and consider
Shakespeare the only poet, but to others who wish to comprehend the real

Douglas Jerrold has indicated the situation of his series of monologues in
the title, "Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures." The mind easily pictures an
old-fashioned bed, the draperies drawn around it, with Mr. and Mrs. Caudle
retired to rest. Mrs. Caudle seizes this moment when she has her busy
spouse at her mercy. Before she falls asleep, she refers to his various
shortcomings and fully discusses future contingencies or consequences of
his evil deeds as a kind of slumber song for poor Caudle. The imagination
distinctly sees Caudle holding himself still, trying to go to sleep. No
word can relieve the tension of his mind, and Mrs. Caudle monopolizes all
the conversation. Caudle is exercising those powers which Epictetus says
that "God has given us by which we can keep ourselves calm and reposeful,
as Socrates did, without change of face under the most trying

A study of any monologue will furnish an illustration of situation, but we
are naturally, in the study of the subject, led back again to Browning.

In his "Andrea del Sarto," we are introduced to a scene common in the
lives of artists. It has grown too dark to paint, and, dropping his brush,
the painter sits in the gray twilight and talks with his wife, who serves
him as a model, and muses over his work and his life. No one can fully
appreciate the poem who has not been in a studio at some such moment when
the artist stopped work and came out of his absorption to talk to those
dear to him. At such a time the artist will be personal, will criticize
himself severely, and throw out hints of what he has tried to do, of his
higher aims, visions, and possibilities, and, while showing appreciation
of what other artists have said of him, will recognize, also, the mistakes
and failures of his art or life. It is the unfolding of a sensitive soul,
a transition from a world of ideals, imaginations, and visions, to one of

Nowhere else in poetry has any author so fully caught the essence of such
an hour. Nowhere else can there be found art criticism equal to this
self-revelation of the artist who is called "the faultless painter." What
a revelation! What might he have done! What has he been! What a woman is
beside him, his greatest curse, but one whose willing slave he recognizes
himself to be! What a weak acquiescence, and what a fall!

Notice also the abrupt beginning: "But do not let us quarrel any more."
She is asking ostensibly for money for her "cousin," but really, to pay
the gambling debts of one of her lovers. He grants her request, but pleads
that she stay with him in his loneliness and promises to work harder, and
again and again in his criticism of himself, of his very perfection, even
while he shows Raphael's weakness in drawing, he hints that there is
something in the others not in him. In fact, he recognizes one of the
deepest principles of life, as well as art, and exclaims,

  "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
  Or what's heaven for? All is silver-gray,
  Placid and perfect with my art: the worse!"

He reveals his deep grief, how he dare not venture abroad all day lest the
French nobles in the city should recognize him and deal with him for
having used for himself--or rather for his wife, to build her a house, at
her entreaty--the money which had been given by Francis for the purchase
of pictures and for his return to Paris. And yet we find a weak soul's
acquiescence in fate--

  "All is as God o'errules."

How sympathetically does Browning reproduce the painter's point of view

      "... why, there's my picture ready made,
  There's what we painters call our harmony!
  A common grayness silvers everything,--
  All in a twilight."

Or again:

              "... let me sit
  The gray remainder of the evening out."

While this poem is recognized as a great art criticism, its spirit can be
realized only by one recognizing the dramatic situation and appreciating
the delicate suggestions of the atmosphere of a studio and of time and
place in relation to an artist's life.

One of the finest situations in Browning's verse is that in "La Saisiaz."
The poet has an appointment to climb a mountain with one of his friends, a
Miss Smith, daughter of one of the firm of Smith, Elder & Co., but when
the time comes, she is dead. The other, himself, keeps the appointment,
walks up alone, and pausing on the height, utters aloud his reflections
upon the immortality of the soul.

The poem is none the less a monologue because it is Browning himself that
speaks, and because the friend of whom and to whom he speaks has just
passed to the unseen world. She whom he had expected as his companion in
this climb is so near to him as to be almost literally realized as a
listener. The poem fulfils the conditions of a monologue: a living soul
intensely realizing a thought and situation with relation to another soul.

It is hardly possible to exaggerate the importance of situation in art. It
is the situation that gives us the background. An isolated object can
hardly be made the subject of a work of art. Art is relation, and shows
the kinship of things. "It is where the bird is," said Hunt, "that makes
the bird."


The monologue touches only indirectly the progressive development of
character as regards time. It deals with only one instant, the present,
which reflects the past and the future. But for this very reason its
aspect differs from that of the drama, since it focuses attention upon the
instant and reveals motives, possibilities, and even results. The
monologue is not "still-life" in any sense of the word. In an instant's
flash it may show the turning point of a life.

The most important words in the study of a monologue are usually the
first. As a monologue is a sudden vision of a life, it of course breaks
into the continuity of thought or discussion. The first words are nearly
always spoken in answer to something previously said or in reference to
some event or circumstance which is only suggested, yet which must be
definitely imagined. One of the most important questions for the student
to settle is the connection of what is printed with what is not printed.
When does a character begin to speak, that is, in answer to what,--as a
result of what event, act, or word?

For this reason the first words of a monologue must usually be delivered
slowly and emphatically, if auditors are to be given a clue to the
processes of the thought. The inflections and other modulations of the
voice in uttering the first words must always directly suggest the
connection with what precedes.

"Rabbi Ben Ezra" begins abruptly: "Grow old along with me!" This poem has
already been discussed with reference to the necessity of conceiving the
listener, but we must also apprehend the thought which the listener has
uttered before we can get the speaker's point of view. The young man has,
no doubt, expressed pity or regret for the old man's isolation, for the
loss of all his friends, and must have remarked something about how gloomy
a thing it is to grow old. This is the cause of the older man's outburst
of joyous expostulation amounting almost to a rebuke. Now the reader must
realize this, must make it appear in the emphasis which he gives to the
first words of the Rabbi: that is, he must so render these words as to
bring the ideas of the Rabbi in opposition to those of the young man. The
antithesis to what has been said or implied gives the keynote of the poem,
whether we are interpreting it to another or endeavoring to understand it
for ourselves.

We perceive here a striking contrast between the dramatic monologue and
the story. The story may begin, "Once upon a time," but the monologue as a
part of real life must suggest a direct continuity of thought and also of
contact with human beings. Even a play may introduce characters, gradually
lead up to a collision, and make emphatic an outbreak of passion, but the
monologue must, as a rule, break in at once with the specific answer of a
definite character in a living situation to a definite thought which has
been uttered by another. The reader must receive an impression of the
character at the moment, but in relation to a continuous succession of

Accordingly, the right starting of the monologue is of vital importance.
In a story we often wait a long while for it to unfold. But except in the
first preliminary reading, one cannot read on in the monologue, hoping
that the meaning will gradually become clear. When a reader fully
understands the meaning, he must turn and express this at the very
beginning. The very first phrase must be colored by the whole.

Frequently the settling of the connection of the thought is the most
difficult part in the study of a monologue, yet, on account of the unique
difference of this type of literature from a story and other literary
forms, the study of the beginning is apt to be overlooked. The reader must
first find out where he is. I was once in search of Bishopsgate Street in
London, and meeting, in a very narrow part of a narrow street a unique old
man, who reminded me of Ralph Nickleby, I asked him to tell me the way.
He looked me straight in the eye and said, "Where are you now?" I told him
I thought I was in Threadneedle Street. "Right," and then he pointed out
the street, which was only a few steps away, but which I had been seeking
for some time in vain. He was wise, for unless I knew where I was, he
could not direct me.

In the study of a monologue, if we will find exactly where we are, many
difficult questions will be settled at once; and the interpreter by
pausing and using care can make clear, through the emphatic interpretation
of the first sentences, a vast number of points which would otherwise be
of great difficulty.

Mr. Macfadyen has well said, "Much of the apparent obscurity of Browning
is due to his habit of climbing up a precipice of thought, and then
kicking away the ladder by which he climbed."

The opening of Browning's "Fra Lippo Lippi" requires a conception of night
and a sudden surprise--

  "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!"

These words cannot be given excitedly or dramatically without realizing
the rôle the police are playing, their rough handling of Lippo, and their
discovery that they have seized a monk at an unseemly hour of the night
and not in a respectable part of the city. We must identify ourselves with
Lippo and feel the torches of the police in the face, and the hand
"fiddling" on his throat. This whole situation must be as definitely
conceived as if a part of a play. The reference to "Cosimo of the Medici"
should be spoken very suggestively, and we should feel with Lippo the
consequent relief that resulted, and the dismay also of the police on
finding they have in hand an artist friend of the greatest man in
Florence. "Boh! you were best!" means that the hands of the policeman have
been released from his throat.

All this dramatic action, however, must be secondary to the conception of
the character of the monk-painter. Almost immediately, in the very midst
of the excitement, possibly with reference to the very fellow who had
grasped his throat, the artist, with the true spirit of a painter,

  "He's Judas to a tittle, that man is!
  Just such a face!"

and as the chief of the squad of police sends his watchmen away, the
painter's heart once more awakes and discovers a picture, and he says,
almost to himself:

                              "I'd like his face--
  His, elbowing on his comrade in the door
  With the pike and lantern,--for the slave that holds
  John Baptist's head a-dangle by the hair
  With one hand ('Look you, now,' as who should say)
  And his weapon in the other, yet unwiped!
  It's not your chance to have a bit of chalk,
  A wood-coal or the like? or you should see!
  Yes, I'm the painter, since you style me so.
  What, brother Lippo's doings, up and down,
  You know them, and they take you? like enough!
  I saw the proper twinkle in your eye--
  'Tell you, I liked your looks at very first.
  Let's sit and set things straight now, hip to haunch."

Thus the monologue is introduced, and with a captain of a night-watch in
Florence as listener, this great painter, who tried to paint things
truly, pours out his critical reflections,--

  "A fine way to paint soul, by painting body
  So ill, the eye can't stop there, must go further
  And can't fare worse!"

This great reformer in art is made by Browning to declare why men should

  "God's works--paint anyone, and count it crime
  To let a truth slip by,"

for according to this man, who initiated a new movement in art,

                  "Art was given for that;
  God uses us to help each other so,
  Lending our minds out....
                    This world's no blot for us
  Nor blank; it means intensely, and means good:
  To find its meaning is my meat and drink."

This monologue, while only a fragment of simple conversation, touches
those profound moments which only an artist can realize, and unfolds the
real essence of a character.

Abrupt beginnings are very common in monologues, but the student will find
that these are often the easiest to master. They can be easily interpreted
by dramatic instinct. There is always a situation, dramatic in proportion
to the abruptness of the beginning, and a few glances will fasten
attention upon the real theme. The monologue will never stir one who
desires long preliminary chapters of descriptions before the real story is
opened, but one with true dramatic imagination can easily make a sudden
plunge into the very midst of life and action.

The unity of time on account of the momentary character of a monologue
needs no discussion. And yet we find in one otherwise strong monologue,
"Before Sedan," by Austin Dobson, a strange violation of the principle of



  Here, in this leafy place,
    Quiet he lies,
  Cold, with his sightless face
    Turned to the skies;
  'Tis but another dead;
  All you can say is said.

  Carry his body hence,--
    Kings must have slaves;
  Kings climb to eminence
    Over men's graves:
  So this man's eye is dim;--
  Throw the earth over him.

  What was the white you touched,
    There, at his side?
  Paper his hand had clutched
    Tight ere he died;--
  Message or wish, maybe;--
  Smooth the folds out and see.

  Hardly the worst of us
    Here could have smiled:--
  Only the tremulous
    Words of a child;--
  Prattle, that has for stops
  Just a few ruddy drops.

  Look. She is sad to miss,
    Morning and night,
  His--her dead father's--kiss;
    Tries to be bright,
  Good to mamma, and sweet,
  That is all. "Marguerite."

  Ah, if beside the dead
    Slumbered the pain!
  Ah, if the hearts that bled
    Slept with the slain!
  If the grief died;--but no;--
  Death will not have it so.

The title of this monologue suggests something of the situation, and from
the first sentence we gather that it is spoken by one searching for the
dead in remote nooks of the battle-field. From the remarks against war,
the speaker seems to be one of the citizens searching their farms for any
who, wounded, have crawled away for water, or have died in an obscure

A body is found, and something white, a paper, in the soldier's hand, is
discovered; the leader, who is the speaker, asks another to smooth out the
folds, as it may express some dying wish. It is found to be a letter from
his child, which the dying man has taken out and kissed. All this is in
the true spirit of the monologue. But now we come to a blemish,--"could
have smiled." So far, all has been in the present tense, dramatically
discovered and represented as a living, passing scene; but here there is a
relapse into mere narration, and the speaker appears to be telling the
story long afterwards.

We never have such a blemish in a production of Browning's. In his hands
the monologue is always a present, living, moving thing. It is not a
narrative of some past action.

All dramatic art is related to time, but the only time in which we can act
is the present. This fact is a help to the understanding of the
monologue, for we must bring a living character into immediate action and
contact with some other, or with many other, human beings.


To comprehend the meaning of a monologue, it is necessary to grasp, fully
and clearly, the relation of the ideas, or the continuity of thought.

In an essay or speech, the argument is everything, and even a story
depends upon a sequence of events. Many persons object to the monologue
because the full comprehension of the meaning can only come last, and seem
to think that the characters and situations should be mere accidents. Mr.
Chesterton has well said: "If a man comes to tell us that he has
discovered perpetual motion, or been swallowed by the sea-serpent, there
will yet be some point in the story where he will tell us about himself
almost all that we require to know."

Not only is this true, but the impression of every event or truth, which
is all any man can tell, is dependent upon the character of the man, and
while the monologue seems to reverse the natural method in requiring us to
conceive of character and situation before the thought, it thus presents a
deeper truth and causes a more adequate impression.

Both the person talking and the scene must be apprehended by the
imagination; then the meaning is no longer abstract; it is presented with
the living witnesses. Persons who want only the meaning usually ignore all
situation or environment. The co-ordination of many elements is the secret
of the peculiar power and force of the monologue.

The monologue is not unnatural. Life is complex, and elements in nature
are not found in isolation. The colors of nature are always found in
combination, and primary colors are rare. Art is composed of a very few
elements, but how rarely do we find one of these separated from the
others. So an emphatically demonstrated abstract truth is rarely found.
Truth gives reality to truth. Thought implies a thinking soul. No thought
is completed until expressed; art is ever necessary to show relations. In
every age the parable, or some other indirect method, has been employed
for the simplest lessons. Words can only hint at truth. An abstraction
verges toward an untruth. A mere rule, even an abstract statement of law,
is worth little except as obeyed or its working seen among men.

Men or women of the finest type rarely discuss their fellow-beings, for
the smallest remark quoted from another may produce a false impression.
What was the occasion? What was the spirit with which it was spoken? What
was the smile upon the face? What was the tenderness in the voice? The
exact words may be quoted, yet without the tone and action these may be
falsified. Even facts may convey an utterly false impression.

Everything in nature is related. An interpretation of truth, accordingly,
demands the presentation of right relations. The flower that is cut and
placed in a vase has lost the bower of green leaves, the glimmer of the
sunlight, the sparkle of the dew, and the blue sky "full of light and

In the monologue we must pass from "the letter that killeth" to "the
spirit that giveth life." The primary meaning hides itself, that we may
take account of the witnesses first, for in the mouth of "two or three
witnesses every word may be established."

"The word that he speaks is the man himself." But how rarely do we realize
this. It is impossible to do so without a conception of the voice. The
smile and the actions of the body and natural modulations of the voice
reveal the fulness of the impression and the life that is merely suggested
by a word. The monologue, implying all these, makes men realize a truth
more vividly by showing the feeling and attitude toward truth of a living,
thinking man.

It is not to superficialize the truth that the monologue adopts an
indirect method. It does not concern itself with situations and characters
for mere amusement or adornment. It does not introduce scenery to atone
for lack of thought, but seeks to awaken the right powers to realize it.

A profound theme may be discussed dramatically as well, and at times much
better than in an essay or a speech. To receive a right impression from
"Abt Vogler," for example, the reader must consciously or unconsciously
realize the point of view, and also the philosophic arguments for the
highest idealism of the age. We must know the depth of meaning in the

  "On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven, a perfect round."

We must perceive, too, the philosophy beneath such words as these:

  "All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist,"

and even the argument that makes "Our failure here but a triumph's

  "Sorrow is hard to bear, and doubt is slow to clear,
  Each sufferer says his say, his scheme of the weal and woe:
  But God has a few of us whom he whispers in the ear;
  The rest may reason and welcome; 'tis we musicians know."

"Musicians" is used in a suggestive sense to indicate mystics and

The argument of the monologue, accordingly, is found in dramatic sequence
of natural thinking. It is not a logical or systematic arrangement of
points, but the association of ideas as they spring up in the mind.

As has been shown, the start is everything, since it indicates the
connection of the speaker with the unwritten situation or preceding
thought of his listener. The argument then follows naturally.

The argument of "A Death in the Desert" is one of the most complex and
difficult to follow. Browning opens and closes the poem with a bracketed
passage, and inserts one also in another place. These bracketed lines are
written or said by another than Pamphylax, the speaker in the main part of
the monologue. They refer to the old fragments and parchments with their
methods of enumeration by Greek letters. This gives the impression and
feeling of the ancient documents and the peculiar difficulties in the
criticism of the texts of the New Testament, upon which so much of the
evidence of Christianity depends. Pamphylax gives in the monologue an
account of the death of John, the beloved disciple, who was supposed to
have been the last man who had actually seen the Christ with his own eyes.
It occurs in the midst of the persecution which came about this time. The
dying John is in the cave, near Ephesus, with a boy outside pretending to
care for the sheep, but ready to give warning of the approach of Roman
soldiers. The speaker, who was present, describes all that happened, and
repeats the words of the dying apostle. Browning makes John foresee that
the evidences of Christianity would no longer depend upon simply "I saw,"
as there would be no one left when John was dead who could say it. He thus
makes him foresee all the critical difficulties of modern times in
relation to the evidences of Christianity, and, in the spirit of John's
gospel and of the whole philosophy of that time, as well as with a
profound understanding of the needs of the nineteenth century, he makes
John unfold a solution of the difficulties.

This profoundly significant poem will tax to the very utmost any method of
explaining the monologue. But Browning anticipates this difficulty in
part, and gives the atmosphere of the ancient manuscripts, introducing to
us details about the rolls, the situation, the spectators, and the
appearance of John. In fact, a monologue is found within a monologue, the
words of John himself constituting the essence or spirit of the passage;
and thus Browning is enabled to present the deepest thought through the
words of the beloved disciple. The difficulties are thus brought into
relation with the philosophy of that age, and at the same time the
strongest critical and philosophical thought of the poet's time is

One special difficulty in tracing the argument of a monologue will be
found in the sudden and abrupt transitions. These, however, are perfectly
natural; in fact, they are the peculiar characteristics of all good
monologues, and express the dramatic spirit. Since the monologue is the
direct revelation of this spirit in human thinking rather than in human
acting, which is shown by the play, these sudden changes of mood or
feeling are necessary to the monologue as the drama of the thinking mind.

The person who reads a monologue aloud will find that its abrupt
transitions are a great help, and not a hindrance. When properly
emphasized and accentuated by voice and action, they become the chief
means of making the thought luminous and forcible.

One of the best examples of what we may call the dramatic argument of a
monologue is found in Browning's "The Bishop orders his Tomb at Saint
Praxed's Church," one of the ablest criticisms ever offered upon both the
moral and the artistic spirit of the Renaissance. Notice that "Rome, 15--"
is a subtitle. The Bishop begins with the conventional lament, "Vanity,
saith the preacher, vanity!" He is dying, and has called his nephews,--now
owned as sons, for he has been unfaithful to his priestly vow of
chastity,--about his bed for his farewell instructions. His greatest
anxiety is regarding his monument, and as he thinks of this purpose of his
life, his whole character reveals itself. We perceive his old jealousy and
envy of a former bishop, and the very thought of this predecessor causes
sudden transitions and agitations in the dying man's mind. We discover
that his seeming love of the beautiful is only a sensuous admiration
entirely different from that true love of art which Browning endeavored to
interpret. To his sons he speaks frankly of his sins. His pompous and
egotistical likings are shown in his causing his sons to march in and out
in a stately ceremonial. This adds color to the poem and helps to
concentrate attention upon the character of the speaker.

Ruskin has some important words in his "Modern Painters" upon this poem:
"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 I said of the central
Renaissance in thirty pages in 'The Stones of Venice,' put into as many
lines, Browning's being also the antecedent work. The worst of it is that
this kind of concentrated writing needs so much solution before the reader
can fairly get the good of it, that people's patience fails them, and they
give the thing up as insoluble."

In studying the argument the reader should note the many sudden changes in
almost every phrase, especially at first. For example,

  "Nephews--sons mine ... ah God, I know not!"

And so he continues: "She is dead beside," and

  "Saint Praxed's ever was the church for peace."

Note his break into business:

  "And so, about this tomb of mine...."

This must be given with much saliency in order to show that it is the
chief point he has in mind and the purpose of his bringing them together.
Most of the other sayings are only dramatic asides, which, however, must
be strongly emphasized as indicative of his character.

Note the expression of his hate in "Old Gandolf cozened me," though he
fought tooth and nail to save his niche. But still, his enemy had secured
the south corner:

  "He graced his carrion with, God curse the same!"

Yet he accepts the result, and feels that his niche is not so bad:

  "One sees the pulpit o' the epistle-side."

"Onion-stone" and "true peach" are, of course, in direct opposition. Then
he tells the great secret of his life, how he has hidden a great lump of

                  "... lapis lazuli,
  Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape,"

and where it can be found to place between his knees on the monument. And
in this he shall have a great triumph over his enemy--

  "For Gandolf shall not choose but see and burst!"

After this outbreak of selfishness and envy he resumes the conventional

  "Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years."

Suddenly, with a totally different inflection, he returns to the thought
of his tomb:

  "Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black--
  'Twas ever antique-black I meant!"

This is said suddenly, and with the most positive and abrupt inflections.
Notice that amid the gloom he will even laugh over the bad Latin of old
Gandolf the "elucescebat" of his inscription, and abruptly demands of his
sons that his epitaph be

  "Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word."

Observe his sudden transition from

  "Nay, boys, ye love me--all of jasper, then!"

to his appeal to their superstition because he has

              "... Saint Praxed's ear to pray
  Horses for ye...."

and his sudden threat:

                  "Else I give the Pope
  My villas!"

If we realize his character, this kind of "concentrated writing" will not
need "so much solution" before the reader can "get the good of it."
Certainly people's patience should not fail them, nor should they "give
the thing up as insoluble." On the contrary, one who follows the
suggestions indicated, understands the natural languages, and has any
appreciation of the dramatic spirit, will feel that Browning's form is the
best means of giving with a few strokes a thorough understanding of the
character of a great movement and era in human history.

This is one of Browning's "difficult" poems. Why difficult? Because most
"concentrated"; because it gives the fundamental spirit of a certain era
of the world; because the poet uses in every case the exact word, however
unusual it may be, to express the idea. He should not be blamed if he send
the reader to the dictionary to correct his ignorance. Why should not art
be as accurate as science? Why should it perpetuate ignorance?

       *       *       *       *       *

To understand a monologue according to these suggestions the student must
first answer such questions as, Who speaks? What kind of a man says this?
To whom does he speak? Of whom is he talking? Where is he? At what point
in the conversation do we break in upon him in the unconscious utterance
of his life and motives? Then, last of all,--What is the argument? The
general subject and thought will gradually become plain from the first
question and the argument may be pretty clear before all the points are

When the points are taken up in this order, the meaning of a monologue
will unfold as naturally as that of an essay or a simple story, and at the
same time afford greater enjoyment and express deeper truth in fewer

All of these questions are not applicable to every monologue. Sometimes
one has greater force than the others. Some monologues are given without
any necessity of conceiving a distinct place; some require no definite
time in the conversation; in a few the listener may be almost any one; but
in some monologues every one of these questions will have force. The
application of these points, however, is easy, and will be spontaneous to
one with dramatic instinct. Only at first do they demand special attention
and care.

The application of all the points suggested or questions to be answered
will be shown best by an illustration,--a short monologue which
exemplifies them all. Let us choose for this purpose Browning's "My Last

The speaker is the Duke, and the meaning of the whole is dependent upon
the right conception of his character. He stands before us puffed up with
pride, one who chooses "Never to stoop."

The person spoken of, the Duchess, and her character form the real theme
of the poem, and the character of the Duke is made to look blacker by
contrast. How her youth, beauty, and loveliness shine through his sneers!
"She liked whatever she looked on, and her looks went everywhere," and he
was offended that she recognized "anybody's gift" on a plane with his gift
of a "nine-hundred-year-old name." This grew, and he "gave commands, then
all smiles stopped together."



  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
  "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)
  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
  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
  For calling up that spot of joy. She had
  A heart--how shall I say?--too soon made glad,
  Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
  She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
  Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast,
  The dropping of the daylight in the West,
  The bough of cherries some officious fool
  Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
  She rode with round the terrace,--all and each
  Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
  Or blush at least. She thanked men,--good! but thanked
  Somehow--I know not how--as if she ranked
  My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
  With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
  This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
  In speech--(which I have not)--to make your will
  Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this
  Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
  Or there exceed the mark"--and if she let
  Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
  Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
  E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
  Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
  When'er I passed her; but who passed without
  Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
  Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
  As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
  The company below, then. I repeat,
  The Count your master's known munificence
  Is ample warrant that no just pretence
  Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
  Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
  At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
  Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
  Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
  Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

To whom is the Duke speaking? From the phrase, "The Count your master,"
and other hints, we infer that the listener is the legal agent of the
Count who is father of the next victim, the new Duchess, and that this
legal agent has stepped aside to talk with the Duke about the "dowry." The
Duke has led the agent upstairs, drawn aside the curtain from the portrait
of his last Duchess, and monopolizes the conversation.

The situation is marvellously suggestive. He draws the curtain which
"none puts by" but himself, and assumes an attitude of a connoisseur of
art, and calls the portrait "a wonder." Does this admiring of art for
art's sake suggest the degeneracy of his soul? He asks the other to "sit
and look at her." The subject in hand is shown by the word "last." How
suggestive is the emphasis upon the word, for they have been talking about
the new Duchess. In a few lines, as dramatically suggestive as any in
literature, his character and motives are all revealed, as he intimates to
his hearer what is expected from him.

Why did he say all this to such a person? To overawe him, to show him what
kind of man he had to deal with, and the necessity of accepting the Duke's
terms lest "commands" might also be given regarding him, and his "smiles"
stop, like those of the lovely Duchess. It is only an insinuation, but in
keeping with the Duke's character. The rising at the end shows that he
takes it for granted that everything is settled as he wished it. Notice
that the agent falls behind, like an obedient lackey, but as this would
not appear well to the "company below," the Duke says:--

                   "Nay, we'll go
  Together down."

By the time the reader has answered these questions the whole argument
becomes luminous. A company has gathered at the Duke's palace to arrange
the final settlement for a marriage between the Duke and the daughter of a
count. The Duke and the steward of the Count, or some person acting as
agent, have stepped aside to consult regarding the dowry. The place is
chosen by the Duke; in drawing the curtain in front of the picture of his
last Duchess, he unfolds his character and also the story, and forcibly
portrays the character of his last victim. She was one who loved everybody
and everything in life with true human sympathy. She "thanked" him for
every gift, but that was not enough. She smiled at others. She was a
flower he had plucked for himself alone, and she must not show love or
tenderness, or blush at

  "The bough of cherries some officious fool
  Broke in the orchard for her, ..."

It is doubtful whether she died of a broken heart or was deliberately
murdered. His commands, of course, would not be given to her, but to his
lackeys. Many think she was murdered. Browning leaves it artistically
suggestive and uncertain.

These questions, of course, will not be answered in any regular order. One
point will suggest another. The meaning will be partially apparent from
the first; but usually the points will be discovered in this sequence.
When completed, the whole is as simple as a story. The pompous,
contemptuous air of the Duke, the insinuating way in which he speaks, the
hint afforded by his voice that he will have no trifling, that he had made
his demands, and that was the end of it; all these details slowly unfold
until the whole story, nay, even the deepest motives of his life and
character, are clearly perceived.

What a wonderful portrayal in fifty-six lines! Many a long novel does not
say so much, nor give such insight into human beings. Many a play does not
reveal processes so deep, so profound as this.

Browning hints in his subtitle, "Ferrara," the part of the world and the
age in which such a piece of villany would have been possible.

If the reader will examine some of the most difficult monologues of
Browning, or any of the more popular monologues, by the questions given,
he will see at once the peculiar character of the monologue as a form of
dramatic poetry. Such work must be at first conscious, but when it has
been thoroughly done, the rendering or reading of a monologue will be as
easy as that of a play. The enjoyment awakened by a good monologue, and
the insight it gives into human nature, will well repay the study
necessary to realize the artistic peculiarities of this form of poetry.


The nature of the monologue will be seen more clearly and forcibly if
compared with other forms of literature.

Forms of literature have not been invented or evolved suddenly. They have
been in every case slowly recognized; in fact, one of the last, if not
most difficult phases of literary education and culture is the definite
conception of the difference between the various forms of poetry. To many
persons the word lyric and the word epic are loose terms, the one standing
for a short poem and the other for a long one. The real spirit and
character of the most elemental forms of poetry are often indefinitely and
inadequately realized.

If this is true of the oldest and most fundamental forms of poetry, it is
still more true of the monologue. The word awakens in most minds only the
vaguest conceptions.

If the monologue be discriminated at all from other forms of literature,
it is apt to be regarded as an accidental, if not an unnecessary or
unnatural, phase of literary creation. Even in books on Browning,
nine-tenths of whose work is in this form, the monologue is often spoken
of as if it were a speech. It is sometimes treated as if it were simply a
long monotonous harangue of some talker like Coleridge, the outflow of
whose ideas and words subordinates or puts to silence a whole company. But
unless the peculiar nature of the monologue is understood, much modern
verse will fail to produce an adequate impression.

Like the speech, the monologue implies one speaker. But an oration implies
an audience, a platform, conscious preparation, and a direct and
deliberate purpose. The monologue, on the contrary, implies merely a
conversation on the street, in the shop, or in the home. Usually, only one
listener is found, and rarely is there an assembled audience or the formal
occasion implied by a speech. The occasion is some natural situation in
life capable of causing spontaneous outflow of thought and feeling and an
involuntary revelation of motive.

The monologue is not a poetic interpretation of an oration, though the
latter is frequently found in poetry. Burns's poem on the speech of Bruce
at Bannockburn was called by Carlyle "the finest war-ode in any language,"
and it is none the less noble because it suggests a speaker. It is a
poetic realization of an address to an army. Burns gives the situation and
the chief actor speaking as the artistic means of awakening a realization
of the event. But it is the poetic interpretation of oratory, a lyric, and
not a monologue.

Dr. Holmes's "Our Boys" is an after dinner speech in metric form, full of
good-natured allusions to members of the class who were well-known men,
but even such a definite situation does not make his work a monologue.

"Anything may be poetic by being intensely realized." Poetry may have as
its theme any phase of human life or endeavor, and the spirit of oratory
has often been interpreted by poetry. Oratory has a direct, conscious
purpose. It implies a human being earnestly presenting arguments to move
and persuade men to a course of action.

The monologue reflects the unconscious and spontaneous effect of one human
being upon another, but it does not express the poet's own feelings,
convictions, or motives, except indirectly. We must not take the words of
any one of Browning's characters as an echo of the poet's personal
convictions. The monologue expresses the impressions which a certain
character receives from events or from other people.

Epic poetry, from its application to an individual case or situation, is
made to suggest the ideals, aspirations, or characteristics of the race.
The epic makes events or characters more typical or universal, and hence
more suggestive and expressive. Its personations embody universal ideals.
Odysseus is not simply a man, but the representative of every patient,
long-suffering Hellenic hero, persevering and enduring trials with
fortitude. Achilles is not merely a youth full of anger, but a type of the
passionate, liberty-loving and aspiring Greek. Both Achilles and Odysseus
are not so much individual characters as typical Greeks. They express
noble emotions breathed into the hearts of mortals by Athena. Odysseus
embodies the virtue of temperance and patience symbolized by the cloudless
sky, represented by Athena's robe, and of perseverance shown by her
unstooping helmet. Achilles with his "destructive wrath," embodies the
spirit of youth and eager passion corresponding to the lightning and the
storm which are shown by the serpents on Athena's breast.

We are apt to regard the epic as simply differing in form from the drama;
the drama being adapted to stage representation, while the epic is not.
But there are deeper differences. Though the drama may portray a character
as noble as the suffering Prometheus, a representative of the race, or one
as low as Nick Bottom; and though the epic may portray by the side of the
swift-footed Achilles and the wise Ulysses the physical and rough Ajax,
still at the heart of every form of poetry is found a different spirit.
Even when the same subject is introduced, a different aspect will be
suggested. Every form of human art expresses something which can be
adequately expressed in no other way.

Dramatic art is recognized as being complex. From the following definition
of the term "dramatic" by Freytag in his "Technique of the Drama," many
points may be inferred regarding its unique character:

"The term dramatic is applicable to two classes of emotions: those which
are sufficiently vigorous to crystallize into will and act, and those
which are aroused by an act. It accordingly includes the psychical
processes which go on within the human soul from the initiation of a
feeling up to passionate desire and activity, and also the influences
exerted upon the soul by the acts of oneself or of others. In other words,
it includes the outward movement of the will from the depths of the nature
toward the external world, and the inward movement of impression from the
external world which influence the inner nature: or, in fine, the coming
into existence of an act; and its consequences for the soul. Neither
action in itself nor passionate emotion in itself is dramatic. The
function of dramatic art is not the representation of passion in itself,
but of passion leading to action; it is not the representation of an event
in itself, but of its reflections in the human soul. The representation of
passionate emotion in itself, as such, is the function of the lyric; the
depicting of interesting events, as such, is the business of the epic."[1]

This explanation of dramatic art at first seems very thorough and
complete. It certainly includes more than the play, although worked out
with special reference to the play. But any true study of dramatic art
must recognize the fact that the play, important as it is, is only one of
its aspects.

This definition, fine as it is, needs careful consideration, and possibly
may be found, after all, inadequate. If it refers at all to some of the
most important aspects, the reference is vague. Dramatic art must also
include points of view, insight into motives, the nature and necessity of
situation, and especially the discovery by one man of another's attitude
of mind.

The definition is notable because it does not define dramatic art, as is
so apt to be the case, by limitation. When any form of art is defined by
limitation, the next great artist that arises will break the shackles of
such a rule, and show its utter inadequacy. When Sir Joshua Reynolds said
blue could not be used as the general color scheme of a picture,
Gainsborough responded with the now famous painting, "The Blue Boy."

Dramatic art is especially difficult to define because it is the very
essence of poetry, and deals with that most difficult of all subjects, the
human soul. Accordingly, illustrations of dramatic art are not only safer
than definitions, but more suggestive of its true nature. Definitions are
especially inadequate in our endeavors to perceive the differences between
the dramatic elements of a play and those of a monologue.

To realize more completely the general nature of dramatic art, let us note
how a play differs from a story.

A certain noble and his wife slew their king while he was their guest, and
usurped the crown. In order to conceal their crime and keep themselves on
the throne, the new king slew other persons, and even murdered the wife
and children of a noble who had fled to England and espoused the cause of
the rightful heir to the throne, the son of the murdered king. The usurper
was finally overthrown and killed in battle by the knight whose family he
had slain.

Such are the bare items of the story of "Macbeth." When these facts were
fashioned into a play, the interest was transferred from the events to the
characters of the principal individuals concerned. Their ambitious
motives, their resolution or hesitation to perform the murder, and the
effects of this crime upon them were not only portrayed by Shakespeare,
but to Lady Macbeth is given a different type of conscience from that of
her husband. While at first, or before Macbeth committed his first crime,
he hesitated long, his conscience afterward became "seared as with a hot
iron." Although he hesitated greatly over the murder of Duncan, he later
pursued his purpose without faltering for a moment. The conscience of Lady
Macbeth, on the contrary, is awakened by crime. These two types of
conscience are often found in life, but have never been so truly
represented as in Shakespeare's interpretation of them. Possibly no other
art except dramatic art could have portrayed this experience and
interpreted such deep differences between human beings.

Now note the peculiarities of the monologue.

A man must part from a woman he loves. He has been rejected, or for other
reasons it is necessary for him to speak the parting word; they may meet
as friends, but never again can they meet as lovers.

There are not enough events here to make a story, and the mere statement
of them awakens little interest. But Browning writes a monologue upon this
slender theme which is so short that it can be printed here entire.


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

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

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

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

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

Here we have as speaker a distinct type of man, and the precise moment is
chosen when he is bidding good-bye. Attention is focussed upon him for a
single moment during a single speech. Observe the naturalness of the
reference to insignificant objects in stanzas one and two. In the hour of
bitterest experience, every one remembers some leaf or tree or spot of
sunshine that seems burnt into the mind forever. Note the speaker's
hesitation, and how in the struggle for self-control he makes seemingly
careless remarks. How true to human nature! Here we have presented an
instant in the life of a soul; a trying moment, when, if ever, weakness
will be shown; when refuge is taken in little things to stem the tide of
feeling, as the man gives up the supreme hope of his life. This is
dramatic, and the disclosure of character is unconscious, spontaneous,

Again, take as an illustration a longer monologue.

A certain young duke has been taken away by his mother to foreign parts
and there educated, and has come back proud and conventional. He must
marry; and a beautiful woman, chosen from a convent, is elevated to his
exalted sphere. But, regarded as a mere flower cut from the woods and
brought to adorn his room, she is not allowed to exercise any influence
over her supposed home. Desiring to revive the medieval customs, the Duke
arranges a ceremonious hunt, with costumes of the period, and the Duchess
is given the part of presiding at the killing of the victim. This part she
refuses. As the angry Duke rides away to the hunt, he meets an old gypsy,
and, to punish the Duchess, instructs this old crone to give his wife a
fright, promising her money for the service. When the Duke returns,
Duchess and gypsy have fled.

This is the story of "The Flight of the Duchess." Browning chooses a
family servant who was witness to the whole transaction to tell the story,
when long after the event he comes in contact with a friend, a sympathetic
foreigner, who will not betray him, and to whom he can safely confide the
real facts.

The speaker starts out with a sudden reference to his being beckoned by
the Duke to lead the gypsy back to his mistress. He describes the place,
the character of the Duke,--born on the same day with himself,--

                      "... the pertest little ape
  That ever affronted human shape;"

his education, his return, his marriage with the Duchess, and gives, not a
mere story, but his own point of view, his impressions, while the complex
effect of the actions and character of the Duke, the Duchess, and the rest
upon himself are meanwhile suggested.

Vividly he describes the first entrance of the Duchess into the old castle
and her desire to transfigure it all, as was her right, into the beauty
and loveliness of a home; and how she was shut up, entirely idle.

As a participant in the hunting scene, he describes the bringing out of
ancestral articles of clothing, the tugging on of old jack-boots, and the
putting on of discarded articles of medieval dress. What a touch regarding
the experiences of the Duke's tailor! Then follows the long study as to
the rôle the Duchess should play,--she, of course, being supposed to sit
idly awaiting it, whatever it might be. When, to the astonishment of the
Duke, she refuses the part, his cruelty and that of his mother is shown in
the fearful description of the latter's tongue. At last they leave the
Duchess alone to become aware of her sins.

What pictures does the servant paint! The old gypsy crone sidles up to the
Duke as he is riding off to the hunt. He gives no response until she says
she has come to pay her respects to the new Duchess. Then his face lights
up, and he whispers in her ear and tells her of the fright she is to give
the Duchess; and beckoning a servant,--the speaker in the monologue, sends
him as her guide.

This man, as he guides the old woman toward the castle, sees her become
transfigured before him. Later he, with Jacinth, his sweetheart, waits
outside on the balcony until, awakened by her crooning song, he becomes
aware that the gypsy is bewitching the Duchess. Yet, when his mistress
issues forth, a changed woman, with transfigured face and a look of
determination, he obeys her least motion, brings her palfrey, and thus
aids in her escape. Browning gives a characteristic final touch, and we
see this man gazing into the distance and expressing his determination
soon to leave all and go forth into the wide world to find the lost

The theme of all art is to interpret impressions or to produce upon the
human heart an adequate impression of events and of truth. Dramatic art
has always led the other arts in its power to present the motives of
different characters, show the various processes of passion passing into
action, the consequences of action, or the working of the complex elements
of a human character.

Professor Dowden in his recent life of Browning, in endeavoring to explain
the peculiarities of Browning's plays, makes an important point, which is
still more applicable to the dramatic form which he calls "the short
monodrama," but which I call the monologue. "Dramatic, in the sense that
he (Browning) created and studied minds and hearts other than his own, he
pre-eminently was; if he desired to set forth or to vindicate his most
intimate ideas or impulses, he effected this indirectly, by detaching them
from his own personality and giving them a brain and a heart other than
his own in which to live and move and have their being. There is a kind of
dramatic art which we may term static, and another kind which we may term
dynamic. The former deals especially with characters in position, the
latter with characters in movement. Passion and thought may be exhibited
and interpreted by dramatic genius of either type; to represent passion
and thought and action--action incarnating and developing thought and
passion--the dynamic power is required. And by action we are to
understand not merely a visible deed, but also a word, a feeling, an idea,
which has in it a direct operative force. The dramatic genius of Browning
was in the main of the static kind; it studies with extraordinary skill
and subtlety character in position; it attains only an imperfect or
labored success with character in movement" ("Browning," by Edward Dowden,
p. 53).

The expression "static dramatic" is more applicable to Browning's plays,
paradoxical as it may seem, than to his monologues. The monologues are
full of dynamic force. Even Dowden himself speaks in another place of
"Muléykeh," and calls it "one of the most delightful of Browning's later
poems, uniting as it does the poetry of swift motion with the poetry of
high-hearted passion." Browning certainly does in many of his monologues
suggest most decided action. The expression "static" must be understood as
referring to the dramatic elements or manifestations of character, which
result from situation and thinking rather than through action and plot.

If the scope of dramatic art be confined to a formal play with its unity
of action among many characters, with its introduction, slow development,
explosion, and catastrophe, then the monologue must have a very
subordinate place. The dramatic element, however, is in reality much
broader than this. It is not a mere invention of a poet, but the
expression of a phase of life. This may be open, the result of a conflict
on the street, or concealed, the result of deep emotions and motives. It
may be the outward and direct effect of one human being upon another, or
the result of unconscious influence.

Nor is it mere external action, mere conflicts of men in opposition to
each other that reveal character. Its fundamental revelations are found in
thinking and feeling. Whatever method or literary form can reveal or
interpret the thought, emotion, motive, or bearing of a soul in a specific
situation, is dramatic. The essence of the dramatic spirit is seen when
Shakespeare presents Macbeth thinking alone, after speaking to a

  "Go, bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,
  She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed."

While waiting for this signal that all is ready, Shakespeare uncovers the
conflicts of a soul about to commit a crime. The inner excitement, the
roused imagination and feeling, the chaotic whirl of thoughts and passions
reveal the nature of the human conscience. What would Macbeth be to us
without the soliloquies? What would the play of "Hamlet" be without the
uncoverings of Hamlet's inmost thought when alone? Nay, what is the
essence of the spirit of Shakespeare, the most dramatic of all poets? Not
the plots, frequently borrowed and always very simple, but the uncovering
of souls. He makes men think and feel before us. The unities of time,
place, and action are all transcended by a higher unity of character. It
is because Shakespeare reveals the thinking and feeling heart that he is
the supreme dramatic poet.

No spectacular show, no mere plot, however involved, no mere record of
events, however thrilling, interprets human character. Nor does dramatic
art centre in any stage or formal play, nor is the play dramatic unless it
centres in thinking and reveals the attitude of the mind. The dramatic
element in art shows the result of soul in conflict with soul; and more
than this, it implies the revelation of a soul only half conscious of its
motives and the meaning of life, revealing indirectly its fiercest
battles, its truest nature.


A glance over English literature shows us the fact that the monologue was
no sudden invention of Browning's, but that it has been gradually
developed, and is a natural form, as natural as the play. A genuine form
of poetry is never invented. It is a mode of expressing the fundamental
life of man, and while authors may develop it, bring it to perfection, and
make it a means for their "criticism of life," we can always find hints of
the same form in the works of other authors, nations, and ages.

If we examine the monologue carefully, comparing it with various poems,
ancient and modern, we shall find that the form has been long since
anticipated, and was simply carried to perfection by Browning. It is not
artificial nor mechanical, but natural and necessary for the presentation
of certain phases of experience.

The monologue, as has already been shown, is closely akin to the lyric;
hence, among lyric poems we find in all ages some which are monologues in
spirit. If criticism is to appreciate this form and its function in
literary expression, and show that it is the outcome of advancement in
culture and of the necessity for a broader realization of human nature,
some attention should be given to its early examples.

If we go no farther back than English poetry, and in this only to Sir
Thomas Wyatt (b. 1503) we find that "The Lover's Appeal" has some of the
characteristics of a monologue. The words are spoken by a distinct
character directly to a specific hearer.

  "And wilt thou leave me thus?
  Say nay! say nay! for shame,
  To save thee from the blame
  Of all my grief and shame.
  And wilt thou leave me thus?
  Say nay! say nay!"

Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love," beginning--

  "Come live with me and be my love,"

also represents a lover talking to his beloved. In reading it we should
picture their relations to each other. The poem may be spoilt by
introducing a transcendence of the dramatic element. It is a simple lyric.
The shepherd is idealized, and expresses the universal love of the human
heart. Still it is not the kind of love that one would directly express to
an audience. The reader will instinctively imagine his character and his
hearer, and, if reading to others, will unconsciously place her a little
to the side. This objective element aids lyric expression. To address it
to an audience, as some public readers do, implies that the loving youth
is a Mormon.

Both these poems imply two characters, one speaking, one listening, and an
adequate interpretation of each poem must suggest a feeling between two
human beings.

In Sir Walter Raleigh's "Reply to Marlowe's Shepherd," the positions of
the listener and the speaker are simply reversed.

These poems are, of course, lyrics. They may be said by any lover. The
emotion is everything. The situation or idea is simple. The expression of
intense personal feeling predominates, and the impetuous, spontaneous
movement of passion subordinates or eliminates all conception of
character. Still, though primarily lyrics, in form these poems are
monologues. In each there is one person directly addressing another. In
the expression of these lyrics, we find the naturalness of the situation
represented by a monologue.

While "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love" is one of the distinctive
lyrics in the language, yet the intense realization of the object loved
will cause the sympathetic interpreter to turn a little away from the
audience. The subjective and personal elements in the poem awaken emotion
so exalted in its nature that the speaker is unconscious of all except his

Still there is a slight objective element. The words are spoken by a
shepherd in love and are addressed directly, at least in imagination, to
his beloved. But when not carried too far or made dramatic and other than
lyric, this monologue element may be an aid, not a hindrance; it may
intensify the expression of the lyric feeling.

Such poems, which are very common, may be called monologue lyrics or
lyrical monologues. They show the naturalness of the form of the
monologue, its unconscious use, its gradual recognition, and completion.

Forms of poetry are complemental to each other, and one who tries to be
merely dramatic without appreciating the lyric spirit becomes theatric.

In rendering such lyrics, the turning aside demands greater intensity of
lyric feeling, otherwise it is better that they be given with simple
directness to the audience.

  "Why so pale and wan, fond lover?
    Prythee, why so pale?
  Will, if looking well can't move her,
    Looking ill prevail?
    Prythee, why so pale?

  "Why so dull and mute, young sinner?
    Prythee, why so mute?
  Will, when speaking well can't win her,
    Saying nothing do't?
    Prythee, why so mute?

  "Quit, quit, for shame! this will not move,
    This cannot take her;
  If of herself she will not love,
    Nothing can make her:
    The D--l take her!"

This poem implies a speaker who is laughing at a lover, and both speaker
and listener remain distinct. Its rendering seems dramatic. Its jollity
and good nature must be strongly emphasized and it must be directly
addressed to the lover. It is still lyric, however, because the ideas and
feelings are more pronounced than any distinct type of character, in
either the speaker or the listener.

The same is true of Michael Drayton's "Come, let us kiss and part." This
implies a situation still more dramatic. The characters of the speaker and
the listener seem to be brought in immediate contact, revealing not only
intense feeling, but something of their peculiarities.

  "Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part;
    Nay, I have done, you get no more of me;
  And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart
    That thus so cleanly I myself can free;
  Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows;
    And when we meet at any time again,
  Be it not seen in either of our brows
    That we one jot of former love retain.--
  Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath,
    When his pulse failing, passion speechless lies,
  When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
    And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
  Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
  From death to life thou might'st him yet recover."

Burns's "John Anderson, my Jo" has possibly more of the elements of a
monologue. We must conceive the character of an old Scottish wife, enter
into sympathy with her love for her "Jo," and fully express this to him.
Her love is the theme. Yet it is not the feeling of any lover, but
instead, that of an aged wife, a noble, a faithful and loving character of
a specific type.

Still, though the poem can be rendered dramatically, in dialect, and with
the conception of a specific type of woman, the poet realized the emotion
as universal, and the specific picture is furnished only as a kind of
objective means of showing the nobleness of love. Some persons, in
rendering it, make it so subjective that they represent the woman as
talking to a mental picture of her husband, rather than to his actual
presence. But it would seem that some dramatic interpretation is
necessary. We do not identify ourselves completely with the thought and
feeling, but rather with her situation or point of view as the source of
the feeling, and certainly it may be rendered with the interest centred in
her character.

Many other poems of Burns's have a dramatic element. The failure to
recognize some of his poems as monologues has possibly been the cause of
some of the adverse criticism upon him. He was not insincere in "Afton
Water." It is not a personal love poem. In fact, it expresses admiration
for nature more than any other emotion. The Mary in this poem is an
imaginary being. Dr. Currie was no doubt correct when he said the poem was
written in honor of Mrs. Stewart of Stair. It may also be in honor of
Highland Mary, as the poet's brother, Gilbert, thought. The two views will
not seem inconsistent to one who knows Burns's custom in writing his

Burns frequently used this indirect or dramatic method. In situations
calling only for the expression of simple friendship, he adopted the
manner of a lover pouring out his feelings to his beloved, and many poems
which are nothing more than celebrations of friendly and kindly relations
are yet conceived as uttered by a lover.

One of his last poems, written, in fact, when he was on his death-bed, was
addressed to Jessie Lewars, the sister of a brother exciseman, a young
girl who took care of the poet and of his sick wife and family during his
last illness, and without whose kindness the dying poet would have lacked
many comforts. In writing this poem, however, his manner still clung to
him, and he expresses his gratitude in the tone of a lover.

  "Oh, wert thou in the cauld blast
    On yonder lea, on yonder lea,
  My plaidie to the angry airt,
    I'd shelter thee, I'd shelter thee:
  Or did misfortune's bitter storms
    Around thee blaw, around thee blaw,
  Thy bield should be my bosom,
    To share it a', to share it a'.

  "Or were I in the wildest waste,
    Of earth and air, of earth and air,
  The desert were a paradise
    If thou wert there, if thou wert there.
  Or were I monarch o' the globe,
    Wi' thee to reign, wi' thee to reign,
  The brightest jewel in my crown
    Wad be my queen, wad be my queen."

Of course, this is lyric. Though not the lover of Jessie, in imagination
he became such, and hence the lover's feeling, though the result of an
imaginary situation, completely predominates. The point, however, here is
that it has a monologue form, and that we make a mistake in conceiving
that every poem which Burns wrote is purely personal.

The monologue situation was so intensely realized by his imagination that
his poetry, while lyric in form, cannot be adequately understood unless we
perceive the species of dramatic element which a true understanding of the
monologue should enable us to realize.

Burns's poems often contain dramatic elements peculiar to the monologue
and must be rendered with an imaginary speaker and an imaginary listener.
Little conception of character is given, and, of course, the lyric element
greatly predominates over all else. Those poems in which he speaks
directly out of his own heart in a purely lyric spirit, such as "Highland
Mary," are more highly prized. But if we did not constantly overlook the
peculiar dramatic element in some of his other poems we should doubtless
appreciate them more highly. Even "To a Mountain Daisy" and "To a Field
Mouse" are monologues in form.

Coming to the consideration of more recent literature, we find in lyric
poems an increasing prevalence of the objective or dramatic element.
Whitman's "Oh, Captain, my Captain," seems to be the direct unburdening of
the writer's overweighted heart. He does not materially differ in his
feeling for Lincoln from his fellow-citizens, and every one, in reading
the poem aloud, adopts the emotion as his own. There is certainly no
dramatic emotion in the heart of the speaker in the poem. But there is a
definite figurative situation and representation of the Ship of State,
coming in from its long voyage,--that is, the Civil War,--and a picture of
Lincoln, the captain, lying upon the deck. This objective element enables
us to grasp the situation and more delicately suggests Lincoln, whose name
does not occur in the poem.

It is almost impossible to separate the different forms of poetry. We can
discern differences, but they are not "separable entities." The monologue
is possibly as much the outgrowth of the lyric as of the dramatic spirit.
It is, in fact, a union of the two. Notice the title of some of Browning's
books: "Dramatic Idyls," "Dramatic Lyrics," "Dramatic Romances."

Mr. Palgrave calls "Sally in our Alley," by Carey, "a little masterpiece
in a very difficult style; Catullus himself could hardly have bettered it.
In grace, tenderness, simplicity, and humor it is worthy of the ancients,
and even more so from the unity and completeness of the picture
presented." He neglects, however, to add that its "unity and completeness"
are due to the fact that it is in form a monologue. The person addressed
is indefinitely conceived, but we can hardly imagine the poem to be a
speech to a company. It must therefore be imagined as spoken to some
sympathetic friend. The necessity of a right conception of the person
addressed was not definitely included in the monologue until Browning
wrote. The character of the speaker in this poem, however, is most
definitely drawn, and is the centre of interest. We must adequately
conceive this before understanding the spirit of the poem. Then we shall
be able to agree with what Mr. Palgrave says, not only regarding the
picture presented, but the direct relationship of every figure, word, and
turn of phrase as consistent with the character.


  Of all the girls that are so smart
    There's none like pretty Sally;
  She is the darling of my heart,
    And she lives in our alley.
  There is no lady in the land
    Is half so sweet as Sally;
  She is the darling of my heart,
    And she lives in our alley.

  Her father he makes cabbage-nets
    And through the streets does cry 'em;
  Her mother she sells laces long
    To such as please to buy 'em:
  But sure such folks could ne'er beget
    So sweet a girl as Sally!
  She is the darling of my heart,
    And she lives in our alley.

  When she is by, I leave my work,
    I love her so sincerely;
  My master comes like any Turk,
    And bangs me most severely--
  But let him bang his bellyful,
    I'll bear it all for Sally;
  She is the darling of my heart,
    And she lives in our alley.

  Of all the days that's in the week
    I dearly love but one day--
  And that's the day that comes betwixt
    A Saturday and Monday;
  For then I'm drest all in my best
    To walk abroad with Sally;
  She is the darling of my heart,
    And she lives in our alley.

  My master carries me to church,
    And often am I blamed
  Because I leave him in the lurch
    As soon as text is named;
  I leave the church in sermon-time
    And slink away to Sally;
  She is the darling of my heart,
    And she lives in our alley.

  When Christmas comes about again
    O then I shall have money;
  I'll hoard it up, and box it all,
    I'll give it to my honey:
  I would it were ten thousand pound,
    I'd give it all to Sally;
  She is the darling of my heart,
    And she lives in our alley.

  My master and the neighbors all
    Make game of me and Sally,
  And, but for her, I'd better be
    A slave and row a galley;
  But when my seven long years are out
    O then I'll marry Sally,--
  O then we'll wed, and then we'll bed,
    But not in our alley!

All these poems show the necessity for classification as lyric monologues;
that is, poems lyric in every sense of the word, which yet have a certain
dramatic or objective form peculiar to the monologue to give definiteness
and point.

The reader, however, must be very careful not to turn lyrics into
monologues. The pure lyric should be rendered subjectively, neither as
dramatic, on the one hand, nor as oratoric on the other. To render a lyric
as a dramatic monologue is as bad as to give it as a speech. The
discussion of the peculiar differences between the lyric and the
monologue, and the discrimination of lyric monologues as a special class,
should suggest the great variety of lyrics and monologues, how nearly they
approach and how widely they differ from each other. Whether a poem is a
lyric or a monologue must be decided without regard to types or
classifications, except in so far as comparison may throw light upon the
general nature and spirit of the poetry. Different forms are often used to
interpret each other, and the spirit of nearly all may be combined in one

A peculiar type of the monologue, found occasionally in recent literature,
may be called the epic monologue. Tennyson's "Ulysses" seems at first, in
form at least, a monologue. Ulysses speaks throughout in character, and
addresses his companions. But we presently find that Ulysses stands for
the spirit of the race. He is not an individual, but a type, as he was in
Homer, though he is a different type in Tennyson; and the poem typifies
the human spirit advancing from its achievements in the art and philosophy
of Greece into a newer world. Western civilization is prefigured in this
poem, and Ulysses meeting again the great Achilles symbolizes the spirit
of mankind once more entering upon new endeavors, these being represented
by Achilles. "Ulysses" is thus allegoric or epic. The monologue elements
are but a part of the objective form that gives it unity and character.

The same is true of "Sir Galahad." While Sir Galahad is the speaker, and
the poem is in form a monologue, yet to regard him as a mere literal
character would make him appear egotistic and boastful, and this would
totally pervert the poem. The knight stands for an ideal human soul. Every
person identifies himself with Sir Galahad, but not in the dramatic sense.
While in the form of a monologue, it is, nevertheless, allegoric or epic,
and the search for the Holy Grail is given in its most suggestive and
spiritual significance.

If the monologue is a true literary form, it has not been invented. If it
is only a mechanism, such as the rondeau, it is unworthy of prolonged
discussion; but that it is a true literary form is proven by the fact that
it necessarily co-ordinates with the lyric, epic, and dramatic forms of
literature. These show that it is not mechanical or isolated, but as
natural as any poetic or literary form. That the monologue is fundamental,
no one can doubt who has listened to a little child talking to an
imaginary listener, or telephoning in imagination to Santa Claus. That the
monologue can reveal profound depths of human nature, no one familiar with
Browning can deny. That the form and the spirit of the monologue are
almost universal, no one who has looked into English literature can fail
to see. This power of the monologue to unite and enrich other phases or
forms of literature proves that it is an essential dramatic form, and that
its use by recent authors cannot be regarded as a mere desire to be odd.

The fact that a story is told by a single speaker does not necessarily
make a poem a monologue. Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride" is told by the
old innkeeper, but the only indication of this is in the opening clause,
"Listen, my children." There is hardly another word in the story that
takes color from his individual character. The poem is simply a narrative,
and the same is true of all "The Tales of a Wayside Inn."

Mr. Chesterton calls "Muléykeh" and "Clive," by Browning, "possibly the
two best stories in poetry told in the best manner of story-telling." Now,
are these poems stories or monologues? They are both of them monologues.
The chief interest is not in the events, but in the characters portrayed.
Every event, every word, and every phrase has the coloring of human
motives and experience.

The events of "Muléykeh" from the narrative point of view are few.
Muléykeh, or Pearl, is the name of a beautiful horse belonging to Hóseyn,
a poor Arab. The rich Duhl offers the price of a thousand camels for
Muléykeh, but his offer is rejected. He steals Pearl by night. Hóseyn is
awakened and pursues on another horse. He sees that "dog, Duhl," does not
know how to ride Muléykeh, and shouts to the fellow what to do to get
better speed. The thief takes the hint, and touching the "right ear" and
pressing with the foot Pearl's "left flank," escapes. His neighbors
"jeered him" for not holding his tongue, when he might easily have had

  "'And beaten in speed!' wept Hóseyn:
  'You never have loved my Pearl.'"

This poem is in the form of a story, but it is colored not only by the
character of the Arab and his well-known love of a horse, but by a
narrator who can reveal the character and the peculiar love of the weeping

Any one reading the poem aloud must feel that though Browning may have
intended it as a story, he was so affected by the dramatic point of view,
that it is in spirit, though not in form, essentially a monologue.

If there is any doubt about "Muléykeh," there can be none that "Clive" is
a monologue.

"Clive" may seem to some to be involved. Why did not Browning make his
hero tell his own story? Because it was better to take another person, one
not so strong, and thus to reveal the impressions which Clive's deed makes
upon the average man. Such a man's quotation of Clive's words can be made
more exciting and dramatic in its expression.

It is difficult at times to decide whether a story is a monologue or a
mere narrative. But, in general, when a story receives a distinct coloring
from a peculiar type of character, even though in the form of a narrative,
it may be given with advantage as a monologue. Its general spirit is best
interpreted by this conception.

"Hervé Riel," for example, seems at first a mere story, but it has a
certain spirited and dramatic movement, and though there is no hint of who
the speaker is, it yet possesses the unity of conversation and of the
utterance of some specific admirer of "Hervé Riel." This may be Browning
himself. He wrote the poem and gave it to a magazine,--a rare thing with
Browning,--and sent the proceeds to the sufferers in the French Commune;
hence, its French subject and its French spirit. The narrator appears to
be a Frenchman; at least he is permeated with admiration for the noble
qualities in the French character at a time when part of the world was
criticizing France, if not sneering at it on account of the victory of
the Germans and the chaos of the Commune.

One who compares its rendition as an impersonal story with a rendering
when conceived by a definite character, by one who realizes the greatness
of the forgotten hero of France, will perceive at once the spirit and
importance of the monologue.

One must look below mere phrases or verbal forms to understand the nature
or spirit of the monologue. The monologue is primarily dramatic, and the
word "dramatic" need hardly be added to it any more than to a play,
because the idea is implied.

Whatever may be said regarding the monologue, certainly the number has
constantly increased of those who appreciate the importance of this form
in art, which, if Browning did not discover, he extended and elevated.

We can hardly open a book of modern poetry which is not full of
monologues. Kipling's "Barrack-Room Ballads" are all monologues. There is
a rollicking, grotesque humor in "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" that makes it at first
resemble a ballad, as it is called by the author, but it interests because
of its truthful portrayal of the character of a generous soldier. Kipling
is dramatic in every fibre. He even portrays the characters of animals,
and certain of his animal stories are practically monologues. What a
conception of the camel is awakened by "Oonts!" "Rikki-tikki-tavi" awakens
a feeling of sympathy for the little mongoose. In his portrayal of
animals, Kipling even reproduces the rhythm of their movements. The very
words they are supposed to utter are given in the character of the army
mule, the army bullock, and the elephants.

All Kipling's sketches and so-called ditties, or "Barrack-Room Ballads,"
are practically dramatic monologues. To render vocally or even to
understand Kipling requires some appreciation of the peculiarities of the
monologue. The Duke of Connaught asked Kipling what he would like to do.
The author replied, "I should like to live with the army on the frontier
and write up Tommy Atkins." Monologue after monologue has appeared with
Tommy Atkins as a character type. The monologue was almost the only form
of art possible for "ballads" or "ditties" or studies of unique types of
character in such situations.

All poetry, according to Aristotle, expresses the universal element in
human nature. Lyric, epic, and dramatic writing alike must become poetic
by such an intense realization of an idea, situation, or character that
the soul is lifted into a realization of the emotions of the race. Some
forget this in studying the differences between lyric and dramatic poetry.
It is not the lyric alone that idealizes human experience and
universalizes emotion.

The study of Kipling's "Mandalay" especially illustrates the differences
between the lyric and the dramatic spirit, and their necessary union in
the portrayal of human experience. This is both a lyric and a monologue.
It has a dramatic character. A British soldier in a specific place,
London, is talking to some one who can appreciate his feeling, and every
word is true to the character speaking and to the situation. But this
dramatic element does not interfere with, but on the contrary aids, the
realization and expression of a profoundly lyric feeling and spirit. The
soldier reveals his love,--love deeper than racial prejudices,--and
though "there aren't no Ten Commandments" in the land of his beloved, he
feels the universal emotion in the human heart, a profound love that is
superior to any national bound or racial limit. In the poem this love
dominates everything,--the rhythm, the color of the voice. He even turns
from his hearer, and sees far away the vision of the old Moulmein Pagoda,
and the suddenness of the dawn, coming up

  "... like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!"

The fact that poetry expresses the "universal element in human nature" is
true not only of lyric poetry, but also of dramatic poetry; and in the
noblest exaltation of emotion, lyric, dramatic, and epic elements

It is the affinity of the monologue with lyric and epic poetry that proves
its own specific character. The fact that there can be a lyric, epic, and
narrative monologue, proves its naturalness.

Many of America's most popular writers have adopted the monologue as their
chief mode of expression. James Whitcomb Riley's sketches in the Hoosier
dialect present the Hoosier point of view with a homely and sympathetic
character as speaker. Even his dialect is but an aspect of the types of
character conceived. The centre of interest is not always in the emotion
or the ideas, but in the type of person that is the subject of a

The same is true of the poems by the late Dr. Drummond of Montreal.

The peculiar French-Canadian dialect was never so well portrayed; but this
is only accidental. The chief interest lies in his creation or realization
of types of character. The artistic form is the monologue, however
conscious or unconscious may have been the author's adoption of the form.

A recent popular book, "The Second Mrs. Jim," uses a series of monologues
as the means of interpreting a new kind of heroine, the mother-in-law. The
centre of interest being in this character, the author adopted a series of
eight monologues with the same listener, a friend to whom Mrs. Jim unfolds
her inmost heart. With this person she can "come and talk without its
bein' spread all over the township." She remarks once that she took
something she wanted to be told to a neighbor who was a "good spreader,
just as you're the other kind."

All the conditions of the monologue are complied with; the situation
changes, sometimes being in Mrs. Jim's house, but four or five times in
that of her friend. Speaker and listener are always the same. The author
wishes to centre attention upon the character of the speaker, her
common-sense, her insight into human nature, her skill in managing Jim,
and especially the boys; hence a listener is chosen who will be discreet
and say but little, and who is in full sympathy with the speaker. There is
little if any plot; but while Mrs. Jim narrates what has happened in the
meantime, it is her character, her insight, her humor, her point of view
and mode of expression, in which the chief interest centres. This book
might be called a narrative monologue, but the narrative is of secondary
importance; the centre of interest lies in the portrayal of a character.

The use of the monologue as a literary form has grown every year, and no
reason can be seen why its adoption or application may not go on
increasing until it becomes as truly a recognized literary form as the
play. The varieties that can be found from the epic monologue "Ulysses" of
Tennyson to such a popular poem as "Griggsby's Station" by James Whitcomb
Riley, indicate the uses to which the monologue can be turned and its
importance as a form of poetry.

The fact that we meet a number of monologues before Browning's time shows
the naturalness and the necessity of this dramatic form; yet it is only in
Browning that the monologue becomes profoundly significant. Browning
remains the supreme master of the monologue. Here we find the deepest
interpretation of the problems of existence, and the expression of the
depths of human character. So strongly did this form fit his great
personality and conception of art that his plays cannot compare with his
monologues. It was by means of the monologue that he made his deepest
revelations. It is safe to say that, without his adoption of the
monologue, the best of his poetry would never have been written; and where
else in literature can we find such interpretation of hypocrisy? Where
else can we find a more adequate suggestion of the true nature of human
love, especially the interpretation of the love of a true man, except in
Browning? Who can thoroughly comprehend the spirit of the middle part of
the nineteenth century, and get a key to the later spiritual unfolding,
without studying this great poet's interpretation of the burden of his

Who can contemplate, even for a few moments, some good example of this
dramatic form, especially one of Browning's great monologues, and not
feel that this overlooked form is capable of revealing and interpreting
phases of character which cannot be interpreted even by the play or the

One form of art should never be compared with another. No form of art can
ever be substituted for the play in revealing human action and motive, or
even for the novel, with its deep and suggestive interpretation of human
life. While the monologue will never displace any other form of art, the
fact that it can interpret phases of human life and character which no
other mode of art can express, proves it to be a distinct form and worthy
of critical investigation. Its recognition constitutes one of the phases
of the development of art in the nineteenth century, and it is safe to say
that it will remain and occupy a permanent place as a literary form. We
must not, however, exaggerate its importance on the one hand, nor on the
other too readily pronounce it to be a mere incident and passing oddity.
Its instinctive employment by leading authors, those with a message and
philosophy of life, proves that its true nature and possibilities deserve




The monologue, in common with all forms of literature, but especially with
the drama, implies something more than words,--only its verbal shell can
be printed. As the expression of a living character, it necessarily
requires the natural signs of feeling, the modulations of the voice, and
the actions of the body.

After all questions regarding speaker, hearer, person spoken of, place,
connection, subject, and meaning have been settled, the real problem of
interpretation begins. The result of the reader's study of these questions
must be revealed in the first word or phrase he utters as speaker. Since
the poem may be unknown to his auditors, each point must be made clear to
them, each question answered, by the suggestive modulations of his voice
and the expressive action of his body.

This is the real problem of the dramatic artist, and without its solution
he can give no interpretation. The long meditation over a monologue, the
serious questionings and comparisons, are not enough. He must have a
complete comprehension of all the points enumerated,--but this is only the
beginning. He must next discover the bearings of the supposed speaker, the
attitude of his mind, his feelings and motives.

To do this, the reader must carefully study those things which the writer
could only suggest or imply in words. The poem must be re-created in his
imagination. His feeling must be more awake, if possible, than that of the

In one sense, the terms "vocal expression" and "vocal interpretation of
literature," are a misuse of words. The histrionic presentation of a play
is not, strictly speaking, a vocal interpretation, nor an interpretation
by action. Vocal modulations, motions, and attitudes, the movements of
living men and women, are all implied in the very conception of a drama.
The voice and action are only the completion of the play.

The same is true of the monologue. The rendering of it is not an
adjunctive performance, not a mere extraneous decoration. It is more than
a personal comment; to render a monologue is to make it complete. "Words,"
said Emerson, "are fossilized poetry." If a monologue is fossilized
poetry, its true rendering should restore the original being to life. The
written or printed monologue is like an empty garment, to be understood
only as it is worn. A living man inside the garment will show the
adaptation of all its parts at once.

The presentation of a play or of a monologue is its fulfilment, its
completion, expressing more fully the conceptions which were in the mind
of the writer himself, though with the individuality and the true personal
realization of another artist. No two Hamlets have ever been alike, nor
ever can be alike, unless one of the two is an imitation of the other.
Dramatic art implies two artists,--the writer, who gives broad outlines
and suggestions; and the living, sympathetic dramatic interpreter, who
realizes and completes the creation. The author creates a poem and puts it
into words, and the vocal interpreter then gives it life.

A true vocal interpretation of the monologue, as of the play, does not
require the changing of one word or syllable used by the author. It is the
supplying of the living languages.

Words and actions are complemental languages. Verbal expression is more or
less intellectual. It can be recorded. It names ideas and pictures. It is
composed of conventional symbols, and only when the words are understood
by another mind can it suggest a true sequence of ideas and events. Vocal
expression, however, shows the attitude of the mind of the man towards
these ideas. Words are objective symbols of ideas. The modulations of the
voice reveal the process of thinking and feeling. The word, then, in all
cases, implies the living voice. It is but an external form: the voice
reveals the life. Action shows, possibly, even more than tones do, the
character of the man, his relations, his "bearings," his impressions or
points of view.

These three languages are, accordingly, living witnesses. One of them is
not complete, strictly speaking, without the others, and the artistic
rendering of a monologue is simply taking the objective third which the
author gives, and which can be printed, and supplying the subjective
two-thirds which the imagination of the reader must create and realize
from the author's suggestion.

All printed language is but a part of one of these three languages, which
belong together in an organic unity. In the very nature of the case, the
better the writing, the greater the suggestion of the modulations of
voice and body. The highest literature is that which suggests life itself,
and a living man has a beaming eye, a smiling face, a moving body, and a
voice that modulates with every change in idea and feeling. No process has
ever been able to record the complexity of these natural languages. Their
co-ordination depends upon dramatic instinct.

As the play always implies dramatic action, as the mind must picture a
real scene and the characters must move and speak as animated beings
before there can be the least appreciation of its nature as a play, so the
monologue also implies and suggests a real scene or moment of human life.

The monologue is an artistic whole, and must be understood as a whole.
Each part must be felt to be like the limb of a tree, a part of an
organism. As each leaf on the tree quivers with the life hidden in trunk
and root, so each word of the monologue must vibrate with the thought and
feeling of the whole.

Hence, the interpreter of the monologue must command all the natural,
expressive modulations of voice and body. He must have imagination and
insight into human motives, and his voice and body must respond to this
insight and understanding. He must know the language of pause, of touch,
of change of pitch, of inflection, of the modulation of resonance, of
changes in movement. He must realize, consciously or subconsciously, the
importance of a look, of a turn of the head, of a smile, of a transition
of the body, of a motion of the hand; in brief, throughout all the complex
parts constituting the bodily organism he should be master of natural
action, which appeals directly to the eye and precedes all speech.

Every inflection must be natural; every variation of pitch must be
spontaneous; every emotion must modulate the color of the voice; every
attitude of the interpreter must be simple and sustained. He must have
what is known as the "mercurial temperament" to assume every point of view
and assimilate every feeling.

The first great law of art is consistency, hence all the parts of a higher
work of art must inhere, as do all parts of a plant or flower; but this
unity and consistency should not be mechanical or artificial. Delivery can
never be built; it must grow. True expression must be spontaneous and
free. One must enjoy a monologue; one must live it. Every act or
inflection must suggest a dozen others that might be given. The fulness of
the life within, in thinking and feeling, must be delicately suggested.
The most important point to be considered is a suggestion of the reality
of life and the intensity of feeling. The interpreter must study nature.
He must speak as the bird sings, not mechanically, but out of a full
heart, yet not chaotically or from random impulses. All his movements must
come, like the blooming of the rose, from within outward; but this can
only result from meditation and command of mind, body, and voice.
"Everything in nature," said Carlyle, "has an index finger pointing to
something beyond it"; so every phrase, every word, action, or pause, every
voice modulation, must have a relation to every other modulation.

In the art of interpreting the monologue, which is a different art from
the writing of one, all must be as much like nature as possible. Yet this
likeness is secured, not by imitation or by reproducing external
experiences, but by sympathetic identification and imaginative

Every art has a technique. The modulations of the voice and the actions of
the body must be directly studied, or there can be no naturalness.
Meaningless movements and modulations lead to mannerisms. The reader must
know the value of every action of voice or body, and so master them that
he can bring them all into a kind of subconscious unity for the expression
of the living realization of a thought or situation.

The interpreter must use no artificial methods, but must study the
fundamental principles of the expressive modulations of voice and body and
supplement these by a sympathetic observation of nature.

The questions to be settled by the reader have been shown by the analysis
of the structure of the monologue. He must first consider the character
which he is to impersonate, and his conception of it must be definite and
clear as that of any actor in a play. In one sense, conception of
character is more important in the monologue than in the play, on account
of the fact that the speaker stands alone, and the monologue is only one
end of a conversation. In a play the actor is always associated with
others; has some peculiarity of dress; has freedom of movement, and his
character is shown by others. He is only one of many persons in a moving
scene, and often fills a subordinate place. But in the monologue, the
interpreter is never subordinate, and has few accessories, or none. He
must not only reveal the character that is speaking, but also indicate the
character of the supposed listener. He must suggest by simple sounds and
movements, not by make-up or artificial properties. Thus the
interpretation of a monologue is more difficult than that of a play. The
actor has long periods of listening when another is speaking, so that he
has better opportunities to show the impression produced upon him by each
idea. The interpreter of a monologue must often show that he, too, is
listening, and express the impression received from another.

To illustrate the necessity of the vocal rendering of a monologue and the
peculiar character of the interpretation needed, take one of the simplest
examples, a humorous monologue of Douglas Jerrold's, one of "Mrs. Caudle's
Curtain Lectures."

Take, for example, the lecture she gives after Mr. Caudle has lent an


    Bah! That's the third umbrella gone since Christmas. "What were you to
    do?" Why, let him go home in the rain, to be sure. I'm very certain
    there was nothing about him that could spoil. Take cold, indeed! He
    doesn't look like one of the sort to take cold. Besides, he'd have
    better taken cold than taken our only umbrella. Do you hear the rain,
    Mr. Caudle? I say, do you hear the rain? And as I'm alive, if it isn't
    St. Swithin's day! Do you hear it against the windows? Nonsense; you
    don't impose upon me. You can't be asleep with such a shower as that!
    Do you hear it, I say? Oh, you do hear it! Well, that's a pretty
    flood, I think, to last for six weeks; and no stirring all the time
    out of the house. Pooh! don't think me a fool, Mr. Caudle. Don't
    insult me. He return the umbrella! Anybody would think you were born
    yesterday. As if anybody ever did return an umbrella! There--do you
    hear it! Worse and worse! Cats and dogs, and for six weeks, always six
    weeks. And no umbrella!

    I should like to know how the children are to go to school to-morrow?
    They shan't go through such weather, I'm determined. No; they shall
    stop at home and never learn anything--the blessed creatures!--sooner
    than go and get wet. And when they grow up, I wonder who they'll have
    to thank for knowing nothing--who, indeed, but their father? People
    who can't feel for their own children ought never to be fathers.

    But I know why you lent the umbrella. Oh, yes, I know very well. I was
    going out to tea at dear mother's to-morrow--you knew that; and you
    did it on purpose. Don't tell me; you hate me to go there, and take
    every mean advantage to hinder me. But don't you think it, Mr. Caudle.
    No, sir; if it comes down in buckets-full, I'll go all the more. No;
    and I won't have a cab. Where do you think the money's to come from?
    You've got nice high notions at that club of yours. A cab, indeed!
    Cost me sixteenpence at least--sixteenpence, two-and-eight-pence, for
    there's back again. Cabs, indeed! I should like to know who's to pay
    for 'em; I can't pay for 'em, and I'm sure you can't, if you go on as
    you do; throwing away your property, and beggaring your
    children--buying umbrellas!

    Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say, do you hear it? But I don't
    care--I'll go to mother's to-morrow; I will; and what's more, I'll
    walk every step of the way,--and you know that will give me my death.
    Don't call me a foolish woman, it's you that's the foolish man. You
    know I can't wear clogs; and with no umbrella, the wet's sure to give
    me a cold--it always does. But what do you care for that? Nothing at
    all. I may be laid up, for what you care, as I daresay I shall--and a
    pretty doctor's bill there'll be. I hope there will! I shouldn't
    wonder if I caught my death; yes: and that's what you lent the
    umbrella for. Of course!...

    Men, indeed!--call themselves lords of the creation!--pretty lords,
    when they can't even take care of an umbrella!

    I know that walk to-morrow will be the death of me. But that's what
    you want--then you may go to your club and do as you like--and then,
    nicely my poor dear children will be used--but then, sir, you'll be
    happy. Oh, don't tell me! I know you will. Else you'd never have lent
    the umbrella!...

    The children, too! Dear things! They'll be sopping wet; for they
    shan't stop at home--they shan't lose their learning; it's all their
    father will leave 'em, I'm sure. But they shall go to school. Don't
    tell me I said they shouldn't: you are so aggravating, Caudle; you'd
    spoil the temper of an angel. They shall go to school; mark that. And
    if they get their deaths of cold, it's not my fault--I didn't lend the

The peculiar character of Mrs. Caudle must be definitely conceived, and
the interpreter must express her feelings and reveal with great emphasis
the impressions produced upon her, for these are the very soul of the
rendering. The sudden awakening of ideas in her mind, or the way she
receives an impression, must be definitely shown, for such manifestations
are the chief characteristics of a monologue. Such mental action is the
one element that makes the delivery of a monologue differ from that of
other forms of literature.

The fact that one end of the conversation is omitted, or only echoed,
concentrates our attention upon the workings of Mrs. Caudle's mind. The
interpreter must vividly portray the arrival of every idea, the horrors
with which she contemplates every successive conjecture.

The reader must express Mrs. Caudle's astonishment after she has found out
Mr. Caudle's offence. "'What were you to do?'" is no doubt an echo of the
question made by Mr. Caudle. Sarcastic surprise possesses her at the very
thought of his asking such a question. "Let him go home in the rain, to be
sure," is given with positiveness, as if it settled the whole matter.
"Take cold, indeed!" is also, no doubt, a sarcastic echo of Mr. Caudle's
words. The abrupt explosion and extreme change from the preceding
indicates clearly her repetition of Mr. Caudle's words. The pun: "He'd
have better taken cold than taken our umbrella," may sound like a jest,
but with Mrs. Caudle it is too sarcastic for a smile.

Mrs. Caudle must "hear the rain" and appear startled. The thought of the
following day causes sudden and extreme change of feeling, face, and
voice. Her wrath is aroused to a high pitch when Caudle snores or gives
some evidence that he is asleep, and she is most abrupt and bitter in:
"Nonsense; you don't impose upon me; you can't be asleep with such a
shower as that." She repeats her question with emphasis. Then there must
have been some groan or assent from poor Caudle, which is shown by a
change of pitch and a sarcastic acceptance of his answer, "Oh, you _do_
hear it!" Presently, Mr. Caudle causes another explosion by evidently
suggesting that the borrower would return the umbrella, "as if anybody
ever did return an umbrella!"

A dramatic imagination can easily realize the continuity of thought in
Mrs. Caudle's mind, her expression of profound grief over the poor
children, the sudden thought of "poor mother" that awakens in her the
reason for his doing the terrible deed, and her self-pity. Every change
must be expressed decidedly, to show the working of her mind.

Such a monologue is decidedly dramatic, and to interpret it requires vivid
imagination, quick perceptions, a realization of the relation of a
specific type of character to a distinct situation and the interaction of
situation and character upon each other. The interpreter must have a very
flexible voice and responsive body. He must have command of the technique
of expression and be able to suggest depth of meaning.

It is easy enough to study a monologue superficially, and find its meaning
for ourselves in a vague way, sufficient to satisfy us for the moment, but
there is necessity for more study when we attempt to make the monologue
clear and forcible to others.

The interpreter will discover, when he tries to read the monologue aloud,
that his subjective studies were crude and inconclusive. He will find
difficulties in most unexpected places; but as he contemplates the work
with dramatic instinct, or imaginative and sympathetic attention to each
point, new light will dawn upon him. There is need always for great power
of accentuation. Discoveries should be sudden, and the connections
vigorously sustained. The modulations of the voice must often be extreme,
while yet suggesting the utmost naturalness.

The length and abruptness of the inflections must change very suddenly.
There must be breaks in the thought, with a startled discovery of many
points, and extreme changes in pitch to show these. Some parts should go
very slowly, while others should have great quickness of movement.

Any serious monologue will serve to illustrate the necessity of vocal
expression for its interpretation. Take, for example, Browning's "Tray,"
and express the strong contrasts by the voice.


  Sing me a hero! Quench my thirst
  Of soul, ye bards!
                    Quoth Bard the first:
  "Sir Olaf, the good knight, did don
  His helm and eke his habergeon ..."
  Sir Olaf and his bard.--!

  "That sin-scathed brow" (quoth Bard the second),
  "That eye wide ope as though Fate beckoned
  My hero to some steep, beneath
  Which precipice smiled tempting Death...."
  You too without your host have reckoned!

  "A beggar-child" (let's hear this third!)
  "Sat on a quay's edge: like a bird
  Sang to herself at careless play,
  And fell into the stream. 'Dismay!
  Help, you the stander-by!' None stirred.

  "Bystanders reason, think of wives
  And children ere they risk their lives.
  Over the balustrade has bounced
  A mere instinctive dog, and pounced
  Plumb on his prize. 'How well he dives!

  "'Up he comes with the child, see, tight
  In mouth, alive too, clutched from quite
  A depth of ten feet--twelve, I bet!
  Good dog! What, off again? There's yet
  Another child to save? All right!

  "'How strange we saw no other fall!
  It's instinct in the animal.
  Good dog! But he's a long while under:
  If he got drowned I should not wonder--
  Strong current, that against the wall!

  "'Here he comes, holds in mouth this time
  --What may the thing be? Well, that's prime!
  Now, did you ever? Reason reigns
  In man alone, since all Tray's pains
  Have fished--the child's doll from the slime!'

  "And so, amid the laughter gay,
  Trotted my hero off,--old Tray,--
  Till somebody, prerogatived
  With reason, reasoned: 'Why he dived,
  His brain would show us, I should say.

  "'John, go and catch--or, if needs be,
  Purchase that animal for me!
  By vivisection, at expense
  Of half-an-hour and eighteen pence,
  How brain secretes dog's soul, we'll see!'"

This short poem well illustrates Browning's peculiar spirit and
earnestness, and also the strong hold which his chosen dramatic form had
upon him. It was written as a protest against vivisection. Browning
represents the speaker as one seeking for an expression among the poets of
the true heroic spirit. "Bard the first" opens with the traditions and
spirit of knighthood, but the speaker interrupts him suddenly in the midst
of his first sentence, implying by his tone of disgust that such views of
heroism are out of date.

The second bard begins in the spirit of a later age,

  "'That sin-scathed brow ...
  That eye wide ope, ...'"

and starts to portray a hero facing death on some precipice, but the
speaker again interrupts. He is equally dissatisfied with this type of
hero found in the pages of Byron or Bret Harte.

When the third begins--"A beggar child,"--the speaker indicates a sudden
interest, "let's hear this third!" The speech of the third bard must be
given with greater interest and simplicity, and in accordance with the
spirit of the age,--the change from the extravagant to the perfectly
simple and true, from the giant in his mail, or the desperado, to just a
little child and a dog.

Approval and tenderness should be shown by the modulations of the voice.
Long, abrupt inflections express the excitement resulting from the
discovery that the child has fallen into the stream, "Dismay! Help." Then
observe the sarcastic reference to human selfishness, and, in tender
contrast to the action of the bystanders, old Tray is introduced, followed
by the remarks of the on-lookers and their patronizing description of the
dog's conduct. Notice that the quotation is long, and that the point of
view of the careless bystanders is preserved. The spirit of these
bystanders is given in their own words until they laugh at old Tray's
pains and blind instinct in fishing up the child's doll from the stream.
Now follows the real spirit of bard the third, who portrays the
sympathetic admiration for the dog.

  "'And so, amid the laughter gay,'"

requires a sudden change of key and tone-color to express the intensity of
feeling and the general appreciation of the mystery of "a mere instinctive

The poem closes with an example of the cold, analytic spirit of the age,
that hopes to settle the deepest problems merely by experiment.

  "'By vivisection, at expense,
  Of half-an-hour and eighteen pence,
  How brain secretes dog's soul, we'll see!'"

The student will soon discover that the monologue is not only a new
literary or poetic form, but that it demands a new histrionic method of

The monologue should be taken seriously. It is not an accidental form, the
odd freak of some peculiar writer. Browning has said that he never
intended his poetry to be a substitute for an after-dinner cigar. A
similar statement is true of all great monologues. A few so-called
monologues on a low plane can be understood and rendered by any one. Every
form of dramatic art has its caricature and perversion. Burlesque seems
necessary as a caricature of all forms of dramatic art and so there are
burlesques of monologues. These, however, must not blind the eyes to the
existence of monologues on the highest plane. Many monologues, though
short and seemingly simple, probe the profoundest depths of the human
soul. Such require patient study; imagination, sympathetic insight, and
passion are all necessary in their interpretation.


The complex and difficult language of vocal expression cannot, of course,
be explained in such a book as this, but there are a few points which are
of especial moment in considering the monologue.

All vocal expression is the revelation of the processes of thinking or the
elemental actions of the mind. The meaning of the expressive modulations
of the voice must be gained from a study of the actions of the mind and
their expression in common conversation. While words are conventional
symbols, modulations of the voice are natural signs, which accompany the
pronunciation of words, and are necessary elements of natural speech.

Such expressive modulations of the voice as inflections are developed in
the child before words. Hence, vocal expression can never be acquired from
mechanical rules or by imitation. As the monologue reveals primarily the
thinking and feeling of a living character, it affords a very important
means of studying vocal expression.

In all dramatic work there is a temptation to assume merely outward
bearings and characteristics, attitudes, and tones without making the
character think. The monologue is a direct revelation of the mind and can
be interpreted only by naturally expressing the thought.

The interpreter of the monologue must reveal the point of view of his
character, and must show the awakening or arrival of every idea. All
changes in point of view, the simplest transitions in feeling and
impressions produced by an idea, must be suggested. The mental life, in
short, must be genuinely and definitely revealed by the actions of voice
and body.

The first sign or expression of life is rhythm. All life begins and ends
in rhythm, and accordingly, rhythm is the basis of all naturalness. In
vocal expression the rhythmic process of thinking, the successive
focussing and leaping of the mind from idea to idea, must be revealed by
the rhythmic alternation in speech of pause and touch.

Without these, genuine thinking cannot be expressed in speaking. The pause
indicates the stay of attention; the touch locates or affirms the centre
of concentration. The mind receives an impression in silence, and speech
follows as a natural result.

The interpretation of a poem or any work of literature demands an
intensifying of the processes of thinking, and the pause and touch
constitute the language by which this increase of thinking is expressed. A
language is always necessary to the completion or, at least, to the
accentuation of, any mental action. The impression received from each
successive idea must be so vivid as to dominate the rhythm of breathing,
and the expansion and other actions of the body.

The progressive movement of mind from idea to idea implies consequent
variation and discrimination more or less vigorous. This is revealed by
change of pitch in passing from idea to idea or phrase to phrase, and the
extent of this variation is due, as a rule, to the degree of
discrimination in thinking.

In the employment of these three modulations, pause, touch, and change of
pitch, each implies the others. The degree of change in pitch and the
vigor of touch justify the length of pause. Lengthening the pause without
increasing the touch suggests tameness, sluggishness, or dullness of

Notice the long pauses, the intense strokes of the voice, and the decided
changes of pitch harmoniously accentuated, which are employed to indicate
the depth of passion in rendering "In a Year" (p. 201). Pauses are of
special importance in a monologue. This woman shows by long pauses and
abrupt changes her struggle to comprehend the real meaning of the coldness
of the man whom she loves,--to whom she has given all. The touch and the
changes of pitch show the abruptness and the intensity of her passion.

The careful student will further perceive an inflection in conversation,
or change of pitch, during the utterance of the central vowel of each
word, and a longer inflection in the word standing for a central idea.
Inflections show the relations of ideas to each other, the logical method,
the relative value of centres of attention, and the like. Marked changes
of topics, for example, will be indicated by a long inflection upon the

In rendering Browning's "One Way of Love," the word "rose" in the first
line is given saliency. It is the centre of his first effort. Note the
long pause followed by decided rising inflections on the words:

  "She will not turn aside?..."

succeeded by a pause with a firm fall,--

  Let them lie...."

In the second stanza, note the falling inflection upon "lute," which
introduces a new theme, a new endeavor to win her love. Then follows
another disappointment with suspensive or rising inflections denoting
surprise with agitation, and then new realization


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

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

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

of failure with a falling inflection indicating submission. The same is
true of the word "love" in the last stanza which brings one to the climax
of the poem. This has a long, firm falling inflection. Note the suspensive
intense rise upon "heaven" and the falling on "hell." The question:

  "She will not give me heaven?..."

reiterates the earlier questions, only with greater grief and intensity.
The character of his "love," which a poor reader may slight, neglect, or
wholly pervert, must suggest the nobility of the man, and the last words
must reveal his intensity, tenderness, and, especially, his self-control
and hopeful dignity.

Note in Browning's "Confessions" (p. 7) that the rising inflections on the
first words indicate doubt or uncertainty, and seem to say, "Did I hear
aright?" But the firm falling inflection in the answer,

  "Ah, reverend sir, not I!"

indicates that the speaker has settled the doubt and now expresses his
protest against such a view of life. The inflections after this become
more colloquial.

There is, however, still a suggestion of earnestness as the description
continues until at the last a decided inflection on the word "sweet"
expresses his real conviction. Though life may appear but vanity to his
listener, such is not his experience. The modulations of the voice in
speaking "sad and bad and mad" can show that they embody his hearers'
opinions and convictions, not his own, and "it was sweet!" can be given to
show that they are his own.

Inflection, especially in union with pause, serves an important function
in indicating the saliency of specific ideas or words. Note, for example,
in Browning's "The Italian in England" that in the phrase "That second
time they hunted me," there is a specific emphasis on "second." This word
shows that he is talking of his many trials when in Italy and the
narrowness of his escape, while also indicating some other time when he
was hunted by the Austrians. This sentence, and especially this word
"second," should be given the pointedness of conversation, and then will
naturally follow the account of his escape.

In this poem, Browning suggests what difficulties were encountered by the
Italian patriots who labored to free their country from Austrian rule. It
is a strange and unique story told in London to some one who is planning
with the speaker for Italian liberty.


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

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

    Three mornings more, she took her stand
  In the same place, with the same eyes:
  I was no surer of sun-rise
  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
  Entered her heart,--then, passing out,
  "She could not speak for others, who
  Had other thoughts; herself she knew:"
  And so she brought me drink and food.
  After four days, the scouts pursued
  Another path; at last arrived
  The help my Paduan friends contrived
  To furnish me: she brought the news.
  For the first time I could not choose
  But kiss her hand, and lay my own
  Upon her head--"This faith was shown
  To Italy, our mother, she
  Uses my hand and blesses thee."
  She followed down to the sea-shore;
  I left and never saw her more.

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

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

The conversation takes place preliminary "to business." It is a fine
example of the monologue for many reasons. It takes simply a single moment
in life, a moment in this case when a turn is made from serious business
into personal experiences. The speaker is probably waiting for other
reformers to take active measures for the liberation of his country. In
this moment, seemingly wasted, light is thrown upon the inner life of this

This beautiful example of Browning's best work will serve as a good
illustration of the force and power of a monologue to interpret life and
character and also the elements necessary to its delivery. The student
will do well to thoroughly master it, noting every emphatic word and the
necessity of long pauses and salient inflections to make manifest the
inner thought and feeling of this man.

From such a theme some may infer that the monologue portrays accidental
parts of human life, but Browning in this poem has given deep insight into
a great struggle for liberty. Such irrelevant words spoken even on the
verge of what seems to us the greater business of life may more definitely
indicate character, and on account of the fact that they spring up
spontaneously may reveal men more completely than when they proceed "to

Note the importance of inflection in "Wanting is--what?" In giving
"Wanting is--" there is a suspensive action of the voice with an abrupt
pause, as if the speaker were going to continue with "everywhere" or
something of the kind. The dash helps to indicate this. The idea is still
incomplete, when the attitude of the mind totally changes, and he gives a
very strong and abrupt rise in "what," as if to say: "Will you, Browning,
with your optimistic beliefs, utter a note of despair?" The understanding
of the whole poem, of the passing from one point of view to another,
depends upon the way in which this abrupt change of thought in the first
short line is given by the voice.


            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:
  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
            Rose-beauty above,
            And all that was death
            Grows life, grows love,
              Grows love!

Change of point of view, situation, or emotion is revealed by a change in
the modulation of the resonance of the voice, or tone-color. In this poem,
note the joyous, confident feeling in the short lines, beginning with the
word "what," then after a long pause, the change in key and resonance to
the regret and despair expressed in the first of the long lines. Then
there is a passing to a point of view above both the optimistic and
pessimistic attitudes which have been contrasted. This truer attitude
accepts the dark facts, but sees deeper than the external, and prays for
the "Comer" and the transfiguring of all despair and death into life and

Note also the importance of pause after a long falling inflection on the
word "roses" to indicate an answer to the previous question. The first two
words of the poem, this word, and the contrast of the three moods by
tone-color are the chief points in the interpretation.

Read over again also "One Way of Love" (p. 150), and note that there are
not merely changes in inflection in passing from the successive questions
and from disappointment to acquiescence, but change also in the texture or
tone-color of the voice. This contrast in tone-color becomes still more
marked in the last stanza between the vigorous suspense and disappointment

  "She will not give me heaven?..."

and the heroic resignation of "'Tis well!" with a change of key still more
marked. Between these clauses there is a long pause and an extreme change
of pitch which are suggestive of the intensity of his sorrow as well as of
the nobility and dignity of his character. He does not exclaim
contemptuously, that "the grapes are green."

Everywhere we find that changes in situation, dramatic points of view,
imaginative relations, sympathetic attitudes of mind, or feeling resulting
from whatever cause, are expressed by corresponding changes in the
modulations of the texture or resonance of the tone, which may here be
called tone-color.

One of the most elemental characteristics of conversation is the flexible
variation of the successive rhythmic pulsations, that is to say, the
movement. This variation is especially necessary in all dramatic
expression. One clause will move very slowly, and show deliberative
thinking, importance, weight, a more dignified point of view or firm
control; another will be given rapidly, as indicative of triviality, mere
formality, uncontrollable excitement, lack of weight and sympathy, or of
subordination and disparagement. A slow movement indicates what is weighty
and important; a rapid one excitement or what is unimportant.

These are the elements of naturalness or the expressive modulations of the
voice in every-day conversation. For the rendering of no other form of
literature is the study and mastery of these elements so necessary as in
that of the monologue. Monologues are so infinitely varied in character,
they reproduce so definitely all the elements of conversation, even
requiring them to be accentuated; they embody such sudden transitions in
thought and feeling, such contrasts in the attitude of the mind, that a
thorough command of the voice is necessary for their interpretation.

Not only must the modulations of the voice be studied to render the
monologue, but a thorough study of the monologue becomes a great help in
developing power in vocal expression. Because of the necessary
accentuation of otherwise overlooked points in vocal expression, the
orator or the teacher, the reader or the actor, can be led to understand
and realize more adequately those expressive modulations upon the mastery
of which all naturalness in speaking depends.

Not only must we appreciate the distinct meaning of each of these
modulations, but also that of their combination and degrees of
accentuation, which indicate marked transitions in feeling and situation.
In fact, no voice modulation is ever perceived in isolation. They may not
all be found in a sentence, but some of them cannot be present without
others. For example, touch is meaningless without pause, and a pause is
justified by change of pitch. Inflection and change of pitch constitute
the elements of vocal form which reveal thought, and all combine with
tone-color and movement, which reveal feeling and experience. Naturalness
is the right union and combination of all the modulations.


  Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
    And did he stop and speak to you,
  And did you speak to him again?
    How strange it seems, and new!

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

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

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

Read over any short monologue several times and satisfactorily locate and
define the meaning of each of these modulations. Observe also the great
variety of changes among these modulations and their necessary union for
right interpretation.

Take for example "Memorabilia," one of Browning's shortest monologues, and
observe in every phrase the nature and necessity of these modulations of
the voice.

The reading of a volume of Shelley is said to have greatly influenced
Browning when a boy, and this monologue is a tribute to that poet. Some
lover of Shelley, possibly Browning himself, meets one who has seen
Shelley face to face. He is agitated at the thought of facing one who had
been in the presence of that marvellous man. Note the abrupt inflections,
the quick movement indicating excitement, the decided touches, and
animated changes of pitch.

At the seventh line a great break is indicated by a dash. The speaker
seems to be going on to say: "The memory I started at must have been the
greatest event of your life." But as he notes the action of the other, the
contemptuous smile at his enthusiasm, perhaps a sarcastic remark about
Shelley, there is a sudden, abrupt pause after "started at" which is given
with a rising or suspensive inflection. "My starting" has extreme change
in pitch, color, and movement. Astonishment is mingled with disappointment
and grief. Then follows a still greater transition. In the last eight
lines of the poem, the speaker, after a long pause, possibly turning
slightly away from the other and becoming more subjective, in a slow
movement and a total change of tone-color, pays a noble, poetic, and
grateful tribute to the object of his admiration. He carefully weighs
every word, and accentuates his thought with long pauses, and decided
touches upon the words. He gives "moor" a long falling inflection, pausing
after it to suggest that he meant more than a moor, possibly all modern or
English literature or poetry. He adds

            "... with a name of its own
  And a certain use in the world, no doubt,"

as a reference to English poetry or literature and to show that he was not
ignorant of its beauties and glories. Still stronger emphasis should be
given to "hand's-breadth," with a pause after it, subordinating the next
words, for he is trying to bring his listener indirectly up to the thought
of Shelley. "Miles" may also receive an accent in contrast to
"hand's-breadth." Then there is great tenderness:

  "For there I picked up ..."

Note the change in the resonance of the voice and the low and dignified
movement. There is a long inflection, followed by a pause on the word
"feather" and a still longer one on the word "eagle." Now follows another
extreme transition. Thought and feeling change. He comes back to the
familiarity of conversation. He shows uncertainty or hesitation by
inflection and a long pause after the word "Well." He has no word of
disparagement of other writers, but simply adds,

  "Well, I forget the rest."

All else is forgotten in contemplating that one precious "feather" which
is, of course, Shelley's poetry.

It is impossible to indicate in words all the mental and emotional
actions, or the modulations of the voice necessary to express them. The
more complex the imaginative conditions, the more all these modulations
are combined. Notice that change of movement, of key, and also of
tone-color combine to express extreme changes in situation, feeling, or
direction of attention. When there is a very strong emphatic inflection,
there is usually an emphatic pause after it. Wherever there is a long
pause there is always a salient change of pitch or some variation in the
expression to justify it. After an emphatic pause when words are closely
connected, there is always a decided subordination, and thus a whole
sentence, or, by a series of such changes, an entire poem, is given unity
of atmosphere, coloring, and form.

No rules can be laid down for such artistic rendering; for the higher the
poetry and the deeper the feeling, the less applicable is any so-called
rule. Only the deepest principles can be of lasting use.

Take, for example, Browning's epilogue to "The Two Poets of Croisic,"
printed also by him in his book of selections under the title of "A Tale:"


  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,
  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,
  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
    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,
  --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,
    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!"

  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
  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
  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,
    What does cricket else but fling
  Fiery heart forth, sound the note
  Wanted by the throbbing throat?

  Ay and, ever to the ending,
    Cricket chirps at need,
  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
    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!"

  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
  For aiding soul-development.

  No! This other, on returning
    Homeward, prize in hand,
  Satisfied his bosom's yearning:
    (Sir, I hope you understand!)
  --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,
    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
  Hopes one day for reputation
    Thro' his poetry that's--Oh,
  All so learned and so wise
  And deserving of a prize!

  If he gains one, will some ticket,
    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?

  "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 snapt in twain,
  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
  Asked the treble to atone
  For its somewhat sombre drone."

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

We have a suggestion of the position of the speaker, a woman upon the arm
of the chair of her lover or husband. How pointed and simple is the first
statement: "Scold me!" an apology for not remembering or for not having
given more attention. The humorous or pretended effort to remember whether
it was prose or rhyme, Greek or Latin, is given by slow, gradual
inflections followed by a marked, abrupt inflection upon the word "Greek,"
as if she were absolutely sure of that point and her memory of it
definite. Again, note toward the last, how the impression of his
pretending not to understand causes her to give a humorous and abrupt
emphasis to the point of her story.

The flexibility and great variety in the modulations of the voice
requisite in the interpretation of a monologue will be made clear by
comparing such a monologue with some short poem which suggests a speech.
Byron's "To Tom Moore," though there is one speaker, is not a monologue.

  "My boat is on the shore,
    And my bark is on the sea;
  But before I go, Tom Moore,
    Here's a double health to thee."

It is a kind of after-dinner speech, or lyric full of feeling, an
imaginative proposal by Byron of a health to Tom Moore. But Moore is not
expected to say anything. Byron is dominated entirely by his own mood. It
is therefore quite lyric and not at all dramatic. Note how intense but
regular are the rhythmic pulsations, the pause and the touch. While there
are changes of pitch and inflection, variety of movement and tone-color,
yet all of these are used in a very simple and ordinary sense. There is
none of that extreme use of inflection, pause or tone-color found in
Browning's "Memorabilia."

The difference between the modulations of the voice in a monologue and in
a play should be noted. Take, for example, the words of the Archbishop in
"Henry V" regarding the character of the King. They are addressed to
friends in conversation and are almost a speech. They have the force of a
judicial decision and are given with a great deal of emphasis as well as
with logical continuity of ideas. But this emphasis is regular and simple.
It can be noted in any animated or emphatic conversation, and the
argument of the speech may be studied to advantage by speakers on account
of the few and salient or emphatic ideas.

In rendering some monologues, however, which embody the same ideas, such
as the "Memorabilia" (see p. 160), which has been made the central
illustration of this chapter, greater range, greater abruptness in
transitions, more and greater complexity of the modulations of the voice
as well as sudden and strong impressions are required of the reader. He
should read both passages in contrast, and note the difference in

One distinct peculiarity of the monologue is the fact that it can give a
past event from a dramatic point of view. Note, for example, that in Jean
Ingelow's familiar poem, "The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire," the
first stanza gives us the spirit or movement of the whole poem. The first

  "The old mayor climbed the belfry tower,"

emphasizes the excitement.

A definite situation is set before us, and we can see, too, why the events
are given as belonging to the past. A vivid impression of the high tide
along the whole coast of Lincolnshire is afforded by its relation to one
humble cottage and family. An old grandmother tells the story long after
the events have blended in her mind into one lasting tragic impression.
This brings the whole poem into unity, makes a distinct, concrete picture
and a most impressive poetic, not to say dramatic, interpretation of the

The author by presenting this old mother talking about her beloved
daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, with "her two bairns," and the excited race of
the son to reach home before she went for the cows, appeals to sympathy
and feeling, awakens imagination, and presents not only a vivid and
specific picture, but such distinct types of character as to make the
event real. The poem is a fine example of the union of lyric and dramatic

The speaker becomes more and more excited and animated as she gives her
memories of the successive events, but in the midst of each event relapses
into grief. Again and again at the close of stanzas, a single clause or
line indicates her emotion, rather than her memory of the exciting events.
The event is portrayed dramatically, but these last lines are decidedly
lyric. After the excited calling of "Elizabeth! Elizabeth!" by her son the
very name seems to awaken tenderness in her heart, and she utters this
deep lyric conviction:--

  "A sweeter woman n'er drew breath
  Than my sonne's wife, Elizabeth."

The son, when he reaches home after his excited chase to save his wife,
looks across the grassy lea,--

  "To right, to left,"

and cries

  "Ho, Enderby!"

For at that moment he hears the bells ring "Enderby!" which seem to be the
knell of his hopes. The next line,

  "They rang 'The Brides of Enderby,'"

expresses the emotion of the grandmother as she recalls the effect of the
bells upon her son, and possibly her own awakening to the meaning of the
tune which has taken such deep hold of her imagination, and becomes
naturally the central point of the calamity in her memory.

The poem brings into direct contrast the excited realization of each event
and her feeling over the disaster as a whole. The first is dramatic; the
second, lyric. The mother realizes dramatically her son's exclamations and
feelings, but the line

  "They rang 'The Brides of Enderby'"

is purely lyric and expressive of her own feeling in remembrance of the

The climax of the dramatic movement of the story comes in the intense
realization of the personal danger to herself and her son when they saw
the mighty tidal wave rolling up the river Lindis, which

  "Sobbed in the grasses at our feet:
  The feet had hardly time to flee
  Before it brake against the knee."

Then the poet does not mention the son's efforts in her behalf, the flight
to the roof of their dwelling in the midst of the waves, and makes a
sudden transition again from the dramatic situation to the lyric spirit as
she moans with no thought of herself:

  "And all the world was in the sea."

Another sudden transition in the poem is indicated by a mere dash after
"And I--" Starting to relate her own experience with a loving mother's
instinct she turns instead to the grief of her son,--

          "... my sonne was at my side,
  And yet he moaned beneath his breath."

This is followed by another passionate dramatic climax,--

  "And didst thou visit him no more?
    Thou didst, thou didst, my daughter deare,
  The waters laid thee at his doore,
    Ere yet the early dawn was clear.
  Thy pretty bairns in fast embrace,
  The lifted sun shone on thy face,
  Down drifted to thy dwelling-place."

Here feeling is deepest in the speaker, and in the listener, and, of
course, in the reader. The rest of the poem is a sweet and mournful lyric:

  "I shall never hear her more
  Where the reeds and rushes quiver."

The poem closes with a crooning over Elizabeth's song as the aged woman
heard it for the last time.

Many public readers centre their whole interest in the imitation or mere
representation of this song, and all the fervor of the piece is made
accidental to this. But such a method centres all attention in mere vocal
skill, to the loss, if not to the perversion of its spirit. This song must
not be given literally, but in the character of the aged speaker. It lives
in the old mother's mind as a heart-breaking memory, and any artificial or
literal rendering of it destroys the illusion or the true impression of
the poem. It should be given in a very subdued tone with the least
possible suggestion, if any at all, of the music of the song.

The first stanza is apt also to be given out of character. It is a burst
of passionate remembrance and must be given carefully as the overture
embodying the spirit of the whole. When the grandmother is asked by the
interlocutor regarding the story, she breaks into sudden excitement, and
then gradually passes into the quieter mood of reminiscence. After that,
the poem is rhythmic alternation between her memory of the exciting
events, and her own experiences; in short, a co-ordination of the lyric
and the dramatic spirit.

The study of this poem affords a fine illustration of movement,--similar
to that of a great symphony. The long pauses, sudden transitions in pitch
and color, and especially the pulsations of feeling, when given in harmony
illustrate the marvellous power of the human voice.


As the monologue is a form of dramatic expression, it necessarily implies
action,--the most dramatic of all languages. Dramatic expression, in its
very nature, implies life, and life is shown by movement. For this reason
action is in some sense the primary or most necessary language required
for dramatic interpretation.

Action is a language that belongs to the whole body. As light moves
quickest in the outer world, so action,--the language that appeals to the
eye--is the first appeal to consciousness. Life expands,--the gleaming
eye, the elevated and gravitating body, the lifted hand,--all these show
character and a living or present realization of ideas, and are most
important in the monologue.

On account of the abrupt opening of most monologues, the first clause
requires salient and decided action. The speaker must locate his hearer,
and must often indicate, by some decided movement, the effect produced
upon him by some previous speech which has to be imagined. As the words
of the listener are not given but must be suggested, it is necessary that
the action be decided.

Though action or pantomime always precedes speech, this precedence is
especially pronounced in monologues. Notice, for example, in Bret Harte's
"In a Tunnel," the look of surprise and astonishment followed by the words
given with long rising inflections: "Didn't know Flynn?"

    "Didn't know Flynn--Flynn of Virginia--long as he's been 'yar? Look'ee
    here, stranger, whar _hev_ you been?

    "Here in this tunnel,--he was my pardner, that same Tom Flynn--working
    together, in wind and weather, day out and in.

    "Didn't know Flynn! Well, that _is_ queer. Why, it's a sin to think of
    Tom Flynn--Tom with his cheer, Tom without fear,--stranger, look 'yar!

    "Thar in the drift back to the wall he held the timbers ready to fall;
    then in the darkness I heard him call--'Run for your life, Jake! Run
    for your wife's sake! Don't wait for me.' And that was all, heard in
    the din, heard of Tom Flynn,--Flynn of Virginia.

    "That's all about Flynn of Virginia--that lets me out here in the
    damp--out of the sun--that ar' dern'd lamp makes my eyes run.

    "Well, there--I'm done! But, sir, when you'll hear the next fool
    asking of Flynn--Flynn of Virginia--just you chip in, say you knew
    Flynn; say that you've been 'yar."

The look of wonder is sustained until there is a change to an intense,
pointed inquiry: "Whar _hev_ you been?" The intense surprise reveals the
rough character of the speaker, a miner in a mining camp, and his
admiration for Flynn, who has saved his life. Then note the sudden
transition as he begins his story. His character must be maintained, and
expressed by action through all the many transitions; but in the first
clause especially there must be a pause with a long continued attitude of

Action is required to present this vivid scene which is suggested by only
a few words, the admiration of the speaker for Flynn, who in the depths
of the mine, with but a moment to decide, gives his life for another. The
hero calls out "Run for your wife's sake," the heart of the speaker warms
with admiration and the tears come; then the rough Westerner is seen
brushing away his tears and attributing the water in his eyes to the
"dern'd lamp." Truth in depicting human nature, depth of feeling, action,
character, in short, the whole meaning, is dependent upon the decided
actions of the body and the inflections of the voice directly associated
with these.

In "The Italian in England" (p. 152), the word "second" not only needs
emphasis by the voice, as has been shown, to indicate that the speaker has
already given an account of another experience, but he may possibly throw
up his hands to indicate something unusual, something beyond words in the
experience he is about to relate.

It is especially necessary in the monologue that action should show the
discovery, arrival, or initiation of ideas. A change in the direction of
attention, a new subject or current of ideas, cannot be indicated wholly
by vocal expression. The mental conjectures of Mrs. Caudle, for example,
are very pronounced, and cannot be fully expressed by the voice without

Notice how definitely action, in union with vocal expression, shows
whether Mrs. Caudle's new impressions are due to the natural association
of ideas in her mind, or to the words or conduct of Caudle. The last
mentioned give rise to her explosiveness, withering sarcasm, and anger.
Such discriminations produce the illusion of the scene.

In "Up at a Villa--Down in the City" (p. 65), notice how necessary it is
for the interpreter to show the direction of his attention, whether he is
speaking regarding his villa or the city. Note the disgust and attitude of
gloom in his face and bearing as he gazes towards his villa.

  "Over-smoked behind by the faint gray olive-trees,"

suggests a picture calling for admiration from us, but not from him. To
him the tulip is a great "bubble of blood." All this receives a definite
tone-color, and it must be borne in mind that without action of the body,
the quality of the voice will not change. The emotion diffuses itself
through the whole organism of the impersonator of the "person of quality,"
and even hands, feet and face are given a certain attitude by this
emotion. Contempt for the villa will depress his whole body and thus color
his tone. On the contrary, when the speaker turns to the city, his face
lights up. The "fountain--to splash," the "houses in four straight lines,"
the "fanciful signs which are painted properly,"--all these are apparently
contemplated by him with such an expansion and elevation of his body as
almost to cause laughter.

This contrast, which is sustained through the whole monologue, can be
interpreted or presented only by the actions of the body and their effect
on the tone.

Expression of face and body are necessary to suggest the delicate changes
in thinking and feeling. Notice in "A Tale" (p. 163) that the struggle of
the woman to remember is shown by action.

The two lines

  "Said you found it somewhere, ...
  Was it prose or was it rhyme?"

are not so much addressed to the listener as to herself, as she tries to
remember, and she would show this by action. Every subtle change in
thought and feeling is indicated by a decided expression in the face. In
her efforts to remember, she would possibly turn away from him at first
with a bewildered look, then she might turn toward him again, as she asked
him the question; but if she asked this of herself, her head would remain
turned away. When she decides with a bow of the head that it is Greek,
note how her face would light up and possibly intimate confidence that she
was right. At the close of the poem, notice the tender mischief of her
glance when she refers to "somebody I know" who is "deserving of a prize."
The monologue is full of the subtlest variations of point of view and
thought, and these variations call for a constant play of feature.

The struggle for an idea must be frankly disclosed. An interruption, a
thought broken on account of a sudden leap of the mind, must be
interpreted faithfully by the eyes, the face, the walk, or the body, in
union with vocal expression.

In the soliloquy of the "Spanish Cloister" (p. 58), for example, notice
how the whole face, head, and body of the speaker recoil at the very start
on discovering Brother Lawrence in the garden. Notice, too, the fiendish
delight as he sees the accident, "There his lily snaps!" How sarcastic is
his reference to the actions of Brother Lawrence, who, unconscious that
any one is looking at him, seems to stop and shake his head in a way that
leads the speaker to infer that a "myrtle-bush wants trimming:" but
instantly, with a sneer he adds, "Oh, that rose has prior claims." Such
sarcastic variations occur all through the monologue. "How go on your
flowers?" is given with gleeful expectancy, and he notes with cruel joy
the disappointment of Brother Lawrence when looking to find one "double,"
and chuckles to himself

  "Strange!--And I, too, at such trouble,
  Keep them close-nipped on the sly!"

Note, too, the difference in facial action when the speaker is observing
Brother Lawrence and when conjuring up schemes to send this good man "Off
to hell, a Manichee."

Another point to be noted in the study of the monologue is the giving of
quotations. These, of course, are an echo of what the hearer has said, and
must be rendered with care.

Look again at Browning's "A Tale," and note "cicada," which is quoted.
This is followed by an interrogation, and refers to the listener's
humorously sarcastic question regarding the scientific aspects of her
subject. She echoes it, of course, with her own feeling of surprise, and
the exclamation "Pooh!" silences him so that she may go on with her story.
Notice how necessary action is here to enable the reader to interpret the
meaning of this to the audience.

Quotations especially call for action as they reflect the opposition of
the character of the listener to that of the speaker; they are always
given with decided changes. The words only, however, and at times the
ideas only, are quoted; the feeling, the impression, are all the speaker's
own. Quotations are merely the conversational echo of the words of another
such as are frequently heard in every-day life, and demand both action and
vocal expression for their true interpretation.

The subject of quotations requires special attention in the monologue.
They must be given, not only with decided pauses, inflections, changes of
movement and variations in accentuation, and in all the modulations of the
voice, but with suggestive action, changes in the direction of the eye,
head, and body. In short, there must be a complete change in all the
expression from what preceded, because the impression produced by an idea
in the speaker's own mind is not so forcible as the effect of a word from
a listener; at any rate, the impression is different. In telling our story
to him, his attitude of mind, in demurring or assenting, will cause a
sudden change or recoil on our part. The difference in the impressions
made upon the speaker by his own ideas and by what his listener says must
be indicated, and this can only be indicated by uniting the language of
action and vocal expression with words. A change of idea or some
remembrance awakened in our own mind comes naturally, but a sudden remark
or interruption produces a more decided and definite impression upon us.
The surprised look and abrupt turn of the head are necessary to show the
sense of imaginative reality.

Observe the definite and extreme, even sudden, transitions which are made
in conversation. These abrupt leaps of the mind from one subject to
another are indicated by a simple turn, it may be, of the head, with
sudden changes in the face, and, of course, with changes of pitch and
movement. The monologue gives the best interpretation of these actions of
the mind to be found in literature.

As an example, note Riley's "Knee-deep in June." The more decided and
sudden the transitions in this poem, the better. The abrupt arrival of an
idea, the subtle start it gives to face or head or body, should be
naturally suggested.

Action is especially needed in all abrupt transitions in thought and
feeling. In many of the more humorous monologues, there is often a sudden
pathetic touch towards the last, requiring slower movement in the action
of the body. Occasionally, very sudden and extreme contrasts occur. The
reader must make long pauses in these cases, and accentuate strongly the
action, of which vocal expression is more or less a result.

As further illustrative of a sudden transition, note how in Riley's
monologue, "When de Folks is Gone," the scared negro grows more and more
excited until a climax of terror is reached in the penultimate line:

  "Wha' dat shinin' fru de front do' crack?"

Between this line and the last the cause of the light outside is
discovered, and a complete recovery from terror to joy must be indicated.
With the greatest relief he must utter the last line:

  "God bress de Lo'd, hit's de folks got back."

The study of action in the rendering of a monologue brings us to one of
the most important points in all dramatic expression. No form of dramatic
art is given so directly to an audience as is a story or a speech. The
interpreter of a monologue must feel his audience, but not speak to it. He
must address all his remarks to his imaginary listener.

Where shall he locate this listener, and why in that particular place?

The late Joseph Jefferson called attention to the difference between
oratory and acting. "The two arts," he said, "go hand in hand, so far as
magnetism and intelligence are concerned, but there comes a point where
they differ widely. The actor is, or should be, impressionable and
sensitive; the orator, on the other hand, must have the power of
impressing." Accordingly, the orator speaks directly to his audience; the
actor does not.

This distinction is important. It may possibly go too far, because the
orator must give his attention to his truth, must receive impressions from
his ideas, and reveal his impressions to his audience. He too must be
impressionable and sensitive, but his attentive and responsive attitude is
always to the picture created by his own mind. He is impersonal and gives
direct attention to his auditors. He receives vivid impressions from
truth, and then endeavors to give these to others.

In a play, on the contrary, the actor receives an impression from his
interlocutor. He must give great attention to what his interlocutor is
saying, and must reveal his impressions to his audience by faithfully
portraying the effect of the other's thought and feeling upon himself.

In the monologue the same is true. The interlocutor, however, is imagined.
More imagination is called for, and greater impressionability and
sensitiveness, because there is no interlocutor there for the audience to
see. The hearer must judge entirely from the impressions made upon the

Action, therefore, is most important. The impersonator must reveal
decidedly and definitely every impression made upon him, but must speak
to, and act toward, his imaginary auditor, and only indirectly to his

The interpretation of the monologue thus brings us to a unique form of
what may be called platform action, demanding specific attention. If the
interpreter is not supposed to speak directly to his audience but to
address an imaginary hearer, where must this imaginary hearer be located,
and why there? Usually somewhat to one side. Only in this way can the
speaker suggest his differing relations to listener and audience.

The suggestion of these relations is an aspect of expression frequently
overlooked. In society or on the street it is not polite to talk to any
one over the shoulder, and turning the back upon a man repels him most
effectively. The turning away of the body may show contempt or
inattention. It may, however, also show subjectivity and indicate the fact
that the man is turning his attention within to ponder upon the subject
another has mentioned, or is reflecting on what he is going to say.

Attention is the basis of all expression, and the first cause of all
action, since we turn our attention toward a person and listen to what he
has to say before we speak to him. Accordingly, pivotal action of the body
is important in life, and is of great importance in all forms of dramatic
art, whether on the stage or in the rendering of a monologue.

A speaker, especially a dramatic speaker, pivots from his audience when he
becomes subjective, and suggests an imaginary listener, or represents a
conversation between two or more in a story. He does not do this
consciously and deliberately, but from instinct. Primarily, it is
obedience to the dramatic instinct that causes this pivotal action. Any
one who will observe the natural actions of men on the street, in
business, in society, or in impassioned oratory, can recognize the meaning
and importance of the pivotal actions of the body. It is one of the
fundamental manifestations of dramatic instinct.

Pivoting toward any one expresses attention and politeness. Attention is
the secret of politeness. To listen to another is a primary characteristic
of good breeding. Pivoting toward one is also indicative of emphasis. In
conversation, even in walking on the street, when one has something
emphatic to say he turns directly to his interlocutor, and often adds
gesture; on the other hand, turning away, or failing to pivot toward some
one, indicates an estimate that something is trivial or unimportant.

In the delivery of a monologue there is often an object referred to which
the interlocutor naturally places on one side, while he locates his
listener on the other. Thus, in the unemphatic parts he would turn away
and not be continually "nosing his interlocutor" or talking directly to
him. This would cause him to give his ideas to the audience directly or
indirectly. Whenever he talks emphatically, he would turn toward his
interlocutor. When the object referred to is more directly in the field of
attention, he would turn toward that.

Ruth McEnery Stuart, for example, is the author of a monologue in which an
old countryman talks about his son winning a "diplomy." The speaker in the
monologue would naturally locate the diploma on one side and the listener
on the other.

It is easy to see that this pivotal action is of great importance on the
stage. It is the very basis of all true stage representation. The amateur
always "noses" his interlocutor. The artist is able to show all degrees of
attention by the pivotal action of the body, and thus reveal to an
audience the very rank of the person addressed, whether that consists in
dignity of character, which makes him a special object of interest, or in
a royal or conventionally superior station.

That the pivotal action of the body in a monologue is especially important
can be seen at once. The object of attention is an invisible listener, and
the turning of the body to the side not only shows the speaker's own
attention, but it helps the auditor to locate the person addressed.

Without this pivotal action, the reader is apt to declaim a monologue, and
confuse it with a speech. The monologue is never a direct endeavor to
impress an audience. Only occasionally can the audience be made to stand
for the person addressed.

Some one will ask, Why at the side? Because if we hold out two objects for
an audience to observe, we shall put them side by side. The placing of one
before the other will cause confusion or prevent the possibility of
discrimination. In art, the law of rhythm, or of composition, demands that
objects be distributed side by side in order to win different degrees of
attention. A picture of any kind demands such an arrangement of objects as
will hold the attention concentrated. An object in the background may aid
the sustaining of attention upon something in the foreground. Objects are
placed in opposition to cause the mind to alternate from one to the other,
and thus to sustain attention until it penetrates the meaning of the
smallest scene. This is the soul, not only of pictorial, but of dramatic

Placing an imaginary character at the side does not make words necessarily
dramatic. This may be only an external aspect of the poem. The most
passionate lyrics may be given with this change of attitude because of
their great subjectivity. They are often as subjective as a soliloquy.
Again, this turning of the body to the side does not mean that the person
to whom the speaker seems to be talking is definitely represented. The
listener may be located at the side for a moment, it may be unconsciously,
and lost sight of almost entirely. The feeling must often absorb the
speaker and pass into the most subjective lyric intensity. Dramatic art
must move; there must be continual progressive transitions. Hence, the
picture must continually change, and pivotal flexibility is especially
necessary. Such turning of the body can be seen in every-day conversation.
The degree of attention to a listener varies in all intercourse. While
talking to another, the speaker may become dominated by a subjective idea
or mood and turn away; yet the listener's presence is always felt.

Transition to the side as expressive of attention takes place in the
platform reading of a drama with several characters. In this case, the
interpreter distributes the characters in various directions; but this
must be done according to their importance, and as each one speaks, the
person addressed must be indicated as in the monologue.

Hence, it is not an artificial arrangement to place the character you
address somewhat to the side, but in accordance with the laws of the mind
and with every-day conversation. By this placing of an imaginary listener,
all degrees of attention and inattention toward another can be indicated.
You can show a subjective action of the mind by pivoting naturally away
from the person to whom you speak, but at the moment an idea comes to you
clearly and definitely, it dominates you, and you turn towards him.

In pivoting the body, or showing attention, the eye always leads. An
impolite man has little control of his eyes or of his pivotal action. An
embarrassed or nervous man shows his agitation especially in his eye. The
polite man gives the attention of his eye, the head follows that, and then
the whole body turns attentively. Accordingly, the turn of the eye, the
head, and the whole body must be brought into sympathetic unity.

The interpreter of the monologue must have a free use of his entire body,
must be able to step and move with ease in any direction. But a single
step is all that is necessary, except in rare cases. The simpler the
movements and attitudes of the interpreter the better, and the more
impressive and suggestive will he be to the imagination of his audience.
Chaotic movements backward and forward will confuse the hearer's attention
and fail to indicate the direction of his own, which is of vital moment.
Often the slightest turn of the head is all that is necessary.

The interpretation of a monologue must be more suggestive in its action
than that of a play. On the stage there may be many actors, and the
pivotal movements of many characters toward each other must often bring a
large number into unity, so that a group can express the situation by
co-operative action. The attention of a hundred can be focussed on one
picture or on one idea. But the interpreter of the monologue has only his
own eye, head, and body to lead the attention of his auditors and to
suggest the most profound impressions.

In the nature of the case, accordingly, the situation of the monologue
must be more simple and definite; and for the same reason, the actions
must be more pronounced and sustained. The interpretation of the monologue
thus calls for the ablest dramatic artist.

There are many important phases of this peculiar pivotal action. The speed
of the movement, for example, shows the degree of excitement. The eye
only, or the eye and the head, or both with the body, may turn. Each of
these cases indicates a difference in the degree of attention or in the
relations of the speaker to the listener.

Again, this pivotal action has a direct relation to the advancing of the
body forward toward a listener, the gravitation of passion which shows
sympathy and feeling as well as attention.

The student may think such directions mechanical, especially when it is
said that the body in turning must sustain its centrality, and that there
must be no confusion or useless steps; but in this case the foot acts as a
kind of eye, by a peculiar instinct which always indicates the proper
direction, if the speaker is really thinking dramatically.

The turning action of the body has been discussed more at length than the
other elements of action on account of its importance in the rendering of
a monologue, and also because it is usually misunderstood or entirely
overlooked. There are many other expressive actions associated with this
turning of the body which need discussion. They, however, belong to the
subject of pantomimic expression, rather than to a general discussion of
the nature of the monologue and the chief peculiarities of its

The same may be said regarding the innumerable and extremely subtle and
complex actions of other parts of the body. The actions concerned in the
rendering of a monologue are those associated with the every-day
intercourse of men in conversation, and are often so delicate and
unpronounced that an auditor will hardly notice them. He will simply feel
the general impression of truthfulness. The interpreter of the monologue,
for this very reason, needs to give the most careful attention to action
as a language. Neglect of action is the most surprising fault of modern

Anything like an adequate discussion of action as a language is impossible
in this place. There are, however, certain dangers which call for special
though brief attention.

In the first place, action must never be declamatory or oratoric. Swinging
actions of the arms and extravagant movements of the body--possibly
pardonable in oratory, on account of the great desire to impress truth
upon men, to drive home a point energetically--are out of place in a
monologue. The manner must be forcible, but simple and natural. Activity
must manifest thought and passion; it should not be merely descriptive,
but must arise from the relations of the interlocutor. The monologue
requires great accentuation of the subjective element in pantomime.

This brings us to a second danger. The dramatic artist is tempted merely
to represent or imitate. He desires to locate not only his listener, but
every object, and so is tempted to objective descriptions.

Action is of two kinds,--representative and manifestative. In
representative action one illustrates, describes, indicates objects,
places, and directions. One shows the objective situations and relations.
Manifestative pantomime, on the contrary, reveals the feelings and
experiences of the human mind, or the subjective situations and relations.
Representative pantomime is apt to degenerate into mere imitative
movements. Manifestative pantomime centres in the eye or the face, but
belongs to the whole body. Even when we make representative movements with
the hand and arm, the attitude of the hand shows the conditions prompting
the gesture, and face and body show the real experiences and feelings.

In the giving of humorous monologues, representative action is often
appropriate and necessary. The hearer must be located, objects must often
be distributed and rightly related to assist the audience in conceiving
the situation.

The need of representative action is seen in Day's "Old Boggs' Slarnt."


  Old Bill Boggs is always sayin' that he'd like to, but he carnt;
  He hain't never had no chances, he hain't never got no slarnt.
  Says it's all dum foolish tryin', 'less ye git the proper start,
  Says he's never seed no op'nin' so he's never had no heart.
  But he's chawed enough tobacker for to fill a hogset up,
  And has spent his time a-trainin' some all-fired kind of pup;
  While his wife has took in washin' and his children hain't been larnt
  'Cause old Boggs is allus whinin' that he's never got no slarnt.

  Them air young uns round the gros'ry hadn't oughter done the thing!
  Now it's done, though, and it's over, 'twas a cracker-jack, by jing.
  Boggs, ye see, has been a-settin' twenty years on one old plank,
  One end h'isted on a saw-hoss, t'other on the cistern tank.
  T'other night he was a-chawin' and he says, "I vum-spt-ooo--
  Here I am a-owin' money--not a gol durn thing to do!
  'Tain't no use er buckin' chances, ner er fightin' back at Luck,
  --Less ye have some way er startin', feller's sartin to be stuck.
  Needs a slarnt to get yer going"--then them young uns give a carnt,
  --Plank went up an' down old Boggs went--yas, he got it, got his slarnt.
  Course, the young uns shouldn't done it--sent mine off along to bed--
  Helped to pry Boggs out the cistern--he warn't more 'n three-quarters
  Didn't no one 'prove the actions, but when all them kids was gone,
  Thunder mighty! How we hollered! Gab'rel couldn't heered his horn.

When the speaker in the monologue describes the plank which has

  "One end h'isted on a saw-hoss, t'other on the cistern tank,"

he would naturally in conversation describe and indicate the tank and the
saw-horse and the direction of the slope of the plank. Then, when

  "... them young uns give a carnt,"

and the plank went up, it might be indicated that one end went up, by one
hand, and by the other that old Boggs went down. This can be done easily
and naturally and in character. The genius of the "gros'ry," who is
speaking, would indicate these very simply with hand and eye. This action
will not only express the humor, but help the audience to conceive the

In a serious monologue, such as "A Grammarian's Funeral" (p. 72), the
speaker looks down toward the town, and talks about the condition of those
there who did not appreciate his master. The reader must indicate where
the speaker locates his friends who are carrying the body, and suggest
also, by looking upward to the hill-top, where they are to bury him. This
representative action, when only suggestive, in no way interferes with,
but rather assists, the manifestation of feeling.

It must not be forgotten that there is great danger in exaggerating the
objective or representative action of a monologue. The exaggeration of
accidents is the chief means of degrading noble literature in delivery.

For example, one of the finest monologues, "The Vagabonds," by J. T.
Trowbridge, has been made by public readers a mere means of imitating the
oddities of a drunkard. The true centring of attention should be on the
mental characteristics of such a man. A degraded method of delivering this
centres everything on the mere accidents and oddities of manner. Thus a
most pathetic and tragic situation may be portrayed in a way not to awaken
sympathy, but laughter.


  We are two travellers, Roger and I.
    Roger's my dog. Come here, you scamp.
  Jump for the gentleman--mind your eye!
    Over the table--look out for the lamp!
  The rogue is growing a little old:
    Five years we've tramped through wind and weather,
  And slept out doors when nights were cold,
    And ate, and drank, and starved together.

  We've learned what comfort is, I tell you:
    A bed on the floor, a bit of rosin,
  A fire to thaw our thumbs (poor fellow,
    The paw he holds up there has been frozen),
  Plenty of catgut for my fiddle
    (This out-door business is bad for strings),
  Then a few nice buckwheats hot from the griddle,
    And Roger and I set up for kings.

  No, thank you, sir, I never drink.
    Roger and I are exceedingly moral.
  Aren't we, Roger? See him wink.
    Well, something hot then, we won't quarrel.
  He's thirsty too--see him nod his head.
    What a pity, sir, that dogs can't talk;
  He understands every word that's said,
    And he knows good milk from water and chalk.

  The truth is, sir, now I reflect,
    I've been so sadly given to grog,
  I wonder I've not lost the respect
    (Here's to you, sir) even of my dog.
  But he sticks by through thick and thin,
    And this old coat with its empty pockets,
  And rags that smell of tobacco and gin,
    He'll follow while he has eyes in his sockets.

  There isn't another creature living
    Would do it, and prove, through every disaster,
  So fond, so faithful, and so forgiving,
    To such a miserable, thankless master.
  No, sir! see him wag his tail and grin--
    By George! it makes my old eyes water--
  That is, there's something in this gin
    That chokes a fellow, but no matter.

  We'll have some music if you are willing,
    And Roger here (what a plague a cough is, sir)
  Shall march a little. Start, you villain!
    Paws up! eyes front! salute your officer!
  'Bout face! attention! take your rifle!
    (Some dogs have arms you see.) Now hold
  Your cap while the gentlemen give a trifle
    To aid a poor old patriot soldier.

  March! Halt! Now show how the rebel shakes
    When he stands up to hear his sentence;
  Now tell how many drams it takes
    To honor a jolly new acquaintance.
  Five yelps, that's five--he's mighty knowing;
    The night's before us, fill the glasses;
  Quick, sir! I'm ill; my brain is going;
    Some brandy; thank you: there, it passes.

  Why not reform? That's easily said.
    But I've gone through such wretched treatment,
  Sometimes forgetting the taste of bread,
    And scarce remembering what meat meant,
  That my poor stomach's past reform,
    And there are times when, mad with thinking,
  I'd sell out Heaven for something warm
    To prop a horrible inward sinking.

  Is there a way to forget to think?
    At your age, sir, home, fortune, friends,
  A dear girl's love; but I took to drink;
    The same old story, you know how it ends.
  If you could have seen these classic features--
    You needn't laugh, sir, I was not then
  Such a burning libel on God's creatures;
    I was one of your handsome men.

  If you had seen her, so fair, so young,
    Whose head was happy on this breast;
  If you could have heard the songs I sung
    When the wine went round, you wouldn't have guess'd
  That ever I, sir, should be straying
    From door to door, with fiddle and dog,
  Ragged and penniless, and playing
    To you to-night for a glass of grog.

  She's married since, a parson's wife;
    'Twas better for her that we should part;
  Better the soberest, prosiest life
    Than a blasted home and a broken heart.
  I have seen her? Once! I was weak and spent
    On the dusty road; a carriage stopped,
  But little she dreamed as on she went,
    Who kissed the coin that her fingers dropped.

  You've set me talking, sir, I'm sorry;
    It makes me wild to think of the change.
  What do you care for a beggar's story?
    Is it amusing? you find it strange?
  I had a mother so proud of me,
    'Twas well she died before. Do you know,
  If the happy spirits in Heaven can see
    The ruin and wretchedness here below?

  Another glass, and strong to deaden
    This pain; then Roger and I will start.
  I wonder, has he such a lumpish, leaden,
    Aching thing, in place of a heart?
  He is sad sometimes, and would weep if he could,
    No doubt remembering things that were:
  A virtuous kennel with plenty of food,
    And himself a sober, respectable cur.

  I'm better now; that glass was warming.
    You rascal! limber your lazy feet!
  We must be fiddling and performing
    For supper and bed, or starve in the street.
  Not a very gay life to lead you think?
    But soon we shall go where lodgings are free,
  And the sleepers need neither victuals nor drink;
    The sooner the better for Roger and me.

"The Vagabonds" deserves study on account of its revelation of the
subjectivity possible to the monologue. Notice the speaker's talk to his
dog: "Come here, you scamp,"--"Jump for the gentleman,"--"Over the table,
look out for the lamp." Then he begins the story of his life, exhibiting
his pathetic condition, and displaying his realization of his downfall.
After this he resolutely turns to his violin and calls upon his dog to

    "Paws up! eyes front! salute your officer!
  'Bout face! attention! take your rifle!"

Then suddenly the note of remorse is sounded; his sense of illness, his
restoration with the brandy, are true in every line to human character.

The interpretation of such a poem is difficult because it verges so close
upon the imitative that readers are apt to lose the spirit and intention
of the author. It must be made entirely a study of character. The
underlying spirit, not the accidents, must be accentuated by the action of
the body.

In general, even when representative actions are most appropriate and
helpful, the manifestative actions of face and body must be accentuated
and at all times made to predominate over the representative actions. The
more serious any interpretation is, the more necessary is it that
manifestation transcend representation. Every student should observe how
manifestative action of face and body always supports descriptive gesture.

Again, in the monologue there must not be too much motion. Motion is
superficial, showing merely extraneous relations, and may indicate
nervousness or lack of control. The attitude must be sustained. Any motion
should be held until it spreads through the whole being. Motions reveal
superficial emotions; attitudes, the deeper conditions. Conditions must
transcend both motions and attitudes, and attitudes must always
predominate over motions.

The monologue must not be spectacular, and cannot be interpreted by
external and mechanical movements. The whole body must act, but in a
natural way. Expansions of the body, the kindling eye, the animated face,
form the centre of all true dramatic actions.

The attitude at the climax of any motion makes the motion emphatic. The
monologue is so subtle, and requires such accentuation of deep impression,
that attitudes are especially necessary. An attitude accentuates a
condition or feeling by prolonging its pantomimic suggestion. As the power
to pause, or to stay the attention until the mind realizes a situation and
awakens the depths of passion, is important in vocal expression, so the
staying of a motion at its climax, a sustaining of the attitude that
reveals the deepest emotional condition, is the basis of true dramatic

Of all languages, action is the least noticeable, the most in the
background, but, on the other hand, of all languages it is the most
continuous. From the cradle to the grave, sleeping or waking, pantomimic
expression is never absent. Consciously or unconsciously, every step we
take, every position we assume, reveals us, our character, emotions,
experiences. Hence, any dramatic interpretation of human experiences or
character, such as a monologue, demands thorough and conscientious study
of this language, which reveals both the highest and the lowest conditions
of the heart.


One of the most important questions in regard to form in poetry,
especially the form and interpretation of the monologue, relates to metre.

To most persons metre is something purely arbitrary and artificial. Books
on the subject often give merely an account of the different kinds of feet
with hardly a hint that metre has meaning. But metre is not a mechanical
structure which exists merely for its own sake. When the metre is true, it
expresses the spirit of the poem, as the leaf reveals the life and
character of the tree.

The attitude of mind of many persons of culture and taste toward metre is
surprising. Rarely, for example, is a hymn read with its true metric
movement. Is this one reason why hymns are no longer read aloud? Not only
ministers and public speakers, but even the best actors and public
readers, often blur the most beautiful lines. How rarely do we find an
Edwin Booth who can give the spirit of Shakespeare's blank verse! Few
actors realize the pain they give to cultivated ears or to those who have
the imagination and feeling to appreciate the expressiveness of the metric
structure in the highest poetry.

The development of a proper appreciation of metre is of great importance.
Though the student should acquaint himself with the metric feet and the
information conveyed in all the rhetorics and books on metre, still he has
hardly learned the alphabet of the subject.

To appreciate its metre, one must so enter into the spirit of a poem that
the metric movement is felt as a part of its expression. The nature of the
feet chosen, the length of the lines,--everything connected with the form
of a fine poem, is directly expressive. The sublimer the poem, the
painting, or any work of art, the more will the smallest detail be
consistent with the whole and a necessary part of the expression.

Metre has been studied too much as a matter of print. Few recognize the
fact that metre is necessarily a part of vocal rather than of verbal
expression, and can only be suggested in print.

Metre can be revealed only by the human voice. As a printed word is only a
sign, so print can afford a hint only of the nature of metre. Its study,
accordingly, must be associated with the living voice and the vocal
interpretation of literature.

The mastery of metre requires first of all a development of the sense of
rhythm, a realization especially of the subjective aspects of rhythm, a
consciousness of the rhythm of thinking and feeling and the power we have
of controlling or accentuating this. There must be developed in addition a
sense of form and a realization of the nature of all expression, and of
the necessity that ideas and feelings be revealed through natural and
objective means.

Another step not to be despised is the training of the ear. At the basis
of every specific problem of education will be found the necessary
training of a sense. How can a painter be developed without education of
the eye as well as control of the hand. So metre must be recognized by the
ear before it can be revealed by the voice. Last of all, the imagination
must recreate the poem and the reader must realize the specific language
of every foot and feel its hidden meaning.

All these aims will be developed, more or less together, and be in direct
relation to all the elements of expression.

Metre is a difficult subject in which to lay down general principles, lest
they become artificial rules. Every poem that is really great shows
something new in the way of combining imperfect feet, and the student must
study the movement for himself.

Many will be tempted to ask, "What has metre to do with the monologue?" It
is true that metre belongs to all poetry, but the monologue has some
specific and peculiar uses of metre, and, more than any other form of
poetry except the poetic drama, demands the living voice. Hence a few
suggestions are necessary at this point upon this much neglected and
misconceived subject.

To understand the relation of metre to the monologue, it should be held in
mind that metre is far more flexible and free in dramatic than in lyric
poetry. In lyric poetry it is usually more regular and partakes of the
nature of song; but in dramatic poetry it is more changeable and bears
more resemblance to the rhythm of speech. In the lyric, metre expresses a
mood, and mood as a permanent condition of feeling necessitates a more
regular rhythm; but in dramatic poetry, metre expresses the pulse-beat of
one character in contact with another. It must respond to all the sudden
changes of thought and feeling.

The difference between the metre of Keats or Shelley or Chaucer and that
of Shakespeare or of Browning is not wholly one of personality. It is
often due to a difference in the theme discussed and in the spirit of
their poetry.

So important is the understanding of metre to the right appreciation of
any exalted poetic monologue, that in general, unless the interpreter
thoroughly masters the subject of metre, he is unprepared to render
anything but so-called monologues on the lowest plane of farce and
vaudeville art.

Very close to the subject of metre is length of line. A long line is more
stately, a short line more abrupt, passional, and intense. A short line in
connection with longer lines, generally contains more weight, and such an
increase of intensive feeling as causes its rendering to be slow,
requiring about as much time as one of the longer lines. The short line
suggests the necessity of a pause. It is usually found in lyric poetry;
rarely in dramatic.

The peculiar variation in length of line found in the Pindaric ode belongs
almost entirely to lyric poetry. Monologues and dramatic poems are
frequently found in blank verse.

We find here a peculiar principle existing. In blank verse there is
greater variation of the feet than in almost any other form of poetry, and
yet in this the length of line is most fixed. In the Pindaric ode, on the
contrary, where the foot is more regular, there are great variations in
the length of line. Is there not discoverable here a law, that where
length of line is more fixed, metre is more variable, but where length of
line is more variable, the metric feet tend to be more regular?

Art is "order in play"; the free, spontaneous variation is play; the fixed
or regular elements give the sense of order. True art always accentuates
both order and play, not in antagonistic opposition, but in sympathetic
union. Whenever the order is more apparent in one direction, there is
greater freedom of play in another, and the reverse.

We find this principle specially manifest in pantomimic expression. Man is
only free and flexible in the use of his arms and limbs when he has a
stability of poise and when his movement ends in a stable attitude. There
is opposition between motions and positions.

This important law has been overlooked both in action and in vocal
expression. It is not quite the same as Delsarte's law: "Stability is
characteristic of the centre; flexibility, of the surface." While this is
true, the necessary co-ordination of the transcendence of stability of
attitude over motion is also a necessary law of all expression.

Before trying to lay down any general law regarding metre as a mode of
expression, let us examine a few monologues in various feet.

Notice the use of the trochee to express the loving entreaty in "A Woman's
Last Word" (p. 6). To give this a careless rendering with its metric
movement confused, as is often done, totally perverts its meaning and
spirit. The accent on the initial word of the line gives an intensity of
feeling with tender persuasiveness. This accent must be strong and
vigorous, followed by a most delicate touch upon the following

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

One who has little sense of metre should try to read this poem in some
different foot. He will soon become conscious of the discord. When once he
catches the spirit of the poem with his own voice, he will experience a
satisfaction and confidence in his rhythmic instinct, and in his voice as
its agent, that will enable him to render the poem with power.

Note in this poem also the shortness of the lines, which express the
abrupt outbursts of intense feeling. The fact that every other line ends
upon an accented syllable adds intensity, sincerity, and earnestness to
the tender appeal. The delicate beauty of the rhymes also aids in
idealizing the speaker's character. The whole form is beautifully adapted
to express her endeavor to lift her husband out of his suspicious and
ignoble jealousy to a higher plane.

Browning's "In a Year" has seemingly the same foot and the same length of
line as "A Woman's Last Word," but how different its effect! "In a Year"
is made up of bursts of passion from an overburdened heart. It seems more
subjective or more of a soliloquy.

There is not the same direct appeal to another, but no print can give the
difference between the emotional movement of the two poems. In both, the
trochaic foot and the very short line indicate abrupt outpouring of

Compare these two poems carefully. What is the significance of the form
given them by Browning, the metre, the length of line, and the stanzas?
Why are the stanzas of "In a Year" longer than those of "A Woman's Last
Word"? What is the effect of the difference in rhyme of these two poems?
Does one detect any difference in the metric movement?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is "Hervé Riel" in trochaic movement? It is heroic; why not then
iambic? The poem opens in a mood of anxiety, a state of suspense, a fear
of the certain loss of the fleet. When hope revives and Hervé Riel is
introduced in the words,

  "For up stood, for out stepped, for in struck amid all these,"

we have a line of mixed anapestic and iambic feet, expressive of
resolution, courage, and confidence; so with the first and second lines of
the sixth stanza expressing indignation at the pilots; also in much of his
speech to the admirals.

If the poet had led us sympathetically to identify ourselves with Hervé
Riel's resolution and endeavor, the metre would have been anapestic or
iambic, but he gives the feeling of admiration for Hervé Riel and we are
made to contemplate how easily he performed his great deed, and hence the
prevailing trochaic movement is one of the charms of the poem.

Criticism of this poem, such as I have heard, reveals a lack of
appreciation of the dramatic spirit of metre. The trochaic delicately
expresses the emotional feeling, admiration, and tenderness for the
forgotten hero, as well as the anxiety and realization of danger in the
first parts of the poem. The change to the iambic in the central part of
the poem only proves the real character of the trochaic feet, and, in
fact, accentuates their spirit. The trochee seems in general to indicate
an outpouring of emotion or sudden burst of feeling too strong for
control. Many of the most tender and prayerful hymns have this foot. It
expresses also, at times, a sense of uneasiness or restlessness.

The reader must take these statements, however, as mere suggestions, for
the very first poem written in this metre that he reads may give
expression to a different spirit. So complex, so mysterious, is the metric
expression of feeling, that no one poem can be made a standard for

The iambic foot, more than any other, expresses controlled
passion,--passion expressed with deliberation. It implies resolution,
confidence, or the heroic carrying out of an intention. While the trochee
suggests the bursting out of feeling against the will, the iambic may
suggest the spontaneous cumulation of emotion under the dominion of will
with a definite purpose or conscious realization of a situation. The
iambic can express passion controlled for an end, the trochee seems rather
to float with the passion or be thrust forward by waves or bursts of
feeling, which the will is trying to hold back.

Note the predominant metric movement of "Rabbi Ben Ezra," and how it
expresses the confidence and noble conviction of the venerable Rabbi.

Why is "The Last Ride Together" iambic? Because no other metre could so
well express the nobility of the hero, his endurance, his refusal to yield
to despair or become antagonistic, his self-control, and the preservation
of his hopefulness when all his "life seemed meant for fails."


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adequate rendering of this poem requires a very decided touch upon the
strong foot, that is, an accentuation of the iambic movement. Notice also
the two, three, or four long syllables at the first of many lines (such as
lines six, seven, and eight), showing the passion and the intense control.
Observe the almost completely spondaic line, indicating deliberation,
patient waiting, or intense, pent-up feeling held in poise:

  "Those deep dark eyes where pride demurs,"

and then the short syllables and lyric effect in the next line. Note the
strong isolation of the word "right" at the end of the fifth line, stanza

Notice that in stanza four, when the ride begins, the first foot is not
iambic, but choriambic; yet all through the poem where manly resolution
and confidence is asserted and expressed, the iambic movement is strong.

Tennyson's "Lady Clara Vere de Vere" (p. 50) expresses the severity and
earnestness of the speaker by the predominance of iambic feet, while the
sudden uneasiness, or burst of passion, is best expressed by trochaic
feet. Note the effect of the first line of most of the stanzas, then the
quick change to iambic movement expressing the rebuke which is the real
theme of the poem.

The spondee is found in solemn hymns or in any verse expressing reverence
and awe. It is contemplative and poised, and is frequently blended with
other feet, especially with iambic, to express deliberation.

In Browning's "Prospice," the iambus predominates, and expresses heroic
endurance and courage in meeting death; but the first foot--"Fear
death"--is a spondee, and indicates the deliberative realization of the
situation. It is the straightening up, as it were, of the whole manhood of
the soldier before he begins his battle with death.

Very forcible are the occasional spondees in "Abt Vogler." These give
dignity and weight and sustain the contemplative and reverent meditations.

It will be noted that the dactyl is very closely related in expression to
the trochee, and the anapest to the iambic. Triple rhythm or metre,
however, implies a more circular and flowing movement. The dactyl is used
in some of the most pathetic and passionate monologues of the language.
Notice the fine use of it in Hood's "Bridge of Sighs."


    One more unfortunate, weary of breath, rashly importunate, gone to her
    death! Take her up tenderly, lift her with care; fashion'd so
    slenderly, young, and so fair!

    Look at her garments clinging like cerements, whilst the wave
    constantly drips from her clothing; take her up instantly, loving, not
    loathing. Touch her not scornfully; think of her mournfully, gently
    and humanly; not of the stains of her--all that remains of her now, is
    pure womanly.

    Make no deep scrutiny into her mutiny rash and undutiful: past all
    dishonor, death has left on her only the beautiful. Still, for all
    slips of hers, one of Eve's family--wipe those poor lips of hers
    oozing so clammily. Loop up her tresses escaped from the comb, her
    fair auburn tresses; whilst wonderment guesses where was her home?

    Who was her father? Who was her mother? Had she a sister? Had she a
    brother? Or was there a dearer one still, and a nearer one yet, than
    all other? Alas! for the rarity of Christian charity under the sun! O!
    it was pitiful! near a whole city full, home she had none. Sisterly,
    brotherly, fatherly, motherly feelings had changed: love, by harsh
    evidence, thrown from its eminence; even God's providence seeming

    Where the lamps quiver so far in the river, with many a light, from
    window and casement, from garret to basement, she stood, with
    amazement, houseless by night. The bleak wind of March made her
    tremble and shiver; but not the dark arch, or the black, flowing
    river; mad from life's history, glad to death's mystery swift to be
    hurl'd--anywhere, anywhere out of the world! In she plunged boldly, no
    matter how coldly the rough river ran, over the brink of it,--picture
    it, think of it, dissolute Man! lave in it, drink of it, then, if you

    Take her up tenderly, lift her with care; fashion'd so slenderly,
    young and so fair! Ere her limbs frigidly stiffen too rigidly,
    decently, kindly, smooth and compose them; and her eyes close them,
    staring so blindly! Dreadfully staring through muddy impurity, as when
    with the daring last look of despairing fix'd on futurity.

    Perishing gloomily, spurr'd by contumely, cold inhumanity burning
    insanity into her rest.--Cross her hands humbly, as if praying dumbly,
    over her breast! Owning her weakness, her evil behavior, and leaving,
    with meekness, her sins to her Saviour!

Some persons may not regard this poem as a monologue. But if not rendered
by a union of dramatic and lyric elements, it will be given, as it often
is, as a kind of a stump speech to an audience on the banks of the Thames
over the body of some poor, betrayed woman, who has ended her life in that
murky stream.

It is true that we are little concerned with the character of the speaker,
and the feeling is intensely lyric and universal. But the situation is so
definite, and the "One more unfortunate" is so vividly portrayed to us,
that it is, at least, partly dramatic. Even those who are caring for the
body are directly addressed:

  "Take her up tenderly,
  Lift her with care."

It is a lyric monologue.

The sad, passionate outbursts can hardly be suggested by any other metre
than that which is used by Hood, and we feel that its choice is singularly
appropriate. The poem is intensely subjective. The conceptions regarding
the life just closed arise through the natural association of ideas. The
speaker thinks and feels definitely before us. The whirling circles
suggested by the dactyl, with the occasional passionate break of a single
accented word or syllable at the end of a line, assist the reader. Without
such dactylic movement, the vocal expression of a pathos so intense would
be hardly possible to the human voice.

Notice the two long syllables at the very beginning of the poem expressive
of the stunned effect at the discovery of the body.

Render the poem printed as prose to avoid the sing-song of short lines,
and note that in proportion to the depth of passion the metre becomes
pronounced. It is impossible to read it in its proper spirit when not
correctly rendering its metric rhythm.

The dactyl is used with a very similar effect in Austin Dobson's "Before
Sedan" (p. 84).

What a difference is expressed by the use of these same feet, with greater
changes, and in longer lines, in Browning's "The Lost Leader"!
Restlessness is here expressed, arising not from pathos, but from
indignation and disappointment. The rhythmic movement of the metre is
totally different in this case. While the feet may be mechanically the
same, the length of the lines and the rhythmic spirit differ greatly in
the two poems. The feeling is different, the tone-color of the voice not
the same, and the whole expression differs, though in a mechanical
scanning they seem nearly alike.


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

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

One aid in realizing metre as an element of expression is to examine a
poem printed as prose and attempt to discover the peculiar value and force
of the metric forms, length of lines, length of the stanzas, and even the
rhymes. All these in a true poem are expressive. There is nothing really
artificial or accidental in a true poetic or artistic form. (See p. 175
and p. 209.)

Many poems in this book and in the accompanying monologues for further
study are printed as prose, not because metre and length of line are
unimportant, but for the very opposite reason. The form of a printed poem
is so apt to be disregarded or considered a mere matter of print that this
unusual method of printing a poem is adopted to furnish opportunity for
the reader to work out for himself the metre and other elements of the
form. In reading over a poem thus printed, almost any one will become
conscious of the metric movement, and in every case the metric structure
and length of line should be indicated and felt by the reader.

There is never, in a fine poem, especially in a dramatic poem, a mere
mechanical and regular succession of the same foot, though one foot may
predominate and give the general spirit to the whole. True metre never
interferes with thinking or with the processes of natural speech; on the
contrary, it is an aid to thinking, feeling, and vocal expression.

If the student will think and feel intensely such a poem as "Rabbi Ben
Ezra" (p. 36), and will strongly accentuate the metre, he will find that
he can read it easily, because, when true to its objective form, he is the
better able to give its spirit.

Innumerable changes in the metric feet occur in Browning's "Saul," in "Abt
Vogler," or in any great poem. The more deeply we become imbued with the
spirit of a poem, the more do we feel that these variations are necessary.

The reader must be slow to criticize a seeming discord in metre. An
apparent fault may appear as a real excellence after one has genuinely
seized the true spirit of the passage.

Notice, for example, the discord in the word "ravines" in Coleridge's
"Hymn before Sunrise." It gives a sudden arrest of feeling almost as if
one stood trembling on the verge of a precipice. With mechanical
regularity of feet such an impression could not be made. A great musical
composer weaves in discords as a means of expression, and the same is true
of a great master of metre. In nearly all cases where there is a seeming
discord of metre, some peculiar vocal expression is necessary. "Ravines"
compels a good reader to make an emphatic pause after it.

The importance of pause in relation to metre has often been overlooked. In
Tennyson's "Break, break, break," we have a most artistic presentation of
only the strong words of the metric line. A period of silence is necessary
in order to give the whole line its movement. It requires as much time as
if it had its full complement of syllables. This suggests the depth of the
emotion. Such pauses, however, bring us to the subject of rhythm rather
than metre. They have a wonderful effect in awakening a perception of the
spirit of the poem.

Notice in "My Last Duchess" (p. 96), the lack of rhyme, the stilted blank
verse, the tendency towards iambic feet,--possibly to show the domineering
and tyrannical spirit of the character. The almost prosaic irregularity of
the feet is certainly very expressive of his thinking and feeling. It is
easy, in this passage, to realize the appropriate expressiveness of
Browning's metre.

The metre of "A Death in the Desert" seems to a dull ear the same as that
in "My Last Duchess." But let one render carefully the dying John in
contrast with the Duke. What a difference! How smooth the flow, what
dignified intensity, when the beloved disciple gives his visions of the
future! The spirit of the two when interpreted by the voice differ in the
metric movement. What a rollicking good-nature is suggested appropriately
by the metre of "Sally in our Alley" (p. 121). Imagine this young fellow
telling his story, as he walks along. It would be impossible for him to
talk in a steady, straight-forward iambic, or even in the hesitating,
emotional trochee. His passion comes in gusts and outbursts, so that now
and then he leaps into a kind of dance. The poem is wholly consistent with
the character, and the metre is not the least important means of revealing
the spirit of the emotions and sentiments. Plain, prosaic criticism,
however, can hardly touch it. The characteristic spirit of the lad must be
so deeply appreciated and felt as to lift the whole, notwithstanding its
homely character, into the realm of exalted poetry, in fact, into a rare
union of lyric and dramatic elements.

Notice, too, in "Up at a Villa--Down in the City" (p. 65), that the very
mood, the very way an "Italian Person of Quality" would stand, walk,
saunter along, loll in a chair, roll his head, or swing his feet, are
suggested by the metric movement. Changes of movement are required to show
the person's change of feeling and action. Quicker pulsation at his
exaltation over the city will demand a swifter movement, while the slow,
retarded rhythm will show contempt for the villa. Through the whole, the
unity of the feet, the seeming carelessness, and the constant variation
which suggests the commonplace character of the person, are part of the
humorous impression made upon us. The metre, in this case, as in all
monologues expressive of humor, must give the real spirit of the
character; when once we realize the situation and the feeling, the right
vocal expression of the metric form is a natural result.

Observe the grotesque humor, not only of the rhymes such as "eye's tail
up" and "chromatic scale up," but also the peculiar feet in Browning's
"Youth and Art" (p. 21). The most common foot in the poem, an
amphibrachys, three syllables with the middle one long, is often used with
comical or grotesque effect in poems full of humor. The last line,
however, full of tenderness and sadness, is trochaic.

Observe the tenderness of "Evelyn Hope."


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

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

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

  No, indeed! for God above
    Is great to grant, as mighty to make,
  And creates the love to reward the love:
    I claim you still, for my own love's sake!
  Delayed it may be for more lives yet,
    Thro' worlds I shall traverse, not a few:
  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,
    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.

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

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

Note especially the transition from the trochees, expressive of tender
love and feeling, in stanza three, to the iambics, expressing conviction
and confidence, in the following stanzas:

                        "For God above
  Is great to grant, as mighty to make,
  And creates the love to reward the love:
  I claim you still, for my own love's sake."

In Browning's "One Way of Love" (p. 150) the iambics in the first lines
express determination and endeavor, but there is a decided change in the
metric movement caused by the agitation, disappointment, and deep feeling
of the last two lines of each stanza.

It is never possible to study metre in cold blood. It is the language of
the heart. Only an occasional versifier in a critical or intellectual
spirit grinds out a machine-made metre, every foot of which can be scanned
according to rule.

A poem which is written seemingly in one metric measure will be found,
when read aloud with proper feeling, to have several. Contrast the last
stanza with the third from the last of "In a Year" (p. 201), and one feels
that the third from the last has the stronger iambic movement. This
possibly expresses hope, or impetuous longing, while the last, returning
to the trochee, expresses intense despair. At any rate, these two stanzas
cannot be read alike. Of course, a different conception on the part of
the reader would affect the metre. The interpreter must take such hints as
he finds, complete them by his imagination, and so assimilate the poem as
to express its metre adequately by the voice. The living voice is the only
revealer, as the ear is the only true judge, of metre.

In "Confessions" (p. 7), the waking of the sick man, his confusion, his
uncertainty whether he has heard aright, and his repetition of the words
of his visitor, are given with trochaic movement, while his own conviction
and answer are given in iambics; yet his story, possibly on account of the
tenderness of recollections, frequently returns to the trochaic movement.

In the same way, to his question

                        "... Is the curtain blue
  Or green to a healthy eye?"

he gives a slightly trochaic effect as a recognition of his own sick
condition. A positive settling of the question by his own illustration is
indicated by the emphasis of the iambic movement in the next line.

These are illustrations only. Two persons who have thoroughly assimilated
the spirit of a poem, may not completely agree concerning its metre. It is
not necessary nor best that they should. There are delicate variations
which show spontaneously the difference in the realization of the two

Such personal variations, however, which result from peculiar experiences
and types of character, must not be confused with the careless breaking of
the metre which we hear from all our actors and public readers. The latter
is the result of ignorance and lack of understanding and realization. The
late Henry A. Clapp, criticizing a prominent actor in "Julius Cæsar,"
broke forth in a kind of despair and said: "After all, where could he go
to find adequate methods for the development of a true sense of metre?"

Metre will never be fully understood until studied in connection with
vocal expression, nor will vocal expression ever rise to its true place
until applied to the interpretation not only of poetic thought, but of
such elements of poetic form as metre. And where can a better means be
found for both steps than the study of the monologue?

The student should observe the metre as well as the thought of every
monologue he examines, and read it aloud, attending faithfully to the
spirit of its metric expression. So poor is the ordinary rendering of
metre, that it is almost impossible to tell the metre from the ordinary

Trochaic metre is often read, as if it were a kind of crude iambic. When
one is in the mood or spirit of one foot, unless he has imaginative and
emotional flexibility, all feet will be read as practically the same. I
have known readers, speakers, and actors who have completely lost the
dactylic and even the trochaic spirit or mode of expression.

Let any one select a poem and render it successively with different metres
and note the effect. We must often be made to feel the power of wrong
vocal expression to pervert a poem before we can realize the force of
right voice modulation in interpreting its spirit.

The student must realize each metric foot as an objective expression of a
subjective feeling. Doubt is often felt even by the best critics, and
great difference of opinion exists among them, but the reader who
understands vocal expression, studies into the heart of the poem and uses
his own voice to express his intuition, will settle most of these
difficulties satisfactorily to himself. Vocal interpretation is the last
criterion of metric expression.

The universal lack of attention to metre is, no doubt, connected with a
universal neglect of the expressive modulations of the voice. In our day
the printed word and not the spoken word is regarded as the real word.
This has gone so far that some educated men seem to regard metre as solely
a matter of print.

While metre may be one of the last points to be considered, it is not the
least important to study; nor is it, when mastered, the least useful to
the thought, feeling, imagination, and passion, or to the right action of
the voice in interpreting the spirit of the monologue.

There is an almost universal tendency to regard as superficial, actors and
those capable of interpreting human experience by the living voice. Men
who should have known better have said that it is not mental force but
simply a certain peculiarity of temperament that gives dramatic power.

One of the most important things to be sought is the better understanding
of the psychology of dramatic instinct. I have already tried to awaken
some attention to the peculiar nature and importance of this in
"Imagination and Dramatic Instinct," but the subject is by no means
exhausted. That discussion was meant only as a beginning.

When actors and public readers feel it necessary to train the voice and
the ear, to develop imagination and feeling, to apprehend the true nature
of human art, and to meditate profoundly over the spirit of some great
poem; when they treat their own art with respect and give themselves
technical training, adequate metric expression will begin to be possible.

At present, it must be said in sorrow that the ablest actors and most
prominent public readers blur and pervert the most beautiful lines in the
language. They seem blind to differences as great as those between the
sunflower and the rose.


Many monologues, especially the most popular ones are written in dialect;
and frequently the public reader or interpreter gives his chief attention
to the accurate reproduction of characteristic vowels, odd pronunciation
of words, and the externals of the manner of speaking. The writer also
often seems to make these matters of the greatest importance. What is the
real meaning of dialect? How far is it allowable? Is it ever necessary?
What principles apply to its use?

Dialect is one of the accidental expressions of character, and must be
dramatic or it is worth nothing. It sometimes adds coloring by giving a
grotesque effect; helps to produce an illusion; or aids the reader or
hearer to create a more definite conception of the character speaking and
hence to appreciate more fully the thought, feeling, and spirit. It is a
kind of literary or vocal stage make-up that enables the reader or auditor
to recognize the character.

James Whitcomb Riley has chosen the homely Hoosier dialect as the clothing
of the speaker in most of his monologues. As Burns spoke in the Scottish
dialect which was simple and native to his heart, so Riley seems to
consider the dialect of his native State the best medium for conveying the
peculiar feelings and experiences of types of character with which his
life has been directly associated.

There is justification for this, for it is well known that Burns's best
poems are those in Scottish dialect. His English poems, with one or two
possible exceptions, are weaker, and in them he seems to be using a
foreign language. Poetry is very near the human soul; and when the dialect
is native to the heart, a quaint mode of expression may be necessary to
the dramatic spirit of the thought.

As a character of a certain type may be an aid to the conception of a
thought or sentiment, so the experiences of a character may be better
suggested by dialect. In that case, it is justifiable, if not indeed a
dramatic necessity.

In English some of the ablest writers have employed dialect. Tennyson uses
dialect in his monologue of the "Northern Farmer," and he is possibly our
most careful author since Gray. The French do not use dialect poems to
such an extent as English and American writers. They regard dialect as a
degradation of language. The Provençal writers take their peculiar _langue
d'oc_ too seriously to regard it as a dialect. American writers,
especially, think too much of dialect. A young writer often employs much
dialect in a first book, but in a second or third, the spelling indicates
the dialect less literally and with more suggestion of its dramatic
spirit. There are many instances where the earlier and the later books of
an author present marked contrasts in this respect.

Public readers, especially, devote too much attention to the mere literal
facts of dialect. Readers who give no attention to characterization or
dramatic instinct pride themselves upon their mastery of many dialects.
Their work is purely imitative and external. In representing a dialect,
the general principles of expression, the laws of consistency and harmony,
must be carefully considered by both the writer and the reader.

In general, the greatest masters of dialect are those who use dialects
associated with their own childhood, such as Riley, with the Hoosier
dialect, Day, with the Maine Yankee dialect, or Harris, with that of the
colored people of Georgia. True dialect must always be the result of
sympathy and identification.

Many writers have been led by a study of peculiar types and through
natural imaginative sympathy or humor to understand and appreciate a
specific dialect. Dunbar thus writes many of his poems in the peculiar
dialect of his race. The reader need not be told that many of his poems
are monologues. For a perfect type see "Ne'er Mind, Miss Lucy." Dunbar was
led, no doubt, by genuine sympathy or dramatic instinct, to write in the
dialect of his race some of his most tender as well as his more humorous

Dr. Drummond, of Montreal, after many experiences among the French
Canadians, has written several volumes of monologues in which he has
introduced to the world some peculiar types of the French Canadian. Their
quaint humor is portrayed with genuine and profound sympathy, and these
poems are capable of very intense dramatic interpretation, and are
deservedly popular. He preserves not only the peculiarity of the words,
but the melodic and rhythmic movement of the dramatic spirit of his


  If I sole ma ole blind trotter for fifty dollar cash
    Or win de beeges' prize on lotterie,
  If some good frien' die an' lef' me fines' house on St. Eustache,
    You t'ink I feel more happy dan I be?

  No, sir! An' I can tole you, if you never know before,
    W'y de kettle on de stove mak' such a fuss,
  W'y de robbin stop hees singin' an' come peekin' t'roo de door
    For learn about de nice t'ing's come to us--

  An' w'en he see de baby lyin' dere upon de bed
    Lak leetle Son of Mary on de ole tam long ago--
  Wit' de sunshine an' de shadder makin' ring aroun' hees head,
    No wonder M'sieu Robin wissle low.

  An' we can't help feelin' glad too, so we call heem Dieudonné;
    An' he never cry, dat baby, w'en he's chrissen by de pries';
  All de sam' I bet you dollar he'll waken up some day,
    An' be as bad as leetle boy Bateese.

There is great danger, however, in employing dialect. When the accidental
is made the essential, when dialect is put forward as something
interesting in itself, or adopted as a mere affectation, or where used by
writer or reader independent of the spirit of the poem, of the story, or
even of the character, and is regarded as something capable of
entertaining by the mere effect of imitation, it becomes insipid and a

Genuine dialect is dramatic. A dialect too literally reproduced will be
understood with great difficulty, and the reading will cause no
enjoyment. The fact must be recognized that dialect is only accidental as
a means of expression, and hence is justified only when necessary to the
portrayal of character, or in manifesting a unique spirit, point of view,
or experience.

Some of the best examples of the dramatic character of dialect in the
monologue are found in Kipling. His Tommy Atkins is so vividly portrayed
that he must necessarily speak in the peculiar manner of a British
soldier. Kipling has so identified himself with certain characters that
their dramatic assimilation requires dialectic interpretation, as in the
case of "Fuzzy-Wuzzy," "Danny Deever," and "Tommy." When dialect is thus
inevitable from the dramatic point of view, it is legitimate.

In fact, while dialect is grotesque and accidental, and even stands upon a
low plane, yet, by intense poetic realization, it may be lifted into a
more exalted place. Energy has been called the father, and joy the mother,
of the grotesque. Humor is not inconsistent with the greatest pathos; in
fact, it is necessary to it. The grotesque sometimes becomes the Gothic.

In "Shamus O'Brien," a monologue formerly popular, many of the characters
speak in dialect. Shamus, however, seems to use less dialect on account of
the dignity of his character and speech. In all such cases, the accidental
becomes less pronounced in proportion to the emphasis of the essential.
The dialect of the whole poem may be explained by the fact that an
Irishman tells the story.

There seems, however, to be an exception to this. Carlyle, it is said,
when expressing the profoundest feeling in conversation always lapsed
into broad Scottish dialect. Colonel T. W. Higginson says that he, with
another gentleman and Carlyle, once passed through a park belonging to a
private estate. Some children were rolling on the grass, and one boy
coming forward timidly, approached Carlyle, whose face seemed to the boy
the most kindly disposed to children, and said, "Please, sir, may we roll
on the grass?" Carlyle broke into the broadest Scotch, "Ye may roll at

As already intimated, dialect must not be so extreme that the audience
cannot easily understand what the reader is saying. All true art is clear;
it is not a puzzle. On account of its theme, and its appeal to the higher
faculties, its comprehension may at times require long continued
contemplation and earnest endeavor; but an accidental element, such as
dialect, must never prevent immediate understanding of the words spoken or
thoughts expressed. Dialect must be perfectly transparent. Its whole charm
will be lost if it does not give a simple, quaint suggestion of character.

The chief element of dialect is not in the words or the pronunciation of
the elementary sounds but in the melody. Every language has a kind of
"accent," as it is called, and it is this "accent" which is most
characteristic. Every word may be pronounced correctly, but the artistic
reader or actor can suggest immediately by the peculiar melodic form of
his phrases whether it is a Frenchman, a German, an Italian, an Irishman,
or a Scotsman who speaks.

In fact, the more subtle, more natural, more suggestive the dialect, the
better. It must never be labored; never be of interest in itself. It is
secondary to character, to thinking, and even to feeling.

Dialect should always be the result of assimilation rather than imitation.
If there is imitation at all, it must be of that higher kind resulting
from sympathetic identification and a right use of the dramatic instinct.

One of the greatest mistakes in rendering dialect consists in taking the
printed word as the sole guide. Because a word here and there is spelled
oddly, the reader confines the dialect to these words.

True dialect is not a matter of individual words. It must penetrate the
speech; it never can be more than vaguely suggested in print, and the
print can be only a very inadequate guide to the reader. He must go to
life itself and study the melodic spirit, the peculiar relations to
character, the quaint inflections and modulations of the voice, which have
little to do with mere pronunciation. A Scotchman may have corrected
certain peculiarities of his vowels, or a Frenchman be able to pronounce
individual words accurately, but still both will show a melodic
peculiarity, which remains a fundamental characteristic. One who renders
monologues and omits this peculiar melodic element will fail to give the
fundamental element in dialect.

Dialect must not only be dramatic and sympathetic, but also delicately
suggestive and accurate. The accuracy, however, should not be literal. It
must be true to the type, and be felt as a part of the background.

In the rendering of a monologue, in general nothing should be given in
dialect unless the dialect is directly expressive of the character of the
speaker, his views, ideas, or feelings, or unless it is necessary to the
complete representation of the ideas, or can add something to the humorous
or suggestive force of the thought.

Peculiarities of dialect are always associated with dramatic action. In
fact, dialect is to speech what bearings are to movements. This again
shows that dialect is primarily dramatic, and justifies a full discussion
of the subject in connection with the dramatic monologue. A mere
mechanical imitation of dialect in the pronunciation is wrong from this
point of view also. The movements and actions of a character are as
essential as dialect, but are more general and will often determine the
most important part of the dialect, namely, the peculiar melody. When a
character is truly assimilated by instinct, if there is no mechanical
imitation, the dialect becomes almost an unconscious revelation.

The study of dialect is very close to the subject of dramatic diction.
Many of our modern poets who use the monologue, such as Day, Foss, Riley,
and Drummond, are blamed by superficial critics for the roughness of their
language. Fastidious critics often say the work of these authors is too
rough, and "not poetry."

In reply to such criticism it may be said that the peculiar nature of
dramatic diction is not realized. This rough language is necessary because
of the peculiar type of character. The man cannot be revealed without
making him speak his own native tongue. Browning is blamed as an artist
for using burly and even brutal English, but as Mr. Chesterton has shown,
"this is perfectly appropriate to the theme." An ill-mannered,
untrustworthy egotist, defending his own sordid doings with his own cheap
and weather-beaten philosophy, is very likely to express himself best in a
language flexible and pungent, but indelicate and without dignity. But the
peculiarity of these loose and almost slangy soliloquies is that every now
and then in them occur bursts of pure poetry which are like the sudden
song of birds. Flashes of poetry at unexpected moments are natural to all
men. High ideals, aspirations, and even exalted visions belong to every
one. Poetry is as universal as the human heart, though only a few can give
it word.

The rough language, however, is not antagonistic to these poetic visions,
but necessary for the truthful presentation of the character; that is to
say, dramatic poetry must present both the external, objective form and
the internal thought and ideal. The very nature of dramatic poetry demands
such a union.

This principle must govern all dramatic diction, dialect included, but the
law of suggestion and delicate intimation governs everywhere.


A play is a complete dramatic representation. The scenery, dress, and many
details are realistically presented to the eye. All the characters
concerned come forth upon the stage literally represented and objectively
identified in name, dress, look, and action. Any speaker may take himself
bodily out of the scene. There are properties, scenery, and other
characters to sustain the movement and continuity of the story. Hence,
upon the stage, situations and accidents can be represented more
literally than in the monologue, where much is hinted, or only intimated.
In the latter there is but one speaker and the situation is not
represented by scenery. It is a mental performance, and everything must be
simple. The monologue cannot be represented to the eyes as literally as a
play; hence, appeal must not be made to the eyes, but to the mind.

The interpreter of the monologue, however, too often takes the stage as
the standard. There seems to be no well-conceived principle regarding the
use of scenery. The ambition is to make everything "dramatic," and the
result is that monologues are often made literal, showy, and theatrical,
and presented with inconsistencies which are almost ridiculous. Many
readers arrange a platform as a stage with furniture, and dress for their
part as if in a play. They show great attention to all sorts of mechanical
accidents. They must have a fan or some extraordinary hat which can be
taken off and arranged on the stage, and they sometimes go to greatest
extremes in sitting, standing, walking, and kneeling, thus crudely
violating the principles of unity, without which there is no art.

The first principle which must govern the use of scenery on the stage, and
especially of properties by the interpreter of a monologue, is
significance. Nothing must be used that is not positively and necessarily
expressive of the thought and spirit of the passage rendered. When Duse
once looked at the stage before the curtain rose, she found a statue in
the supposed room. This was not unnatural, and seemed to the stage-manager
all right, as it made the place look more home-like; but she said the
statue must go out at once, as it was not a subject that would interest
the character depicted. He would never have such a statue in his room. So
out went the statue. And Duse was right.

In general, in our day, on the stage as well as on the platform, there is
a tendency to use too many properties, too many accidentals, or merely
decorative details. Things should not be put on a platform or stage
because they are beautiful, but because they have significance. Even an
artistic dress is governed by the same principle. Whatever is not
expressive of the personality, whatever does not become a part of the
whole person, is a blemish and should be at once eliminated. In most
instances, vulgarity consists in the use of too many things. As one word
well chosen is more expressive than a dozen carelessly selected, so the
highest type of monologue demands the greatest simplicity in its

It must be borne in mind that the aim of all vocal expression is to win
attention. Many objects which at first seem to attract attention will be
found really to distract the auditor's mind. Let the reader try the
experiment of omitting them, and he will discover the advantage of few

The painter must have the power of generalizing, of putting objects into
the background and enveloping all in what is sometimes called "tone." All
objects should be dominated by the same spirit, and must, therefore, be
made akin to each other and brought into unity. On the stage the lights
are often so arranged as to throw objects into shadow; yet this can hardly
equal the painter's art of subordination. The interpreter of a monologue,
however, has no such assistance. He must subordinate, accordingly, by
elimination, by the greatest simplicity in accessories, and by
accentuating central ideas or points.

It is well known that during the greatest periods of dramatic art, such as
the age of Shakespeare, the stage was kept extremely simple, and this is
the case also in the best French and German drama of the present time.

The fundamental law governing not only all dramatic art, and the monologue
and platform, but pictures and other forms of art, is unity. Simplicity
does not elaborate details or properties or gorgeous scenery. It is the
result of the subordination of means to one end. Every part of the stage
must be an integral portion and express the spirit of the scene. Modern
electric lights and appliances are such that a scene can be brought into
unity by effects of light in a way that was not possible until recent
years. Power to bring gorgeous scenery into unity has been shown
especially by Sir Henry Irving.

In general, in proportion as a play becomes spectacular, and the stage is
made a means of exhibiting splendid scenery for its own sake, there is
absence of the dramatic spirit.

The same is true regarding properties. A man may use his cane until it
becomes imbued with his own personality, and he can extend the sense of
feeling to its farthest tip, as the blind man uses a stick to feel his way
through the streets of a city.

Hence, whenever any article of dress is a necessary part of the character
and has an inherent relation to the story or the thought, when it becomes
an essential part of the expression, then it may be properly employed.

Coquelin, for example, in one of his monologues, comes out with a hat in
his hand, but the name of the monologue is "The Hat." It is to the hat
that his good fortune is due. He treats it with great affection and
tenderness, and it becomes in his hand an agency for gesticulation as well
as an object of attention. It can be managed with great flexibility and
freedom and in no way interferes with, but rather aids, the subtle,
humorous transitions in thought and feeling that occur all through the

The temptation to most interpreters, however, is to drag in something
which should play the most accidental rôle possible and make it a centre
of interest. This destroys expression.

To illustrate: In a popular monologue a lady is supposed to discover under
the edge of a curtain a pair of boots which she takes for evidence that a
man is standing behind the curtain in concealment. Now, if literal boots
are arranged on the stage behind a curtain, they have a totally different
effect from Coquelin's hat. They are there all the time. The audience sees
them. They cannot move or be used in any way except indirectly. Besides,
the woman should discover the boots, and the audience is supposed to
discover them with her. A literal pair of boots, therefore, will interfere
with the imagination and an imaginary one is far more easily managed.

It is difficult, however, to lay down a universal principle, as much
depends upon the artist, the situation, and the circumstances, but in
general the chief mistake is in having too many things and in being too
literal. The monologue, it must never be forgotten, depends more upon
suggestion than the play, and the law of suggestion must always be

The monologue, or its interpretation, is simply a mode of expression, and
the employment of all accessories and properties must, first of all, be
such as will not destroy expression, but rather increase the intensity and
enforce the central spirit of the thought.

A second principle might be named the law of centrality. The artist must
carefully distinguish between the accidental and the essential, and be
sure to remember that art is the emphasis of the essential; that emphasis
is the manifestation of what is of fundamental importance and the
subordination of what is of secondary value. Careless and inartistic minds
always find the accidental first; the accidental is to them always more
interesting. But when an accidental is made an essential, the result is a
one-sided effect; and while a temporary impression may be produced upon an
audience, it is never permanently valuable. The reader who emphasizes
accidents will himself grow weary of his monologue in a short time and not
know the reason. Only a thing of beauty is a joy forever. Only that which
is natural and in accordance with the laws of nature will stand forever as
an object of interest.

A third law is consistency. As the oak-leaf is consistent with the whole
tree, so in art, the degree of literalness in one direction must be
justified by a corresponding degree in another. If Mrs. Caudle is to have
a night-cap, then an old-fashioned curtain bed, a stuffed image for
Caudle, and a phonograph for his snore are equally requisite. The
temptation to be literal would hardly lead a monologue interpreter to
place Caliban in the position Browning suggests in the poem, since it is
impracticable to have a pool on the stage and let Caliban lie in the cool
slush. In the very nature of the case, accessories are suggestive, and the
degree of suggestion in one direction must determine the degree in others.

These three suggestive principles of unity, centrality, and consistency
show that what may be done on the stage should not be a standard for the
interpretation of a monologue.

In the very nature of the case, the interpreter of the monologue cannot
have all the means of producing an optical illusion which are available on
the stage. His illusion must be mental and imaginative. Circumstances,
however, change, though the laws will be found to apply.

Because the speaker is supposed to be sitting in a grocery store on a
barrel, it is not necessary for the reader to sit upon a table and swing
his feet. We are not interested in the barrel, but in the one who sits
upon it, and he would be as interesting if sitting upon something else, or
even standing. The fundamental centre of interest in all expression is the
mind, and whatever cannot reinforce that is not only useless, but a

The old age of Rabbi Ben Ezra is purely accidental. To present him as weak
and enfeebled would destroy for us the vigorous mind, and strong
convictions of the old man.

One of the precious memories of my youth, the most adequate rendering of a
monologue I ever heard, was Charlotte Cushman's reading of Tennyson's "The
Grandmother." Sitting quietly in her chair, as she did in nearly all of
her readings, she suggested the mind of the grandmother whose girlhood
memories, "seventy years ago, my darling, seventy years ago," were
accentuated by the trembling head and hands and voice. All the mental
attitudes so well portrayed by Tennyson--the lapses into forgetfulness;
the tenderness of the experience; the patience born of old age;--were
faithfully depicted. It was something which those who heard could never
forget. The greatness of Charlotte Cushman's art was shown in the fact
that she could give an extremely simple monologue with marvellous
consistency and force. It is strange that among American dramatic artists
no one has tried to follow in her steps. I can laugh yet when I remember
her transcendent interpretation of "The Annuity," a monologue in Scottish
character and dialect. I owe a great debt to Miss Cushman, for she
awakened my interest in the monologue, and gave me, over thirty years ago,
an ideal conception of the possibilities of dramatic platform art. She
never used properties of any kind. At times she stood up and walked the
platform and acted a scene from Macbeth or some other play, but always
with the simplest possible interpretation, without any mechanical
accessories. She never stood in giving her monologues, or readings, which
she gave the last year of her life.

Care, of course, is needed in regard to the employment of properties also
on the stage. The difficulty of placing a horse upon the stage is well
known. He cannot be made a part of the picture, cannot be subordinated, or
"made up." If we observe from the gallery when a horse is on the stage, we
find that the attention of everybody is centred upon him, and the point of
the play is lost. Who ever receives an impression of the splendid music
while Brunhilde stands holding by the bridle a great cart-horse?

The centre of interest in Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer" is not in
the horse that Tony Lumpkin has been driving, but in his dialogue with his
mother, and her fright at her husband, whom she believes to be a
highwayman. To introduce two horses, making the audience uneasy as to what
they will do, destroys the dramatic interest of the scene.

The bringing of real horses on the stage in a play always causes fear of
an accident and distracts attention from the real point of the scene. To
see a noted singer motioning to a super to bring her horse on the stage
makes "the judicious grieve." There is no doubt a tendency at the present
time to over-elaboration and to extravagance in realistic presentation.
But if too much literalism is objectionable in the play, how much more is
it in the monologue?

All these principles may be combined in one, the law of harmony. This is
possibly the simplest law regarding properties, dialect, and all
accidentals in the interpretation of a monologue. The degree of realism in
one direction or in one part must be justified by corresponding degrees in
others. All art is relative, and depends upon the unity of impression.

A man's clothes may be a part of his character, and a singular individual
often has an odd hat, or cane, that has become an essential means in the
expression of his character. Where a man uses a stick habitually in an
individual way, the dramatic artist may use this to a certain extent,
especially in monologues of a lower type. So of any article of dress; when
an essential part of a character is needed for expression, it is proper to
use it. The same principle applies here that was shown in the case of
dialect. Though accidental, an article of dress may become a means of
expression. In the higher and more exalted monologues, however, there
should be more suggestion and less literal presentation of properties or
adjuncts. The sublimer the literature, the more appeal is made to the
imagination; the deeper the feeling, the more complete is the dependence
upon the imagination of the audience. The more lyrical also, a monologue,
the less must there be of any accidental representation. This is sure to
destroy the lyric spirit. Even when there is not a lyric element the
dramatic element is only suggested, and in the sublimest monologues often
verges towards the epic. The monologue is rarely purely dramatic, that is,
dramatic in a sense peculiar to the theatre.

The application of these principles to the interpretation of a monologue
is clear. Nothing in the way of properties should ever be employed in the
presentation of a monologue which is not absolutely necessary. There
should be nothing on the platform which does not directly aid in
interpreting the passage. All which does not co-operate in producing the
illusion will be a hindrance. Whenever attention is called to a literal
object, or even to a mere objective fact, attention is distracted from the
central theme.

All properties appeal to the eye, and it requires a careful management of
light and a study of the stage picture to bring them into unity with the
scene. But the reader of the monologue can have no such advantages. If
unity in the literal representation of the stage is necessary, and cannot
be won without great subordination, how much more is this needful in the
presentation of a monologue, where the appeal is to the mind, and people
are supposed to use not their eye, but their imagination, and even to
supply a listener. The laws of consistency and suggestion, accordingly,
require the elimination or very careful subordination of properties and
scenery in the presentation of the monologue. Whenever one thing is
carried beyond the limit of suggestiveness or the degree of realistic
representation possible in all directions, the effect is one-sided. The
necessity of subordinating properties and make-up in the monologue is
shown by the fact that they are more permissible in those of a very low
type or in the burlesque or the farce.

Dramatic elements and actions need to be emphasized by the interpreter of
a monologue. The actor can "take the stage" or give it up to another, but
this is impossible in a monologue. The interpreter on a platform has no
one to hold the stage while he falls. He can only suggest all the actions
and relations of character to character. He cannot make the same number of
movements, or turn so far around or walk so great a distance, or make such
a literal portrayal of objects as is possible on a stage. The monologue
must centre expression in the face, eyes, and action, and in the pictures
awakened in the minds of the hearers, not in mere accidents or properties.

I have seen a prominent reader bend over at the hip and lean on a cane, so
that his face could not be seen by the audience, and people were expected
to accept this monstrosity as an old man. One among twenty thousand old
men might be bent over in this way, but then he could never talk as this
reader talked. Certainly such action was foreign to the intention of his
author and the spirit of his selection, as well as to the spirit of art.
Face and body must be seen in order to fully understand language, and no
accidental must be so exaggerated as to interfere with a definite,
artistic accentuation of that which is necessary to the meaning and
expressive presentation of the whole. In general, let the reader beware of
accidentals, and in every case, as much as possible, emphasize the


Many faults in the rendering of a monologue have been necessarily
suggested in the preceding discussion. There are some, however, which have
been but barely referred to, that possibly need some further attention.

The monologue must not be stagy. It should possess the quiet simplicity,
the long pauses, the abrupt movement, the animated changes in pitch, and
the simple intensity which belong to conversation. The Italian in England
would remember and feel again the excitement of danger, and gratitude for
delivery; but he would not employ descriptive gestures and declamatory
presentation as if delivering an oration.

An important error to be avoided in rendering a monologue is monotony or
inflexibility. A monologue is more suggestive than any other form of
literature, for it implies sudden exclamations and abrupt transitions. The
ideas and feelings are often hardly hinted at by the writer. There is not
only greater difficulty in realizing the continuity of ideas and meaning,
but a greater necessity for abrupt changes of voice than in any other
mode of expression.

The reader of the monologue must suggest the impressions produced upon
him, the hidden causes, the unreported words of another character, and at
the same time a distinct and definite imaginative situation. Hence, the
rendering of a monologue requires the greatest possible accentuation of
the processes of thinking and feeling and the most delicate transitions of
ideas. An impression produced by a mere look must be definitely revealed
by the interpreter.

We thus see the necessity for the employment of great flexibility of voice
and of body, and especially the exercise of versatility of the mind. The
interpreter must have a sympathetic temperament, and must be able to
accentuate and sustain the simplest look, the most delicate inflection and
change of pitch, and to modulate the color and movement of his voice with
perfect freedom. To read a monologue on one pitch completely perverts its
spirit. Monotony is a bad fault in rendering all forms of literature, but
it is possibly worse in the monologue on account of the peculiarly broken
and suggestive character of that form of writing.

All the elements of conversation must be not only realized, but
emphasized. The reader must be able to make some of these so salient as to
reveal the very first initiation of an idea; otherwise, the real point may
be lost. The thought must be made clear at all hazards.

The monologue must not be tame. Because it is printed in such regular
lines the suggestive character may be lost, and the words simply presented
as in a story or essay. There is a great temptation to give the feeling
with the personal directness of the lyric story or essay. The monologue
requires extreme definiteness and decision in the conception of character
and feeling, and every point must be made salient.

Another fault in the rendering of the monologue is a declamatory tendency.
As the reader discovers but one speaker he confuses the words with a
speech. He feels the presence of the audience to whom he is addressing the
words, or unconsciously imagines an audience, in preparing his monologue,
and forgets entirely the dramatic auditor intended by the author. Thus,
the interpreter, confusing the points of situation, transforms the
monologue into a stump speech.

It degrades the quiet intensity of "A Grammarian's Funeral" to make the
grammarian's pupil, who is aiding in bearing his body up the mountain
side, declaim against the world. How quietly intense and simple should be
the rendering of "By the Fireside."

Although the subtleties of conversation need some accentuation, and
although there is an enlargement of the processes of thinking, and fuller
realization of the truth than in conversation, the monologue never becomes
a speech. An audience may be felt, but never directly dominated, nor even
addressed. In the oration, the speaker directly dominates the audience; in
dramatic representation, the artist does not even look at his audience.
His eye belongs to his interlocutor. The direction of the audience is that
of attraction, and away from the audience that of negation. He must feel a
tendency to gravitate in passion towards the audience, and in the negation
of passion to turn from them; but still he succeeds, not by direct
instruction, but by fidelity of portraiture.

The monologue is as indirect as a play. It is the revelation of a soul,
and to be used not to persuade, but to influence subtly. The truth is
portrayed with living force, and the auditor left to draw his own
conclusions and lessons.

Another fault is indefiniteness. Every part of a monologue must be brought
into harmony with the rest. Part must be consistent with part, as are the
hand and foot belonging to the same organism. If "Abt Vogler" be started
as a soliloquy, it must not be turned into a speech to an audience, nor
even into a direct speech to one individual. If conceived as a speech to
one individual, that character must be preserved throughout. Even though
talking to some one, he would be very meditative, and would often turn and
speak as if to himself.

Closely allied to indefiniteness is exaggeration of certain parts. All
accentuation must be in direct proportion. If inflection be made longer
and more salient, there must also be longer pauses, greater changes of
pitch, and greater variations of movement and color. In the enlargement of
a portrait, it is necessary that all parts be enlarged in proportion. If
only the nose or the upper lip be enlarged, the truth of the portrait is

But on account of the suggestive character of the monologue, essentials
only must be expanded and accentuated. Hardly any form of art demands that
accidentals be more completely subordinated. To exaggerate accidents is to
produce extravagance; to appeal to a lower sense is to violate the
artistic law of unity. Naturalness can be preserved in any artistic
accentuation by increased emphasis of essentials. This prevents the
monologue from being tame on the one hand, and extravagant on the other.

Failures in the ordinary rendering of a monologue are frequently
occasioned by lack of imagination. The scene, situation, and relation of
the characters do not seem to be clearly or vividly realized. Hence, there
is a lack of passion, of emotional realization of a living scene, and
consequently of natural modulations of voice and body. The audience
depends entirely upon the interpreter, since there is no scenery to
suggest the situation. All centres in the mind of the reader. If he does
not see, and does not show the impression of his vision, his auditor
cannot be expected to realize anything.

At first thought, it seems impossible for a reader to cause an audience to
discover a complicated situation from a look. The reader may think it
necessary to make a long explanation first and be tempted to depend upon
objects around him. It is presently found, however, that a mere hint, a
turn of the head, a passing expression of the face, will kindle the
imagination of the auditor. If the reader really sees things himself, and
is natural, flexible, and forcible, he need not fear that his audience
will not imagine the scene. An illusion is easily produced. Imagination
kindles imagination; vision evokes vision. Every picture, every situation,
the location of every character, the entrance of every idea, must be
naturally revealed, and there is no need for extravagance of labor.
Whatever turns the attention of the audience to the labor of the reader
will prevent imaginative creation of the scene, while all minds will be
concentrated on the thought when there is a natural, easy manifestation
of a simple impression.

The reader in rendering a monologue has especial need for dramatic
imagination, and must have insight into the motives of character. The
character he portrays must think and live, and the character to whom he is
supposed to speak must also be realized. He must sympathetically identify
himself with every point of view. A lack of dramatic instinct upon the
stage may at times be concealed by a show of scenery and properties, but
without dramatic instinct the rendering of a monologue is impossible. It
is the dramatic imagination that enables a reader to feel the implied
relations, to awaken to a consciousness of a situation, or of the meaning
and intimation of the impression produced by another character.

Lack of clearness must be corrected by unusual emphasis. In fact, the
monologue demands what may be called dramatic emphasis. Not only must
words that stand for central ideas be made salient, but so also must be
the impressions of ideas or of situations that need special attention.
These give to the audience the situation and life. It is the dramatic
ellipses that need especially to be revealed in order to make a monologue
clear as well as forcible. A monologue demands the direct action of the
dramatic instinct.

All dramatic art must live and move. There is always something of a
struggle implied, and this must be suggested and represented. The whole
interest of dramatic art centres in the effect of one human being upon
another. Without dramatic realization of the effect of character upon
character, genuine interpretation of a monologue is not possible.

The monologue must never be theatrical or spectacular. If the interpreter
exaggerates at the first some situation, however great or important,
beyond the bounds of living, moving, natural life, the result becomes mere
posing. An attitude that might have been a simple and clear revelation of
feeling is altogether exaggerated, and appeals to the eye instead of to
the imagination. It is the result, perhaps, of an expert mechanic, but not
of dramatic instinct. If there is a locating of everything, literalism is
substituted for imaginative suggestiveness. An extravagant earnestness, or
loudness, or unnatural stilted methods of emphasis, will entirely prevent
the reader's imaginative and dramatic action in identifying himself with
the character, or entering into sympathetic relations with the scene. A
monologue must always be perfectly true to life, and as simple and natural
as every-day movements upon the street.

The interpreter of a monologue must study nature; must train his voice and
body to the greatest degree of flexible responsiveness, and become
acquainted with the human heart. He must cultivate a sympathetic
appreciation of all forms of literature; must understand the subtle
influences of one human being over another, and comprehend that only by
delicate suggestion of the simplest truth can the imagination and
sympathies be awakened. He must have confidence in his fellow-men, and be
able, by a simple hint, to awaken men's ideals. In short, faults in
rendering monologues must be prevented by genuineness, by developing
taste, and awakening the imagination, dramatic instinct, and artistic


When we have once discovered the nature and peculiarities of the
monologue, the character of its interpretation, and its uses in dramatic
expression, its general importance in art, literature, and education
becomes apparent.

In the first place, its value is shown by the fact that it reveals phases
of human nature not otherwise expressed in literature, or in any other
form of art.

To illustrate this, let us take Browning's "Saul." It is founded upon a
very slight story in the Book of Kings to the effect that when Saul was
afflicted with an evil spirit, a skilful musician was sought to charm away
the demon, and the youthful David was chosen.

Browning takes this theme, transfigures it by his imagination, and
produces what is considered by some the greatest poem of the nineteenth
century. Without necessarily subscribing to this judgment, let us study
this poem which has called forth from some critics so much enthusiasm.

Browning makes David the speaker in the monologue, and its occasion after
the event, when he is "alone" with his sheep, endeavoring to realize what
happened while playing before Saul, and what it meant.

The poem begins with his arrival at the Israelitish camp, and Abner's
kindly reception and indication to him of his duty. Browning isolates Saul
in his tent, which no one dares approach. This stripling with his harp
must, therefore, go into that tent alone. After kneeling and praying, he
"runs over the sand burned to powder," and at the entrance to the tent
again prays. Then he is "not afraid," but enters, calling out, "Here is
David." Presently he sees "something more black than the blackness," arms
on the cross-supports (note the cross). Now what can David, a youth,
before the king, sing or say or do?

He first plays "the tune all our sheep know," that is, he starts, as
endeavor should ever start, upon the memory of some early victory.
Possibly his first victory was the training of the sheep to obey his
music. The winning of one victory gives courage for another. It is
practically the only courage a human being can get. Hence, David tries the
same song. He is not ashamed to trust his childhood's experiences. Then
follows the tune by which he had charmed the "quails," the "crickets," and
the "quick jerboa." Later experiences succeed, the tune of the "reapers,"
the "wine-song," the praise of the "dead man." Then follows

                            "... the glad chant
  Of the marriage ..."


                              "... the chorus intoned
  As the Levites go up to the altar."

Here he stops and receives his first response. "In the darkness Saul
groaned." Then David pours forth the song of the perfection of the
physical manhood of which Saul was the type.

        "'Oh, our manhood's prime vigour! No spirit feels waste,
  Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced.
  Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock,'"

and calls him by name, "King Saul." Then he waits what may follow, as one
at the climax of human endeavor pauses to see what has been accomplished.
After a long shudder, the king's self was left

  "... standing before me, released and aware."

what more could he do?

  "(For, awhile there was trouble within me.)"

Then he turns to the dreams he had had in the field. He has gone the
rounds of his experience and done his best to interpret them. Now he
passes into a higher realm. He describes the great future, and all the
different causes working to perpetuate Saul's fame.

  "'So the pen gives unborn generations their due and their part
  In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art!'"

As he closes, the harp falling forward, he becomes aware

  "That he sat, as I say, with my head just above his vast knees
  Which were thrust out on each side around me, like oak roots which please
  To encircle a lamb when it slumbers."

Then Saul lifted up his hand from his side and laid it

                    "in mild settled will, on my brow: thro' my hair
  The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my head, with kind
  All my face back, intent to peruse it, as men do a flower."

and David peered into the eyes of the king--

  "'And oh, all my heart how it loved him! but where was the sign?'"

His intense love and longing lifts David into a state of exaltation.

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

The instrument drops to his side, for inspiration at its highest is
expressed by the simplest means. With a heart thrilled by love of this
fellow-being, out of that human love David comes to realize something of
the divine love, and he breaks into the finest strain of nineteenth
century poetry. In noble anapestic lines he pours forth the thought as it
comes to him:

                               "'Behold, I could love if I durst!
  But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o'ertake
  God's own speed in the one way of love: I abstain for love's sake.
  What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small,
  Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal?
  In the least things have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all?
  Do I find love so full in my nature, God's ultimate gift,
  That I doubt his own love can compete with it? Here, the parts shift?
  Here, the creature surpass the Creator,--the end, what Began?...
  Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou--so wilt thou!'"

This poem of Browning's is conceived in the loftiest spirit of religious
verse. David foretelling the Christ as the manifestation of divine love,
and the authentication of the fact of immortality, reaches the true spirit
of all prophecy, a theme almost transcending poetry. Then follow a few
words of David's, descriptive of the effect of the new law which he has
discovered upon the world around him on his way home. Illumination has
come to him, the world is transfigured by love; and this sublime poem
closes with the murmur of the brooks.

What does it all mean? One person makes it the text of a long discussion
on the use of music to cure disease. Another thinks it a suggestion in
poetry of the spirit of Hebrew prophecy. There is no end to its
applications. It is a parable. Is it not the poetic interpretation of all
noble endeavor? May not David represent any human being facing some great
undertaking? Is not the gloomy tent the world, and Saul outstretched in
the form of a cross the race, and David with his harp any trembling soul
who attempts to charm away the demon from his fellow-men? Is it too much
to say that every successful artist follows David's example as portrayed
by Browning? The artist will also share in David's experience in the
transformation of the world.

Without the monologue could such a marvellous interpretation be possible?
how could we receive such suggestions, such glimpses into man's spiritual
nature? What other form of art could serve as an objective means of
expressing those experiences? The evolution of the monologue has made
"Saul" possible.

There has been much discussion whether the book of Job is a dramatic or an
epic poem. It contains both elements, but if we study the singular
character of the many speeches, we can see that the real spirit of the
poem is explained by the principles of the dramatic monologue. It is a
series of monologues by different speakers, each character being
separately defined, and his words and ideas definitely colored by his
character, as in "The Ring and the Book."

The ninetieth Psalm is a monologue. Whoever the author may have been, he
conceived of Moses as the speaker. The experience is not that of mankind
in general. A peculiar situation and type of character are demanded. No
other man in history can utter so fittingly the words of the Psalm as can

      "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.
  Before the mountains were brought forth,
  Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world,
  Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
      Thou turnest man to destruction,
      And sayest, Return, ye children of men.
  For a thousand years in thy sight
  Are but as yesterday when it is past,
  And as a watch in the night.
      Thou carriest them away as with a flood;
      They are as a sleep:
  In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up;
  In the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
      For we are consumed in thine anger,
      And in thy wrath are we troubled.
      Thou hast set our iniquities before thee,
  Our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
  For all our days are passed away in thy wrath:
  We bring our years to an end as a sigh.
  The days of our years are threescore and ten,
  Or even by reason of strength fourscore years;
  Yet is their pride but labor and sorrow;
      For it is soon gone, and we fly away.
      Who knoweth the power of thine anger,
  And thy wrath according to the fear that is due unto thee?
  So teach us to number our days,
  That we may get us a heart of wisdom.
  Return, O Jehovah; how long?
  And let it repent thee concerning thy servants.
  Oh satisfy us in the morning with thy lovingkindness,
  That we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
  Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us,
  And the years wherein we have seen evil.
  Let thy work appear unto thy servants,
  And thy glory upon their children.
  And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
  And establish thou the work of our hands upon us;
  Yea, the work of our hands establish thou it."

The very first words hint at his experiences. He never had a home; how
natural, therefore, for him to say, "Lord, Thou hast been our
dwelling-place in all generations." Cradled on the Nile, brought up by
Pharaoh's daughter, Jethro's shepherd for forty years, and for another
forty a wanderer in the wilderness and the leader of his people, surely he
was rich in tried knowledge!

Notice how these conditions save the Psalm from untruthfulness. "All our
days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a sigh." Such
statements are true of Moses and the people condemned to die in the
desert, Joshua and Caleb only being permitted to pass over the Jordan.
Moses in his grief at the divine judgment could say this truthfully to
God, but to give these words a universal application would falsify a
Christian's faith and hope. They are dramatic rather than lyric.

The Psalm should be read as a monologue, the character should be
sustained; the feeling and experience, not of every one, but of Moses in
particular, should be felt and truly interpreted.

What light the study of the monologue throws upon the peculiar oratory of
the Hebrew prophets! These are speeches, sermons with fragmentary
interruptions. Note, for example, in the twenty-eighth chapter of Isaiah,
a speech to the drunkards of Jerusalem. The speaker is referring as a
warning to the drunkards of Samaria, the northern city being intimated by
the figure of the "crown--on the head of the fat valley." But in verses
nine and ten the drunkards retort, and their words have to be read as
quotations, as the expression of their feelings. The speeches of the
prophets, of course, are not regular forms of the monologue; but a study
of the monologue enables us to recognize their dramatic character, and
greatly aids in discovering the meaning of these sublime poems or

The monologue is capable of rendering special service to many classes of
men. It has an important, but overlooked, educational value. It can
render, for example, great assistance in the training of a speaker. The
chief dangers of the speaker are unnaturalness, declamation, extravagance,
and crude methods of emphasis, such especially as over-emphasis. He
inclines to employ physical force rather than mental energy, to give a
show of earnestness rather than to suggest intensity of thought and

The monologue furnishes the speaker with a simple method of studying
naturalness. If set to master a monologue, he must observe conversation,
and be able to express thoughts saliently and earnestly to one person.

Although no true speaker can ever afford to neglect the study of
Shakespeare and the great dramatists, still the monologue affords a great
variety of dramatic situations, and especially interprets dramatic points
of view. It will also help him to gain a knowledge of character and
furnish a simple method of developing his own naturalness.

An orator presents truth directly, for its own sake, and hence is apt to
overlook the fact that oratory, after all, is "the presentation of truth
by personality," and that personal peculiarities will interfere with such
presentation. A study of the monologue will reveal him to himself, and
help him to understand something of the necessity of making truth clear to
another personality. By studying dramatic art, the speaker, in short, not
only comes to a knowledge of human nature, and the relation of human
beings to each other, but is furnished with the means of understanding

Another important service which the monologue is capable of rendering is
the awakening of a perception of the necessary connection between the
living voice and literature. The Greeks recognized this, but in modern
times we have almost lost the function of the spoken word in education, in
our over-emphasis of the written word.

The monologue is capable of furnishing a new course in recitation and
speaking, of bringing the most important study of the natural languages
into practical relationship with the study of literature. On the one hand,
it elevates the study of the spoken word, and gives a practical course for
the colleges and high schools in the rendering of some of the masterpieces
of the language; on the other hand, it prevents the courses in literature
from becoming a mere scientific study of words.

The true study of literature must be subjective. Psychology has tested and
tried every study in recent years. Men will soon come to realize that
there is a psychology of literature, and centre its study, not in words,
but in the living expression of thought and feeling. Written language will
then be directly connected with the awakening of the creative faculties of
the mind.

The value of the monologue will then be appreciated because of its direct
revelation of the action of man's faculties, and it may be realized also
that the evolution of the monologue is a part of the progressive spirit of
our own time.

The rendering of the monologue also will aid us in securing a method and
emphasize the fact that literature as art must be studied as art and by
means of art. Scientific study of literature is abnormal or necessarily
one-sided. The study of the monologue when rightly pursued will aid in
studying literature as the mirror of life and prevent the student from
developing contempt for the literary masterpieces which he is made to

It will aid in the study of literature as "the criticism of life" and
enable the individual student to realize literature as the mirror of human
experience. It will prevent students from studying literature as mere
words. It will awaken deeper and truer appreciation and will prevent the
contempt, born of mechanical drudgery, for literary masterpieces.

Educated men do not know by heart the noble poetry of the language. The
voices of American students are hard and cold. There is among us little
appreciation of art. The monologue seems to come as a peculiar blessing at
this time as a means of educating the imagination and dramatic instinct.
It furnishes a course for recitation that obviates the necessity for a
stage, avoids the stiltedness of declamation, yet supplies an adequate
method of studying the lost art of recitation,--the art that made the
Greek what he was.

The monologue will help students in all the arts to overcome tendencies to
mechanical practice. There is danger of making all exercises mechanical.
Take, for example, the student of song. If he practises scales or songs
without thought, or any sense of expressing feeling to others, it is
simply a matter of execution. Some of our leading singers express no
feeling. Song, to them, is a matter of technical execution,--very
beautiful as an exhibition, but not as a revelation of the heart.

A similar condition is found also in other forms of art,--in instrumental
music, in painting or drawing. There is a continual tendency to forget
that art is the expression of thinking and feeling to another mind; and
while there must be very severe training to master technicalities, this is
not the end, but the means. The monologue furnishes a simple and adequate
method for the mastery of the relations of one mind to another. It is just
as necessary in the development of the artist that he should come to feel
the laws of the human mind, the laws of his own thinking and feeling, and
the character of the suggestion of that feeling, and to recognize the
modifications which the presence of another soul makes upon his own, as it
is that he should master the technique of his art.

All art is social. It is founded on the relation of human beings to each
other; on the character of the soul; on the love of one human being for
others, and the desire to reveal to his fellows the impressions that
nature, or human character, make upon him. In all artistic practice, of
song, of instrumental music, of painting, of drama, there should be in the
mind of the artist a perception of the race.

The monologue is especially helpful to dramatic students. They are too apt
to despise the monologue, and not appreciate the assistance its mastery
could give them. They desire mere rehearsals of plays; they want scenery,
properties, accessories, forgetful that the primary elements of dramatic
art are found in thought, feeling, and motives and passions. Dramatic art
must be based on the revelation of the nature of man; and on the effect of
mind upon mind. The monologue enables the dramatic student to study the
dramatic element in his own mind, as well as in the relations of one
character to another. When he has no interlocutor to listen to or to lead
the attention of the audience, or hold it in the appreciation of what he
is saying, thinking, and doing, he is thrown back upon his instincts, and
must imagine his interlocutor and depend upon himself.

The monologue, however, is important for its own artistic character. It is
primarily important because it belongs to dramatic art. It gives insight
into human character, embodies the poetry of every-day life, and reveals
the mysteries of the human heart, as possibly no other literary form can
do. It focuses attention upon human motives independent of "too much
story" or literary digression. It interprets human conduct, thinking,
feeling, and passion, from a distinct point of view. It suggests the
secret of human follies, misconceptions, and perversities, and gives the
key to greatness and nobility in character.

Insignificant as the form may seem to one who has never studied it, it is
a mirror of human life, and as such can be made a means of criticizing
public wrong or folly. It can express a universal feeling, and is one of
the finest agents of humor. By its aid Mr. Dooley reflects the weaknesses
and foibles of people and parties in such a way as to make a whole nation
smile, and even to mould public sentiment. Thus, the amusing and humorous
monologues must not be despised. Think of the services humor has rendered
in the advance of human civilization! Alas for him who cannot smile at
folly, and alas for human art which appeals only to the morbid! The
highest function of human art is to awaken pleasure at the sight of the
beautiful, and the true. If a man finds pleasure in what is below his
ordinary plane of life, he injures himself. If enjoyment leads him in the
direction of his ideal, although indirectly, by a portrayal of the comic,
the abnormal, or even of low characters, he is benefited, no matter how
this benefit is received.

Men delight to teach and to preach, but it is astonishing how little
direct teaching and preaching accomplish. On account of the hardness of
the heart, the parable, or some other less direct method of teaching, some
artistic method, that is, is absolutely necessary. We desire to see a
living scene portrayed before us; we must know and judge for ourselves. We
must perceive both cause and effect, and then make the application to our
own lives.

Art, especially dramatic art, is a necessity of human nature. "Without
art," says William Winter, "each of us would be alone." Only by art are we
brought near together, and chiefly in our art will be found our true
advance in civilization. The monologue is a new method, a new avenue of
approach from heart to heart.

Dramatic art must have many forms. When no longer truthfully presented by
the play, as is often the case; when it has become corrupted into a
spectacular show, into something for the eye rather than for the mind;
when no longer concerned with the interpretation of character and truth,
or when debased to mere money making, then the irrepressible dramatic
spirit must evolve a new form. Hence, the origin and the significance of
the monologue.

Whether the play can be restored to dramatic dignity or not, the monologue
has come to stay. As a parallel, or even as a subordinate phase of
dramatic art, it has become a part of literature. It is distinct from the
play, and from every other literary form or phase of histrionic

Of all forms of art, the monologue has most direct relation to one
character only, a character not posing for his portrait. It portrays and
interprets an individual unconsciously revealing himself. It presents some
crucial situation of life, and brings one character face to face with
another character, the one best calculated to reveal the hidden springs of

It must not be implied that the monologue is superior to other forms of
art. It certainly will supersede no other form of poetry. It is unique,
and its peculiar nature may be seen in comparing it with a play.

A monologue may be of any length, from a few lines to that of "The Ring
and the Book," which is really a collection of monologues, the longest
poem, next to "Faerie Queene," in the English language. The subject of the
monologue can be infinitely varied. By its aid almost everything can be
treated dramatically. It is far more flexible than the formal drama,
because the same movement and formality of plot are not required as in the

It can be conceived upon any plane,--burlesque, farce, comedy, or tragedy.
It can be prose in form, or it may adopt any metre or length of line. It
may employ the most commonplace slang, and the dialect of the lowest
characters, or it may adopt the highest poetic diction.

A monologue can be presented anywhere, for it demands no stage, no
carloads of expensive scenery, no trained troupe of a hundred artists.

It does require, however, an artist, a thoroughly trained artist,--with
perfect command of thought, feeling, imagination, and passion, as well as
complete control of voice and body. Fully as much as the play, it requires
obedience to the laws of art, and demands that the artist be not fettered
and trammelled as to his ideal. He is not compelled to repress his finest
intuitions, or to soften down his honest conceptions of a character and
the place of that character in a scene, for the sake of some "star."

The monologue is not in danger of being spoiled by some second-class actor
in a subordinate part. The artist is free to adopt any means to meet the
taste, judgment, and criticism of the audience, and to realize for himself
the true nature of art. The monologue is less likely than the play to be
degraded into a spectacular exhibition.

The monologue, however, has its dangers. The play has the experience of
centuries of criticism, and constant discussion, but to the critics, the
monologue is new. It may be well said that no adequate criticism of any
interpreter of a monologue has yet been given.

Not only this, but various cheap and chaotic performances have been called
monologues, simply for lack of a word. These are often a mere gathering
together of comic stories and cheap jokes, and have nothing really in
common with the dramatic monologue.

Such perversions, however, are to be expected. The lack of critical
discussion, the lack of definition and true appreciation of its
possibilities lead naturally to such a confused situation.

The interpreter of the monologue must be a serious student, for he is
creating or establishing a new art. If he is careless and superficial, and
yields to that universal temptation to exhibition which has been in every
age the danger of dramatic art, he will fail, and bring the monologue into
consequent contempt. He must study the spirit underlying all great art and
take his own work seriously, thinking more of it than of himself.

The monologue has, also, literary limitations. It can never take the place
of the play, nor must it lead us to disparage the play. The play has its
function and in some form will forever survive. The monologue interprets
certain aspects of character which can never be interpreted in any other
way; but it can never show as adequately as the play the complexity of
human life. It cannot portray movement as well as the play.

The monologue, however, has its own sphere. It can reveal the attitude of
one man towards life, towards truth, towards a situation, towards other
human beings, more fully than is possible in any other form of art. Its
theme is not the same as that of the play. How can a play express the
subjective struggles and heroism embodied in "The Last Ride Together?" (p.
205). What form of art could so effectively unmask the arch hypocrite in
the "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister" (p. 58)? Try to put this theme
into a play, or even into a novel, and Browning's short monologue will
show its superiority at once. The monologue can absorb one moment of
attention, paint one picture, which, though without the movement of a
drama, may yet the more adequately reveal the depths of a character. What
an inspiring conception is found in "The Patriot" (p. 3); if expanded
into a play, its purpose would be defeated. The tenderness and atmosphere
of home in "By the Fireside," no stage could present.

Did not Kipling choose wisely his form of art in portraying the character
of Tommy Atkins? Is there any more effective way of making known to the
world the character and emotions peculiar to a man when soldier
subordinates man?

After even a superficial study of modern poetry, who can fail to realize
that the monologue is a distinct form of literature? How vast the range of
subjects and emotions expressed, and yet underneath we find a form common
to them all. This form has served to unfold the peculiar actions of Mrs.
Caudle's mind and also the sublime convictions of Rabbi Ben Ezra. It gives
us the point of view and the feeling, not only of Tommy Atkins, but the
high ideals and exalted emotions of Abt Vogler. It has been used to
immortalize "Tray," a "mere instinctive dog," as well as to express the
resolute spirit of Job and the cold, calculating counsel of his friends.
It has even imaged the sublimest thoughts and emotions of the Psalms.

Surely a form that has proven itself so adequate, so universal a help to
human expression, is worthy of being regarded and carefully studied as one
of the permanent modes of embodying human experience.



  And so you found that poor room dull,
    Dark, hardly to your taste, my Dear?
  Its features seemed unbeautiful:
    But this I know--'twas there, not here,
  You plighted troth to me, the word
  Which--ask that poor room how it heard!

  And this rich room obtains your praise
    Unqualified,--so bright, so fair,
  So all whereat perfection stays?
    Ay, but remember--here, not there,
  The other word was spoken! Ask
  This rich room how you dropped the mask!



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

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

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


  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
  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,
  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.
  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 laugh!"

  "Boasts he Muléykeh the Pearl?" the stranger replies: "Be sure
  On him I waste nor scorn nor pity, but lavish both
  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,
  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 long."

  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 them!
  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, ay--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 'Fool,
  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 left?
  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,
  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,
  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, more--
  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 son.

  "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 while
  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 wrist:
  'Tis therefore he sleeps so sound--the moon through the roof reveals.
  And, loose on his left, stands too that other, known far and wide,
  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 thief
  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 escape."
  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 before,
  He springs on the Pearl, is launched on the Desert like bolt from bow.
  Up starts our plundered man: from his breast though the heart be ripped,
  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 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 the bit.

  She shortens her stride, she chafes at her rider the strange and queer:
  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 Dust,
  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,
  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 grief;
  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 spite?
  To have simply held the tongue were a task for a 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 Pearl."



Christ God who savest man, save most of men Count Gismond who saved me!
Count Gauthier, when he chose his post, chose time and place and company
to suit it; when he struck at length my honor, 'twas with all his
strength. And doubtlessly ere he could draw all points to one, he must
have schemed! That miserable morning saw few half so happy as I seemed,
while being dressed in queen's array to give our tourney prize away. I
thought they loved me, did me grace to please themselves; 'twas all their
deed; God makes, or fair or foul, our face; if showing mine so caused to
bleed my cousins' hearts, they should have dropped a word, and straight
the play had stopped. They, too, so beauteous! Each a queen by virtue of
her brow and breast; not needing to be crowned, I mean, as I do. E'en
when I was dressed, had either of them spoke, instead of glancing sideways
with still head! But no: they let me laugh, and sing my birthday song
quite through, adjust the last rose in my garland, fling a last look on
the mirror, trust my arms to each an arm of theirs, and so descend the
castle-stairs--and come out on the morning troop of merry friends who
kissed my cheek, and called me queen, and made me stoop under the
canopy--(a streak that pierced it, of the outside sun, powdered with gold
its gloom's soft dun)--and they could let me take my state and foolish
throne amid applause of all come there to celebrate my queen's-day--Oh I
think the cause of much was, they forgot no crowd makes up for parents in
their shroud! However that be, all eyes were bent upon me, when my cousins
cast theirs down; 'twas time I should present the victor's crown, but ...
there, 'twill last no long time ... the old mist again blinds me as then
it did. How vain! See! Gismond's at the gate, in talk with his two boys: I
can proceed. Well, at that moment, who should stalk forth boldly--to my
face, indeed--but Gauthier? and he thundered "Stay!" and all stayed.
"Bring no crowns, I say! bring torches! Wind the penance-sheet about her!
Let her shun the chaste, or lay herself before their feet! Shall she,
whose body I embraced a night long, queen it in the day? For honour's sake
no crowns, I say!" I? What I answered? As I live I never fancied such a
thing as answer possible to give. What says the body when they spring some
monstrous torture-engine's whole strength on it? No more says the soul.
Till out strode Gismond; then I knew that I was saved. I never met his
face before, but, at first view, I felt quite sure that God had set
Himself to Satan; who would spend a minute's mistrust on the end? He
strode to Gauthier, in his throat gave him the lie, then struck his mouth
with one back-handed blow that wrote in blood men's verdict there. North,
South, East, West, I looked. The lie was dead, and damned, and truth stood
up instead. This glads me most, that I enjoyed the heart of the joy, with
my content in watching Gismond unalloyed by any doubt of the event: God
took that on him--I was bid watch Gismond for my part: I did. Did I not
watch him while he let his armourer just brace his greaves, rivet his
hauberk, on the fret the while! His foot ... my memory leaves no least
stamp out, nor how anon he pulled his ringing gauntlets on. And e'en
before the trumpet's sound was finished, prone lay the false knight, prone
as his lie, upon the ground: Gismond flew at him, used no sleight o' the
sword, but open-breasted drove, cleaving till out the truth he clove.
Which done, he dragged him to my feet and said "Here die, but end thy
breath in full confession, lest thou fleet from my first, to God's second
death! Say, hast thou lied?" And, "I have lied to God and her," he said,
and died. Then Gismond, kneeling to me, asked--What safe my heart holds,
though no word could I repeat now, if I tasked my powers forever, to a
third dear even as you are. Pass the rest until I sank upon his breast.
Over my head his arm he flung against the world; and scarce I felt his
sword (that dripped by me and swung) a little shifted in its belt: for he
began to say the while how South our home lay many a mile. So, 'mid the
shouting multitude we two walked forth to never more return. My cousins
have pursued their life, untroubled as before I vexed them. Gauthier's
dwelling-place God lighten! May his soul find grace! Our elder boy has got
the clear great brow; tho' when his brother's black full eye shows scorn,
it ... Gismond here? And have you brought my tercel back? I was just
telling Adela how many birds it struck since May.


How well I know what I mean to do when the long dark autumn evenings come:
and where, my soul, is thy pleasant hue? with the music of all thy voices,
dumb in life's November too! I shall be found by the fire, suppose, o'er a
great wise book, as beseemeth age; while the shutters flap as the
cross-wind blows, and I turn the page, and I turn the page, not verse now,
only prose! Till the young ones whisper, finger on lip, "There he is at
it, deep in Greek: now then, or never, out we slip to cut from the hazels
by the creek a mainmast for our ship!" I shall be at it indeed, my
friends! Greek puts already on either side such a branch-work forth as
soon extends to a vista opening far and wide, and I pass out where it
ends. The outside-frame, like your hazel-trees--but the inside-archway
widens fast, and a rarer sort succeeds to these, and we slope to Italy at
last and youth, by green degrees. I follow wherever I am led, knowing so
well the leader's hand: oh woman-country, wooed not wed, loved all the
more by earth's male-lands, laid to their hearts instead! Look at the
ruined chapel again half-way up in the Alpine gorge! Is that a tower, I
point you plain, or is it a mill, or an iron-forge breaks solitude in
vain? A turn, and we stand in the heart of things; the woods are round us,
heaped and dim; from slab to slab how it slips and springs, the thread of
water single and slim, thro' the ravage some torrent brings! Does it feed
the little lake below? That speck of white just on its marge is Pella;
see, in the evening-glow, how sharp the silver spear-heads charge when
Alp meets heaven in snow! On our other side is the straight-up rock; and a
path is kept 'twixt the gorge and it by boulder-stones where lichens mock
the marks on a moth, and small ferns fit their teeth to the polished
block. Oh the sense of the yellow mountain-flowers, and thorny balls, each
three in one, the chestnuts throw on our path in showers! for the drop of
the woodland fruit's begun, these early November hours, that crimson the
creeper's leaf across like a splash of blood, intense, abrupt, o'er a
shield else gold from rim to boss, and lay it for show on the fairy-cupped
elf-needled mat of moss, by the rose-flesh mushrooms, undivulged last
evening--nay, in to-day's first dew yon sudden coral nipple bulged, where
a freaked fawn-colored flaky crew of toadstools peep indulged. And yonder,
at foot of the fronting ridge that takes the turn to a range beyond, is
the chapel reached by the one-arched bridge, where the water is stopped in
a stagnant pond danced over by the midge. The chapel and bridge are of
stone alike, blackish-gray and mostly wet; cut hemp-stalks steep in the
narrow dyke. See here again, how the lichens fret and the roots of the ivy
strike! Poor little place, where its one priest comes on a festa-day, if
he comes at all, to the dozen folk from their scattered homes, gathered
within that precinct small by the dozen ways one roams--to drop from the
charcoal-burners' huts, or climb from the hemp-dressers' low shed, leave
the grange where the woodman stores his nuts, or the wattled cote where
the fowlers spread their gear on the rock's bare juts. It has some
pretension too, this front, with its bit of fresco half-moon-wise set over
the porch, Art's early wont: 'tis John in the Desert, I surmise, but has
borne the weather's brunt--not from the fault of the builder, though, for
a pent-house properly projects where three carved beams make a certain
show, dating--good thought of our architect's--'five, six, nine, he lets
you know. And all day long a bird sings there, and a stray sheep drinks at
the pond at times; the place is silent and aware; it has had its scenes,
its joys and crimes, but that is its own affair. My perfect wife, my
Leonor, oh heart, my own, oh eyes, mine too, Whom else could I dare look
backward for, with whom besides should I dare pursue the path gray heads
abhor? For it leads to a crag's sheer edge with them; youth, flowery all
the way, there stops--not they; age threatens and they contemn, till they
reach the gulf wherein youth drops, one inch from life's safe hem! With
me, youth led ... I will speak now, no longer watch you as you sit reading
by firelight, that great brow and the spirit-small hand propping it,
mutely, my heart knows how--when, if I think but deep enough, you are
wont to answer, prompt as rhyme; and you, too, find without rebuff
response your soul seeks many a time, piercing its fine flesh-stuff. My
own, confirm me! If I tread this path back, is it not in pride to think
how little I dreamed it led to an age so blest that, by its side, youth
seems the waste instead? My own, see where the years conduct! At first,
'twas something our two souls should mix as mists do; each is sucked in
each now: on, the new stream rolls, whatever rocks obstruct. Think, when
our one soul understands the great Word which makes all things new, when
earth breaks up and heaven expands, how will the change strike me and you
in the house not made with hands? Oh I must feel your brain prompt mine,
your heart anticipate my heart, you must be just before, in fine, see and
make me see, for your part, new depths of the divine! But who could have
expected this when we two drew together first just for the obvious human
bliss to satisfy life's daily thirst with a thing men seldom miss? Come
back with me to the first of all, let us lean and love it over again, let
us now forget and now recall, break the rosary in a pearly rain, and
gather what we let fall! What did I say?--that a small bird sings all day
long, save when a brown pair of hawks from the wood float with wide wings
strained to a bell: 'gainst noon-day glare you count the streaks and
rings. But at afternoon or almost eve 'tis better; then the silence grows
to that degree, you half believe it must get rid of what it knows, its
bosom does so heave. Hither we walked then, side by side, arm in arm and
cheek to cheek, and still I questioned or replied, while my heart,
convulsed to really speak, lay choking in its pride. Silent the crumbling
bridge we cross, and pity and praise the chapel sweet, and care about the
fresco's loss, and wish for our souls a like retreat, and wonder at the
moss. Stoop and kneel on the settle under, look through the window's
grated square: nothing to see! For fear of plunder, the cross is down and
the altar bare, as if thieves don't fear thunder. We stoop and look in
through the grate, see the little porch and rustic door, read duly the
dead builder's date; then cross the bridge that we crossed before, take
the path again--but wait! Oh moment one and infinite! the water slips o'er
stock and stone; the West is tender, hardly bright: how gray at once is
the evening grown--one star, its chrysolite! We two stood there with never
a third, but each by each, as each knew well: the sights we saw and the
sounds we heard, the lights and the shades made up a spell till the
trouble grew and stirred. Oh, the little more, and how much it is! and the
little less, and what worlds away! How a sound shall quicken content to
bliss, or a breath suspend the blood's best play, and life be a proof of
this! Had she willed it, still had stood the screen so slight, so sure,
'twixt my love and her: I could fix her face with a guard between, and
find her soul as when friends confer, friends--lovers that might have
been. For my heart had a touch of the woodland time, wanting to sleep now
over its best. Shake the whole tree in the summer-prime, but bring to the
last leaf no such test! "Hold the last fact!" runs the rhyme. For a chance
to make your little much, to gain a lover and lose a friend, venture the
tree and a myriad such, when nothing you mar but the year can mend: but a
last leaf--fear to touch! Yet should it unfasten itself and fall eddying
down till it find your face at some slight wind--best chance of all! be
your heart henceforth its dwelling-place you trembled to forestall! Worth
how well, those dark gray eyes, that hair so dark and dear, how worth that
a man should strive and agonize, and taste a veriest hell on earth for the
hope of such a prize! You might have turned and tried a man, set him a
space to weary and wear, and prove which suited more your plan, his best
of hope or his worst despair, yet end as he began. But you spared me this,
like the heart you are, and filled my empty heart at a word. If two lives
join, there is oft a scar, they are one and one, with a shadowy third; one
near one is too far. A moment after, and hands unseen were hanging the
night around us fast; but we knew that a bar was broken between life and
life: we were mixed at last in spite of the mortal screen. The forests had
done it; there they stood; we caught for a moment the powers at play: they
had mingled us so, for once and good, their work was done--we might go or
stay, they relapsed to their ancient mood. How the world is made for each
of us! how all we perceive and know in it tends to some moment's product
thus, when a soul declares itself--to wit, by its fruit, the thing it
does! Be hate that fruit or love that fruit, it forwards the general deed
of man: and each of the Many helps to recruit the life of the race by a
general plan; each living his own, to boot. I am named and known by that
moment's feat; there took my station and degree; so grew my own small life
complete, as nature obtained her best of me--one born to love you, sweet!
And to watch you sink by the fireside now back again, as you mutely sit
musing by firelight, that great brow and the spirit-small hand propping
it, yonder, my heart knows how! So, earth has gained by one man the more,
and the gain of earth must be heaven's gain too; and the whole is well
worth thinking o'er when autumn comes: which I mean to do one day, as I
said before.


[Greek: chairete, nikômen]

  First I salute this soil of the blessed, river and rock!
  Gods of my birthplace, dæmons and heroes, honor to all!
  Then I name thee, claim thee for our patron, co-equal in praise
  --Ay, with Zeus the Defender, with Her of the ægis and spear!
  Also, ye of the bow and the buskin, praised be your peer,
  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 spectre that speaks!
  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 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,
  Die with the wide world spitting at Sparta, the stupid, the stander-by?
  Answer me quick, what help, what hand do you stretch o'er destruction's
  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?
  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?
  Thunder, thou Zeus! Athene, 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!
  Count we no time lost time which lags thro' 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."

  Athens,--except for that sparkle,--thy name, I had mouldered to ash!
  That sent a blaze thro' 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,
  "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,
  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,
  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:
  "Where I could enter, there I depart by! Night in the fosse?
  Athens to aid? Tho' the dive were thro' 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!
  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:
  "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?
  Ay, and still, and forever her friend! Test Pan, trust me!
  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 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 flew.
  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?
  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
  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,--
  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:
  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,
  Till in he broke: "Rejoice, we conquer!" Like wine thro' 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
  Who could race like a god, bear the face of a god, whom a god loved so
  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 meed.


  Fear death?--to feel the fog in my throat,
        The mist in my face,
  When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
        I am nearing the place,
  The power of the night, the press of the storm,
        The post of the foe,
  Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
        Yet the strong man must go;
  For the journey is done and the summit attained,
        And the barriers fall,
  Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
        The reward of it all.
  I was ever a fighter, so--one fight more,
        The best and the last!

  I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,
        And bade me creep past.
  No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers,
        The heroes of old,
  Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
        Of pain, darkness, and cold.
  For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,
        The black minute's at end,
  And the elements' rage, the fiend-voices that rave,
        Shall dwindle, shall blend,
  Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain,
        Then a light, then thy breast,
  Oh, thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
        And with God be the rest!


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  Said Abner, "At last thou art come! Ere I tell, ere thou speak,
  Kiss my cheek, wish me well!" Then I wished it, and did kiss his cheek.
  And he, "Since the King, O my friend, for thy countenance sent,
  Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor until from his tent
  Thou return with the joyful assurance the King liveth yet,
  Shall our lip with the honey be bright, with the water be wet.
  For out of the black mid-tent's silence, a space of three days,
  Not a sound hath escaped to thy servants, of prayer or of praise,
  To betoken that Saul and the Spirit have ended their strife,
  And that, faint in his triumph, the monarch sinks back upon life.

  "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,
  And ran o'er the sand burnt to powder. The tent was unlooped;
  I pulled up the spear that obstructed, and under I stooped;
  Hands and knees on the slippery grass-patch, all withered and gone,
  That extends to the second enclosure, I groped my way on
  Till I felt where the foldskirts fly open. Then once more I prayed,
  And opened the foldskirts and entered, and was not afraid,
  But spoke, "Here is David, thy servant!" And no voice replied.
  At the first I saw nought but the blackness; but soon I descried
  A something more black than the blackness--the vast, the upright
  Main prop which sustains the pavilion: and slow into sight
  Grew a figure against it, gigantic and blackest of all;--
  Then a sunbeam, that burst thro' the tent-roof,--showed Saul.
  He stood as erect as that tent-prop; both arms stretched out wide
  On the great cross-support in the centre, that goes to each side:
  He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there,--as, caught in his pangs
  And waiting his change, the king-serpent all heavily hangs,
  Far away from his kind, in the pine, till deliverance come
  With the spring-time,--so agonized Saul, drear and stark, blind and dumb.

  Then I tuned my harp,--took off the lilies we twine round its chords
  Lest they snap 'neath the stress of the noontide--those sunbeams like
  And I first played the tune all our sheep know, as, one after one,
  So docile they come to the pen-door till folding be done.
  They are white and untorn by the bushes, for lo, they have fed
  Where the long grasses stifle the water within the stream's bed;
  And now one after one seeks its lodging, as star follows star
  Into eve and the blue far above us,--so blue and so far!

  --Then the tune for which quails on the cornland will each leave his mate
  To fly after the player; then, what makes the crickets elate,
  Till for boldness they fight one another: and then, what has weight
  To set the quick jerboa a-musing outside his sand house--
  There are none such as he for a wonder, half bird and half mouse!--
  God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear,
  To give sign, we and they are his children, one family here.

  Then I played the help-tune of our reapers, their wine-song, when hand
  Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good friendship, and great hearts
  And grow one in the sense of this world's life.--And then, the last song
  When the dead man is praised on his journey--"Bear, bear him along
  With his few faults shut up like dead flowerets! Are balm-seeds not here
  To console us? The land has none left such as he on the bier.
  Oh, would we might keep thee, my brother!"--And then, the glad chaunt
  Of the marriage,--first go the young maidens, next, she whom we vaunt
  As the beauty, the pride of our dwelling.--And then, the great march
  Wherein man runs to man to assist him and buttress an arch
  Nought can break; who shall harm them, our friends?--Then, the chorus
  As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned.
  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 heart.
  So the head--but the body still moved not, still hung there erect.
  And I bent once again to my playing, pursued it unchecked,
  As I sang,--

           "Oh, our manhood's prime vigor! No spirit feels waste,
  Not a muscle is stopped in its playing, nor sinew unbraced.
  Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock--
  The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree,--the cool silver shock
  Of the plunge in a pool's living water,--the hunt of the bear,
  And the sultriness showing the lion is crouched in his lair.
  And the meal, the rich dates, yellowed over with gold dust divine,
  And the locust's-flesh steeped in the pitcher; the full draught of wine,
  And the sleep in the dried river-channel where bulrushes tell
  That the water was wont to go warbling so softly and well.
  How good is man's life, the mere living! how fit to employ
  All the heart and the soul and the senses, forever in joy!
  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 attest,
  I have lived, seen God's hand through a lifetime, and all was for best'?
  Then they sung thro' their tears in strong triumph, not much,--but the
  And thy brothers, the help and the contest, the working whence grew
  Such result as from seething grape-bundles, the spirit strained true!
  And the friends of thy boyhood--that boyhood of wonder and hope,
  Present promise, and wealth of the future beyond the eye's scope,--
  Till lo, thou art grown to a monarch; a people is thine;
  And all gifts which the world offers singly, on one head combine!
  On one head, all the beauty and strength, love and rage, like the throe
  That, a-work in the rock, helps its labor, and lets the gold go:
  High ambition and deeds which surpass it, fame crowning them,--all
  Brought to blaze on the head of one creature--King Saul!"

  And lo, with that leap of my spirit, heart, hand, harp, and voice,
  Each lifting Saul's name out of sorrow, each bidding rejoice
  Saul's fame in the light it was made for--as when, dare I say,
  The Lord's army in rapture of service, strains through its array,
  And 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 centre, was struck by his name.
  Have ye seen when Spring's arrowy summons goes right to the aim,
  And some mountain, the last to withstand her, that held, (he alone,
  While the vale laughed in freedom and flowers) on a broad bust of stone
  A year's snow bound about for a breastplate,--leaves grasp of the sheet?
  Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet,
  And there fronts you, stark, black but alive yet, your mountain of old,
  With his rents, the successive bequeathings of ages untold--
  Yea, each harm got in fighting your battles, each furrow and scar
  Of his head thrust 'twixt you and the tempest--all hail, there they are!
  Now again to be softened with verdure, again hold the nest
  Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young to the green on his crest
  For their food in the 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 despair--
  Death was past, life not come--so he waited. Awhile his right hand
  Held the brow, helped the eyes left too vacant forthwith to remand
  To their place what new objects should enter: 'twas Saul as before.
  I looked up and dared gaze at those eyes, nor was hurt any more
  Than by slow pallid sunsets in autumn, ye watch from the shore
  At their sad level gaze o'er the ocean--a sun's slow decline
  Over hills which, resolved in stern silence, o'erlap and entwine
  Base with base to knit strength more intense: 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 the verge
  His cup with the wine of this life, pressing all that it yields
  Of mere fruitage, the strength and the beauty! Beyond on what fields,
  Glean a vintage more potent and perfect to brighten the eye
  And bring blood to the lip, and commend them the cup they put by?
  He saith, "It is good;" still he drinks not--he lets me praise life,
  Gives assent, yet would die for his own part.

                                          Then fancies grew rife
  Which had come long ago on the pastures, when round me the sheep
  Fed in silence--above, the one eagle wheeled slow as in sleep,
  And I lay in my hollow, and mused on the world that might lie
  'Neath his ken, though I saw but the strip 'twixt the hill and the sky:
  And I laughed--"Since my days are ordained to be passed with my flocks,
  Let me people at least with my fancies, the plains and the rocks,
  Dream the life I am never to mix with, and image the show
  Of mankind as they live in those fashions I hardly shall know!
  Schemes of life, its best rules and right uses, the courage that gains,
  And the prudence that keeps what men strive for." And now these old
  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 brute:
  In our flesh grows the branch of this life, in our soul it bears fruit.
  Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree,--how its stem trembled first
  Till it passed the kid's lip, the stag's antler; then safely outburst
  The fan-branches all round; and thou mindest when these too, in turn
  Broke a-bloom and the palm-tree seemed perfect; yet more was to learn,
  E'en the good that comes in with the palm-fruit. Our dates shall we
  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 wine.
  Leave the flesh to the fate it was fit for! the spirit be thine!
  By the spirit, when age shall o'ercome thee, thou still shalt enjoy
  More indeed, than at first when inconscious, the life of a boy.
  Crush that life, and behold its wine running! each deed thou hast done
  Dies, revives, goes to work in the world; until e'en as the sun
  Looking down on the earth, though clouds spoil him, though tempests
  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 give forth
  A like cheer to their sons, who in turn, fill the south and the north
  With the radiance thy deed was the germ of. Carouse in the past.
  But the license of age has its limit; thou diest at last.
  As the lion when age dims his eyeball, the rose at her height,
  So with man--so his power and his beauty forever take flight.
  No! again a long draught of my soul-wine! look forth o'er the years--
  Thou hast done now with eyes for the actual; begin with the seer's!
  Is Saul dead? in the depth of the vale make his tomb--bid arise
  A gray mountain of marble heaped four-square, till built to the skies.
  Let it mark where the Great First King slumbers--whose fame would ye
  Up above see the rock's naked face, where the record shall go
  In great characters cut by the scribe,--Such was Saul, so he did;
  With the sages directing the work, by the populace chid,--
  For not half, they'll affirm, is comprised there! Which fault to amend,
  In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they shall spend
  (See, in tablets 'tis level before them) their praise, and record
  With the gold of the graver, Saul's story,--the statesman's great word
  Side by side with the poet's sweet comment. The river's awave
  With smooth paper-reeds grazing each other when prophet winds rave:
  So the pen gives unborn generations their due and their part
  In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art."

  And behold while I sang.... But O Thou who didst grant me that day,
  And before it not seldom hast granted thy help to essay,
  Carry on and complete an adventure,--my Shield and my Sword
  In that act where my soul was thy servant, thy word was my word,--
  Still be with me, who then at the summit of human 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
  Let me tell out my tale to its ending--my voice to my heart,
  Which can scarce dare believe in what marvels last night I took part,
  As this morning I gather the fragments, alone with my sheep,
  And still fear lest the terrible glory evanish like sleep!
  For I wake in the gray dewy covert, while Hebron upheaves
  The dawn struggling with night on his shoulder, and Kidron retrieves
  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 swathes
  Of his turban, and see--the huge sweat that his countenance bathes,
  He wipes off with the robe; and he girds now his loins as of yore,
  And feels slow for the armlets of price, with the clasp set before.
  He is Saul, ye remember in glory,--ere error had bent
  The broad brow from the daily communion; and still, though much spent
  Be the life and the bearing that front you, the same, God did choose,
  To receive what a man may waste, desecrate, never quite lose.
  So sank he along by the tent-prop, till, stayed by the pile
  Of his armor and war-cloak and garments, he leaned there a while,
  And so sat out my singing,--one arm round the tent-prop, to raise
  His bent head, and the other hung slack--till I touched on the praise
  I foresaw from all men in all times, to the man patient there,
  And thus ended, the harp falling forward. Then first I was 'ware
  That he sat, as I say, with my head just above his vast knees
  Which were thrust out on each side around me, like oak-roots which please
  To encircle a lamb when it slumbers. I looked up to know
  If the best I could do had brought solace: he spoke not, but slow
  Lifted up the hand slack at his side, till he laid it with care
  Soft and grave, but in mild settled will, on my brow; thro' my hair
  The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my head, with kind
  All my face back, intent to peruse it, as men do a flower,
  Thus held he me there with his great eyes that scrutinized mine--
  And oh, all my heart how it loved him! but where was the sign?
  I yearned--"Could I help thee, my father, inventing a bliss,
  I would add to that life of the past, both the future and this.
  I would give thee new life altogether, as good, ages hence,
  As this moment,--had love but the warrant, love's heart to dispense!"

  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 brain
  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 dew-drop was asked.
  Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
  Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite care!
  Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?
  I but open my eyes,--and perfection, no more and no less,
  In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God
  In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
  And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew
  (With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)
  The submission of man's nothing-perfect to God's All-Complete,
  As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet!
  Yet with all this abounding experience, this Deity known,
  I shall dare to discover some province, some gift of my own.
  There's one faculty pleasant to exercise, hard to hoodwink,
  I am fain to keep still in abeyance (I laugh as I think)
  Lest, insisting to claim and parade in it, wot ye, I worst
  E'en the Giver in one gift.--Behold! I could love if I durst!
  But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o'ertake
  God's own speed in the one way of love: I abstain, for love's sake!
  --What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small,
  Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal?
  In the least things, have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all?
  Do I find love so full in my nature, God's ultimate gift,
  That I doubt his own love can compete with it? here, the parts shift?
  Here, the creature surpass the Creator, the end, what Began?--
  Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man,
  And dare doubt He alone shall not help him, who yet alone can?
  Would it ever have entered my mind, the bare will, much less power,
  To bestow on this Saul what I sang of, the marvellous dower
  Of the life he was gifted and filled with? to make such a soul,
  Such a body, and then such an earth for insphering the whole?
  And doth it not enter my mind (as my warm tears attest)
  These good things being given, to go on, and give one more, the best?
  Ay, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height
  This perfection,--succeed with life's day-spring, death's minute of
  Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul, the mistake,
  Saul, the failure, the ruin he seems now,--and bid him awake
  From the dream, the probation, the prelude, to find himself set
  Clear and safe in new light and new life,--a new harmony yet
  To be run and continued, and ended--who knows?--or endure!
  The man taught enough by life's dream, of the rest to make sure.
  By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss,
  And the next world's reward and repose, by the struggle 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 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 despair?
  This;--'tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do?
  See the king--I would help him but cannot, the wishes fall through.
  Could I wrestle to raise him from sorrow, grow poor to enrich,
  To fill up his life, starve my own out, I would--knowing which,
  I know that my service is perfect.--Oh, speak through me now!
  Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst Thou--so wilt Thou!
  So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost Crown--
  And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down
  One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath,
  Turn of eye, wave of hand, that Salvation joins issue with death!
  As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved
  Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved!
  He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most
  'Tis the weakness in strength that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek
  In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
  A Face like my face that receives thee: a Man like to me,
  Thou shalt love and be loved by, forever! a Hand like this hand
  Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!"

  I know not too well how I found my way home in the night.
  There were witnesses, cohorts about me, to left and to right,
  Angels, powers, the unuttered, unseen, the alive--the aware--
  I repressed, I got through them as hardly, as strugglingly there,
  As a runner beset by the populace famished for news--
  Life or death. The whole earth was awakened, hell loosed with her crews;
  And the stars of night beat with emotion, and tingled and shot
  Out in fire the strong pain of pent knowledge: but I fainted not.
  For the Hand still impelled me at once and supported--suppressed
  All the tumult, and quenched it with quiet, and holy behest,
  Till the rapture was shut in itself, and the earth sank to rest.
  Anon at the dawn, all that trouble had withered from earth--
  Not so much, but I saw it die out in the day's tender birth;
  In the gathered intensity brought to the gray of the hills;
  In the shuddering forests' new awe; in the sudden wind-thrills;
  In the startled wild beasts that bore off, each with eye sidling still
  Tho' averted, in wonder and dread; and the birds stiff and chill
  That rose heavily, as I approached them, made stupid with awe.
  E'en the serpent that slid away silent,--he felt the new Law.
  The same stared in the white humid faces upturned by the flowers;
  The same worked in the heart of the cedar, and moved the vine-bowers.
  And the little brooks witnessing murmured, persistent and low,
  With their obstinate, all but hushed voices--"E'en so, it is so!"


Titles of complete monologues are printed in _Italics_; authors of these
in SMALL CAPITALS; subjects of lessons are printed in CAPITALS; ordinary
topics in Roman.

  Abrupt beginning, cause of Browning's obscurity, 81

  _Abt Vogler_, 290;
    theme in, 88-89

  ACTION, 172-195
    importance at opening, 172-173
    precedence of, 173
    significance of, in a monologue, 174
    in Italian in England, 174
    in Mrs. Caudle, 174
    in Up at a Villa, 174-175
    in A Tale, 175-176
    caused by change in thinking and feeling, 175-176
    by struggle for idea, 176
    in quotations, 177-178
    transitions and, 178
    pivotal, shows attention and politeness, 181-186
    locations of objects, 182-183
    monologue must not be declaimed, 183
    descriptive and manifestative, 187-189
    in Old Boggs' Slarnt, Day, 188
    in Vagabonds, Trowbridge, 190-193
    dangers of, 194
    attitude, importance of, 195

  _Andrea del Sarto_, 265

  _Appearances_, 265

    Illustrated by A Death in the Desert, 89
    Illustrated by Bishop orders his Tomb, 91-94
      (Poem, 285)
    Illustrated by _Memorabilia_, 160-162

  Art, function of, 7
    dramatic, important, 11
    forms of, not invented, necessary, 11-12
    Browning on, 40
    indirect, 63
    composed of few elements, 87-88
    theme of, 110
    social, 258

  At the Mermaid, 73-74
    extract from, 74

  Attention, key to dramatic, 181
    shown by pivotal action, 182-186

  Attitude, importance of, 195

  Barrack-Room Ballads are monologues, 128

  _Before Sedan_, Dobson, 84

  Biglow Papers are monologues, 19

  Bishop Blougram's Apology, listener in, 41-42

  _Bishop orders his Tomb_, 285
    listener in, 53
    dramatic argument of, 91-94


  =BRET HARTE'S=, _In a Tunnel_, 173

  _Bridge of Sighs_, =HOOD=, 209
    metre of, 211

    _Patriot, The_, 3
    _Woman's Last Word, A_, 6
    _Confessions_, 7
    _Youth and Art_, 21
    _Incident of the French Camp_, 33
    _Rabbi Ben Ezra_, 36
    _Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister_, 58
    _Up at a Villa--Down in the City_, 65
    A Grammarian's Funeral, 72
    At the Mermaid, 74
    _My Last Duchess_, 96
    _Lost Mistress_, 106
    _Tray_, 143
    _One Way of Love_, 150
    _Italian in England_, 152
    _Wanting is--What?_ 157
    _Memorabilia_, 160
    _A Tale_, 164
    _In a Year_, 201
    _Lost Leader_, 212
    _Evelyn Hope_, 216
    _Appearances_, 265
    _Andrea del Sarto_, 265
    _Muléykeh_, 272
    _Count Gismond_, 275
    _By the Fireside_, 277
    _Pheidippides_, 281
    _Prospice_, 284
    _Bishop orders his Tomb_, 285
    _Sibrandus Schafnaburgensis_, 288
    _Abt Vogler_, 290
    _Saul_, 293
    Why not appreciated, 1-2
    Invented monologue, 1-2
    his art form, 7
    dramatic, 9-10
    compared with Leigh Hunt, 25-26
    influence of, 48
    compared with Tennyson, 52
    compared with Shakespeare, 55-61
      soliloquies are monologues, 58-61
    obscurity of, 71-81
    master of monologue, 131-132
    grotesque, element in, 229
    variety of his themes, 263-264

  =BURNS=, monologues in, 117-120
    _O wert thou in the cauld blast_, 118

  _By the Fireside_, 277

  Caliban upon Setebos, character of, 24
    speaker in, 24

  Caudle, Mrs., _On the Umbrella_, 139

  Character of speaker must be realized, 138

  =CHESTERTON=, on personal element in story-telling, 86
    on Clive and Muléykeh, 125
    justifies Browning's grotesque language, 229

  =CHURCHILL, J. W.=, rendering of Sam Lawson, 16

  Cleon, monologue or letter, 18

  Clive, illustrates person spoken of, 54
    why a monologue, 126

  _Confessions_, 7

  Connection, importance of first words to the, 79-80

  Consistency, law of, 235-237

  Conversation, elements of, 159

  _Count Gismond_, 275
    speaker in, 16

  =CUSHMAN, CHARLOTTE=, her rendering of monologue, 236-237

  Definition of monologue, 7

    nature of, 134
    important in monologue, 133-136
    three languages in, complementary, 135-136

  DIALECT, 222-230
    must be dramatic, 222-223
    in Riley, Burns, Tennyson, 223
    not literal, 224-225
    dramatic, 225-226
    results from assimilation, 227
    must express character, 228-229
    part of grotesque, 229-230

  _Didn't know Flynn_, =BRET HARTE=, 173

  _Dieudonné_, Dr. Drummond, 225

    _Before Sedan_, 84
    change of situation in, 84-86

  Dooley monologues, 42
    Hennessey in, 42-43

  Dowden, Edward, on static dramatic, 110-111
    on Muléykeh, 111

  Dramatic art, important, 11

  Dramatic instinct, overlooked, 31
    necessary in human life, 30
    listener in, 31
    definition of, 103-104
    illustrated by, 103-113
    static dramatic, 110-111
    nature of, 111-112
    interprets odd moments, 156

    _Come, let us kiss and part_, 116

    French Canadian dialect, 129
    _Dieudonné_, 225

  _Duchess, My Last_, 96

  Epic spirit, nature of, 102
    in Tennyson's Ulysses, 102-103, 123
    in Sir Galahad, 124

  _Evelyn Hope_, 216

  Expression, vocal, necessity of, 133-146
    nature of, in the monologue, 147-172

    staginess, 241
    monotony, cause of, 241-242
    tameness, 242
    declamation, 242-243
    indefiniteness, 243
    exaggeration, 244
    cause of, false, 244-246

  =FIELD, EUGENE=, Monologues in, 44

  _Fireside, By the_, 277

    illustrated by A Tale, 164

  Flight of the Duchess, as illustration of monologue, 108-109

    not invented, 11-12, 100-101
    Monologue, one, 100-113

  Foss, Sam Walter, monologues by, 48

  Fra Lippo Lippi, connection in, 81-83

  =FREYTAG'S= definition of drama, 103-104

  Grammarian's Funeral, A, situation in, 72-73

  Grigsby's Station, a monologue, 47

  Grotesque, nature of, 226
    dramatic, importance of, 30-31
    illustrations of, 33-39

  HEARER, THE, 30-64
    implied in dramatic art, 30-31
    in monologue, necessary, 32
    illustrated by Rabbi Ben Ezra, 36
    in Bishop Blougram, 41-42
    by Dooley and Hennessey, 43
    in Riley's Nothin' to Say, 46-47
    in Tennyson's Lady Clara, 50

  Hervé Riel, metre in, 203

  Higginson, Col. T. W., story of Carlyle, 226

    in early literature, 113-116
    in Burns, 117-118

  =HOOD, THOMAS=, _Bridge of Sighs_, 209

  Hunt, Leigh, Browning's method differs from, 25-26

  Imitation, danger of, in High Tide, 171

    illustrated by Saul, 248-252;
      by Job, 253
    by Ninetieth Psalm, 253-254;
      by Prophets, 255
    has educational value, 255
    speakers, 255-256
    proves necessity of voice to literature, 256
    gives new course in speaking, 256;
      illustration, 257
    prevents students of art from being
    mechanical, 258
    shows necessity of art, 261
    of any length or theme, 262
    requires an artist, 263
    requires no expensive scenery, 262
    has limitations, 262
    its range, 264

  _In a Tunnel_, =BRET HARTE=, 173

  _In a Year_, 201

  _Incident of the French Camp_, 33

  Inflection, function of, 151
    importance of, 149-150, 157

  Interpreter of monologue must command natural languages, 136

  Interpretation of monologue difficult, 139
    necessary, 133
    unites three languages, 135
    must be dramatic, 138-142

  _Italian in England, The_, 152

  Jerrold, Douglas, situation in his monologues, 75
    on Sordello, 1
    Mrs. Caudle and the Umbrella, 139
    its spirit, 141-143

  John Anderson, my Jo, =BURNS=, 62

  =KIPLING=, dramatic spirit in, 127-129
    Mandalay lyric or monologue, 128-129
    dialect of results from dramatic spirit, 228

  _Lady Clara Vere de Vere_, =TENNYSON=, 50

  Language, threefold, 135-138

  La Saisiaz, situation of, 78

  _Last Ride Together_, 205

  Letters and monologues compared, 17-18

    not invented, 100
    monologue, as a, 100-113
    monologue, a true, 124, 259-264

    implies unprinted elements, 133-134
    suggests life, 135-136

  _Lost Leader, The_, 212

  _Lost Mistress, The_, 106

  Lyric, nature of, 14
    compared with monologue, 14-15

  Macbeth, story of, compared to monologue, 105-107

  _Memorabilia_, 160
    illustrates vocal expression of monologue, 161-162

  Mental actions modulate voice, 147-172

  _Mermaid, At the_, passage from, 73-74

    mistakes regarding, 195
    appreciation of, 196
    part of vocal expression, 196-197
    meaning of, 196, 204-205
    relation to length of line, 198-199
      in Woman's Last Word and In a Year, 201
    study of, 213

  _Mistress, The Lost_, 106

  Mitchell, D. G., on letters, 17

  Modulations of voice, 147-172

  Monologue contrasted with the play, 105-109
    "Invention" of Browning, 2
    One end of conversation, 7
    study of, centres in, 10
    speaker in, 12-30, 41-43
    dramatic, 32
    person spoken of, in, 54-55
    compared with soliloquy, 55-61
    situation in, 64-78
    connection, 78-86
    argument of, 86-94
    as literary form, 100-113
    compared with play, 105-109
    before Browning, 113
    common in English poetry, 113-132
    common in modern literature, 127-132
    needs delivery, 133-146
    vocal expression of, 147-172
    rhythm of thinking in, 148
    action in, 172-195
    metre in, 195-222
    dialect in, 222-229
    use of properties, 231-240
    faults in rendering, 241-246
    IMPORTANCE OF, 248-264

  Movement illustrated by High Tide, 168-171

  Mrs. Jim, a series of monologues, 130

  _Muléykeh_, 272
    Chesterton on, 125
    as a monologue, 125-126

  _My Last Duchess_, 96
    illustrates elements of monologue, 96-99

  Natural languages, function of, 134-137

  _Nothin' to Say_, Riley, 46

  Obscurity, chief cause of Browning's, 81

  _Old Boggs' Slarnt_, Day, 188

  _One Way of Love_, 150

  Oratory and acting compared, 13, 179-181
    Jefferson on, 179-180

  Palgrave on Sally in our Alley, 120-122

  _Patriot, The_, 3

  Pause, Importance of, 149

  Personal element in art, Chesterton on, 86
    found in all conversation and expression, 81-88

  _Pheidippides_, 281

  Play, a monologue, 10-12

  Poetry, Aristotle on, 128
    dramatic, not invented, 100
    epic, 122-123

  PROPERTIES, 230-247
    use of, in play and monologue, 230-231
    significance of, 230-231
    need of generalizing, 232
    Irving, Sir Henry, scenery in unity, 233
    consistency in, 235
    use of scenery, 236-240
    must not be literal, 237
    when dramatic, 238-240

  _Prospice_, 284
    metre of, 209

  _Psalm Ninetieth_, 253
    a monologue, 253-255

  _Rabbi Ben Ezra_, 36

  Rendering of monologues, 236-237


  Rhythm, first element in interpretation, 148

  =RILEY, JAMES WHITCOMB=, Hoosier monologue, 129-131
    Knee-deep in June, a monologue, 45
    situation in, 53
    _Nothin' to Say_, 46

  Ring and the Book, The, proves value of monologue, 26-29
    extract from, on art, 40

  _Sally in our Alley_, =CAREY=, 120

  Sam Lawson, stories of, Mrs. Stowe, monologues, 16
    illustrates nature of monologue, 248-252

  _Saul_, 293

  Shakespeare compared with Browning, 112
    his soliloquies compared to monologues, 55-57

  _Sibrandus Schafnaburgensis_, 288

    dramatic, 64
    monologue implies, 65
    Up at a Villa--Down in the City, 65
    in Browning, always definite, 71-72
    changes in Grammarian's Funeral, 72
    in Douglas Jerrold, 75
    Andrea del Sarto (Poem, 265)

  _Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister_, 58
    soliloquy compared with monologue, 56-57
    Shakespeare's, 55
    difference between Browning and
    Shakespeare, 57-61

  SPEAKER, THE, in monologue, 12-30
    speech and monologue compared, 101-102

  =SUCKLING, SIR JOHN=, _Why so pale and wan_, 116

  _Tale, A_, 163

  =TENNYSON'S= _Lady Clara Vere de Vere_, 50
    a monologue, 52
    many monologues, 49
    not master of, 53

    abrupt beginning, 79-80
    tone-color explained, 157-160

  _Tray_, 143

  _Up at a Villa--Down in the City_, 65

  _Vagabonds, The_, =TROWBRIDGE=, 190

  Vocal Expression
    nature of, 134
    reveals processes of mind, 147-172
    unprintable, 136
    in play and monologue, 167-168


  _Wanting is--What?_ 157

  Whitman, dramatic element in his "O Captain," 120

  _Why so pale and wan_, Suckling, 116

  _Woman's Last Word, A_, 6

  Words complemented by tone and action, 135

  =WYATT, SIR THOMAS=, The Lover's Appeal, lyric in form of monologue, 114

  _Youth and Art_, 21
    metre of, 216

The University Press Cambridge, U. S. A.


[1] Freytag, Technik des Dramas, chap. i, sec. 2, p. 16 (Leipzig, 1881).
Translation by Prof. H. B. Lathrop.

[2] To emphasize the nature and importance of poetic form (see pp. 211,
213), "Count Gismond" and "By the Fireside" are here printed as prose.
Find the length of line, the stanzas, and the metre, the meaning and
appropriateness of all these. How should they be paragraphed?

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

The original text includes Greek characters. For this text version these
letters have been replaced with transliterations.

Several of the poems appear in the middle of a paragraph. They have been
left as placed in the original text.

In the index, the original text used SMALL CAPITALS to indicate authors of
the complete monologues and CAPITALS to indicate the subjects of lessons.
In order to differentiate the two in this text version, =SMALL CAPITALS=
has been used to indicate authors of the complete monologues.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "'" corrected to "i'" (page 38)
  "call st" corrected to "callest" (page 38)
  "attenton" corrected to "attention" (page 72)
  "Muleykeh" standardized to "Muléykeh" (page 111)
  "in" corrected to "is" (page 195)
  "al" corrected to "all" (page 205)

Other than the corrections listed above, inconsistencies in spelling and
hyphenation have been retained from the original.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Browning and the Dramatic Monologue" ***

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