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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Browning” >’

Nobly, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the Northwest died away;
Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay;
Bluish ‘mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay;
In the dimmest Northeast distance dawned Gibraltar grand and gray;
“Here and here did England help me; how can I help England?” – say,
Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray,
While Jove’s planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.

 

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

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

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

But ever, at each period,
He stopped and sang, “Praise God!”

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

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

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

“This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome
Praises God from Peter’s dome.”

Said Theocrite, “Would God that I
Might praise Him, that great way, and die!”

Night passed, day shone,
And Theocrite was gone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Clearer loves sound other ways:
I miss my little human praise.”

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

‘T was Easter Day: he flew to Rome,
And paused above Saint Peter’s dome.

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

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

And all his past career
Came back upon him clear.

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

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

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

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

“I bore thee from thy craftsman’s cell,
And set thee here; I did not well.

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

“Thy voice’s praise seemed weak; it dropped –
Creation’s chorus stopped!

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

With that weak voice of our disdain,
Take up creation’s praising strain.

“Back to the cell and poor employ:
Resume the craftsman and the boy!”

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

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

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

 

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………………….Sunrise

Day!
Faster and more fast
O’er night’s brim, day boils at last:
Boils, pure gold, o’er the cloud-cap’s brim
Where spurting and suppressed it lay,
For not a froth-flake touched the rim
Of yonder gap in the solid gray
Of the eastern cloud, an hour away;
But forth one wavelet, then another, curled,
Till the whole sunrise, not to be suppressed,
Rose, reddened, and its seething breast
Flickered in bounds, grew gold, then overflowed the world.

——————————————–

photo by Sias van Schalkwyk at
http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/okXYTXm/Sunrise+Series+4

 

 

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…………………Prospice

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,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee gain,
And with God be the rest!

 

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To Edward Fitzgerald

I chanced upon a new book yesterday;
I opened it, and, where my finger lay
‘Twixt page and uncut page, these words I read  –
Some six or seven at most – and learned thereby
That you, Fitzgerald, whom by ear and eye
She never knew, “thanked God my wife was dead.”
Aye, dead! and were yourself alive, good Fitz,
How to return you thanks would task my wits.
Kicking you seems the common lot of curs –
While more appropriate greeting lends you grace,
Surely to spit there glorifies your face –
Spitting from lips once sanctified by hers.

——————————————————–

 

*After Fitzgerald died, Browning happened to
run across Fitzgerald’s words in the poem about
the death of Mrs. Browning and wrote this poem
in anger.

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              Memorabilia

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 molted feather, an eagle feather!
   Well, I forget the rest.

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                       Song  

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

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

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             Meeting At Night

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

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

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Portrait of Lucrezia (di Cosimo) de' Medici at...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


My Last Duchess

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

 

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