Robert Browning.

The complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning online

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Each Jew intent to end his truoge

And take his i>leasure (though alive)
With all his Jewish kith and kin

Below ground, have his venom out,
Sharpen his wits for next day's sin.

Curse Christians, and so home, no doubt I

** Whereas, each phiz upturned beholds

Mary, I warrant, soarmg brave I
And in a trice, beneath the folds

Of filthy garb which gowns each knave.

Down drops it — there to hide grimace.

Contortion of the mouth and nose
At finding Mary in the place

They 'a keep for Pilate, I suppose I

** At last, they will not brook •— not they I —

Longer such outrage on their tribe :
So;^ some hole and comer, lay

Their heads together — how to bribe
The meritorious Farmer's self

To straight undo his work, restore
Their chance to meet and muse on pelf —

Pretending sorrow, as before I

*^ Forthwithua posse, if you ^ease.

Of Rabbi This and Rabbi That
Almost go down upon their knees

To get him lay tne picture flat.
The spokesman, eighty vears of age,

Qtaj as a badger, with a ^[oat's
Not only beard but bleat^gms wage

War with our Mary. Thus he dotes : —

*^*2^'emf«, grant a grace I How Mtbrwa

Through l\fe in Florence — ufhy relate
To those who lay the btarden^ spod

Owr paths of peace f We Sear our fate*
But when with life the long toil ends.

Why must you — the expression craves
Pardon^ but trtUh compels me, friends ! —

Why must you plague us in our graves f

** * Thoughtlessly plague, I would believe t

For how can you — the lords of ease
By nurture, birthright — e'en conceive

Our luxury to lie with trees
And turf — the cricket and the bird

Left for our last companionship:
No harsh deed, no unkindly word.

No frowning brow nor scorf\ful lip !

** * Death's luxury, we now rehearse

While, living, through your streets we fare
And take your hatred: nothing worse

Ham we, once dead and safe, to bear t
So we r^esh our souls, fulfil

Our works, our daily tasks ; and thus^
Gather you grain — earth's harvest — stUl

The wheat for you, the straw for lu.

'* * What flouting in a face, what harm.

In just a lady borne from bier
By boys' heads, win^ for leg and arm ? *

You question. Friends, the harm is here —
That just when our last sigh is heaved^

And we would fain thank God and yoee
For labor done and peace achieved.

Bade comes the Past in full review I

" * At sight qfjust that simple flag.

Starts thefoe-feeling serpent-like
From slumber. Leave it lulled, nor drag —

Though fangless —forth what needs must strQ*
When stricken sore, though stroke be vain

Against the mailed oppressor I Give
Play to our fancy that we gain

L\feU rights when once we cease to livef

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*' *' Thus much to courtesy, to kindy

To conscience I Now to Florence folk I
There '« core benecUh this appl&Tina,

Beneath this whOe^-egg there '< yolk I
Beneath this prayer to courtesy^

Kind^ conscience — there ^s a sum to pouch !
How many ducats down will buy

Our shame's removal^ sirs f Avouch !

'* ' Removal^ not destruction, sirs t

Just turn your picture I Let it front
The public path 1 Or memory errs.

Or that same public path is wont
To witness many a chance b^all

Of lust, th^. bloodshed — sins enough.
Wherein our Hebrew part is small.

Convert yourselves / ' ~ he out np rough.

'* Look yon, how soon a servioe iwid
Religion yields the serrant fruit !

A jprompt reply our Farmer made
So following: * Sirs, to grant your suit

Involves much danger ! Howf Transpose
Our Lady f Stop the chastisement.

All for your good, herself bestows f
What wonder if I grudge consent f

** * —Yet grant it : since, what cash I take

Is so much saved from wicked use.
We know you I And, for Mary*s sake,

A hundred ducats shall induce
Concession to your prayer. One day

Suffices i Master ButPs bnuh
Turns Mary round the other way.

And deluges your side with slush,

** * Doum with the ducats therefore ! * Dump,

Dump, dump it falls, each counted piece.
Hard gold. Then out of door they stump,

These dogs, each brisk as with new lease
Of life, I warrant, —glad he '11 die

Henceforward just as he may choose,
Be buried and in olover lie I

Well said Esaias — * stiff-decked Jews ! *

" Off posts without a minute's loss

Our Farmer, once the cash in poke,
And snnmions Buti — ere its gloss

Have time to fade from off the joke —
To choD and change his work, undo

The done side, make the side, now blank,
Recipient of our Ladv — who.

Displaced thus, had these dogs to thank I

** Now, boy, von 're hardly to instruct

Li techmcalities of Art !
My nephew's childhood sure has sucked

Along with mother's-milk some part
Ofpainter's-practice — learned, at least.

How expeditiously is plied
A work in fresco — never ceased

When once begun — a day, each side.

••So, Buti— (he 's with God) — begins:
first covers up the shrine all round

With hoarding ; then, as like as twins,
Piunts, t' other aide the burial-ground.

New Marv, every point the same ;

Next, sluices over, as agreed,
The old : and last — but, spoil the game

By telling you ? Noti,mdeedl

" Well, ere the week was half at end.

Out came the object of this zeal.
This fine alacrity to spend

Hard money for mere dead men's weal !
How think you ? That old spokesman Jew

Was High Priest, and he had a wife
As old, and she was dying too.

And wished to end m peace her life 1

** And he must humor dyinj^ whims.

And soothe her with the idle hope
They 'd say their prayers and sing their hymns

As if her husband were the Pope I
And she did die — believing just

This privilege was purchased I Dead
In comfort throu^^ her foolish trust I

* Stiff-necked ones,^ well Esaias said I

** So, Sabbaih morning, out of gate

And on to w ay, w hat sees our arch
Good Farmer ? Why, they hcMst their freight—

The corpse — on shoulder, and so, marim 1
* Now for It, Buti / ' In the nick

Of tmie 't is pully-hauly, hence
With hoarding! O'er the wayside quick

There 's Miuy plain in evidence I

*^ And here 's the oonvcrT* halting : right t

Oh, thev are bent on howling psalms
And growling pravers, when opposite t

And yet they ghmce, for all tJieir qualms.
Approve that promptitude of his.

The Farmer 's — duly at his poet
To take due thanks from every phiz.

Sour smirk — nay, surly smue almost I

" Then earthward drops each brow again ;

The solemn task 's resumed ; they reach
Their holy field — the unholy train :

Enter its precinct, all and each,^
Wrapt somehow in their godless rites ;

TilL rites at end, up-waking, lo.
They lift their faces! What delights

The mourners as they turn to go ?

** Ha, ha I he, he ! On just the side

They drew their purse-strings to make quit
Of Mary, — Christ the Crucified

Fronted them now — these biters bit I
Never was such a hiss and snort.

Such screwing nose and shooting lip 1
Their purchase — honey in report —

Proved gall and verjuice at first sip !

" Out they break, on they bustle, where,

A-top ot wall, the Farmer waits
With Buti : never fun so rare 1

The Farmer has the best : he rates
The rascal, as the old High Priest

Tskkes on himself to sermonize —
Nay, sneer, * We Jews supposed, at leasts

Tn^ was a crime in Christian eyes ! '

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***2^f' ones the Fanner. * Eat your


Shew me what constitutes a breach

^ faith in aught was said or heard !

I promised vou in plainest speech

1 ^atake the thing you count disgrace

And put it here — and here H is put !
Did you suppose I '</ leave the place
Blank ther^ore^ just your rage to glut f

^* * I guess you dared not stip^ate

For such a damned impertinence !
80^ quicks mygraybeard,out qfgate

And in at Ghetto I Hcute you hence I
As long as I have house and land.

To spite you irreligious chaps.
Here shall the Cruc\fipnon stand —

Unless you down with cash^ perhaps I '

** So sniokered he and Buti both.

llie Jews said nothing, interohanfi;ed
A fflfmoe or two, renewed their oatn

To keep ears stopped and hearts estranged
From grace, for all our Church can do ;

Then off they scuttle : sullen jog
Homewards, a^fainst our Church to brew

Fresh mischief in their synagogue.

** But next day — see what happened, boy I

See why I bid you haye a care
How YOU pelt Jews I The knaves employ

Sucn methods of reyenge, forbear
No outrage on our faith, when free

To wreak their malice ! Here they took
So base a method — plague o' me

If I record it in my Book I

** For, next dav. while the Farmer sat

Laufj^hing witn Buti, in his shop,
At their successful loke. — rat-tat, —

Door opens, and they *re like to drop
Down to the noor as in there stalks

A six-feet-high herculean-built
Toung he-Jew with a beard that balks

DeMription. * Help ere blood be spilt ! *

— " Screamed Buti : for he recognized

Whom but the son, no less no more.
Of that High Priest lus work surprised

So pleasantly the day before t
Son <^ the mother, then, whereof

The bier he lent a shoulder to.
And made the moans about, dared scoff

At sober Christian grief — the Jew I

** * Sirs, I salute you ! Never rise^ !

No apprehension ! * (Buti, white
And trembling like a tub of size,

Had tried to smuggle out of sight
The picture^s self — the thing in oils,

You know, from which a fresco 's dashed
Which courage speeds while caution spoils )

*' Stay and be praised, sir, unabashed !

•' ' Praised, — ay, and paid too : for I come

To buy that very work of yours*
Mypoor abode, which boasts — well, some

^ew specimens qf Art, secures.

Haply, a masterpiece indeed
Jf I should And my humble means

SvMce the outlay. 80, proceed !
Irropose — ere prudence intervenes I *

** On Buti, cowering like a child,

These words descended from aloft.
In tone so ominously mild,

With smile terrifically soft
To that degree — could Buti dare

(Poor fellow) use his brains, think twiesf
He asked, thus taken unaware,

No more than just the proper price I

** * Done I ' cries the monster. * I disburss

Forthwith your moderate demand.
Count on my custom — if no worse

Yourfidure work be, understand^
Than this I carry qffl No aid !

My arm, sir, lacks nor bone nor thews :
The ourden '< easy, and we We made.

Easy or hard, to bear — we Jews ! *

" Crossing himself at such escape,

Buti b]r turns the money eyes
And, timidlpr, the stalwart shape

Now moying doorwards : but, more wise.
The Farmer — who, though dumb, this wmle

Had watched advantage — straight conoetred
A reason for that tone and smile

So mild and soft I The Jew — belieTedl

** Maiy in triumph borne to deck

A Hebrew household I Pictured when
No one was used to bend the neck

In praise or bow the knee in prayer I
Borne to that domidle by whom ?

The son of the High Priest I Tliroqg^
An insult done his mother's tomb I

Saul changed to Paul— the case came pstl

" * Stay, dog^ew . . . gentle sir, that is !

Resolve me I Can it oe^ she crowned,—
Mary, by miracle, — oh bliss ! —

My present to your burial-ground t
Certain^ a ray qfliqht has burst

Your vale qf darkness ! Had you else.
Only for Mary's sake^ unpursed

So much hard money f Tell— oh, tell's!^

**Round — like a seipent that we took

For worm and trod on — turns his bulk
About the Jew. First dreadful look

Sends Buti in a trice to skulk
Out of sight somewhere, safe — alack I

But our good Farmer faith made bold:
And firm (with Florence at his back)

He stood, while gruff the gutturals rolled -^

** * Ay, sir, a mirade was worked.

By quite another power, I trow.
Than ever yet in canvas lurked.

Or you would scarcely face me now !
A certain impulse did suggest

A certain grasp with this right-hand.
Which probably had put to rest

Our quarrel, — thus your throat once spanmal

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'* * But I remembered me, subdued

That impulse, and you face me stUl !
And soon a phUasoj^te mood

Succeeding {hear it^ if you will !)
Has altogether changed my views

Concerning Art, ^ Blind prejudice !
Well may you Christians tax us Jews

With scrupulosity too nice !

•• * For, donH I see, — let '« issue Join I —

Whatever Vm allowed polluU
(I — and my little bag qfcoin)

Some Christian palace qf repute, —
DonH I see stuck up everywhere

Abundant proqfthat cttltured taste
Has Beauty /or its only care.

And upon IVuth no thoiught to waste t

** * 'Jew, >iiio6 it mnst be, take in pledge

Of payment * — so a Cardinal
Has sighed to me as if a wedge

My treasnres I * Leda, 0€tnymede

Or Antiope: swan, eagle, ape,
{Or what 's the beast qfwhat 's the breed,)

And Jupiter in every shape !

" * WTtereat if I presume to €uk

' Bat, Eminence, thongh Titian'g whisk
Of brosn haye well performed its task,

How eomes it these faiae godships fnsk
In presence of — what yonder frame

Pretends to image ? Sorely, odd
It seems, 3ron let eonfront The Name

Each beast the heathen called his god I *

'* * Benignant smiles me pity straight

I%e Cardinal. "T is Tmth, we prize I
Alt 's the sole question in debate I

These snbjeots are so many lies.
We treat them with a proper scorn

When we torn lies — called gods forsooth -
To lies* fit use. now Christ is bom.

Drawing ana coloring are Tmth.

*' * 'Think von I honor lies so mnoh
As scmple to parade the charms

Of Leda — Titian, eyery touch -
Becanse the thing within her arms

Means Jupiter who had the praise
And prayer of a benightea world ?

He would haye mine too, if, in days
Of Ught, I kept the canyas furled I *

** ^ 80 ending, with some easy gibe.

What power has logic ! I, at once.
Acknowledged error in our tribe

80 squeamish that^ whenfriends ensconce
A pr€tty picture in its niche

To do us honor, deck our graves,
Wejrtt and fume and have an iuA

To strangle folk — ungrateful knaves !

"•^o,«>/ Be sure that — what 'sits style.
Your picture t — shall possess ungrudged

A ploce among my rank and file
QfLedas omd what not — oe judged

Just as a picture ! and {because
I fear me much I scarce have bought

A Titian) Master ButPsJlaws
Found there, will have the laugh flaws ougkt!*

** So, with a BcowL it darkens door —

This bulk— no longer I Buti makes
Prompt fflad re-entry ; there 's a score

Of oaths, as the good Farmer wakes
From what mnst needs haye been a trance,

Or he had struck (he swears) to ground
The bold bad mouth that dared advance

Such doctrine the reverse of sound I

" Was magic here ? Most like I For, since*

Somehow our city's faith grows still
More and more lukewarm, imd our Prince

Or loses heart or wants the will *
To check increase of cold. 'T is * Live

And let^ live ! Lanouidly repress
The Dissident ! In short, — contrive

Christians must bear with Jews : no less I '

** The end seems, any Israelite

Wants any picture^ — pishes, poohs,
Purchases, hangs it full m sifl^t

In any chamber he may choose I
In Ghrist^s crown, one more thorn we rue I

In Mary's bosom, one more sword 1
No, boy, you must not pelt a Jew I

OL(rad,howkMig? How long, O Lord ? "


" The poets pour us wine — "

Said the dearest poet I ever knew.
Dearest and greatest and best to me.
You clamor athirst for poetry —
We pour. ** But when shall a vintaee be " —
Ton cry — ** strong gn^ie, squeezea gold from
Yet sweet juice, flavored flowerv-fine ?
That were indeed the wine I "

One pours your cup — stark strength,

Meat for a man ; and you eye the pulp
Strained, turbid still, from the viscous olood *
Of the snaky boueh : and vou grumble ** Good I
For it swells resolve^ breeas hardihood ;

Dispatch it, then, m a single gulp ! "
So, down, with a wry face, goes at length
The liquor: stuff for strength.

One pours your cup —sheer sweet.

The fragrant fumes of a year condensed :
Suspicion of all that 's ripe or rathe.
From the bud on branch to the grass in swathes
** We suck mere milk of the seasons," saith
A curl of each nostril — *' dew, dispensed
Nowise for nerving man to feat :
Boys sip such noneyed sweet I "

And thus who wants wine strong.
Waves each sweet smell of the year away ;

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Who likes to swoon as the sweets suffuse
His bndn with a miztme of beams and dews
Turned syrupy drink — rough strength eschews :
*^ What though in our veins your wine-stook
The lack of the bloom does our palate wrong.
Give us wine sweet, not strong I '*

Yet wine is — some affirm —

Prime wine is found in the world somewhere,
Of portable strength with sweet to matoh.
You double your heart its dose^ yet cateh —
As the draught descends — a Yiolet-smatch,

Softness — however it came there,
Through drops expressed by the fire and worm :
Strong sweet wine — some affirm.

Bodv and bouquet both ?

I/is easy to ticket a bottle so ;
But what was the case in the cask, my friends ?
Cask? Nay, the vat — where the maker

His strong with his sweet (you suppose) and
His rough with his smooth, till none can know
How it comes vou may tipple, nothing loth.
Body and bouquet both.

" You " being just — the world.

No poets — who turn, themselves, the winch
Of the press ; no critics — I '11 even sav,
(Being flustered and ea^ of faith, to-day,)
Who for love of the work have learned the way
Till themselves produce home-made, at a
No I 1 on are the world, and wine ne'er purled
Except to please the world !

** For, oh the common heart I

And, ah the irremismble sin
Of poets who please themselves, not us I
Strong wine yet sweet wine pouring thus.
How please still — Pindar and .^Ischylus I —

Drink — dipt into by the bearded chin
Alike and the bloomy lip — no part
Denied the common heart I

** And might we get such grace.

And did you modems but stock our vault
With the true half-brandy half-attar^nilt
How would seniors indulge at a hearty pull
While juniors tossed off uieir thimbleful !
Our Shakespeare and Milton escaped your
So, they reign supreme o'er the weaker race
That wants the ancient grace I "

If I paid myself with words
(As the French say well) I were dupe in-
I were found in belief that you quaffed and

At your Shakespeare the whole day long,

In your Milton pottle-deep nor drowsed

A moment of night — toped on, took heed
Of nothing like modem oream-and-curds.
Pay me with deeds, not words I

For — see your cellarage I
There are forty banels with Shakespeare's
Some five or six are abroach : the rest
Stand spigoted, fauceted. Trv and test
What yourselves call best of the very best 1
How comes it that still untouched thes
Whydon't you try ti^>, advance a stage
With the rest in cellerage ?

For — see your cellarage !

There are four big butts of Milton's brew.
How comes it you make old drips and drops
Do duty, and there devotion stops ?
Leave such an abyss of malt ana hops

£Imbellied in butts which bungs still glue f
You hate your bard ! A fig for your rage I
Free him from cellarage I

'T is said I brew stiff drink.

But the deuce a flavor of grape is there.
Hardly a May-go-down, 't is juSt
A sort of a gruff Go-down-it-must —
No Menj-go-down, no gracious ^:ust

Oomnungles the racy with Spnngtide's rare !
**What wonder," say you, **that we ooogh,
and blink
At Autumn's heady drink ? "

Is it a fancy, friends ?

Mighty and mellow are never mixed.
Though miffhtj and mellow be bom at onoe.
Sweet for tne future, — strong for the ncmce !
Stuff vou should stow away, ensconce

In tne deep and dark, to oe found fast-fixed
At the century's dose: such time strei^tk
A-sweetening for my friends 1

And then — why, what you quaff

With a smack of lip and a duck of tongue.
Is leakage and leavings — iust what haps
From the tun some learned taster taps
With a promise " Prejpare your watery oIimis I

Here % pn^serest wine for old and young I
Dispute ite i>erf ection — you make us lau^ I
Have faith, give thanks, but — qua£E I "

Leakage, I say, or — worse —

Leavings siuace pot-valiant souls.
Somebody, brimful, long ago.
Frothed flagon he drained to the dregs ; aiuL lo,
Down whisker and beard what an overflow I
Lick spilth that has trickled from olnne
Sup the single scene, sip the only verse —
Old wine, not new and worse 1

Imntyou: woisebymuchl

Kenounoe that new where yon never gained
One glow at heart, one gleam at head.
And stick to the warrant of age instead !
No dwarf 's-lap I Fatten, by gianto fed I

You fatten, with oceans of drink und rained f
You feed — who would choke did a oobwd)
The Age you love so much ?

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A mine 's beneath a moor :

Aores of moor roof fathoms of mine
Which diamonds dot where you please

^f .

Yet who plies spade for the bright and big?
Tour product is — truffles, you hunt with a

Since bright-and-big, when a man would
Snits badlv : and therefore the Koh-i-noor
Hay sleep in mine 'neath moor I

Wine, pulse in might from me !

It may neyer emerge in must from yat,
Keyer ml cask nor furnish can,
Neyer end sweet, which strong began —
Ood's gift to gladden the heart of man :

But spirit 's at proof ,^ I promise that I
No sparing of juice si>oils what should be
fit brewage — mine for me.

Man's thoughts and loyes and hates I

Earth is my yineyard, these grew there :
From grape of the ground, I made or marred
My yinta^e ; easy the task or hard.
Who set it — his praise be my reward I
Earth's yield! Who yearn for the Dark
Blue Sea's,
Let them ** lay, pray, bray " — the addle-pates !
>be]Kui's * ^


I thoughts, loyes, hates I

But some one says, ** Good Sir I "

('Tis a worthy yersed in what concerns
The making such labor turn out well,)
*' Tou don't suppose that the nosegay-smell
Needs always come from the grape? Each
At your foot, each bud that your culture
The very cowslip would act like myrrh
On the stifPeet brew — good Sir I

** Cowslips, abundant birth

O'er meadow and hillside, yineyard too,
— Like a schoolboy's scrawlings m and out
Distasteful lesson-book — all about
Greece and Rome, yictory and rout —

Loye-yerses instead of such yain ado t
So, fancies frolic it o'er the earth

Where thoughts haye rightUer birth.

" Nay, thoughtliii|:s they themselyes :

Loyes, hates — in little and less uid least I
Thoughts ? * What is a man betide a mount ! '

Loyes? ^Absent — poor lovers the mintOes

count !^
Hates? ' Fie - Pope* s Utters to Martha
Blount r
These furnish a wine for a children's-f east :
Insipid to man, they suit the elyes

Like thoughts, loyes, hates themselyes."

And, friends, beyond dispute
I too haye the cowslips aewy and dear.

Punctual as Springtide forth peep they :

I leaye them to make my meadow gay.

But I ought to pluck and impound them, eh ?
Not let them alone, but deftly shear

And shred and reduce to — what may suit
Children, beyond dispute ?

And, here 's May-month, all bloom,

All bounty : what if I sacrifice ?
If I out with shears and shear, nor stop
Shearing till prostrate, lo, the crop ?
And will yon prefer it to ^pngex^pop

When I 'ye made you wine of the memories
Which leaye as bare as a churchyard tomb
My meadow, late all bloom r

Nay, what ingratitude

Should I hesitate to amuse the wits
That haye pulled so long at my flask, nor

The headache that paid their pains, nor budged
From bunghole before they sighed and judged

** Too rough for our taste, to-day, bents
The racy and right when the years conclude I "
Out on ingratitude !

Grateful or ingrate — none.

No cowslip of all my fairy crew
Shall help to concoct what makes you wink.
And goes to your head till you think you think !
I like them aliye : the printer's ink

Would sensibly tell on the perfume too.
I may use up my nettles, ere I 'ye done ;
But of cowslips — friends get none I

Don't nettles make a broth

Wholesome for blood grown lazy and thick ?
Maws out of sorts make mouths out of taste.
My Thirty-four Port — no need to waste
On a tongue that 's fur and a palate — paste !
A magnum for friends who are sound I the
sick —
1 11 posset and cosset them, nothing loth.
Henceforward with nettle-broth I

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Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 163 of 198)