Robert Browning.

The complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning online

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but not too rash I
I have found me a peepina^plaoe : breast, bury

your breathine while
I explore for myself ! Now, breathe I He

deceived me not, the spy !

**As he said — there lies in peace H^yn —

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,
Buh^yseh, her sister bom : fleet is she yet ever

missed
The winning tail's fire^bsh arstream 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: ouoe

mount her we both esci^."
Through the skirt-fold in gUdes Duhl,— so a

serpent disturbs no leaf
In a bush as he parts the twigs entwining a nest :

clean thrcugh.
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 nlundered man : ftam his breast

thou^ the heart be ripped.
Yet his nund has the mastery: behold, in a

minute more.
He is out and off and away on Buh^yseh, whose

worth we know 1

And Hdseyn — his blood turns flame, he has
learned long since to ride.

And Buhtfjrseh does her part, — they gain—
they are gaining fast

On the fugitive pair, and Duhl has Ed-DAm)
to cross and quit.

And to reach the ridge El-Sabdn, — no safety
till that be spied I

And Buh^yseh is, bound by bound, bnt a horse-
length off at last.

For the Pearl has missed the tap of the heel,
Uie touch of the bit.

She shortens her stride, she chafes at her rider

the strange and queer:
Buh^yseh is mad with hope — beat mster she

shall and must.
Though DnhU of the hand and heel so clumsy,

^ she has to thank.
She is near now, noee by tail — they are neck

by croup — joy I fear I
What folly makes HiSseyn shout *'Dog Duhl,

Damned son of the Dust,
Touch the right ear and press with your foot

my Pearl's left flankl "

And Duhl was wise at the word, and Mul^ykeh
as prompt perceived

Who was urgmg redoubled pace, and to hear
him was to obey.

And a leap indeed gave she, and evanished
forevermore.

And HiSseyn lookeJ one long last look as who,
all bereaved,

Looksj fain to follow the dead so far as the liv-
ing may :

Then he turned Buh^yseh's neck slow home-
ward, weeping sore.

And, lo, in the sunrise, still sat H^seyn upon
the ground



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PIETRO OF ABANO



«99



WeepinflT : and neighbors oame, the tribesmen
offi^na-AsAd

In the vale of green Er-Rass, and they qnee-
tioned him of his grief :

And he told from first to hist now, serpent-like,
Dnhl had wound

His way to the nest, and how Dnhl rode like an
ape, so bad I

And how Bah^yseh did wonders, yet Pearl re-
mained with the thief.

And they jeered him, one and all: '*Poor

Hosejm is crazed past hope I
How else had he wrought himself his min, in

fortune's spite ?
To have simply held the tongue were a task for

boy or girl.
And here were MuMykeh again, the eyed like

an antelope.
The child oi his heart by day, the wife of his

breast by night I'* —
**And the beaten in speed I" wept HiSseyn.

** Tou never have loved my PearL"



PIETRO OF ABANO

Petrui Aponensis — there was a magician t
When that strange adventure hi^pened, which

I mean to tell my hearers.
Nearly had he tried all trades — beside physi-



Architect, astronomer, astrologer, — or worse :
How else, as the old books warrant, was he able,
All at once, through all the world, to prove the

promptest ol appearers •
Where was prince to cure, tower to build as

high as Babel,
Star to name or sky-sign read, — yet pouch, for

pains, acurse?

— Curse : for when a vagrant, — footsore,

travel-tattered.
Now a young man, now an old man, Turk or

Arab, Jew or Gypsy, —
Ptoffered folk in passmg — Oh, for pay, what

mattered? —
'*I'll be doctor, 111 pUy builder, star I'U

name — sign read I"
Soon as prince was cured, tower built, and fate

predicted,
*'Who may you be?'' came the question;

when he answered '* Petnu ipse^
«*Just as we dirinedl" cried folk — ''A

wretch convicted
Long ago of dealing with the devil — yon in-
deed I"

So, they cursed him roundly, all his labor's pay-
mentj

Motioned him — the convalescent prince would
— to vacate the presence :

Babylonians plucked his beard and tore his rai-
ment,

Drove him from that tower he built : while,
had he peered at stars.

Town howled ** Stone the quack who styles our
DogHstar— SiriusI"



Country yelled *^ Aroint the churl who prophe-
sies we take no pleasanoe
Under vine and fig-tree, since the year 's deliri-

OttS,

Bears no crop of any kind, — all through the
planet Marsl"

Straightway would the whilom youngster grow

agrisard,
Or, as case might hapj the hoary eld drop off

and show a stripling.
Town and country groaned — indebted to a

wizardi
** Curse — nay, kick and cuff him — fit requital

of his pains I
Gratitude in word or deed were wasted truly I
Rather make the Church amends by crying out

on, cramping, crippling
One who, on pretence oi serving man, serves

duly
Man's arch foe : not ours, be sore, but Satan's

— his the gains!"

Peter grinned and bore it, such disgraceful



Somehow, cuffs and lucks and curses seem or-
dained his like to suffer :

Prophet's pay with Christians, now as in the
Jews^ age,

Still is —stoning : so, he meekly took his wage
and went,

— Safe again was found ensconced in those old
quarters,

Padua^ blackest blindest by-street, — none the
worse, nay, somewhat tougher :

** Calculating," quoth he, ** soonl join the mar-
tyrs.

Since, who magnify my lore on burning me are
bent."i

Therefore, on a certain evening, to his alley
Peter slunk, all bruised and broken, sore in

body, sick in spirit,
Just escaped from Cairo where he launched a

galley
Needing neither sails nor oars nor help of wind

or tide,
— Needinff but the fume of fire to set a-fiying
Wheels like mad which whiried you qmok —

North, South, where'er you pleased re-

<iuire it, —
That is — would have done so had not priests

come pnring.
Broke his engine np and bastinadoed him be-
side.

As he reached his lodging, stopped there unmo-
lested,

(Neighbors feared him, urchins fled him, few
were bold enough to foUow)

While his fumbling fingers tried the lock and
tested

Once again the queer key's virtue, oped the sul-
len door, —

Some one plucked his sleeve, cried, ** Mastery
pray your pardon t

^ See note st end of Tolume.



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DRAMATIC IDYLS



Qrant a word to me who patient wait yoa in

your archway's hollow I
Hard on yon men's hearts are: be not yonr

heart hard on
Me who Idas yonr gannent's hem, O Lord of

magiclore!

**Mage — say I, who no less, sooming tittle-tat-
tle,

To the ynlgar giye no mdence when they
prate of Peter's magic,

Deem his art brews tempest, hnrts the crops
and cattle.

Hinders fowls from laying eggs and worms from
spinnine silk.

Rides vq^n a ne-goat, mounts at need a broom-
stick :

While the^ price he pays for this (so tnms to
oomio what was tragic)

Is — he may not drink — dreads like the Day
of Doom's tick —

One poor drop of sustenance ordained mere men
—that's milk I

'* Tell such tales to Padna I Think me no snch

dnllardl
Not from these benighted parts did I derive my

breath and bemff 1
I am from a land whose dondless skies are

colored
Liyelier, sons orb larg^elier, urs seem incense,

— while, on earth —
What, instead of grass, onr fingers and onr

thumbs cnll,
Proves tme moly I sounds and sights there

help the body's hearing, seeing.
Till the soul grows godlike : orief , — you front

no numskull
Shaming: by ineptitude the Greece that gave

hmi birth f

**Mark within my eye its iris mystic-let-
tered —

That 's my name I and note my ear — its swan-
shaped cavily, my emblem I

Mine 's the swan-like nature bom to fly unfet-
tered

Over land and sea in search of knowledge —
food for song.

Art denied the vulgar! Geese grow fat on
barlejr.

Swans require ethereal provend, undesirous to
resemble 'cm —

Soar to seek Apollo — favored with a parley

Such as. Master, you grant me ~ who will not
hold you long.

^* Leave to^ learn to sing — for that your swan

petitions:
Master, who possess the secret, say not nay to

such a suitor !
All I ask is — bless mine, purest of ambitions I
Grant me leave to make my kind wise, free,

and nappy ! How ?
Just by making me — as yon are mine — their

model !
Geese have goose-thoughts : make a swan their

teacher first, then coadjutor, —



Let him introduce swan-notions to each nod>

dle.-
Geese will soon grow swans, and men beeome

what I am now t

"That's the only magic— had but fools dis-
cernment.

Could they probe and pass into the solid through
the soft and seemin|r 1

Teach me such true magic — now, and no ad-
journment !

Teach yonr art of making fools subserve the
Winn of mind I

Magic is the power we men of mind should
practice.

Draw fools to become our drudges — dooild
henceforth, never dreaming —

While they do our bests for fancied gain — the
fact is

What thev tdl and moil to get proves false-
hooa: truth 's behind I

"See now! yon conceive some fabric — say, a



Meet for monarch's pride and pleasure : this is

truth — a thought has fired you.
Made you fain to give some cramped concept

expansion.
Put your faculty to proof, fulfil your nature's

task,
first you fascinate the monarch's self : he &n-

ciee
He it was devised the scheme you ezecate as he

inspired yon:
He in turn sets slaving insignificances
Toiling, moiling till vour structure stands there

— all you ask 1

" Soon the monarch 's known for what he was

— a ninny:

Soon the rabme-ront leave labor, take their

work-day wage and vanish :
Soon the late puffed bladder, pricked, shows

lank and skinny —

'Who was its inflator?' ask we, *whoee the

^ giant lungs '
Petri en pulmonei! What though men prore

ingrates?
Let them — so tiiey stop at crudfizion — buffet,

ban and banish 1
Peter's power 's apparent: human praise— its

dm grates
Harsh as blame on ear unused to aught save

angels' tongues.

"Ay, there have been always, since our world

existed,
Mages who possessed the secret — needed but to

stand still, fix eye
On the foolish mortal : straight was he enlisted
Soldier, scholar, servant, slave — no matter for

the style I
Only through illusion ; ever what seemed

profit —
Love or lucre — justified obedienoe to the Ipm

dixi:
Work done — palace reared from pavement np

to soffit-



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PIETRO OF ABANO



901



Was it Strang if bnilden smelt oat cheating
all the while ?

** Let them pelt and poond, bruise, bray yon in

amortarl
What 's the odds to yon who seek reward of

quite another nature ?
Yon Ve enrolled yonr name where sages of

▼our sort are,
— Michael of Constantinople, Hans of Halber-

stadtl
Nay and were yon nameless, still yon 're yonr

oonyiotion
Yon it was and onlr yoa — what signifies the

nomenclature r — «

Ruled the world in fact, though how you ruled

be fiction
Fit for fools : true wiKlom's magic yon — if

e'er man — had 't I

** But perhaps you ask me, * Since eaoih igno-



While he profits by such magic persecutes the

benefactor.
What should I expect but — once I render

famous
You as Michael, Hans, and Peter— just one

ingratemore?
If the Tulgar proye thus, whatsoe'er the pelf

be,
Pouched through my beneficence — and doom

me duneeonedj chained, or racked, or
Fairly burned outright — how grateful will

yourself be
When, his secret gained, you match your—

master just before ? *

** That 's where I await you I Please, revert a

little I
What do folk report about you if not this —

which, though chimeric.
Still, as fi^uratiye, suits you to a tittle —
That, — although the elements obey your nod

and wink.
Fades or flowers the herb you chance to smile

or sigh at.
While Tour frown bids earth quake palled by

obscuration atmosi^eric, —
Brief, although through nature naught resists

jovajiat.
There 's^ vet one poor substance mocks yon —

milk you may not drink I

** figurative language I Take mv explanation I
Fame with fear, and hate with homage, these

your art procures in plenty.
All 's but daily dry bread : what makes mdst

the ration ?
Love, the milk that sweetens man his meal —

alas, you lack :
I am he who, since he fears you not, can love

you.
Love IS bom of heart not mind, de corde natus

haud de mente ;
Touch my heart and love 's yours, sure as shines

above yon
• Sun by day and star by night though earth

should go to wrack !



*' Stage by stage you lift me— kiss by kiss I

Whose but your dear hand my heater, punctual

as at each new impulse
I iqyproach my aim ? Shell chipped, the eaglet

callow
Needs a parent's pimon-pash to quit the eyrie's

edge:
But once fairly launched forth, denizen of ether^
While each effort sunward bios the blood more

freely through each limb pulse.
Sure the parent feels, as ^y they soar together.
Fully are all pains repaid when love redeems

its pledge I"

Then did Peter's tristful visage lighten some-
what.
Vent a watery smile m though inveterate mis^

trust were thawing.
** WelL who knows ? " he slow broke silence.

" Mortals — come what
Come there may —.are still the dupes of hope

there 's luck in store.
Many scholars seek me, promise mounts and

marvels :
Here stand I to witness how they step 'twixt

me and clapperclawing I
Dry bread, — that I 've gamed me : truly I

should starve else :
But of milk, no drop was mine I Well, shuffle

cards once more I "

At the word of promise thus implied, our



What can he but cast his arms, in rapture of

embrace, round Peter ?
'* Hold! I choke I" the mage grunts. ''Shall

I in the manger
Any longer play the dog ? Approach, my calf,.

and feed I
Bene . . . won't you wait for grace ? " But

sudden incense
Wool-white, serpent-solid, curled up — perfume

growing sweet and sweeter
•'nil it reachea the young man's nose and seemed

to win sense
Soul and all from out his brain through nostril:

yes, indeed I



Presentl:



itlythe young man rubbed
" Where am I ?



his eyes»



Too much bother over books I Some reverie

has proved amusing.

What did Peter prate of ? 'Faith, my brow is

clammy I
How mv head throbs, how my heart thumps t

Can it be I swooned ?
Oh, I spoke my speech out— cribbed from

Plato's tractate,
Dosed him with ' the Fair and Good,' swore —

Dog of Egypt — I was choosing
Plato's way to serve men I What 's the hour f

Exact eight I
Home now, and to-morrow never mind how

Plato mooned I

** Peter has the secret! Fair and Good are
products



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902



DRAMATIC IDYLS



(So he said) of Foul and EtU: one most brin^:

to pass the other.
JnsI as poisons grow drags, steal through

sundry odd ducts
Doctors name, and ultimately issue safe and

changed.
Ton 'd abolish poisons, treat disease with

dainties
Such as suit the sound and sane? Y^th all

such kickshaws vain you pother I
Arsenic 's the stuff puts force into the faint

eyes,
Opium sets the brain to rights -—by oark and
> deranged.



^ What, he 's safe within door ? -—would escape

— no question —
Thanks, since thanks and more I owe, and

mean to pay in time befitting.
What most presses now is — after night's

digestion,
Peter, of thy precepts I — promptest practice of

the same.
Let me see I The wise man, first of all, scoms

riches:
But to scorn them must obtain them: none

believes in his permitting
Oold to He ungaihered: who picks up, then

pitches
Oold away —philosophizes: none disputes his



I grapes are



** So with worldly honors : 't is by abdicating.

Licontestably he proves he could nave kept the
crown discarded. ^

Sulla cuts a figure, leaving off dictating :

Shnpletons laud private life ? * The gra
sour,' laugb we.

So, again — but why continue ? All 's tumultu-
ous

Here : my head 's a-whirl with knowledge.
Speedily shall be rewarded

He who tannit me I (Greeks prove ingrates ?
So insult you us ?

When your teaoning bean its first-fruits, Peter*
— wait and see I "

As the word, the deed proved; ere a brief
year's passage,

Fop — that fool he made the jokes on — now he
made the jokes for, gratis :

Hunks — that hoarder, long left lonely in his
crassage —

Found now one appreciative deferential friend :

Powder-paint-and-pateh, Hag Jezebel — - recov-
ered.

Strange to say, the power to please, got court-
ship till she cned Jam satis I

Fop be-fiattered, Hunks be-friended. Hag be-
lovered —

Nobodv o'erlooked, save Ood — he soon attained
his end.

As he lounged at ease one morning in his villa,
(EUg's the dowry) estimated (Hmiks' bequest)

his coin in coffer.
Mused on how a fooPs good word (Fop's word)

could fill a



Social circle with his praise, promote him man

of mark, —
All at once — ** An old friend fain would see

your Highneas I "
There stood Peter, skeleton and scarecrow,

plain writ Phi4o-80-pher
In the woe-worn face — for yellowness and diy^

ness, •
Parchment — with a pair of eyes — one hope

their feeble sparic

** Did I counsel rightiy ? Have yon, in ac-
cordance.
Prospered greatiy, dear my pninl ? Sue, at

jast the stage I find you.
When your hand may draw me forth from tiie

mad war-dance
Savages are leading round your master — down,

not dead.
Padua wants to bum me : balk them, let me

linger
Life out — rueful thourii its remnant — hid in

some safe hold bdiind you I
Prostrate here I lie : quick, help with but a

finger
Lest I house in safety's self — a tombetone o'er

my head!

** Lodging, bite andsup, with —now and then—

a copper
—Alms for any poorer still, if such there be, —

\B all my asking.
Take me for your bedesman, — nay, if you think

proper.
Menial merely, — such my perfect paamon for

repose!
Tes, from out your plenty Peter craves a pit-
tance
— Leave to thaw his frozen hands before the

fire whereat you 're basking I
Double though your debt were, grant this boon

— remittiuioe
He proclaims of obligation: 't is himself that

owes I"

" Venerated Master — can it be. audi treatment
Learning meets with, magic fails to guard yon

from, by all appearance ?
Strange I for, as you entered, — what the

famous feat meant,
I was full of, — why you reared that fabric,

Padua's boast.
Nowise for man's pride, man's pleasure, did

jou. slyly
Raise it, but man's seat of rule whereby the

world should soon have clearance
^[appy world) from such a rout as now so vilelT
Handles you — and hampers me, for which I

grieve the most.

** Since if it got wind you now were my familiar.
How could I protect you —nay, defend myself

against the rabble ?
Wait until the mob, now masters, wiUy-niHj

are
Servants as they should be : then has gratitode

fuUplay!
Suroly this experience shows how unbefitting



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PIETRO OF ABANO



903



'T is that mindB like mine should rot in ease
and plenty. Qeeae may gabble,

Gorge, and keei> the ground: bat swans are
soon for qoittinp:

Earthly fare —as fam wonld I, your swan, if
tanght the way.

** Teaoh me, then, to role men, have them at

my pleasure I
Solely for their good, of course, — impart a

secret worth rewarding,
Since the proper life's -prize I Tantalus's

treasure
Aught beside prores, yanishes, and leayes no

trace at all.
Wait awhile, nor press for payment prema-
turely I
Over-haste defrauds yon. Thanks I since, —

eyen while I speak, — discarding
Sloth and yain delights, I learn how — swiftly,

surely —
Magic sways the sceptre, wears the crown and

wields the ball I

** Gone again— what, is he? 'Faith, he's soon

disposed of I
Peter's precepts work already, put within my

lump their leaven I
Ay, we needs must don gloye would we pluck

the rose — doff
Silken ninnent would we dimb the tree and

take its fruit.
Why sharp thorn, rough rind ? To keep nn-

violated
Esther prize 1 We garland us, we mount from

earth to feast in heaven.
Just because exist what once we estimated
Hindrances which, better taught, as helps we

now compute.

** Foolishly I turned disgusted from my fel-
lows I

Pits of ignorance — to fill, and heaps of preju-
dice *- to level —

Multitudes in motley, whites and bhuds and
yellows —

What a hopeless task it seemed to discipline
the host I

Now I see my error. Vices act like virtues

— Not alone because they guard — sharp thorns

— the rose we first oishevel.

Not because they scrape, scratch — rough rind

— through the dirt-shoes

Bare feet ding to bole with, while the half-
mooned boot we boast.

** No, my aim is nobler, more disinterested I
Man shall keep what seemed to thwart him,

since it proves his true assistance.
Leads to ascertaining which head is the best

head.
Would he crown his body, rule its members —

lawless else,
lenorant the horse stares, by deficient vision
Takes a man to be a monster, lets him mount,

then, twice the distance
Horse could trot unridden, gallops — dream

Elysianl —



Dreaming that his dwarfish guide 's a giant, —
jockeys tell 's."

Brief, so worked the spell, he promptly had a

riddance:
Heart and brain no longer felt the pricks which

passed for conscience-scruples :
Free henceforth his feet, — Per Bacco^ how

they did dance
Merrily through lets and checks that stopped

the way before I
Politioe the prize now, — such adroit adviser.
Opportune sugsrester, with the tact that triples

and quaoruples
Merit in each measure, — neyer did the Kaiser
Boast as subject such a statesman, firiend, and

something more I

As he, up and down, one noonday, paced his closet
— Council o'er, each spark (his hint) blown

fiame, by colleagues' breath applauded.
Strokes of statecraft hailed with '* Salomo si

ndsaet!''
(His the nostrum)— every throw for luck coma

double-six, —
As he, pacing, hugged himself in satisfaction.
Thump — the doop went. " What, the Kaiser ?

Bj none else were I defrauded
Hius of well-eamed solace. Since 'tis fate's

exaction, —
Enter, Liege my Lord I Ha, Peter, you here ?

Teneormx!'*

** Ah, Sir, none the less, contain you, nor wax

irate I
Ton so lofty, I so lowly, — vast the space which

yawns between us I
Still, methinks, you — more than oyer — at a

high rate
Needs must prize poor Peter's secret since it

lifts you thus.
Grant me now the boon whereat before you

boggledl
Ten lonp: years your march has moved — one

triumph— (though e 's short) — hactenus^
While I down and down disastrously haye

Till I mtdi against Death's door, the true ^ec
Ultra Plus.

"Years ago— some ten 'tis— since I sought

for shelter,
Grayed in your whole house a closet, out of all

your means a comfort.
Now you soar above these : as is gold to spelter
So is power — you urged with reason — para-
mount to wealth.
Power you boast in plenty: let it grant me

refuge I
House-room now is out of question : find for*

me some stronghold — some fort —
Privacy wherein, immured, shall this blind

deaf huge
Monster of a mob let stay the soul I 'd save by

stealth I

" Ay, for all too much with magic haye I tanf
peredl



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DRAMATIC IDYLS



— Lost the world, and gained, I fear, a oertain

place I 'm to deeoribe loth I
Still, ii prayer and fasting tame the pride long

pampered,
Mercy mair be mine : amendment neyer comes

too late.
How can I amend beset by cnrsers, kickers ?
Pluck this brand from ont the burning ! Once

away, I take my Bible-oath.
Never more — so long as life's weak lamp-flame

flickers — -
No, not once I '11 tease yon, bnt in silence bear

myfatel"

' " Gently, good my €tenins, Orade nnerring I
Strange now I can jon graessonwhat — as in

you peeped — it was I pondered ?
Tou and I are both of one mmd in preferring
Power to wealthy but — here's toe point —

what sort of power, I ask ?
Ruling men is Tulgar, easy, and ignoble :
Rid yourself of conscience, quick you have at



Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 176 of 198)