Robert Browning.

The complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning online

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As deyils, ended ; '* don't a song come next ? "
The master of the pageant look^ perplexed
Till Naddo's whisper came to his relief.
** His Highness knew what poets were: in brief,
Had not the tetchy race prescriptiye right
To peeyishness, caprice P or, call it^ite.
One must reoeiye their nature in its length
And breadth, expect the weakness with the

stren^I"
—So phrasing, till, his stock of phrases spent,
The easy-^natured soldier smiled assent.
Settled his portly person, smootiied his dun.
And nodded that the bull-bait might begin.



BOOK THE THIRD

And the font took them : let our laurels lie I

Braid moonf em now with mystic trif dy

Because once more Odto gets, once more,

SordeUo to itself I A dream is o'er.

And the suspended^ life begins anew ;

Quiet those throbbing temples, then, subdue

Natoze That cheek's distortion 1 Nature's

may strict embrace,

triumph Putting aside the past, shall soon

**»«'•«'>* » efface

Its print as well —factitious humors grown

Oyer the true — loyes. hatreds not his own —

And turn him pure as some forgotten yest

Woyen of painted byssus, silkiest

Tuftinfj: the Tyrrhene whelk's pearl-sheeted

bp.
Left welter where a trireme let it slip
I' the sea, and yexed a satrap ; so the stain
O' the world forsakes SordeUo, with its pain.
Its pleasure: how the tinct loosening escapee.
Cloud after cloud I Mantua's familiar shapes
Die, fair and foul die, fading as they flit.
Men, women, and the pathos and the wit,
Wise speech Mid f ooUsh, deeds to simle or sigh
For, good, bad, seemly or ignoble, die.
The last face glances through the eglantines.



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SORDELLO



93



^The last Toioe munnur s, 'twixt the blonomed

Tines,
Of Men, of that maehine sapped by thought
T*o oompasB self-peroeption with, he son^t
Sy forcmg half himself —an insane pnlM
€yr a god*8 blood, on day it oonld conyulse,
l^ever transmnte — on human sights and sounds,
rTo watch the other half with ; irksome bounds
It ebbs from to its sonroe, a fountain sealed
Foreyer. Better sure be unreyealed
Than part revealed : Sordello well or ill
Is finished: then what further use of Will,
Point in the prime idea not realized.
An oversight ? inordinately- prized,
X^o less, and pampered with enou^ of each
Delight to prove the whole above its reach.
** To need beoome all natures, yet retain
TFhe law of my own nature — to remain
Myself, yet yearn ... as if that chestnut, think.
Should ^ream for this first larch-bloom crisp and

pink.
Or those pale fragrant tears where zephyrs

stanch
Xiarch wounds along the fretted pine-tree

branch I
'Win and the means to show will, great and

Material, spiritual, — abjure them all
Save any so distinct, they mav be left
To amuse, not tempt beoome I and, thus bereft,
Just as I nrst was fashioned would I be !
Nor, nuKm^ it Apollo now, but me
Br Tho



¥cerhm
son, lattif
sltTe,dies



bou visitest to comfort and be-
friend I
Swim thou into my heart, and there
an end,

^noe I possess thee I — nay, thusshut mine eyes
And know, quite know, by this heart's fall and

rise.
When thou dost bury thee in douds, and when
Ont-standest : wherefore practise upon men
To make that plainer to myself ? "

Slide here
Over a sweet and solitary year
Wasted; or simply notice chai^ in him —
How eyes, once with exploring bright, grew dim
And satiate with receiving. Some distress
Was caused, too, by a sort of consdousness
Under the imbecility, -^naught kept
That down ; he slept, but was aware he slept.
So, frustra ted : as who brainsick made pact
Erst with the overhanging cataract
To deafen him, yet stul custinguished plain
IBs own blood's measured clicking at nis brain.

To finish. One declining Autumn day —
Few birds about the heaven chill and gray.
No wind that cared trouble the tacit woods —
He sauntered home oomplaoently, their moods
According, hit and nature's. Everv spark
Was f onnd Of Mantua life was trodden out ; so
and is lost. cUrk

The embers, that the Troubadour, who sung
Hundreds of songs, forgot, its trick his tongue.
Its craft his brain, how either brought to pass
Singing at all ; that faculty might class
Wiui any of Apollo's now. The year
Began to find its early promise sere
As welL Thus beauty vanishes ; thus stone



Otttlingers flesh : nature's and hit youth gone.
They left the world to you, and wished you joy,
When, stopping his benevolent employ,
A presage shuddered throus^ the welkin ; harsh
The earth's remonstrance followed. 'T was the

marsh
Gone of a sudden. Mindo, in its place.
Laughed, a broad water, in next morning's face.
And, where the mists broke up immense ana

white
I' the steady wind, burned like a spilth of light
Out of the crashing of a myriad stars.
And here was nature, bound by the same bars
Of fate with him !

Butnatue ** No ! youth onee gone is gone:

is one Deeds let escape are never to be done.

thiiiff,man Leaf-fall and graasspring for the
another— year; for us —
Oh forfeit I unalterably thus
My chance ? nor two lives wait me, this to spend.
Learning save that? Nature has time, may

mend
Mistake, she knows occasion will recur ;
Landslip or seabreach, how affects it her
With her magnificent resouroes ? — I
Must perish once and perish utterly.
Not any strollings now at even-dose
Down the field-path, Sordello 1 by thorn-rows
Alive with lamp^flies^ swimming spots of fire
And dew, outlining the black cypress' ^iis
She waits you at, Blsrs, who heara you nrst
Woo her, the snow-month through, but ere she

durst
Answer 'twas April. Linden-flower-tiine-long
Her eyes were on the piround ; 't is July, strong
Now ; and because white dust-douds overwhelm
The woodside, here or by the village dm
That holds the moon, she meets yon, somewhat

pale.
But letting you lift up her coarse flax veil
And whisper (the damp little hand in yours)
Of love, heart's love, your hearths love that en-
dures
Tin death. Tush! No mad mixing with the

rout
Of haggard ribalds wandering about
The hot torohlit wine-scented island-house
Whero Friedrich holds his wickedest carouse.
Parading, — to the gav Palermitans,
Soft Messinese, dusk Saracenic dans
Haring Nuocera holds, — those tall grave
moltifaii- daw.ling Norse,
oua sym- High-cheeked, lank-haired, toothed
!•''"•■» whiter than the morse,

gaeens of the caves of jet stalactites,
e sent his barks to fetch through icy seas.
The blind night seas without a saving star.
And hero in snowy birdskin robes they aro,
Sordello I — hero, mollitious alcoves gut
Superb as Bjrzant domes that devils built I
— Ah, Byzant, thero again I no chance to go
Ever like august cheery Dandolo,
Worshipping hearts about him for a walL
Conducted, blind eyes, hundred years and all.
Through vanquished Byzant whero friends note

for him
What pillar, marble masnve, sardius slim,
'T wero fittest he transput to Venice' Squaro —



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94



SORDELLO



Flattered aod promised life to touch them there

Soon, by those fervid sons of senators !

No more lifes, deaths, loves, hatreds, peaces,

warsl
All, frstgments of a whole ordained to be,
Points in the life I waited I what are ye
But roundels of a ladder which appeared
Awhile the very platform it was reared
To lift me on ? — that happiness I find
Proofs of mjf faith in, even in the blind
Instinct which bade forego you all unless
Te led me past yourselves. Ay, happiness
He may Awaited me ; the way life should be
neither re- used

nounoenor Was to acquire, and deeds like you
■•**^y» conduced

To teach it by a self-revealment, deemed
Life's very use, so long ! Whatever seemed
Progress to that, was pleasure ; aught that

stayed
1^ reaching it — no pleasure. I have laid
The ladder down ; I climb not ; still, aloft
The platform stretches I Blisses strong and

soft,
I dared not entertain, elude me ; yet
Never of what they promised could I get
A glimpse till now I The common sort, the

crowd.
Exist, perceive ; with Being are endowed.
However slight, distinct from what they See,
However bonnaed ; Hapi)iness must be.
To feed the first by gleanings from the last,
Attain its qualities, and slow or fast
Become what they behold ; such peaoe-in-strife
Bv transmutation, is the Use of Life,
The Alien turning Native to the soul
Or body — which instructs me ; I am whole
There and demand a Palma ; had the world
Been from myr soul to a like distance hurled,
'T were Happiness to make it one with me :
Whereas I must, ere I be|nn to Be,
Include a world, in flesh, I comprehend
In spirit now ; and this aone, what 's to blend
With? Naught is Alien in the world — my

WiU
Owns all already ; jret can turn it — still
Less — Native, since my Means to correspond
With Will are so unworthy, 't was my bond ^
In the To tread the very joys that tantalize

proceM to Most now, into a grave, ncTer to rise,
which to I die then I Will the rest agree to
pleMure, die ?

Next Age or no ? Shall its Sordello try
Clue after clue, and catch at last the clue
I miss ? — that 's underneath my finger too.
Twice, thrice a day, perhaps, — some yearning

traced
Deeper, some petty consequence embraced
Closer I Why fled I Mantua, then? — com-
plained
So much my Will was fettered, yet remained
Content within a tether half the range
I could assign it ? — able to exchange
My ignorance (I felt) for knowledge, and
Idle because I could thus understand —
Could e'en have penetrated to its core
Our mortal mystery, yet — fool — forbore.
Preferred elaborating in the dark



My casual stufP, by any wretched spark
Bom of my predecessors, though one stroke
Of mine had brought the flame forth I Mantua's

yoke.
My minstrelVtrade, was to behold muikind, —
My own concern was just to bring my mind
Behold, just extricate, for my acquist.
Each object suffered stifle in the mist
Which hazard, custom, blindness interpose
Betwixt things and myself."

Whereat he roee.
The level wind carried above the firs
Clouds, the irrevocable travellers.
Onward.

** Pushed thus into a drowsy copse,
Arms twine about my neck, each eyelid drops
Under a humid finger ; while there fieets.
Outside the screen, a pageant time repeats
Never again ! To be deposed, immurod
WhUere- Clandestinely — still petted, still as-
nunctotioa sured

enwireede- To govern were fatiguing work —
spftlr. the Sight

Fleeting meanwhile! 'Tis noontide: wreak

ere night
Somehow my will upon it, rather ! Slake
This thirst somehow, the poorest impress take
That serves! A blasted bud displays yoa^

torn.
Faint rudiments of the full flower unborn ;
But who divines what glory coats o'erdasp
Of the bulb dormant in the mummy's grasp
Taurellosent?" . . .

^'Taurello? Palma sent
Your Trouvere," (Naddo interposing leant
Over the lost bard's shoulder) — ** and, believe^
Tou cannot more reluctantly receive
Than I pronounce her message : we depart
Together. What avail a poet*s heart
Verona's pomos and gauds ? five blades of grass
Suffice him. News ? Why, where your marish

was.
On its mud-banks smoke rises after smoke
I' the valley, like a spout of hell new-broke.
Oh, the world's tidings ! small your thanks, I

guess.
For them. The father of our Patroness
Has played Taurello an astounding trick.
Parts between Ecelin and Alberic
His wealth and goes into a convent : both
Wed Guelfs : the Count and Palma plighted

troth
A week since at Verona : and they want
Tou doubtless to contrive the marriage-chant
Ere Richard storms Ferrara." Then was told
The tale from the beginning — how, made bold
By Salinguerra's absence, Ouelfs had burned
And pillaged till he unawares returned
To take revenge : how Azzo and his friend
Were doing their endeavor, how the end
O' the siege was nigh, ana how the Count, re-
leased
From further care, would with his marriage-
There to _ feast

yet a way Inaugurate a new and better rule,
of escaping Absorbing thus Romano,
thto; "Shalllschool

My master," added Naddo, ** and suggest



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SORDELLO



95



How joa nifty clothe in a poetic Test
These doinga,ftt Verona? Your reeponse
ToPalmal Wherefore jest? ' Depart at once ? '
A good resoWe ! In truth, I haroly hoped
So prompt an aeqmescenoe. Have yoo grroped
Oat wisdom in the wilds here ? — Thoughts

ma]r be
Orer^poetioal for poetry.
Pearl-white, yon ^oets liken Palma's neck ;
And yet what spoils an orient like some speck
Of genuine white, turning its own white gray ?
Ton take me ? Curse the cicala I "

One more day,
One ere — appears Verona I Many a group,
nTon mind) instructed of the osprey*s swoop
On lynx aiad ounce, was gathering — Christen-

dom
Sore to reoeiTe, whatever the end was, from
The evening's purpose cheer or detriment.
Since Friedrich only waited some event
Like this, of Qhibelliiis establishing
TbemselTCS within Ferrara, ere, as King
Of Lombardy, he 'd glad descend there, wage
Old warfare with the Pontiff, disengage
BUs barons from the burghers, and restore
The rule of Chariemagne, broken of jore
By HUdebrand.

Which he 1* the palace, each by each,

now takes Sordello sat and Palma : little speech
by obeying At first in that dim closet, face with
Fslms: faoe

n)espite the tumult in the market-place)
£zchanging quick low laughters : now would

rash
Word upon word to meet a sudden flush,
A look left off, a shifting lips* surmise —
Bat for the most part their two histories
Who then- Rftn best throng the locked fingers
upon be- and linked arras.

oomas his And so the night flew on with its
■ ■■o ci a t e. alarms
Tin in burst one of Pahna's retinue ;
*'Now, Lady!" gasped he. Then arose the

two
And leaned into Verona's air, dead-still.
A balcony lay black beneath until
Out, 'mia a gush of torehfire, gray-haired men
Came on it and harangued the people : then
Sea-like that people surging to and fro
Shouted, **" Hale forth the carroch — trumpets,

ho,
A flourish ! Run it in the ancient grooTes !
Back from the belli Hammer — that whom

behooves
May hear the League is up I Peal — learn who

list,
Verona means not first of towns break tryst
To-morrow with the League I "

Enough. Now turn —
Over the eastern cypresses: discern I
Is any beacon set arglimmer ?

Rang
Hie air with shouts that overpowered the clang
Of the incessant carroch, even : ** Haste —
The candle 's at the gateway I ere it waste,
Each soldier stand beside it, armed to march
With Tiso Sampierthrough the eastern arch t "
Fatraia 's sneocned, Palma !



Once again
They sat together ; some strange thing in train
To say, so difficult was Palma's place
In taking, with a coy fastidious grace
Like the bird's flutter ere it fix and feed.
But when she felt she held her friend indeed
Safe, she threw back her curls, began implant
Her lessons: telling of another want '
As her Goito's quiet nourished than his

own hiato- own ;

rywiUao- Palma — to serve him —to be served.
«>«nt'<»i alone

Importing; Agnes' milk so neutralized
The blood of luselin. Nor be surprised
U, while ^Mrdello fain had captive led
Nature, in dream was Palma subjected
To some out-soul, which dawned not though A»

pined
Delayine till its advent, heart and mind,
Their life. '' How dared I let expand the foroe
Within me, till some out-soul, whose resource
It grew for, should direct it ? Every law
Of life^ts every fitness, every flaw,
Must One determine whose corporeal shape
Would be no other than thepnme escape
And revelation to me of a Will
Orb-like o'ershrouded and inscrutable
Above, save at the point which, I should know^
Shone that myself, my powers, might overflow
So far, so much ; as now it signified
Which earthly shape it henceforth chose my

guide,
Whose mortal lip selected to declare
Its oracles, what fleshly garb would wear
— The first of intimations, whom to love ;
The next, how love him. Seemed that orb,

above
The casUe-covert and the mountain-dose.
Slow in appearing, — if beneath it rose
Cravings, aversions, — did our green precinct
Take pride in me, at unawares distinct
With this or that endowment, — how, repre ssed
At once, such jetting power shrank to the rest I
Was I to have a chance touch spoil me, leave
My spirit thence unfitted to receive
The consummating spell ? — that spell so near
Moreover I * Waits he not the waking year ?
His almond-blossoms must be honey-npe
Bv this ; to welcome him, fresh runnels stripe
The thawed ravines ; because of him. the wind
Walks like a herald. I shall surely nnd
Him now I '

** And chief, that earnest April mom
Of Richard^s Love-court, was it time, so worn
Arererae And white my cheek, so idly my
to, and blood beat,

oomple- Sitting that mom beside the Lady's
tionof,hlfc feet

And saying as she prompted ; till outburst
One face m>m all the faces. Not then first
I knew it ; where in maple chamber glooms.
Crowned with what sanguine-heart pomegran-
ate blooms
Advanced it ever ? Men's acknowledgment
Sanctioned my own: 'twas taken, Palma's

bent, —
Sordello, —recognized, accepted.

" Dumb



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SORDELLO



Sat she still sohemiiicr* Eoelin would oome

GMint, scared, * Cesano baffles me,' he 'd say :

* Better I fought it ont, my £ather*8 way I

Strangle Ferrara in its drowning flats,

And yon and yoor Tanrello yonder ! — what 's

Romano's bnsmess there P ' An hoar's concern

To cure the froward Chief ! — induce return

As heartened from those overmeaning eyes.

Wound up to persevere, — his enterprise

Marked out anew, its eaigent of wit

Apportioned, — sne at liberty to sit

And scheme against the next emergence, I —

To coyet her Taurello-sprite, made fly

Or fold the wing — to con your horoscope

For leaye command those steely shafts shoot

ope.
Or straight assuage their blinding eagerness
In blank smooth snow. What semblance of



To any of mj plans for making you

Howahe Mine and Romano's? Break the

«T6r tu^ first wall through,

pix«d for Tread o'er the ruins of the Chief,

hit Mke, supplant

Wb sons beside, still, yainest were the Taunt :

There, Salinguerra would obstruct me sheer,

And tne insuperable Tuscan, here,

Stav me ! But one wild eye that Lady died

In ner lone chamber : only I beside :

Taurello far at Naples, and my sire

At Padua, Ecelin away in ire

With Alberic. She held me thus — a dutch

Oiroom- '^o make our q>irits as our bodies

aUnces touch —

belpinffor And so began flinging the past up,

bioderaig. heaps

Of uncouth treasure from their sunless sleeps

Within her soul ; deeds rose aloi^ with dreams.

Fragments of many miserable schemes.

Secrets, more secrets, then —no, not the last —

'Mongst others, like a casual trick o' the past.

How ... ay, she told me, gathering up her

face,
AH left of it, into one arch-grimace
To die with . . .

** Friend, 'tis gone I but not the fear
Of that fell laughing, heard as now I hear.
Nor faltered Toioe, nor seemed her heart grow

weak
When i' the midst abrupt she ceased to speak
— Dead, as to senre a purpose, mark ! — for in
Rushed o' the very instant Eoelin
/How summoned, who divines ?) — looking as if
He understood why Adeliude lay stifE
Already in my arms ; for, * Girl, how must
I manage Este in the matter thrust
Upon me, how unravel jonr bad coil ? —
Since ' (he declared) * 't is on your brow — a soil
Like hers there ! ' then in the same breath,

* he lacked
No counsel after aU, had signed no pact
WitJi devils, nor was treason here or there,
Goito or Viccnza, his affair :
He buried it in Adelaide's deep grave,
Would begin life afresh, now, — would not

slave
For any Friedrioh's nor TaureUo's sake 1
What booted him to meddle or to make



In Lombardy f ' And afterward I knew
The meaning of his promise to undo
All she had done — why marriages were made.
New friendshius entered on, old followers paid
With curses tor their pains, — new friends'



Howmio-

caasatlMt

seemed



At height, when, passing out by Gate Saint

Blaiise,
He stopped short in Vicenza, bent his head
Over a mar's neck, — * had vowed,' he said,
* Long since, nigh thirty years, because his wife
And child were saved therejto bestow his life
On God, his gettings on the Church.'

*' Exiled
Within Goito, still one dream beguiled
My days and nights; 'twas found, Uie orb I
sought
To serve, those glimpses came of

Fomalhant,
No other: but how serve it? —
authorize
Ton and Romano mingled destinies ?
And straight Romano's an^l stood beside
Me who had else been Boniface's bride.
For Salinguerra 't was, with neck low oent.
And voice lightened to music, (as he meant
To learn, not teach me,) who witiidrew the paU
From the dead past and straight revived it all.
Making me see now first Romano waxed,
Wherelore he waned now, why, if I rdaxed
My grasp (even I !) would drop a thing effete.
Frayed by itself, unequal to complete
Its course, and counting every step astray
Bythehk- A gain so much. Romano, every
terventicm way

of Salin- Stable, a Lombard House now — why
«««^- start back

Into the very outset of its track ?
This patching principle which late allied
Our House with other Houses — what beside
Concerned the apparition, the first Knight
Who followed Conrad hiuier in such plight
His utmost wealth was summed in his one

steed?
For Ecelo, that prowler, was decreed
A task, in the beginning hazardous
To him as ever taBk can be to us ;
But did the weather-beaten thief despair ^
When first our crystal cincture of warm air.
That binds the Trevisan, — as its spice-belt
(Crusaders say) the tract where Jesus dwelt, —
Furtive he pierced, and Este was to face —
Despaired Saponian strength of Lombard

grace?
Tried he at making surer aught made sure.
Maturing what aliiady was mature ?
No ; his heart prompted Ecelo, ' Confront
Este, inspect yourself. What 's nature ? Wont.
Discard three-parts your nature, and adopt
Who rem- The rest as an advantage!' Old
edied ill strength propped

wrought The man who first grew Podesti^
by Soelin, among
The Vicentines, no less than, while there

sprung
His palace up in Padua like a threat.
Their noblest spied agrace, unnoticed yet
In Conrad's crew. Thus far the object gained,



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97



BomaDo was estabEshed — has remained —

* For are yon not Italian, truly peers
'WithEate? '' Abo " better soothes onr eara
Than *' Alberio^' ? or is this Uon's-crine
From orer-mounts * (this yellow hair of mine)
*So weak a graft on Agnes Este's stock ? '
rrhns went he on with somethinuT of a moek)

* Wherefore reccuL, then, from the yery fate
Conceded yon, refuse to imitate

Tour model farther ? Este long since left
Being mere Este : as a blade its heft,
Este required the Pope to further him :
And you, the Kaiser— whom your father's

whim
Poregoes or, better, neyer shall forego
If Paona dare pursue what Ecelo
Ccmimenced, but Eoelin desists from : just
As Adelaide of Susa could intrust
Her donatiye, — her Piedmont given the Pope,
Her Almne-paas for him to shut or ope
Twizt France and Italy, —to the superb
Matilda's perfecting, — so, lest an^t curb
Our Addaide's great counter-project for
^Ting her TVentine to the Emperor
With passage here from Germany, — shall you
Take it, — my slender plodding talent, too f'
— Urged me Tanrello with his nalf-smile.

"He
As Patron of the scattered family ^
GooTejred me to his Mantua, kept in broit
Azio's allianees and Richard's suit
Until, the Kaiser excommunicate,

* Nothing remains,* Tanrello said, * but wait
Some rash procedure : Palma was the link.
As Agnes' child, between us, and they shrink
^j^ b^ A Frcmi losing' Palma : judge if we
project advance,

for iMT Tour father's method, your inherit-
«wn ance!'

vory. The day I was betrothed to Boniface

At Padua by Taurello's self, took place
The outrage of the Ferrarese : again,
Hie day I sought Verona with the train
Agreedf f or,— by Taurello's policy
Convioting Richard of the fault, sinoe we
Were present to annul or to confirm, —
Richard, whose patience had outstayed its

term.
Quitted Verona for the siege.

** And now
What glorr may engird Sordello's brcrw
Huoufi^ this ? A month since at Oliero slunk
An that was Ecelin into a monk ;
But how could Salingueira so forget
His lim of thirty years as grudge even yet
One eSort to recover him f He sent
Forthwith the tidings of this last event
To Eoelin — dedarcMl that he, despite
llie recent folly, recognized his ng^t
To <»der Salingnerra : * Should he wring
Its uttermost lulvantage out, or fling
This ehance away? Or were his sons now



Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 21 of 198)