Robert Browning.

The complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning online

. (page 30 of 198)
Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 30 of 198)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And this were the one moment of surprise
And sorrow while she took her station, pansing
O'er what she sees, finds good, and must de-
stroy I
What gase you at? Those? Books, I UM
^ you of ;

Let your first word to me re^oe them, too :
This minion, a Coluthus, wnt in red.
Bistre and azure by Bessarion's scribe —
Read this line ... no, shame — Homer's be the

First breathed me from the lips of my Gbeek

This (xlyssey in ooarse black vivid type

With faded yellow blossoms 'twixt page and

To mark great places with due gratitude ;
** He $aia^ and on Antinou$ directed
A bitter Mhqft "... a flower blots out the rest t
Again upon your search ? My statues, then I
— Ah, dfo not mind that — better that will look
When cast in brome — an Almaign Kaiser, that,
Swart^rreen and gold, with truncheon based on

This, rather, turn to 1 What, unrecognised ?
I Uiought vou would have seen that here you sit
As I imagined you, — Hippolyta,
Naked upon her bright Numidian horse.
Recall you this then ? ** Carve in bold relief " —
So yon commanded — ** carve, a^nst I come,
A Greek, in Athens, as our fashion was.
Feasting, bay-filleted and thunder-free.
Who rises 'neath the lifted myrtle-branch.
* Praise those who slew Hipparohus I ' cry the


Digitized by




* While o'er thy head the singer's myrtle waves
As erst above our champion : stand up, all ! "*
See, I have labored to express your thonght.
G^te round, a duster of mere hands and arms
rThmst in all senses, all ways, from all sides.
Only consenting at the branch's end
They strain toward) serves for frame to a sole

The Praiser's, in the centre : who with eves
Siprhtlew, so bend they back to light inside
His brain where visionary forms throng up.
Sings, minding not that palpitating arch
Of hands and arms, nor the quick drip of wine
From the drenched leaves o'erhead, nor crowns

cast off,
Violet and parsley crowns to trample on —
Sings, pansm^ as the patron-ghosts approve.
Devoutly their unconquerable hvmn.
Bat you must say a **well'' to that — say

"well I"
Because you gaze — am I fsntastio, sweet ?
Gaze like my very life's-stuff, marble — mar-

Even to the sUence t Why, before I found
The real flesh Phene, I inured myself
To see, throughout ail nature, varied stuff
For better nature's birth by means of art :
With me, each substance tended to one form
Of beauty — to the human archetype.
On every side occurred suggestive germs
Of that — the tree, the flower — or take the

fruit, —
Some rosy shape, continuing the peach.
Curved beewise o'er its bough ; as rosy limbs,
Depending, nestled in the iMvee ; and iust
Fromadrat rose-peach the whole Dryaa sprang.
But of the stufl^ one can be master of.
How I divined Uieir capabilities 1
From the soft-rinded smoothening facile chalk '^
That yields your outline to the air's embrace.
Half-softened by a halo's pearly eloom ;
Down to the crisp imperious steel, so sure
To out its one confided thought clean out
Of all the world. But marble I — 'neath my

More pliable than lelly — as it were
Some dear primordial creature dug from depths
In the earth's heart, where itself breeds itself.
And whence all baser substance may be worked ;
Refine it off to air, you may, — condense it
Down to the diamond ; — is not metal there,
When o'er the sudden speck my chisd trips ?
— Not flesh, as flake off^flake I scale, approach,
Lay bare those bluish veins of blood asleep ?
Lurks flame in no strange windings where, sur-
Bv the swift implement sent home at once,
Flushes and glowings radiate and hover
About its track?

Phene? what — why is this?
That whitening cheek, those still dilating eyes t
Ah, you will die — I knew that you would die I
I begintf on Mt having long remained HUnt,

Now the end 's coining ; to be sure, it must
Have ended sometime! Tush, why need I speak
Their foolish speech ? I cannot bring to mind
One half of it, beside ; and do not care

For old Natalia now, nor anjr of them.
Oh, you — what are you ? — if I do not try
To say the words Natalia made me learn.
To please your friends, — it is to keep myself
Where vour voice lifted me, by letting that
Proceed : but can it ? Even you, perhaps.
Cannot take up, now you have once let lall.
The music's Uf e, and me along with that —
No, or you would ! We 11 stay, then, as we are :
Above the world.

Ton creature with the eyes I
If I could look forever up to them.
As now you let me, — I believe, all sin.
All memory of wrong done, suffering borne.
Would drop down, low and lower, to the earth
Whence all that 's low comes, and there touch

and stay
— Never to overtake the rest of me.
All that, unspotted, reaches up to you.
Drawn bv those eyes ! What rises is myself.
Not me the shame and suffering ; but they sink.
Are left. I rise above them. Keep me so.
Above the world !

But you sink, for vour eyes
Are altering— altered! Stay— **I love you,

love"^. . .
I could prevent it if I understood :
More of your words to me: was 't in the tone
Or the words, your power ?

Or stay — I will repeat
Th^ir speech, if that contents you ! Only change
No more, ana I shall find it presently
Far back here, in the brain yourself filled up.
Natalia threatened me that harm should f oDow
Unless I spoke their lesson to the end.
But harm to me, I thought she meant, not yon.
Tour friends, — Natalia said they were your

And meant you wdl, — because, I doubted it.
Observing (what was very strange to see)
On every face, so different in alfelae.
The same smile girls like me are used to bear.
But never men, men cannot stoop so low ;
Tet your friends, speaking of you, usea that

That hateful smirk of boundless self-conceit
Which seems to take possession of the world
And make of God a tame confederate.
Purveyor to their appetites . . . you know I
But still Natalia said they were your friends.
And they assented though they smiled the more.
And all came round me, — that thin Englishman
With liffht lank hair seemed leader of the rest ;
He hela a paper — " What we want," said he.
Ending some explanation to his friends —
** Is something slow, involved and mysHcal,
To hold Jules long in doubt, yet take his taste
And lure him on until, at innermost
Where he seeks sweetness' soul, he may find

— As in the apple's core, the noisome fly :
For insects on the rind are seen at once.
And brushed aside as soon, but this is found
Only when on the lips or loathing tongue."
And so he read what I have got by heart :
I '11 speak it, — ** Do not die, love ! I am

yours" . . .
No— is not that, or like that, part of words

Digitized by




Tounelf began by i^>eakinff ? Strange to lose
Wkat eost mMh pauDB to toam I la this more

lam a paitder who cannot paini ;

In my l\fe^ a devil raiker than saint ;

In my brain, as poor a crecUwre too :

No end to all I coMnot do I

Yet do one tkinq at least I can —

Love a man or note a mem

Supremely : thus my lore began.

Through the Valley of Love I wtnt^

In the lovingest spot to abide,,

And just on the verge where I pitched my tent^

Ifmd Hate dwelling beside,

CLetthe Bridegroom ask what the painter meant*

Whis Bride, qfthepeerUss Bride!)

And further, I traversed Haters grove,

In the hat^fulUst nook to dwell ;

But loy where I (lung myself prone^ couched Love

Where the shadow thread fell,

(The meaning — those black bride's-eyes above^

Not a painter's lip should tell I)

•*And here," said he, " Jnles probably will

'Yon haye black eyes, Loto, — you are, sure

My peerlees bride, — then do you teU indeed
fvhat needs some explanation t What means

'And I am to go on, vithoat a word —

5o, I grew wise in Love and Hate^
From simple that I was qflaie,
Oneet when I loved, I would enlace
Breast, eyelids, hands, feet, form and face
or her I loved, in one embrace ~
As if by mere love I could love immensely /
Once, when I hated, I would plunge
My sword, and wipe with the first lunge
My foe's whole life out like a sponge —
As if by mere htUe I could hate intensely !
But now lam wiser, know better the fashion
How pcission seeks aid from its opposite pas-

Afid if I see cause to love more, hate more
TTum ever man loved, ever hated btfore «-
And seek in the VcUley of Love
The nest, or the nook in Haters Grove
Where my soul may surely reach
J%e essence, naught less, qfeach.
The Hate of all Hates, the Love
Of all Loves, in the Valley or Grove^ —
JT/ind them the very warders
Each ofthey)ther*s borders.
When I love most. Love is disguised
In Hate ; and when Hate is surprised
In Love, then I hate most: ask
How Love smiles through Hate's iron casque,
Hate arins through Love''s rose^aided mask^ —
And how, having hated thee,
I sought long and paii\full\f
To reach thy heart, nor prick
The dan but pierce to the quick —
Ask this, my Jules, and be answered straight
^ thy bride— how the painter Lutwyche can


JvLM imterpo999.

Lntwychel Who eke? But all of them, no

Hated me : they at Venioe — p r e s en tly
Their turn, howeyer I You ishall not meet :
If I dreamed, saying this would wake me.

What *s here, the gold — we cannot meet again.
Consider ! and the money was but meant
For two years' travel, which is oyer now.
All chance or hope or care or need of it.
This — and what comes from selling these, my

And books and medals, except ... let them go
Together, so the produce keeos you safe
Out of Natalia's clutches I Ii by chance
(For all 's chance here) I should suryive the gai^
At Venice, root out all fifteen of them.
We might meet somewhere, since the worid is
IFrom without U heard the voice of Vmii^eksgimg-'

Give her but a least excuse to love me /

When — where —

How — can this arm estahliA her above me.

If fortune fixed herasmu lady there.

There already, to eternally reprove met

r Hitt ! ''-said KaU the Cueen;

But ''Oh!'' cried the wuuden, binding her

** 'Tis only a paae that carols unseen.
CruwMing your hounds their messes I '*)

Is she wro n ged f — To the rescue qfher honor.

My heart !

Is she poor f— What costs it to be styied a do-

Merely an earth to cleave, a sea to part.

But that fortune should have thrust all this upon

C Nay, list!" —bade Kate the Queen;

And still cried the maiden, binding her tresses,

*' ' T is only a paae that carols unseen.

Fitting your hawks their Jesses ! ")

[TaTA passes.
Johm retutnes.
What name was that the little girl sang forth ?
Kate ? The Comaro, doubtless, who renounced
The crown of Cyprus to be lady here
At Asolo, where still her memory stays.
And peasants sing how once a certain page
Pined for the grace of her so far aboye
His power of doing good to, ** Kate the Queen —
She neyer could be wronged, be poor," he


Yes, a bitter thing
To see our lady aboye all need of us ;
Yet so we look ere we will loye ; not I,
But the world looks so. U whoever loves
Must be, in some sort, god or worshipper.
The blessing or the blest one, queen or page.
Why should we always choose the page s part ?
Here is a woman with utter need of me, —
I find myself queen here, it seems I

How strange I
Look at the woman here with the new soul.
Like my own Psyche, — fresh upon her lips

Digitized by




Alit, the vimonarr bntterflyf

Waiting: my word to enter and make bright.

Or flutter off and leaye all blank as first.

This body had no seal before, but slept

Or stizred, was beauteous or nn^cainly, £ree

From taint or foul with stain, as outward

Fastened their image on its passiyeness :
Now, it will wake, feel, liye — or die again !
Shall to produce form out of uitthaped stuff
Be Art — and further, to eyoke a soul
From form be nothing? This new soul is


Now, to kill Lntwyche, what would that do ? —

A wretched dauber, men will hoot to death
Without me, from their hootiiur. Oh, to hear
God's yoice plain as I heard it first, before
They broke in with their laughter I I heard

Henceforth, not God.

To Anoona — Greece — some isle I
I wanted silence only ; there is clay
Eyerywhere. One may do whatever one likes
In Art : the only thing is, to make sure
That one does uke it — which takes pains to

Scatter all this, my Phene— this mad dream I
Who, what is Lutwyche, what Natalia^s friends.
What the whole world except our love — my

Own Phene ? But I told you, did I not.
Ere niffht we travel for your land — some isle
With the sea*s silence on it ? Stand aside —
I do but break these paltry models up
To begin Art afresh. Meet Lutwyche, I—
And save him from mjr statue meeting him ?
Some unsuspected isle in the far seas !
Like a god going through his world, there

One mountain for a moment in the dusk.
Whole brotherhoods of cedars on its brow :
And you are ever by me while I gaze
— Are in my arms as now — as now — as now I
Some unsuspected isle in the far seas 1
Some unsuspected isle in far-off seas I

Talk by the way^ wkfU VmAispasiing/rom Oreana to
the Turret. Two or three of the Austrian Police
loitering with Blupbocxb, an English vagabond, Just
4n view 0/ the Turret.

BluphocksA So, that is your Pip^ the lit-
tle girl who passed us singing? WeU, your
Bishop's Intendant's money shall be honestly
eamea : — now, don't make me that sour face
because I bring the Bishop's name into the busi-
ness ; we know he can have nothing to do with
such horrors : we know that he is a saint and
all that a bishop should be, who isa great man
beside. Oh were hut every worm a maggot.
Every fly a grip. Every bough a Christmas fagot.
Every tune a jig ! In faot^I have abjured all
religions; but the last I inclined to was the
Armenian : for I have travelled, do you see,
and at Koenigsberg, Prussia Improper (so

1 ** He maketh his son to ri«e on the evil snd on the
good, and eendeth rain on the jut snd on the nnjaat."

styled because there 's a sort of bleak hunny
sun there), you might remark, over a veneraible
house-porch, a certain Ghaldee inscription ; and
brief as it is, a mere glance at it usea absolutely
to change the mood of every bearded passenger.
In they turned, one and all ; the young and
lightsome, with no irreverent pause, the aged
and decrepitL^ with a sensible alacrity : 't was
the Qrana^ Rabbi's abode, in short. Struck
with curiosity, I lost no time in learning Syriao
— {these are vowels, you dogs. — follow my
stick's end in the mud — Celarent, Darii^
Ferio!) and one morning presented myself,
spelling-book in hand, a, b, c, — I picked it out
letter by letter, and what was the purport of
this miraculous posy ? Some cherished legend
of the past, you'll say — ^^ How Moses hocus-
pocussea EgypVs land with fly and locust,"*^ —
or, ^^ How to Jonah sounded harshish. Get thee
up and go to Tarshish, " — or " How the angel
meeting Balaam, Straight his ass returned
a salaam.^* In no wise I ^^ Shackabrack —
Boach — somebody or other — Isaach, Re-eei-ver,
Pwr-cha-ser and Ex-chan-ger qf — Stolen
Goods ! " So, talk to me of the religion of
a bishop t I have renounced all bishops save
Bishop Beveridgel — mean to live so — and
die — As some Greek dog-^age, dead and merry ^
Hellward bound in Charon'* s wherry. With food
for both worlds, under and upper. Lupine-seed
and Hecate's supper. And never an obolus
. . . (though thanks to vou, or this Intendant
through you, or this Bishop through his Inten-
dant — I possess a burning pocket-full of zwan-
zigers) . . .To pay the Stygian Ferry !

\8t Policeman. There is the girl, then ; go
and deserve them the moment you have pointed
out to us Signer Luigi and his mother. [To the
rest.'l I have been noticing a house yonder, this
long while : not a shutter unclosed since morn-

2d Pol. Old Luca Gaddi's, that owns the
silk-mills here: he dozes by the hour, wakes
up. sighs deeply, sa3rs he should like to be
Ftmce Mettemich, and then dozes again, after
having bidden young Sebald, the foreigner, set
his wife to playing draughts. Never molest
such a household, they mean well.

Blup. Only, cannot you tell me somethiiu' of
this little Pippa, I must have to do with ? One
could make something of that name. I^ppa —
that is, short for Felippa — rhjrming to Panuye
consults Hertrippa — Believest thou. King Agrxp-
pa f Something might be done with that name.

2d Pol. Put into rhyme that your head and
a ripe muskmelon would not be dear at half a
zwanziger ! Leave this fooling, and look out ;
the afternoon 's over or nearly so.

Sd Pol. Where in this passport of Signer
Luigi does our Principal instruct you to watch
him so narrowly ? Tnere ? What 's there be-
side a simple signature ? (That English fool 's
busy watching.)

2d Pol. Flourish all round — '' Put all poan-
ble obstacles in his wav ; " oblong dot at the
end — ^* Detain him till further advices reach
you;" scratch at bottom — "Send hira back
on pretence of some informality in tlie aboYe ; *

Digitized by




ink-^Mxt oti rigrfathaDd side (-whioh is the OMe
hen) — '* Arrest him at onoe.*' Why and
wherefore, I don't oonoem myielf , hut my in-
stroctions amount to this : if 8i^or Luigi leayes
home to-night for Vienna — -well and good, the
maBDort deposed with ns for our visa is really
for nis own use, they haye misinformed the
Office, uid he means well; but let him stay
over to-night — there has been the pretenoe we
sospeet, the aooounts of his correspionding and
homing intelligenoe with the Carbonari are oor-
reci, we arrest him at onoe, to-morrow oomes
Venice, and presently Spielberg. Bluphocks
makes the signal, sure enough I That is he,
entering the turret with his mother, no doubt.


Jntide tAs Turret on the HUl above Atolo, Imei and
hie Morass entering.

Mother, If there blew wind, you 'd hear a
long sigh, easing
The utmost heaviness of music's heart.
Ltdqi, Here in the archway ?
Mother, Oh no, no — in fsrther,

Where the echo is made, on the ridge.

Iriit^'. Here surely, then.

How plain the tap of my heel as I leaped up 1
Hirk — '*Lnciiis Junius!" The yery ghost of

Whose body is caus^t and kept by . . . what

are those?
Here withered wallflowen, wayine oyerhead ?
They aeem an elyish group with thin bleached

That lean out of their topmost fortress — look
And listen, mountain men, to what we say.
Hand under chin of each graye earthy &oe.
Upand show faces all of you ! — ''All of you I "
That 's tiie king dwarf with the scarlet comb ;

old Franz,
Come down and meet your fate? Hark —
'* Meet your fate I '^
Mother, Let him not meet it, my Luigi — do
Go to his City 1 Putting crime aside.
Half of these ills of Italy are f eurned :
lonr PelHcos and writers for effect.
Write for effect.
Lmgi, Hush ! Say A writes, and B.

Mother, These A's and B^s write for effect,
_. laay.

Then, eyil is in its nature loud, while good
h sOent : you hear each petty injury,
None of his virtues : he is old beside,
Qmet and kind, ana densely stupid. Why
Do A and B kill not him thems^yes ?

I«V». They teach

OtherBtokillhun— me — and, if I fail.
Others to suooeed ; now, if A tried and f aUed,
I oodd not teach that : mine 's the lesser task.
MoAer, they visit night by night . . .
^ Mother, — You, Luigi ?

> ^ ISP ^^^ ™® ^^ ^^^ what vou are ?
igi. Why not ? Oh, the one thing you fear
to hint.

Ton may assure yourself I say and say
Etct to myself ! At times — nay, even as now

We sit — I think my mind is touched, suspect
All is not sound : but is not knowing that.
What constitutes one sane or otherwise ?
I know I am thus — so, all is right again.
I laugh at myself as through the town I walk.
And see men merry as if no Italy
Were suffering ; then I ponder — ** I am rich.
Young, healthy ; whv should this fact trouble me.
More than it troubles these ? " But it does

No, trouble 's a bad word : for as I walk
There 's springing and melody and giddiness.
And old quaint turns and passsges of my youth,
Dreams long forgotten, little in themselves.
Return to me — whatever may amuse me :
And earth seems in a truce with me, and heaven
Accords with me, all things suspend their strife.
The very cicala laughs There goes he, and

there 1
Feast him, the time is short ; he is on his way
For the world's sake : feast him this once, our

friend 1"
And in return for all this. I can trip
Cheerfully up the seaffola-steps. I go
This evemng, mother I

Mother, But mistrust yourself —

Mistrust the judgment yon pronounoe on him I
Luigi. Oh, there I feel— am sure that I am

Mother, Mistrust your judgment then, of the

To this wild enterprise : say, you are right, —
How should one in your state e'er bring to pass
What would require a cool head, a ooolheart,
And a calm hand ? You never will escape.
Luigi. Escape? To even wish that, would
spoil alL
The d vmg is best part of it. Too much
Have I enjoyed these fifteen years of mine.
To leave mvself excuse for idnger life :
Was not life pre s se d down, running o'er with

That Imigfat finish with it ere my fellows

Who, sparelier feasted, make a lonser stay ?

I was put at the board-head, helped to all

At first ; I rise up happy ana content.

God must be glad one loves his world so much.

I can give news of earth to all the dead

Who ask me : — last year's sunsets, and great

Which had a right to come first and see ebb
The crimson wave that drifts the sun awav —
Those orescent moons with notched and burn-
ing rims
That strengthened into sharp fire, and there

Impatient of the azure — and that day
In March, a double rainbow stopped the storm —
May's warm slow yellow moonlit summer

nights —
Qone are they, but I have them in my soul I
Mother. (He will not go I)
Luigi, You smile at me ? 'T is true, —

Voluptuousness, grotesqueness, ghastliness.
Environ my devotedness as quaintly
As round about some antique altar wreathe
The rose festoons, goats^ horns, and oxen's

Digitized by




Mother. See now : yon reach the oity, you must
His threshold— how?

Luigi. 0\ that 's if we conspired 1

Then would come pains in plenty, as you gaeaa —
But g^uess not how the qualities most fit
For such an office, qualities I have,
Would little stead me, otherwise employed,
Tet prove of rarest merit only here.
Every one knows for what his excellence
Will serve, but no one ever will consider
For what his worst defect migrht serve : and yet
Have yon not seen me range our coppice yonder
In search of a distorted ash ? — I find
The wry spoilt branch a natural perfect bow.
Fancjr the thrice-sage, thrice-precautioned man
Arriving at the palace on my errand I
No, no ! I have a handsome dress packed up —
White satin here, to set off my black hair ;
In I shall march — for you may watch your life

Behind thick walls, make friends there to be-
tray you ;
More than one man spoils everything. March

straight —
Only, no clumsy knife to fumble for,
Take the great gate, and walk (not saunter) on
Through guards and guards — I have re-
hearsed it all
Inside the turret here a hundred times.
Don't ask the wav of whom you meet, observe I
But where they duster thickliest is the door
Of doors; : they '11 let you pass — they 'U never

Each to the other, he knows not the favorite.
Whence he is bound and what 's his business

Walk in — straight up to him ; yon have no

Be prompt, how should he scream ? Then, out

with you I
Italy. Italy, my Italy I
Tou Te free, you 're free I Oh mother, I could

They got about me — Andrea from his exile.
Pier m»m his dungeon, Qualtier from his grave !
Mother. Well, you shall go. Tet seems this
The easiest virtue for a selfish man
To acquire : he loves himself — and next, the

world —
If he must love beyond, — but naught between :
As a short-sighted man sees naught midway
His body and the sun above. But you
Are my adored Luigi, ever obedient
To mv least wish, and running o'er with love :
I could not call you cruel or unkind.
Onoe more, your ground for killing him ! — tiien

Luigi. Now do you try me, or make sport of
How first the Austrians got these provinces . . .
(If that is all, I '11 satisfy you soon)

Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 30 of 198)