Robert Browning.

The complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning online

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Well then, speak up, neyer flinch I

Quick, ere my candle 's a snuff
— fiumt, do you see ? to its uttermost inch —

I belieye in yon, but that 's not enough :
Giye my conviction a clinch I

First you deliver your phrase

— Nothing propound^ that I see,

]?1t in itself tor much buune or much praise —

Answered no less, where no answer needs be ;
Off start the Two on their ways.

Straight must a Third interpose.
Volunteer needlessly help ;

In strikes a Fourth, a Fifth thrusts in his nose^

So the cry 's open, the kennel 's a-yelp,
AifTument ^s hot to the dose.

One dissertates, he is candid j

Two must discept, —has distiiignished :
Three helps the couple, if ever yet man did ;

Four protests ; Five makes a dart mt the
thing wished:
Back to Cme, goes the ca

One says his say with a difference :

More of expounding, explaining 1
All now is wrangle, Muse and yodf eraaee :

Now there 's a truce, all 's subdued, self-^e-'
straining :
Five, though, stands out all the stiffer hence.

One is indsive, corrosive ;

Two retorts, nettled, curt, crepitant :
Three makes rejoinder, expansive, explosive ;

Four overbears them all, strident and strepi-
Five . . . O Danaides, OSievel

Now, they ply axes and crowbars ;
Now, they prick pins at a tissue

Fine as a skem of the casuist Escobar's

Worked on the bone of a lie. To what issue ?
Where is our gain at the Two-bars ?

EttfugeLf voLvitur rata.

On we drift : where looms the dim port ?
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, contribute their
quota ; ^
Something is gained, if one caught but the
import —
Show it us, Hugues of Saxe-Gotha I

What with affirming, denying.

Holding, risposting, subjoining.
All 's like ... it 's like . . . lor an instance
I 'm trying . . .
There ! See our roof, its gilt moulding and
Under those spider-webs lying !

So your fugue broadens and thickens,

Greatens and deepens and lengthens.
Till we exclaim — ** But where 's music, the
dickens ?
Blot ye the gold, while your spider-web
— Blacked to the stoutest of tickens ? "

I for man's effort am zealous :
Prove me such censure unfounded I

Seems it surprising a lover ^^ows jealous —
Hopes 't was for something, his organ-pipes

Tiring three boys at the bellows ?

Is it your moral of Life ?

Such a web, simple and subtle.
Weave we on earth here in impotent st^e,

Backward and forward each throwing Ul
Death ending all with a knife ?

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Oyer our heads tmth and natore —
Still our life's zigzags and dodjgpes.

Ins and outs, weayinsr a new leeusiatare —
God^s gold just smning its last wheie that

Palled beneath man's nsarpatare.

So we o'erahroad stars and roses,

Cherub and trophy and garland ;
Nothings pow something which quietly closes

HeaTen's earnest eye : not a glimpse of the
far land
Gets through our conmients and glozes.

Ah» but traditions, inyentions,

(Say we and make up a visage)
So many men with snon various intentions,
Down the past ages, must know more than this



Leaye we the web its dimensions I

Who thinks Hugnes wrote for the deaf.
Proved a vatfire mountain in labor ?

Better submit ; trjr again ; what 's the clef?
'Faith, 'tis no trifle for pipe and for tabor —

Four flats, the minor in F.

Friend, ^our fugue taxes the finger :

Learmng it once, who would lose it f
Yet all the while a miagiving will linger.
Truth's golden o'er us although we refuse
Nature, through cobwebs we string her.

Huffues I I adviM med poend.

(Counterpoint scares luce a Gorgon)
Bid One, Two, Three, Four, five, dear the

Say the word, straight I unstop the full or-
Blare out the mode Palestrina.

While in the roof, if I 'm right there,

. . . Lo yon, the wick in the socket I
Hallo, you sacristan, show us a light there t

Down it dips, gone like a rocket.
What, you want, do yon, to come unawares.
Sweeping the church up for first morning-
And find a poor devil has ended his cares
At the foot of your rotten-runged ratrriddled
Do I carry the moon in my pocket f


OriginaUy pabBshed m No. IV. of Bdlt and
Pomegranates in 1843. Tlie manuscript was
first named Mansoor the Hierophant,


The Orand-MMtar** Prefect.
Tbe Patriarch's Nando.
The RapahHo** AdmiraL
liOTs M Dbbuz, KnighUNoviee.

Initiated Dmaaa — D/abal, Khaul, Axail, MAAm,
Kabukwk, lUemB. Atoob, and others.

UnlnitUted Dnuee, Prefeot^s Guard, Hondo's Attend-
ants, Admiral's Force.


P&AOS, An Idet cif the Southern Sporades, cohnised hy
Dnues 0/ Lebanon^ and fforritoned bjf the Knight*-
MotpitaUert 0/ Rhodet,

SoBHB, A EaU in the PrefecP* Palace,


Snter etealthUy Kaissoox, Racbib, Atoob, and other
iniiiated Druses, eacA at he enters casting off a robe
that conceals his distisictive black vest and wMte tur-
ban ; then, as giving a loose to exultation, —

Karthock. Th» moon is carried off in purple
Day breaks at last I Break glory, with the day,
On I)jabal's dread incarnate mjrstery
Now ready to resume its pristine shape
Of Hakeem, as the Khalit vanished erst
In what seemed death to uninstmcted eyes.
On red Mokattam's verge — our Founders flesh,
As he resumes our Founder's function !

Baghih. —Death

Sweep to the Christian Prefect that enslaved
80 long* us sad Druse exiles o'er the sea I

Avoob. — Most j<iy be thine, O Mother-mount I
Thy brood

Returns to thee, no outcasts as we left.

But thus — but thus! Behind, our Frefectli

Before, a presence like the morning — thine,
Absolute Djabal late, —God Hakeem now
That day breaks I

Kar, Off then, with disgmse at last I

As from our forms this hateful garb we strip.
Lose every tongue its glozing accent too.
Discard each limb the ignoble gesture I Cry,
'Tis the Druse Nation, warders on our Mount
Of the world's secret, since the birth of time,
— No kindred slips, no offsets from thy stock,
No spawn of Christians are we, P^ect, we
Who rise . . .

Ay, Who shout . . .

Bagk. Who seize, a first-fruits, ha—

SpoU of the 8p<nler I Brave I
[They begin to tear doum, and to dispute for, the decor»
tionsiitf the halt.

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Kar. Hold t

Ay, —Mine, I say 3

And mine shall it continue I

Kcar, Jnst this fringe I

Take anything beside ! Lo, spire on spire,
Cnrl serpentwise wreathed oolnmns to the top
O' the roof, and hide themselves mysteriously
Amonff the twinkling lights and darks that

Ton oomioe ! Where the huge yeil, thev suspend
Before the Prefect's chamber of delight.
Floats wide, then falls again as if its slaye.
The scented air. took heart now, and anon
Lost heart to Duoy its breadths of gorgeons-

Above the glomn they droop in — all the porch
Is jewelled o*er with frostwork charaotery ;
And, see, tau eight^point cross of white flame,

Hoar -silvery like some fresh -broke marble

Raze out the Rhodian cross there, so thou leav'st

Hiis single fringe I

^. Ha, wouldst thou, doe-fox ? Help I

— "nuee hand-breadths of gold fringe, my son

was set
To twist, the night he died I

Kar. Nay, hear the knave I

And I could witness my one daughter borne,
A week since, to the Iref ect's couch, yet fold
These arms, be mute, lest word of mine should

Our Master's work, delay the Prefect here
A day, prevent his saiUng hence for Rhodes —
Howluuiw I else ? — Hear me denied my right
By such a knave I
Bagh, {InUrponng''\ Each ravage for himr

Bootv enough I On, Dmses I Be there found
Blooa and a heap behind us ; with us, I>iabal
Turned Hakeem : and before us^Lebanon !
Yields the norch r Spare not I There his min-
ions oragged
Thy daughter, Karshook, to the Prefect's

Ayoob I ^ Thy son, to soothe the Prefect's

Bent o'er that task, the death-sweat on his

Carving the spice-tree's heart in scroll-work

Onward in Djabal's name !
{A9 the tumuU is at height, enter Kwalu^ A pauee and
Khalit. Was it for this,

Djabal hath sumnumed you? Deserve you

Aportion in to-day's event ? What, here —
When most behoves your feet fall soft, your

Sink low, your tongues lie still, — at Djabal's

Close in his very hearing, who, perchance.
Assumes e'en now God Hakeem's dreaded

shape, —
Dispute you for these gauds ?
Ay. Bow say'st thou, Khalil ?

Doubtless our Master prompts thee I Take tlia

Old Karshook I I supposed it was a day . • •

Kka. Forinllage?

Kar. Hearken, Elhalil I Never spoke

A bo^ so like a song-bird ; we avouch thee
Prettiest of all our Master's instruments
Except thy bright twin-sister ; thou and Anael
Challenge his prime regard : but we may crave
(Such nothings as we be) a portion too
Of £>iabal's nivor ; in him we believed.
His bound ourselves, him moon by moon

Kept silence till this daybreak — so, may claim
Reward: who grudges me my claim ?

Av. To-daj

Is not as yesterday I

Bagh. Standoff!

Kha. Rebel yon?

Must I, the delegate of Djabal, draw
His wrath on yon, the dajr of our Return ?

Other Druses. Wrench from their gniq» the
fringe! Hounds! must thaeariui
Vomit her plagues on us through thee ? — and

PlMrue me not, Khalil, for their fault I

Kha. Oh, shame 1

Tlius breaks to-day on yon, the mystic tribe
Who, flving the approach of Osman, bore
Our faith, a merest spark, from Sjnia's rid
Its birthplace, hither ! ** Let the sea divid
These hunters from their prey," you said;

** and safe
In this dim islet's virgin solitude
Tend we our faith, the spark, till happier time
Fan it to fire : till Hakeem rise again.
According to his word that, in the flesh
Which faded on Mokattam ages since.
He, at our extzeme need, would interpose.
And. reinstatins: all in power and bliss.
Lead us himself to Lebanon once more."
Was 't not thus von departed years ago.
Ere I was bom ?

Druses. 'T was even thus, jears ago.

Kha. And did you call— (according to old
Which bid us, lest the sacred grow profane.
Assimilate ourselves in outwanl rites
With strangers fortune makes our lords, and

As Christian with the Christian, Jew with Jew
Druse only with the Druses) — did you call
Or no, to stand 'twixt you and Osman's rage,
(Mad to pursue e'en hither through the sea
The remnant of our tribe,} a race self vowed
To endless warfare with his hordes and haia.
The White-cross Knis^ts of the adjacent Isle ?

Kcur. And why else rend we down, wrench
up, rase out ?
These Knights of Rhodes we thus s(dioited
For help, bestowed on us a fiercer pest
Than aught we fled — their Freieot ; who begao
His promised mere paternal governance.
By a prompt massacre of all our Sheikhs
Able to thwart the Order in its scheme
Of crushing, with our nation's memory.
Each chance of our return, and taming us
Bondslaves to Rhodes forever — all, he thinks

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To end by this day^B treason.

Kha. Say I not?

Too, fitted to the Order's purposes,
Your Sheikhs oat off, your rights, your garb

Must yet receiTe one degradation more ;
The Knights at last throw off the mask —

Aa tribntary now and appanage.
This islet they are bnt protectors of.
To their own ever-oraTmsr liege, the Ghoroh,
Who licenses all crimes that pay her thus.
Too, from their P^ect, were to be consigned
(Pnrsnant of I know not what vile pact)
To the Knights' Patriarch, ardent to ontrie
His predeceasor in all wickedness.
When suddenly rose Pjabal in the mid£^
I^jabal, the man in semblance, bnt onr Gbd
ConfeaBed by ngns and portents. Te saw fire
Bicker round I^baL, heard strange music flit
Bird^ike about his bcow ?

Druaes. We saw — we heard !

Diabal is Hakeem, the incarnate Dread,
Thephantasm Khalif , Kincr of P!rodigies !
Kha. And as he said has not onr Khalif

And so disposed eyents (from land to land
Passing inyisibly) that when, this mom.
The i>act of Tillany complete, there comes
Tliis Patriarch's Nuncio with this Master's

Their treason to consummate, — each will face
For a crouching handful, an apUfted nation ;
For simulated Christians, eonfessed Druses ;
And, for slayes iMist hope of the Mother-mount,
Freedmen returning there 'neath Venioe' flag ;
That Venioe which, the Hospitallers' foe,
Qrants us from Candia escort home at price
Of our relinquished isle, Rhodes counts her

own —
Venice, whose promised argosies should stand
Toward harbor : is it now that you. and you.
And you, selected from the rest to bear
The burden of the Khalif 's secret, further
To-day's erent, entitled by your wrongs.
And witness in the P^eot's hall his fate —
That you dare dutch these gauds ? Ay, drop

Kar, True,

Most true, all this ; and yet. may one dare hint,
Then art the youngest of us? — though em-
Abundantly as Pjabal's confidant.
Transmitter of his mandates^ even now.
Much less, whene'er beside lum Anael graces
Hie cedar throne, his queen-bride, art thou like
To occupy its lowest step that day !
Now, Khalil, wert thou checked as thou aspir-

Forbidden such or such an honor, — say,
Would silence serre so amply ?

Kha, Karshook thinks

I coTet honors? Well, nor idW thinks I
Honors ? I hare demanded of them all
The greatest I
Kar. I supposed so.

Kha, Judge, yourselyes I

Turn, thus: 't is in the alooye at the back

Of yonder columned porch, whose entrance now
The yeil hides, that our Prefect holds his state,
Receiyes the Nuncio, when the one, from

The other lands from Sjrria ; there they meet.
Now, I haye sued with earnest prayers . . .

Kaw, For what

Shall Uie Bride's brother yainly sue ?

Kha, That mine—

Ayenging in one blow a myriad wroi^
— Might be the hand to slay the Prefect there I
Djabal reseryes that office for himself.

Tlius far, as youngest of you all, I speak

— Scarce more enlightdied than yourselyes;

since, near
As I approach him, nearer as I trust
Soon to approach our Master, he reyeals
Only the God's power, not the ^ory yet.
Therefore I reasoned with you : now, as senrant
To I^bal, bearing his authority.
Hear me appoint your seyeral poets I TUl noon
None see him save myself and Anael : once
The deed achieyed, our Khalif, casting off
The embodied Awe's tremendous mystery.
The weakness of the flesh disguise,^ resumes
His proper glory, ne'er to fade again.
{Enter a Dnua.)

The Druse, Our Prefect lands from Rhodes t
— without a sign
That he suspects aught since he left our Isle ;
Nor in hk train a single guard beyond
The few he sailed with hence: so haye we

From Leys.

Kar, Loys? Is not Leys gone


Ay, Loys, the Frank Knight, returned ?

The Druse. Loys, the boy, stood on tha
leading prow
Conspicuous in his gay attire, and leapt
Into the surf the foremost. Since day-dawn
I kept watch to the Northward ; take but note
Of my poor yigilance to Djabal 1

Kha, Peace I

Thou, Karshook, with thy company, reoeiye
The Prefect as appointed: see, all keep
The wonted show of senritude : announce
His entry here by the accustomed peal
Of trumpets, then await the further pleasure
Of Diabal ! (Loys back, whom Djabal sent
To Rnodes that we might spare the single Kmght
Worth sparing I)

{Mnier a sseond Dnue.)

The Druse, I espied it first I Say, I
First spied the Nuncio's galley from the South 1
Said'st thou a Crossed-keys' flag would flap the

It nears apace I One galley and no more.
If Pjabal chance to ask who spied the flag,
Forget not, I it was !

Kha, Thou, Ayoob, bring

The Nuncio and his followers hither ! Break
One rule prescribed, ye wither in your blood,
Die at your fault I

{Enter a tMrd Dnue.)

7^ Druse, 1 shall see home, see home t

— Shall banquet in the sombre groyes again I

Digitized by




Hail to thee, Khalil I Venice looms a£ar ;
The argosies of Venioe, like a clond.
Bear np from Caiulia in the distiuioe I

Kha. Jojl

Summon onr people, Raghib I Bid all forth I
Tell them the long-kept secret, old and ^oong I
Set free the ci4>tiTe, let the trampled raise
Their faces from the dnst, because at length
The cycle is complete, God Hakeem's reign
Begins anew ! bav, Venioe for our guard,
Ere night we steer for Syria I Hear yon. Druses ?
Hear yon this crowning witness to the claims
Of Djabal ? Oh, I spoke of hope and fear.
Reward and punishment, because he bade
Who has the right : for me. what should I say
But, mar not those imperial lineaments.
No majesty of all that rapt reeard
Vex by the least onussion I Let him rise
Without a check from you I

Dnues, Let I>jabal rise I

(Enter Lots. — The Druses are tilent.)

Loys. Who speaks of Pjabal ? — for I seek

[AMide.'] TuDieu! 'T is as our Isle broke out

For joy, its Prefect-incubus drops off
To-oay, and I suooeed him in his rule I
But no — they cannot dream of their good for-
[Aloud.] Peaoe to you, Druses I I haye tidings

for you.
But first for Djabal: where 's your tall be-

With that small Arab thin-lipped sQyer-mouth ?
Kha, [Aside to KarJ] Loys, in truth I Tet

Djabal cannot err I
Kar. [To Kha.] And who takes charge of

Lots? That 's forgotten.
Despite thj wariness I Will Loys stand
Ana see his comrades slaughtered ?

Loys. [Aside,} How theyshrink

And whisper, with those rapid faces I What ?
The sight of roe in their oppressors' garb
Strikes terror to the smiple tribe? Qod*s

On those that bring our Order ill repute I
But all *s at end now ; better days begin
For these mild mountaineers from over-sea :
The timidest shall haye in me no Prefect
To oower at thus 1 [Aloud.] I asked for

Diabal —
Kar, [Aside,] Better
One luret! him, ere he cansuspeot, inside
The corridor; 't were easy to dispatch
A youngster. [To Lots.] Djabal passed some

minutes smce
Through yonder porch, and . . .

Kha, MsiV/e.] Hold I What, him dispatch ?
The only Christian of them all we charge
No tyranny upon ? Who, — noblest Kmght
Of all that learned from time to time their

Of lust and cruelty among us. — heir
To Europe^s pomp, a truest otiild of pride, —
Yet stood between the Pk«f ect and ourselyes
From the beginning? Loys, I>jabal makes
Aeeoont of. and precisely sent to Rhodes
For safety ? I take charge of him !

Sir Loys, —
Does Sir Loys strike

[To Lots.)
Loys. There, cousins I

you dead?

Kha, ^ [^Advancing,] Pjabal has interooone
with few or none
rmi noontide : but, your pleasure ?

Loys, ^Interooarse

With few or none?" — (Ah, KhaUl, when you

I saw not your smooth face I All health I —

and health
ToAnaell HowfaresAnael?)—** Intercourse
With few or none ? " Forget you, I 'ye been

With Djabal long ere yon or any Druse ?

— Enoukh of him at Hennes, I think, beneath
The Duke my father's roof 1 He 'd tell by the

With fixed white ejes beneath his swarthy brow,
Plausiblest stories . . .

Kha. Stones, say yon?— Ah,

The quaint attire I

Loys. My dress lor the last time !

How sad I cannot make you understand.
This ermine, o'er a shield, betokens me
Of Bretagne, andentest of proyinces
And noblest; and, what's best and oldest there;,
See, Drenz', onr honse^s blazon, which the

Tacks to an Hospitaller's yest to-day!
Kha. The Nundo we await ? What brings

yon back
From Rhodes, Sir hotyn ?

Loys, How you island-tribe

Forget the world's awake wnile here you

drowse I
What brings me back ? What should not bring

me, rather I
Our Patriarch's Nundo yints you to-day —
Is not my year's probation out ? I oome
To take the knightly yows.
Kha. What's that you wear?

Loys. This Rhodian cross ? The cross your

Prefect wore.
You should haye seen, as I saw, the full Chap-
Rise, to a man, while th^ transferred this cross
From that unworthy Irefect^s neck to • . •

My secret will escape me I) In a word,
My year's probation passed, a Knight ere eye
Am I ; bound, like the rest, to yield my wealth
To the common stock, to liye in chastity,
(We Knights espouse alone our Order's hone)

— Change this gay weed for the black white-

crossed gown.
And fight to death against the Infidel

— Not, therefore, against you, you Christians

Such partial difference only as befits
The peaoefullest of tribes. But Khalil, pri-
Is not the Isle brighter than wont to-day ?
Kha. Ah, the new sword 1
Loys, See now 1 You handle sword

As 't were a camel-staff I Pull ! That 's my

I motto,

Annealed '' Projide^" on the blade in blue.

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Kka, No oarre in it ? Sorely a blade should

Lojfs. Straight from the wrist ! Loose — it

should poise itself !
Kha, [ WnvtHg with irre]^re$sibU extdtatiom ike
sword.] We are a nation. Leys, of old fame
Amoosr the mountains ! Rights haTe we to

With the sword too I
IBemembering hiwue^f.] But I fofget — yon hid

Loys. What I A sword's sight soares yon

8rhe People I will make of him and them I
h let my Prefect-sway begin at onoe I)
Bring £>]aba] — say, indee<C that oome he most I
Kha, At noon seek Djabsi in the Ptefeot's

And find . . . [Aside.] Nay, 't is thy enrsed

race's token,
Frank pride, no special insolence of thine I
[Aioudl] Tarry, and I will do yonr bidding,

Loys I
[To the rest aside.] Now, forth yon! I pro-
ceed to Djabsl straight.
Leaye this poor boy, who Imows not what he

says I
Oh win it not add joy to eren thy joy,
I>iabal, that I report all friends were tme ?

[KiALiL goe$^ followed kf the Dnuet.
L(^. Tu Dieu t How happy I shall make

these Dmseel
Was 't not surpassingly contrived of me
To get the long Ust df their wrongs bpr heart,
Then take the first pretence for stealing off
From these poor islanders, present xnyself
Sadden at Khodes before the noble Cnapter,
And (as best proof of ardor in its cause
Whion ere to-night will haye become, too, mine)
Ac^oaint it with this ^lagne-sore in its body,
This Prefect and his Vulimous career ?
The princely Synod I All I dared request
Was nis dismissal ; and they graciously
Co n sig n ed his very office to myself —
Myself may cure the Isle diseased I

And wen
For them, they did so I Since I neyer felt
How lone a lot, though brilliant, I embrace,
TiU now that, past retrievU, it is mine.
To liye thus, and thus die I Yet, as I leapt
On shore, so home a feeling meted me
That I could half believe in Djabal's story,
He used to tempt my father with, at Rennes —
And me, too, since the story brought me here —
Of some Count Dreuz and ancestor of ours
Who. sick of wandering from Bouillon's war,
Left nis old name in Lebanon.

Long days
At least to spend in the Isle ! and, my news

An hoar hence, what if Anael torn on me
The great black eyes I must forget ?

Why, fool,
RecaU them, then ? My business is with Dja-

NotAnaell Djabal tarries : if I seek him P —
The Isle is brighter than its wont to-day I

Enter Djabai..

Dja, That a strong man should think him-

I — Hakeem? To have wandered through the

Sown falsehood, and thence reaped now scorn,

now faith.
For my one chant with many a change, my

Of outrage, and my prayer for vengeance — this
Required, forsooth, no mere man's faculty.
Naught less than Hakeem's ? The persuading

To pass probation here : the getting access
Bv Lojrs to the Prefect ; worst of all.
The gainine my tribe's confidence by fraud
That would disgrace the very Frank, — a few
Of Europe's secrets which subdue the flame.
The wave, — to ply a simple tribe with these.
Took Hakeem?

And I feel this first to-day I
Does the day break, is the hour imminent
When one deed, when my whole life's deed, my

Must be accomplished ? Hakeem? Why the

Shoat, rather, " I)}abal, Youssof's child,

thought slain

With his whole race, the Druses' Sheikhs, this

Endeavored to extirpate — saved, a child,
Retams from traversing the world, a mam
Able to take revenge, lead back the march
To Lebanon " — so shout, and who gainsays ?
But now, because delusion mixed itself
Insensibly with this career, aU 's changed I
Have I brought Venice to afford us convoy ?
** Tme — but my jugglings wrought that ! "

Put I heart
Into our people where no heart lurked ? — ** Ah,
What cannot an impostor do I "

Not this!
Not do this which I do I Not bid avaunt

Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 41 of 198)