Robert Browning.

The complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning online

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Thy life stays in the poems men shall sing^
The pictures men shall study ; while my life.
Complete and whole now in its power and joy.
Dies altogether with my brain and arm.
Is lost indeed ; since, what survives myself?

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The bnueo statue to oWlook my graye.
Set on the promontorj which I named.
And that — some rapple courtier of my heir
Shall use its robed and sceptred arm, perhaps,
To fix the rope to, which best drags it down.
I go then : tnmnph thon, who dost not go I *'

Nay, thon art worthy of hearing my whole
^ mind.
Is this apparent, when thon tnm'st to mnse
Upon the scheme of earth and man in chief,
That admiration grows as knowledge grows ?
That imperfection means perfection hid,
Reserrea in part, to grace the after-time ?
If, in the morning of philosophy.
Ere anght had bMn recordea, nay peroeiTed,
Hum, with the light now in thee, oouldst have

On all earth's tenantry, from worm to bird,
Ere man, her last, appeared npon the stage —
Thon wouldst haye seen them perfect, and de-
The perf ectness of others yet nnseen.
Conceding which, — had Zens then questioned

** Shall I go on a step, improye on tiiis.
Bo more for yisible creatures than is done ? "
Thau, wonldst haye answered, ** Ay, by making

Grow conscious in himself — by that alone.
All *s perfect else : the shell sucks fast the rock.
The fish strikes through the sea, the snake both

And slides, forth range the beasts, the birds

Till lifers mechanics can no further go —
And all this joy in niMniral life is put
Like fire from off thy finger into each.
So exquisitely perfect is tne same.
But 't is pure fire, and they mere matter are ;
It has them, not uiey it : and so I choose
For man, thy last premeditated work
(U I might add a glory to the scheme).
That a third thing diould stand apart from

A quali^ arise within his soul.
Which, mtro-actiye, made to superyise
And feel the force it has, may yiew itself,
And so be happy." Man might liye at first
The animal life : but is there nothing more ?
In due time, let him critically learn
How he liyes ; and, the more he gets to know
Of his own life's aaaplabilities.
The more joy-giying will his life become.
Thus man, who hatn this quality, is best.

But thou, king, hadst more reasonably said :
** Let progress end at once, — man make no step
Beyond the natural man, the better beast,
Usmg his senses, not the sense of sense."
In man there *s failure, only since he left
The lower and inconscious forms of life.
We called it an adyance, the rendering plain
Man's spirit might grow conscious of man's life.
And, by new lore so added to the old.
Take each step higher oyer the brute s head.
This mw the only life, the pleasure-house,
Watctt-tower and treaBure-fortress of the soul.

Which whole surrounding flats of natural life
Seemed only fit to yield subsiBtenoe to ;
A tower that 4srowns a country. But alas.
The soul now dimbs it just to perisL there t
For thence we haye disooyered ('t b no dream —
We know this, which we had not else pereeiyed)
That there 's a world of capability
For joy, spread round about us, meant for us,
Inyitingus; and still the soul crayes all.
And stul the flesh replies, ** Take no jot more
Than ere thou dombst the tower to look abroad 1
Nay, so much less as that fetigue has brought
Deduction to it." We stru|^e, fain to enlaige
Our bounded physical recipiency,

As the soul sees joy, tempting life to take.
They i>raise a fountain in my garden here
Wherein a Naiad sends the water-bow
Thin from her tube; she smiles to see it rise.
What if I told her, it is just a thread
From that ereat riyer which the hills shut up.
And mock her with my leaye to take the same f
The artificer has giyen her one small tube
Past power to widen or exchange — what boots
To know she might spout oceans if ^e could ?
She cannot lift beyond her first thin thread :
And so a man can use but a man's joy
While he sees God's. Is it for Zeus to boast,
*^ See, man, how happy I liye, and despair —
That I may be still happier ^ for thy use ! "
If this were so, we could not thank our lord.
As hearts beat on to doing ; 'tis not so —
Malice it is not. Is it carelessness ?
Still, no. If care— • where is the sign? I ask.
And get no answer, and agree in sum,
O kii^, with thy^ profound discouragement,
Who seest the wider but to sigh the more.
Most progress is most failure : thou sayest weU.

The last point now: — thou dost except a

case —
Holding joy not impossible to one
With artist-gifts — tosuch a man as I
Who leaye behind me liying works indeed ;
For, such a poem, such a iminting liyes.
What ? dost thou yerily trip upon a word.
Confound the accurate yiew of what joy is
(Caught somewhat dearer by my eyes than

With feeling ioy ? confound the knowing how
And showing how to liye (my faculty)
With actually liying ? — Otherwise
Where is the artist's yantage o'er the king f
Because in my great epos Idisplay
How diyers men young, strong, fair, wise, can

act —
Is this as though I acted ? if Ipaint,
Carye the young Phoebus, am I therefore young ?
Methinks I 'm older that I bowed myself
The many years of pain that taught me art t
Indeed, to know is something, and to proye
How all this beauty might be enjoyed, is more :
But, knowing naught, to enjoy is something

Yon rower, with the moulded muscles there,
Lowering the saQ, is nearer it than I.

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ID write breHides: thy har aUye 's an ode.

et to sang of bve, when grown too gray

* being odored : she tarns to ihait yoong

9 mnsdes all a-ripple on bis back.
DOW the joy of kingship: well, thou art king 1

But,*' MTCst thoa — (and I marrel, I repeat,
find thee trip on sooh a mere word) ** what
>a writest, paintest, stays; that does not

rho Bormes. heeaose we sinsr her songs,
.^aehylnt, becanse we read his plays I *'
y, if they live still, let them come and take
' slave in my despite, drink from thy onp,
ik in my place. Thoa diest while I

rather that my fate is deadlier still,
bis, that erery day my sense of ioy
rs more aonte, mv sool (intensinea
power and insight) more enlarged, more

le erery day my hairs hXL more and more,
land shakes, and the heavy years increase —
horror qoiokening still from year to year,
oonsnmmation eoming past escape.
D I shall know most, and yet least en-

D adl my works wherein I prove my worth,

i present still to mock me m men*s months,

I still, in the ^nuse of saoh as thoa,

be feeling, thinking, acting man,

nan wholored his life so oyer-mndi,

in mj on. It is so horrible.

» at tmies imagine to my need

fntore state revealed to na by Zeos,

lited in capability

y, as this » in desire for joy,

seek which, the joy-hanger forces as :

stang by straitness of oar Hf e, made strait

rpoee to noake prized the life at large—

by the throbbmg impulse we call death,

irst there as the worm into the fly,

while a worm still, wants his wings. Bat

no !

as not yet revealed it \ and alas,

8t hare done so, were it possible t

long and happy, and in that thonght

3r whftt was I FareweU. And for the

•t teti thy measenger aright
to delirer what he bears of thine
called Paolos ; we have heard his fame

if Christns be not one with him —
not, nor am tronbled much to know,
inst not think a mere barbarian Jew,
las proTee to be, one oircamoised,
ioess to a secret shat from ns?
rongest oar philosophy, O king,
ing to inqnire of snch an one.
( answer oonld impose at all I
iih, doth he ? weU, and he may write.
Jew findeth scholars ! certain slaves
iched on this same isle, pr e ac h ed him
d Christ;

I leathered from a bystander)
ctrine oonld be held by no sane man.


Originally pnbUshed in BdU and Pomegram-
aUs as the first of two poems, Crutina being
the other, onder the title Qtieea fForsAtp,

I KKOW a Monnt, the gradoas San peromres
First, when he visits, last, too, when he leaves
The world ; and, vainlv favored, it repays
The day-long glory of his steadfast gaze
By no change of its lanpecalm front of snow.
And nndemeath the Moont, a Flower I know.
He cannot have perceived, that changes ever
At his approach ; and, in the lost endeavor
To live bis life, has parted, one by one.
With all a flower's trne gnees, for the grace
Of being bat a foolish mimic son.
WiUi ray-like florets round a disk-like face.
Men nobly call br many a name the Meant
As over manr a land of theirs its large
Calm front ot snow like a triamphal targe
Is reared, and still with old names, fresh names

Each to its prm>er praise and own acconnt :
Men call the Flower the Snnflower, sportively.

Oh, Ansel of the East, one, one gold look
Across die waters to this twilight nook,
— The far sad waters, Angel, to this nook !

Dear Pilgrim, art thoa for the East indeed ?
Go 1 — sajing ever as thoa dost proceed.
That L Avnch Radel, choose for my device
A sanflower oatspread like a sacrifice
Before its idol. See! These inexpert
And harried fingers conld not f lul to hart
The woven picture ; *t is a woman's skill
Indeed ; bat nothing baffled me, so, ill
Or weU, the work is finished. Sav, men feed
On songs I sing, and therefore bask the bees
On my flower's breast as on a platform broad x
Bat, as the flower's concern is not for these
Bat solehr for the san, so men appland
In Tain this Radel, he not looking hero
Bat to the East— the East I Go, say this,
Pilgrim dear!


TO E. B. B.

London^ Se^Umber^ i8S5

Orifl^naUy appended to the collection of Poems

called Ifen and Women^ the greater portion of

which has now been, mora correctly, distribnted

ander the other titles of this edition. R. B.

Thsrb they aro, my fifty men and women
Naming me the fifty poems finished !
Take them. Love, the book and me togethe
Whero the heart lies, let the brain lie also.

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Rafael made a centaiy of sonnets,

Hade and wrote them in a certain volume

Dinted with the silver-pointed pencil

Else he only used to draw Madonnas :

These, the world migrht view — hnt one, the

Who that (Hie, you ask ? Your heart instructs

love it all her lifetime ?

lady of the sonnets,
>p beside her pillow
laoe of Rafaers ^lor^,
) duteous and so lovmg —

was wont to hail a painter's,
ler love had turned a poet's ?


Yon and I would rather read that volume,

Skken to his beating bosom by it)
»an and list the bosom-beats of Rafael,
Would we not ? than wonder at Madonnas —
Her, San Sisto names, and Herj Foligno,
Her, that visits Florence in a vision.
Her, that 's left with lilies in the Louvre —
Seen by us and all the world in circle.

You and I will never read that volume.
Ouido Reiii, like his own eye's apple
Ouarded lonsr the treasure-oook and loved it.
Ouido Reni dving, all Bologna
Cried, and the world cried too, ** Ours, the

treasure P*
Suddenly, as rare things will, it vanished.

Dante once prepared to paint an angel :
Whom to please ? You whisper ** Beatrice."
While he mused and traced it and retraced it,

gPeradventure with a pen corroded
till by drops of that not ink he dipped for.
When, his left-hand i' the hair o' tne wicked.
Back ne held the brow and pricked its stigma,
Bit into the live man's flesh for parchment.
Loosed him, laughed to see the writing rankle.
Let the wretch go festering through Florence) —
Dante, who loved well bMause he hated,
Hated wickedness that hinders loving,
Dante standing, studying his angel, —
In there broke the^ folk of his Inferno.
Says he — ** Certain people of importance "
^uch he gave his dauy dreadful line to)

Entered and would seize, forsooth, the poet.'*
Says the noet — ** Then I stopped my jMunt-


You and I would rather see that angel,
Painted by the tenderness of Dante,
Would we not ? — than read a fresh Inferno.

You and I will never see that picture.
While he mused on love and Beatrice,
While he softened o'er his outlined angel.
In they broke, those ** people of importance :
We and Bice bear the loss forever.

What of Rafael's sonnets. Dante's picture ?
This : no artist lives and loves, that longs not
Once, and only once, and for one only,
(Ah^ the prize !) to find his love a langiiage
Fit and fair and simple and sufficient —
Using nature that's an art to others.
Not, this one time, art that 's turned his na-
Ay, of all the artists living, loving.
None but would forego his proper dowry, —
Does he paint ? he fain would write a poem, — *
Does he write ? he fain would paint a picture.
Put to proof art alien to the artist's,
Once, and only once, and for one only.
So to be the man and leave the artist,
Oain the man's joy, miss the artist's sorrow.


Wherefore ? Heaven's gift takes earth's abate-
He who smites the rock and spreads the water«
Bidding drink and live a crowd beneath him.
Even he, the minute makes immortal.
Proves, perchance, but mortal in the minute,
Desecrates, belike, the deed in doing.
While he smites, how can he but remember,
So he smote before, in such a peril.
When they stood and mocked — *' Shall smiting

help us?"
When they drank and sneered — *' A stroke ia

easy ! " ^
When they wiped their mouths and went their

Throwing him for thanks — " But drought was

d memories mar the actual triumph ;
Thus the doing savors of disrelish ;
Thus achievement lacks a gracious somewhat ;
O'er-importuned brows becloud the mandate.
Carelessness or consciousness — the gesture.
For he beus an ancient wronc: about him.
Sees and knows a^:ain those phalanzed faces.
Hears, yet one time more, the 'customed pre-
lude —
** How shouldst thou, of all men, smite, and

save us ? "
Guesses what is like to prove the sequel —
** E^^ypt's flesh-pots — nay, the drought was

Oh, the crowd must have emphatic warrant t
Theirs, the Sinai-forehead's cloven briUiance,
Right^arm's rod-sweep, tonne's imperial fiat.
Never dares the num put on the prophet.

Did he love one face from out the thousands,
(Were she Jethro's daughter, white and wifely,
Wero she but the ^Ethiopian bondslave.)
He would envy yon dumb patient camel,
Keeping a reserve of scanty^ water
Meant to save his own life in the desert ;
Ready in the desert to deliver

g~Tneeling down to let his breast be opened)
oard and life together for his mistress.

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lall never, in the yean remaining,
nt yoa pictures, no, nor carve yon statues,
ke you ransio that should all-express me;
it seems: I stand on my attainment.
A of Terse alone, one life allows me ;
se and nothing; else have I to give yon.
er heists in other lives, God willing :
the (pf ts from all the heights, your own.


a semhlance of resource avuls us —

de so finely touched, love's sense mnst seize

:e these lines, look lovingly and nearly,
es I write the first time and the last tmie.
trho works in fresco, steals a hair-brush,
bs the liberal hand, subservient proudly,
nps his spirit, crowds its all in bttle,
68 a strange art of an art familiar,

his lady's missal-marge with flowerets,
who blows through bronxe, may breathe

through silver,
' serenade a slumbrous princess,
vho writes, may write for once as I do.

, yon saw me eather men and

or dead or fashioned by vaj iaatsf^

r each and all, and use their service,

k from everr mouth, — the speech, a poem.

ly shall I tell m^ joys and sorrows,

s and fears, behei and disbelieving:

mine and yours — the rest be all men's,

lish, Cleon, Norbert, and the fifty.

16 speak this once in my true person,

s Ldppo, Roland, or Andrea,

?h the fruit of speech be just thissenteiiee :

you, look on these my men and women,

and keep m^ fifty poems finished ;

e my heart lies, let my brain He also I

iie speech ; be now I q;»eak, for all things.

»at that TOO know me !

Lo, the moon's

n Liondon, Tonder late in Florence,
e find her race, the thrice-transfigured,
le on a sky imbrued with color,
iover flesole by twilight,
she, onr new crescent of a hair's-breadth.
IB flared it, lamping Samrainiato,
ler 'twixt the cypr e ss es and rounder,
t till the nightingalee applauded,
k piece of her ohf self, impoverished,
o greet, she traverses the honse-roofii,
8 with nnhandsome thrift of silver,
spiritedly, glad to finish.

there 'a nothing in the moon note-
rorthy ?
OT if that moon could love a mortal.

Use. to charm him (so to fit a fancy).
All her magic ('t is the old sweet mythos),
She would turn a new side to her mortal.
Side unseen of herdsman, huntsman, steers-

Blank to Zoroaster on his terrace.

Blind to Galileo on his turret.

Dumb to Homer, dumb to Keats— him, even I

Think, the wonder of the mooostmok mor-

When she turns round, comes again in heaven.
Opens out anew for worse or better I
Proves she like some portent of an iceberg
Swimming full upon the ship it fonnders.
Hungry with huge teeth of splintered crys-
Proves she as the pared work of a sraphire
Seen by Moses when he climbed the moon-
Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abiho
Climbed and saw the very Qod, the Highest,
Stand upon the paved work of a sapphire.
Like the bodiea heaven in his clearness
Shone the stone, the wKpfkm of that paved

Whan they ate and drank and saw Qod also !

What were seen ? None knowa, none ever

Only this is sore — the sipifat were otheri

Not the moon's same side, bom late m Flor-

Dying now imporerished here in London.

God be thanked, the meanest of his oreatoree

Boasts two sool-sidas, one to faee the worid

One to show a woman when he lores her I

This I say of me, but think of yoo. Lore I
This to yoo — rourself mr moon of poets I
Ah, but that^s the world's side, there's the

Thus they see yoo, praise yoo, think they know

There, in torn I stand with them and praise


Out of my own self, I dare to phrase it.
But the best is when I glide from out Uiem,
Gross a step or two of dubioos twilight.
Come out on the other side, the norel
Silmt silver lights and darks undreamed of,
Where I hush and bleas myself with silence.

Oh, their Rafael of the dear Bfadonnas,
Oh, their Dante of the dread Inferno,
Wrote one song — and in my brain I sing it,
Drew one angel — borne, see. on my bosom t


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Written in 1853, partly at Bagni di Luooa,
partly at Rome. It was inoloded in the



CowniM€mand Nobbbbt.

Norhert, Now I

Constance, ^ Not nowl

Nor, Giye me them again, those hands :

Put them npon my forehead, now it throbs !
Press them before my eyes, the fire comes

through I
You cruellest, yon dearest in the world.
Let me ! The Queen must grant whatever I

ask —
How can I gain you and not ask the Queen ?
There she stays waiting forme, here stand you ;
Some time or other this was to be asked ;
Now is the one time — what I ask, I gain :
Let me ask now, Love I

Con, Do, and ruin us I

Nor, Let it be now. Lore I All my soul
breaks forth.
How I do lore you I Giye my lore its way I
A man can haye but one life and one death.
One heaven, one helL Let me fulfil my fate —
Grant me my heaven now I Let me know yon

Plrove you mine, write my name upon your

Hold you and have you, and then die away.
If God please, with completion in my soul I

Con, I am not yours then ? How content
this man I
I am not his — who change into himself.
Have passed into his heart and beat its beats.
Who give my hands to him, my eyes, my hair.
Give all that was of me away to hun —
So well, that now, my spirit turned his own.
Takes part with him against the woman here.
Bids lum not stumble at so mere a straw
As oaring that the world be cognizant
How he loves her and how she worships him.
You have this woman, not as yet that world.
Go on, I bid, nor stop to care for me
Bv saving what I cease to care about.
The courtly name and pride of circumstance —
The name you *11 pick up and be cimibered with
Just for the poor parade's sake, nothing more ;
Just that the world may slip from under you —
Just that the world may cry, **So much for

him —
The man predestined to the heap of crowns :
There goes his chance of vmming one, at least I *'

Nor. The world I

Con, You love it I Love me quite as well.
And see if I shall pray for this in vain I
Why must you ponder what it knows or thinks ?

Nor, You pray for — what, in vain ?

Con, Oh my heart's heart.

original series of Men and Women and there
divided into three parts.

How I do love you, Norbert ! That is right :
But listen, or I take my hands away I
You say, '* let it be now : " you would go now
And tell the Queen, perhaps six steps from us.
You love me— so you do, thank God 1
Nor. Thank God f

I^'orbert, — but you fain would
A »eds the telling, ask of her

Al w take this rose and look at it,

L 3. You are the minister,

T -st favorite, nor without a cause.

T etes your wonderful year's-work

(1 1st is held to celebrate)

ai lie by her life's success,

T ' two crowns, on her sole head,

H only dreamed of anciently :

T dream is grown a stable truth,

T : makes authentic. Whose the

Whose genius, patience, energy, achieved
What turned the many heads and broke the

You are the fate, your minute 's in the heaven.
Next comes the Queen's turn. ** Name your

own reward \ "
With leave to clench the past, chain the to-
Put out an arm and touch and take the sun
And fix it ever full-faced on your earth.
Possess yourself supremely oi her life, —
You choose Uie single thing she will not grant ;
Nay, very declaration of which choice
Will turn the scale and neutralize your work ;
At best she will forgive you, if she can.
You think I 'U let you choose — her cousin's

hand? ^

Nor, Wait. First, do you retain youiTold

Hie Queen is generous, — nay, is just ?

Con, There, there I

So men make women love them, while they

No nlore of women's hearts than . . . look you

You that are just and generous beside.
Make it your own case I For example now,
I 'U say — I let you kiss me, hold my hands —
Why ? do you know why ? 1 'U instruct you,

then —
The kiss, because you have a name at court ;
This hand and this, that jrou may shut in each
A jewel, if you please to pick up such.
That 's horrible ? Apply it to the Queen —
Suppose I am the Queen to whom you speak.
** 1 was a nameless man ; you needed me :
Why did I proffer you my aid ? there stood
A certain pretty cousin at your side.
Why did Imake such common cause with you ?
Aooiess to her had not been easy else.

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Ton m my labor heie abuncUuit praise f
'FattD, labor, whioh ahe OTeriooked, grew

Hov sEaU your gratitiide diaohaige itself ?

Nor, ^ And still I urge the same.

If the Queen jiist? just — generoos or no !
C(HL Yea, jnat. Yon lore a rose : no harm
fint was it for the rose's sake or mine
Yon pot it in your bosom ? mine, yon said —
Then, mine you still most say or else be false.
YoQ told the Qaeen you senred her for herself ;
If ao, to senre her was to serve yourself.
She thinks, for all yoor nnbelieving faoe !
I know her. In the hall, six stepelrom as.
One aeea the twenty pictures : there 's a lite
Better than life, and yet no life at alL
ConeeiTe her bom in such a magic dome,
Piotores all round her 1 why, she sees the world.
Can reeognize its given things and facts,
The fi^t of giants or the feast of gods,
Sages in senate, beauties at the bath.
Chases and battles, the whole earth's display.
Landscape and sea-piece, down to flowers and

fruit —
And who shall question that she knows them all.
In better semblance than the things outside ?
Yet bring into the silent gallery
Some live thing to contrast in breath and blood,
Some lion, with the nainted lion there —
You think she 'U unaerstand composedly ?
— Say, " that 's his fellow in the nunting^eoe
Yonder, I've turned to praise a hundred

Kot so. Her knowledge of our actual earth,
Its hemes and fears, concerns and sympathies,
Hust oe too far, too mediate, too unreNaL
The real exists for us outside, not her :
How should it, with that life in these four


Online LibraryRobert BrowningThe complete poetic and dramatic works of Robert Browning → online text (page 73 of 198)