sábado, 31 de maio de 2008

Robert Browning, short biography and poems


Robert Browning

BROWNING, ROBERT (1812-1889). —Poet, only s. of Robert B., a man of fine intellect and equally fine character, who held a position in the Bank of England, was b. in Camberwell. His mother, to whom he was ardently attached, was the dau. of a German shipowner who had settled in Dundee, and was alike intellectually and morally worthy of his affection. The only other member of the family was a younger sister, also highly gifted, who was the sympathetic companion of his later years. In his childhood he was distinguished by his love of poetry and natural history. At 12 he had written a book of poetry which he destroyed when he could not find a publisher. After being at one or two private schools, and showing an insuperable dislike to school life, he was ed. by a tutor, and thereafter studied Greek at Univ. Coll., London. Through his mother he inherited some musical talent, and composed settings, for various songs. His first pub. was Pauline, which appeared anonymously in 1833, but attracted little attention. In 1834 he paid his first visit to Italy, in which so much of his future life was to be passed. The publication of Paracelsus in 1835, though the poem had no general popularity, gained the notice of Carlyle, Wordsworth, and other men of letters, and gave him a reputation as a poet of distinguished promise. Two years later his drama of Stratford was performed by his friend Macready and Helen Faucit, and in 1840 the most difficult and obscure of his works, Sordello, appeared; but, except with a select few, did little to increase his reputation. It was followed by Bells and Pomegranates (containing Pippa Passes) (1841), A Blot in the 'Scutcheon (drama) (1843), Luria and A Soul's Tragedy (1846). In this year he married Miss Elizabeth Barrett (q.v.), the poetess, a union of ideal happiness. Thereafter his home until his wife's death in 1861 was in Italy, chiefly at Florence. In 1850 he wrote Christmas Eve and Easter Day, and in 1855 appeared Men and Women. After the death of Mrs. Browning he returned to England, paying, however, frequent visits to Italy. Settling in London he published successively Dramatis Personæ (1864), The Ring and the Book (1868-69), his greatest work, Balaustion's Adventure, and Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau (1871), Fifine at the Fair (1872), Red Cotton Night-cap Country (1873), The Inn Album (1875), Pacchiarotto (1876), translation of Agamemnon (1879), La Saisiaz, etc. (1878), Dramatic Idylls (1879 and 1880), Asolando (1889) appeared on the day of his death. To the great majority of readers, probably, B. is best known by some of his short poems, such as, to name a few, "Rabbi Ben Ezra," "How they brought the good News to Aix," "Evelyn Hope," "The Pied Piper of Hammelin," "A Grammarian's Funeral," "A Death in the Desert." It was long before England recognised that in B. she had received one of the greatest of her poets, and the causes of this lie on the surface. His subjects were often recondite and lay beyond the ken and sympathy of the great bulk of readers; and owing, partly to the subtle links connecting the ideas and partly to his often extremely condensed and rugged expression, the treatment of them was not seldom difficult and obscure. Consequently for long he appealed to a somewhat narrow circle. As time went on, however, and work after work was added, the circle widened, and the marvellous depth and variety of thought and intensity of feeling told with increasing force. Societies began to be formed for the study of the poet's work. Critics became more and more appreciative, and he at last reaped the harvest of admiration and honour which was his due. Many distinctions came to him. He was made LL.D. of Edin., a life Governor of London Univ., and had the offer of the Lord Rectorship of Glasgow. He d. in the house of his son at Venice, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The keynote of his teaching is a wise and noble optimism. His poems were collected in 2 vols. in 1896. Some vols. of his correspondence with Mrs. B. were also pub.

Uniform ed. of Works (17 vols. 1888-90); Furnivall's Browning Bibliography (1883), Lives by Mrs. Sutherland Orr (1891); Gosse (1890); Dowden (1904), G.K. Chesterton (English Men of Letters), etc.; Poetry of Robert Browning by Stopford Brooke, 1902, etc.

SUMMARY.— B. 1812, pub. Paracelsus 1835, Sordello 1840, Bells and Pomegranates 1841, m. to E.B.B. 1846, lives chiefly in Italy till her d., 1861,when he returned to England and continued to write until his d., pub. Dramatis Personæ, Ring and Book 1868-9, Asolando 1889, d. 1889.

Poems by Robert Browning

Home-Thoughts, From Abroad

by Robert Browning.

I.
Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England--now!!

II.
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops--at the bent spray's edge--
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
--Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Love Among The Ruins

by Robert Browning.

I.
Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles,
Miles and miles
On the solitary pastures where our sheep
Half-asleep
Tinkle homeward thro' the twilight, stray or stop
As they crop--
Was the site once of a city great and gay,
(So they say)
Of our country's very capital, its prince
Ages since
Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
Peace or war.

II.
Now,--the country does not even boast a tree,
As you see,
To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills
From the hills
Intersect and give a name to, (else they run
Into one)
Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires
Up like fires
O'er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall
Bounding all,
Made of marble, men might march on nor be pressed,
Twelve abreast.

III.
And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass
Never was!
Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o'erspreads
And embeds
Every vestige of the city, guessed alone,
Stock or stone--
Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe
Long ago;
Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame
Struck them tame;
And that glory and that shame alike, the gold
Bought and sold.

IV.
Now,--the single little turret that remains
On the plains,
By the caper overrooted, by the gourd
Overscored,
While the patching houseleek's head of blossom winks
Through the chinks--
Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time
Sprang sublime,
And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced
As they raced,
And the monarch and his minions and his dames
Viewed the games.

V.
And I know, while thus the quiet-coloured eve
Smiles to leave
To their folding, all our many-tinkling fleece
In such peace,
And the slopes and rills in undistinguished grey
Melt away--
That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair
Waits me there
In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul
For the goal,
When the king looked, where she looks now, breathless, dumb
Till I come.

VI.
But he looked upon the city, every side,
Far and wide,
All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades'
Colonnades,
All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts,--and then,
All the men!
When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand,
Either hand
On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace
Of my face,
Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech
Each on each.

VII.
In one year they sent a million fighters forth
South and North,
And they built their gods a brazen pillar high
As the sky,
Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force--
Gold, of course.
Oh heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
Earth's returns
For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in,
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
Love is best.

Meeting At Night

by Robert Browning.

I.
The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

II.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

My Last Duchess

by Robert Browning.

That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fr Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Fr Pandolf'' by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Fr Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps
"Over my lady's wrist too much,'' or "Paint
"Must never hope to reproduce the faint
"Half-flush that dies along her throat:'' such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy.

She had
A heart--how shall I say?--too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace--all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,--good! but thanked
Somehow--I know not how--as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech--(which I have not)--to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this
"Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
"Or there exceed the mark''--and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
--E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

My Star

by Robert Browning.

All, that I know
Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.

Porphyria's Lover

by Robert Browning.

The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me--she
Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her.

No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

Prospice

by Robert Browning.

Fear death?--to feel the fog in my throat,
The mist in my face,
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
I am nearing the place,
The power of the night, the press of the storm,
The post of the foe;
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form;
Yet the strong man must go:
For the journey is done and the summit attained,
And the barriers fall,
Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
The reward of it all.
I was ever a fighter, so--one fight more,
The best and the last!
I would hate that Death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,
And made me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers,
The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
Of pain, darkness and cold.
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave.
The black minute's at end,
And the elements' rage, the fiend voices that rave,
Shall dwindle, shall blend,
Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain.
Then a light, then thy breat,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
And with God be the rest!

Soliloquy Of The Spanish Cloister

by Robert Browning.

I.
Gr-r-r--there go, my heart's abhorrence!
Water your damned flower-pots, do!
If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,
God's blood, would not mine kill you!
What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming?
Oh, that rose has prior claims--
Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
Hell dry you up with its flames!

II.
At the meal we sit together:
_Salve tibi!_ I must hear
Wise talk of the kind of weather,
Sort of season, time of year:
_Not a plenteous cork-crop: scarcely
Dare we hope oak-galls, I doubt:
What's the Latin name for "parsley''?_
What's the Greek name for Swine's Snout?

III.
Whew! We'll have our platter burnished,
Laid with care on our own shelf!
With a fire-new spoon we're furnished,
And a goblet for ourself,
Rinsed like something sacrificial
Ere 'tis fit to touch our chaps--
Marked with L. for our initial!
(He-he! There his lily snaps!)

IV.
_Saint_, forsooth! While brown Dolores
Squats outside the Convent bank
With Sanchicha, telling stories,
Steeping tresses in the tank,
Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs,
--Can't I see his dead eye glow,
Bright as 'twere a Barbary corsair's?
(That is, if he'd let it show!)

V.
When he finishes refection,
Knife and fork he never lays
Cross-wise, to my recollection,
As do I, in Jesu's praise.
I the Trinity illustrate,
Drinking watered orange-pulp--
In three sips the Arian frustrate;
While he drains his at one gulp.

VI.
Oh, those melons? If he's able
We're to have a feast! so nice!
One goes to the Abbot's table,
All of us get each a slice.
How go on your flowers? None double
Not one fruit-sort can you spy?
Strange!--And I, too, at such trouble,
Keep them close-nipped on the sly!

VII.
There's a great text in Galatians,
Once you trip on it, entails
Twenty-nine distinct damnations,
One sure, if another fails:
If I trip him just a-dying,
Sure of heaven as sure can be,
Spin him round and send him flying
Off to hell, a Manichee?

VIII.
Or, my scrofulous French novel
On grey paper with blunt type!
Simply glance at it, you grovel
Hand and foot in Belial's gripe:
If I double down its pages
At the woeful sixteenth print,
When he gathers his greengages,
Ope a sieve and slip it in't?

IX.
Or, there's Satan!--one might venture
Pledge one's soul to him, yet leave
Such a flaw in the indenture
As he'd miss till, past retrieve,
Blasted lay that rose-acacia
We're so proud of! _Hy, Zy, Hine..._
'St, there's Vespers! _Plena grati
Ave, Virgo!_ Gr-r-r--you swine!

Two In The Campagna

by Robert Browning.

I.
I wonder do you feel to-day
As I have felt since, hand in hand,
We sat down on the grass, to stray
In spirit better through the land,
This morn of Rome and May?

II.
For me, I touched a thought, I know,
Has tantalized me many times,
(Like turns of thread the spiders throw
Mocking across our path) for rhymes
To catch at and let go.

III.
Help me to hold it! First it left
The yellowing fennel, run to seed
There, branching from the brickwork's cleft,
Some old tomb's ruin: yonder weed
Took up the floating wet,

IV.
Where one small orange cup amassed
Five beetles,--blind and green they grope
Among the honey-meal: and last,
Everywhere on the grassy slope
I traced it.

Hold it fast!

V.
The champaign with its endless fleece
Of feathery grasses everywhere!
Silence and passion, joy and peace,
An everlasting wash of air--
Rome's ghost since her decease.

VI.
Such life here, through such lengths of hours,
Such miracles performed in play,
Such primal naked forms of flowers,
Such letting nature have her way
While heaven looks from its towers!

VII.
How say you? Let us, O my dove,
Let us be unashamed of soul,
As earth lies bare to heaven above!
How is it under our control
To love or not to love?

VIII.
I would that you were all to me,
You that are just so much, no more.
Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free!
Where does the fault lie? What the core
O' the wound, since wound must be?

IX.
I would I could adopt your will,
See with your eyes, and set my heart
Beating by yours, and drink my fill
At your soul's springs,--your part my part
In life, for good and ill.

X.
No. I yearn upward, touch you close,
Then stand away. I kiss your cheek,
Catch your soul's warmth,--I pluck the rose
And love it more than tongue can speak--
Then the good minute goes.

XI.
Already how am I so far
Out of that minute? Must I go
Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
Onward, whenever light winds blow,
Fixed by no friendly star?

XII.
Just when I seemed about to learn!
Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern--
Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.


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