Browning's tragedies are tragedies without villains.
Sometimes a noble failure serves the world as faithfully as a distinguished success.
For a poet to depict a poet in poetry is a hazardous experiment; in regarding one's own trade a sense of humour and a little wholesome cynicism are not amiss.
WHEN weight of all the garner’d years
Bows me, and praise must find relief
In harvest-song, and smiles and tears
Twist in the band that binds my sheaf;
Thou known Unknown, dark, radiant sea
In whom we live, in whom we move,
My spirit must lose itself in Thee,
Crying a name—Life, Light, or Love.
A New Hymn for Solitude
I found Thee in my heart, O Lord,
As in some secret shrine;
I knelt, I waited for Thy word,
I joyed to name Thee mine.
I feared to give myself away
To that or this; beside
Thy altar on my face I lay,
And in strong need I cried.
Those hours are past. Thou art not mine,
And therefore I rejoice,
I wait within no holy shrine,
I faint not for the voice.
In Thee we live; and every wind
Of heaven is Thine; blown free
To west, to east, the God unshrined
Is still discovering me.
Leonardo's 'Monna Lisa
MAKE thyself known, Sibyl, or let despair
Of knowing thee be absolute; I wait
Hour-long and waste a soul. What word of fate
Hides 'twixt the lips which smile and still forbear?
Secret perfection! Mystery too fair!
Tangle the sense no more lest I should hate
Thy delicate tyranny, the inviolate
Poise of thy folded hands, thy fallen hair.
Nay, nay,--I wrong thee with rough words; still be
Serene, victorious, inaccessible;
Still smile but speak not; lightest irony
Lurk ever 'neath thine eyelids' shadow; still
O'ertop our knowledge; Sphinx of Italy
Allure us and reject us at thy will!
In The Garden VI: A Peach
IF any sense in mortal dust remains
When mine has been refin'd from flower to flower,
Won from the sun all colours, drunk the shower
And delicate winy dews, and gain'd the gains
Which elves who sleep in airy bells, a-swing
Through half a summer day, for love bestow,
Then in some warm old garden let me grow
To such a perfect, lush, ambrosian thing
As this. Upon a southward-facing wall
I bask, and feel my juices dimly fed
And mellowing, while my bloom comes golden grey:
Keep the wasps from me! but before I fall
Pluck me, white fingers, and o'er two ripe-red
Girl lips O let me richly swoon away!
With brain o’erworn, with heart a summer clod,
With eye so practised in each form around,—
And all forms mean,—to glance above the ground
Irks it, each day of many days we plod,
Tongue-tied and deaf, along life’s common road.
But suddenly, we know not how, a sound
Of living streams, an odour, a flower crowned
With dew, a lark upspringing from the sod,
And we awake. O joy and deep amaze!
Beneath the everlasting hills we stand,
We hear the voices of the morning seas,
And earnest prophesyings in the land,
While from the open heaven leans forth at gaze
The encompassing great cloud of witnesses.
In The Garden V: A Summer Moon
QUEEN-MOON of this enchanted summer night,
One virgin slave companioning thee,--I lie
Vacant to thy possession as this sky
Conquer'd and calm'd by thy rejoicing might;
Swim down through my heart's deep, thou dewy bright
Wanderer of heaven, till thought must faint and die,
And I am made all thine inseparably,
Resolv'd into the dream of thy delight.
Ah no! the place is common for her feet,
Not here, not here,--beyond the amber mist,
And breadths of dusky pine, and shining lawn,
And unstirr'd lake, and gleaming belts of wheat,
She comes upon her Latmos, and has kiss'd
The sidelong face of blind Endymion.
In The Garden I: The Garden
PAST the town's clamour is a garden full
Of loneness and old greenery; at noon
When birds are hush'd, save one dim cushat's croon,
A ripen'd silence hangs beneath the cool
Great branches; basking roses dream and drop
A petal, and dream still; and summer's boon
Of mellow grasses, to be levell'd soon
By a dew-drenched scythe, will hardly stop
At the uprunning mounds of chestnut trees.
Still let me muse in this rich haunt by day,
And know all night in dusky placidness
It lies beneath the summer, while great ease
Broods in the leaves, and every light wind's stress
Lifts a faint odour down the verdurous way.