Monday, May 07, 2012

Happy Birthday Robert Browning !

Robert Browning
Today is the birthday of an English poet and playwright Robert Browning (7 May 1812 – 12 December 1889), whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets. Presenting some Poems : Being Poet
A Lovers' Quarrel
I.
Oh, what a dawn of day!
How the March sun feels like May!
All is blue again
After last night's rain,
And the South dries the hawthorn-spray.
Only, my Love's away!
I'd as lief that the blue were grey,
II.
Runnels, which rillets swell,
Must be dancing down the dell,
With a foaming head
On the beryl bed
Paven smooth as a hermit's cell;
Each with a tale to tell,
Could my Love but attend as well.
III.
Dearest, three months ago!
When we lived blocked-up with snow,---
When the wind would edge
In and in his wedge,
In, as far as the point could go---
Not to our ingle, though,
Where we loved each the other so!
IV.
Laughs with so little cause!
We devised games out of straws.
We would try and trace
One another's face
In the ash, as an artist draws;
Free on each other's flaws,
How we chattered like two church daws!
V.
What's in the `Times''?---a scold
At the Emperor deep and cold;
He has taken a bride
To his gruesome side,
That's as fair as himself is bold:
There they sit ermine-stoled,
And she powders her hair with gold.
VI.
Fancy the Pampas' sheen!
Miles and miles of gold and green
Where the sunflowers blow
In a solid glow,
And---to break now and then the screen---
Black neck and eyeballs keen,
Up a wild horse leaps between!
VII.
Try, will our table turn?
Lay your hands there light, and yearn
Till the yearning slips
Thro' the finger-tips
In a fire which a few discern,
And a very few feel burn,
And the rest, they may live and learn!
VIII.
Then we would up and pace,
For a change, about the place,
Each with arm o'er neck:
'Tis our quarter-deck,
We are seamen in woeful case.
Help in the ocean-space!
Or, if no help, we'll embrace.
IX.
See, how she looks now, dressed
In a sledging-cap and vest!
'Tis a huge fur cloak---
Like a reindeer's yoke
Falls the lappet along the breast:
Sleeves for her arms to rest,
Or to hang, as my Love likes best.
X.
Teach me to flirt a fan
As the Spanish ladies can,
Or I tint your lip
With a burnt stick's tip
And you turn into such a man!
Just the two spots that span
Half the bill of the young male swan.
XI.
Dearest, three months ago
When the mesmerizer Snow
With his hand's first sweep
Put the earth to sleep:
'Twas a time when the heart could show
All---how was earth to know,
'Neath the mute hand's to-and-fro?
XII.
Dearest, three months ago
When we loved each other so,
Lived and loved the same
Till an evening came
When a shaft from the devil's bow
Pierced to our ingle-glow,
And the friends were friend and foe!
XIII.
Not from the heart beneath---
'Twas a bubble born of breath,
Neither sneer nor vaunt,
Nor reproach nor taunt.
See a word, how it severeth!
Oh, power of life and death
In the tongue, as the Preacher saith!
XIV.
Woman, and will you cast
For a word, quite off at last
Me, your own, your You,---
Since, as truth is true,
I was You all the happy past---
Me do you leave aghast
With the memories We amassed?
XV.
Love, if you knew the light
That your soul casts in my sight,
How I look to you
For the pure and true
And the beauteous and the right,---
Bear with a moment's spite
When a mere mote threats the white!
XVI.
What of a hasty word?
Is the fleshly heart not stirred
By a worm's pin-prick
Where its roots are quick?
See the eye, by a fly's foot blurred---
Ear, when a straw is heard
Scratch the brain's coat of curd!
XVII.
Foul be the world or fair
More or less, how can I care?
'Tis the world the same
For my praise or blame,
And endurance is easy there.
Wrong in the one thing rare---
Oh, it is hard to bear!
XVIII.
Here's the spring back or close,
When the almond-blossom blows:
We shall have the word
In a minor third
There is none but the cuckoo knows:
Heaps of the guelder-rose!
I must bear with it, I suppose.
XIX.
Could but November come,
Were the noisy birds struck dumb
At the warning slash
Of his driver's-lash---
I would laugh like the valiant Thumb
Facing the castle glum
And the giant's fee-faw-fum!
XX.
Then, were the world well stripped
Of the gear wherein equipped
We can stand apart,
Heart dispense with heart
In the sun, with the flowers unnipped,---
Oh, the world's hangings ripped,
We were both in a bare-walled crypt!
XXI.
Each in the crypt would cry
``But one freezes here! and why?
``When a heart, as chill,
``At my own would thrill
``Back to life, and its fires out-fly?
``Heart, shall we live or die?
``The rest. . . . settle by-and-by!''
XXII.
So, she'd efface the score,
And forgive me as before.
It is twelve o'clock:
I shall hear her knock
In the worst of a storm's uproar,
I shall pull her through the door,
I shall have her for evermore! 

A Pretty Woman

I.
That fawn-skin-dappled hair of hers,
And the blue eye
Dear and dewy,
And that infantine fresh air of hers!
II.
To think men cannot take you, Sweet,
And enfold you,
Ay, and hold you,
And so keep you what they make you, Sweet!
III.
You like us for a glance, you know---
For a word's sake
Or a sword's sake,
All's the same, whate'er the chance, you know.
IV.
And in turn we make you ours, we say---
You and youth too,
Eyes and mouth too,
All the face composed of flowers, we say.
V.
All's our own, to make the most of, Sweet---
Sing and say for,
Watch and pray for,
Keep a secret or go boast of, Sweet!
VI.
But for loving, why, you would not, Sweet,
Though we prayed you,
Paid you, brayed you
in a mortar---for you could not, Sweet!
VII.
So, we leave the sweet face fondly there:
Be its beauty
Its sole duty!
Let all hope of grace beyond, lie there!
VIII.
And while the face lies quiet there,
Who shall wonder
That I ponder
A conclusion? I will try it there.
IX.
As,---why must one, for the love foregone,
Scout mere liking?
Thunder-striking
Earth,---the heaven, we looked above for, gone!
X.
Why, with beauty, needs there money be,
Love with liking?
Crush the fly-king
In his gauze, because no honey-bee?
XI.
May not liking be so simple-sweet,
If love grew there
'Twould undo there
All that breaks the cheek to dimples sweet?
XII.
Is the creature too imperfect,
Would you mend it
And so end it?
Since not all addition perfects aye!
XIII.
Or is it of its kind, perhaps,
Just perfection---
Whence, rejection
Of a grace not to its mind, perhaps?
XIV.
Shall we burn up, tread that face at once
Into tinder,
And so hinder
Sparks from kindling all the place at once?
XV.
Or else kiss away one's soul on her?
Your love-fancies!
---A sick man sees
Truer, when his hot eyes roll on her!
XVI.
Thus the craftsman thinks to grace the rose,---
Plucks a mould-flower
For his gold flower,
Uses fine things that efface the rose:
XVII.
Rosy rubies make its cup more rose,
Precious metals
Ape the petals,---
Last, some old king locks it up, morose!
XVIII.
Then how grace a rose? I know a way!
Leave it, rather. 
Must you gather?
Smell, kiss, wear it---at last, throw away! 

A Light Woman

I.
So far as our story approaches the end,
Which do you pity the most of us three?---
My friend, or the mistress of my friend
With her wanton eyes, or me?
II.
My friend was already too good to lose,
And seemed in the way of improvement yet,
When she crossed his path with her hunting-noose
And over him drew her net.
III.
When I saw him tangled in her toils,
A shame, said I, if she adds just him
To her nine-and-ninety other spoils,
The hundredth for a whim!
IV.
And before my friend be wholly hers,
How easy to prove to him, I said,
An eagle's the game her pride prefers,
Though she snaps at a wren instead!
V.
So, I gave her eyes my own eyes to take,
My hand sought hers as in earnest need,
And round she turned for my noble sake,
And gave me herself indeed.
VI.
The eagle am I, with my fame in the world,
The wren is he, with his maiden face.
---You look away and your lip is curled?
Patience, a moment's space!
VII.
For see, my friend goes shaling and white;
He eyes me as the basilisk:
I have turned, it appears, his day to night,
Eclipsing his sun's disk.
VIII.
And I did it, he thinks, as a very thief:
``Though I love her---that, he comprehends---
``One should master one's passions, (love, in chief)
``And be loyal to one's friends!''
IX.
And she,---she lies in my hand as tame
As a pear late basking over a wall;
Just a touch to try and off it came;
'Tis mine,---can I let it fall?
X.
With no mind to eat it, that's the worst!
Were it thrown in the road, would the case assist?
'Twas quenching a dozen blue-flies' thirst
When I gave its stalk a twist.

XI.
And I,---what I seem to my friend, you see:
What I soon shall seem to his love, you guess:
What I seem to myself, do you ask of me?
No hero, I confess.
XII.
'Tis an awkward thing to play with souls,
And matter enough to save one's own:
Yet think of my friend, and the burning coals
He played with for bits of stone!
XIII.
One likes to show the truth for the truth;
That the woman was light is very true:
But suppose she says,---Never mind that youth!
What wrong have I done to you?
XIV.
Well, any how, here the story stays,
So far at least as I understand;
And, Robert Browning, you writer of plays,
Here's a subject made to your hand!