Robert Browning

Ian Jack and Robert Inglesfield (eds), The Poetical Works of Robert Browning, Vol. 5: Men and Women

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  • i.
  • Editor’s Note1Oh, what a dawn of day!
  • Editor’s Note2How the March sun feels like May!
  • 3       All is blue again
  • 4       After last night's rain,
  • Editor’s Note5And the South dries the hawthorn-spray.
  • 6       Only, my Love's away!
  • Editor’s Note7I'd as lief that the blue were grey.
  • iii.
  • Critical Apparatus15Dearest, three months ago!
  • 16When we lived blocked-up with snow,—
  • Critical Apparatus17       When the wind would edge
  • 18       In and in his wedge,
  • pg 1119In, as far as the point could go—
  • Editor’s Note20       Not to our ingle, though,
  • 21Where we loved each the other so!
  • iv.
  • 22Laughs with so little cause!
  • 23We devised games out of straws.
  • 24       We would try and trace
  • 25       One another's face
  • 26In the ash, as an artist draws;
  • 27       Free on each other's flaws,
  • 28How we chattered like two church daws!
  • v.
  • Editor’s Note29What's in the "Times"?—a scold
  • 30At the Emperor deep and cold;
  • 31       He has taken a bride
  • 32       To his gruesome side,
  • 33That's as fair as himself is bold:
  • 34       There they sit ermine-stoled,
  • 35And she powders her hair with gold.
  • pg 12vi.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus36Fancy the Pampas' sheen!
  • 37Miles and miles of gold and green
  • 38       Where the sunflowers blow
  • 39       In a solid glow,
  • Critical Apparatus40And—to break now and then the screen—
  • 41       Black neck and eyeballs keen,
  • 42Up a wild horse leaps between!
  • vii.
  • Editor’s Note43Try, will our table turn?
  • 44Lay your hands there light, and yearn
  • 45       Till the yearning slips
  • 46       Thro' the finger-tips
  • Editor’s Note47In a fire which a few discern,
  • 48       And a very few feel burn,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus49And the rest, they may live and learn!
  • viii.
  • 50Then we would up and pace,
  • 51For a change, about the place,
  • Critical Apparatus52       Each with arm o'er neck:
  • 53       'T is our quarter-deck,
  • Critical Apparatus54We are seamen in woeful case.
  • 55       Help in the ocean-space!
  • Critical Apparatus56Or, if no help, we'll embrace.
  • pg 13ix.
  • 57See, how she looks now, dressed
  • Critical Apparatus58In a sledging-cap and vest!
  • 59       'T is a huge fur cloak—
  • 60       Like a reindeer's yoke
  • Editor’s Note61Falls the lappet along the breast:
  • 62       Sleeves for her arms to rest,
  • 63Or to hang, as my Love likes best.
  • x.
  • Editor’s Note64Teach me to flirt a fan
  • 65As the Spanish ladies can,
  • 66       Or I tint your lip
  • 67       With a burnt stick's tip
  • 68And you turn into such a man!
  • Editor’s Note69       Just the two spots that span
  • 70Half the bill of the young male swan.
  • xi.
  • 71Dearest, three months ago
  • Editor’s Note72When the mesmerizer Snow
  • 73       With his hand's first sweep
  • Critical Apparatus74       Put the earth to sleep:
  • 75'T was a time when the heart could show
  • 76       All—how was earth to know,
  • Critical Apparatus77'Neath the mute hand's to-and-fro?
  • pg 14xii.
  • Critical Apparatus78Dearest, three months ago
  • 79When we loved each other so,
  • 80       Lived and loved the same
  • 81       Till an evening came
  • 82When a shaft from the devil's bow
  • 83       Pierced to our ingle-glow,
  • 84And the friends were friend and foe!
  • xiii.
  • 85Not from the heart beneath—
  • 86'T was a bubble born of breath,
  • 87       Neither sneer nor vaunt,
  • 88       Nor reproach nor taunt.
  • Editor’s Note89See a word, how it severeth!
  • 90       Oh, power of life and death
  • Editor’s Note91In the tongue, as the Preacher saith!
  • xiv.
  • 92Woman, and will you cast
  • 93For a word, quite off at last
  • 94       Me, your own, your You,—
  • 95       Since, as truth is true,
  • 96I was You all the happy past—
  • 97       Me do you leave aghast
  • Critical Apparatus98With the memories We amassed?
  • xv.
  • 99Love, if you knew the light
  • 100That your soul casts in my sight,
  • 101       How I look to you
  • Critical Apparatus102       For the pure and true
  • pg 15103And the beauteous and the right,—
  • 104       Bear with a moment's spite
  • Editor’s Note105When a mere mote threats the white!
  • xvi.
  • 106What of a hasty word?
  • 107Is the fleshly heart not stirred
  • 108       By a worm's pin-prick
  • 109       Where its roots are quick?
  • 110See the eye, by a fly's foot blurred—
  • 111       Ear, when a straw is heard
  • Editor’s Note112Scratch the brain's coat of curd!
  • xvii.
  • 113Foul be the world or fair
  • 114More or less, how can I care?
  • 115       'T is the world the same
  • 116       For my praise or blame,
  • 117And endurance is easy there.
  • 118       Wrong in the one thing rare—
  • 119Oh, it is hard to bear!
  • xviii.
  • 120Here's the spring back or close,
  • 121When the almond-blossom blows:
  • Critical Apparatus122       We shall have the word
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus123       In a minor third
  • 124There is none but the cuckoo knows:
  • Editor’s Note125       Heaps of the guelder-rose!
  • 126I must bear with it, I suppose.
  • pg 16xix.
  • 127Could but November come,
  • 128Were the noisy birds struck dumb
  • 129       At the warning slash
  • 130       Of his driver's-lash—
  • Editor’s Note131I would laugh like the valiant Thumb
  • 132       Facing the castle glum
  • 133And the giant's fee-faw-fum!
  • xx.
  • 134Then, were the world well stripped
  • Editor’s Note135Of the gear wherein equipped
  • 136       We can stand apart,
  • 137       Heart dispense with heart
  • Editor’s Note138In the sun, with the flowers unnipped,—
  • 139       Oh, the world's hangings ripped,
  • Editor’s Note140We were both in a bare-walled crypt!
  • xxi.
  • 141Each in the crypt would cry
  • 142"But one freezes here! and why?
  • 143       "When a heart, as chill,
  • 144       "At my own would thrill
  • 145"Back to life, and its fires out-fly?
  • 146       "Heart, shall we live or die?
  • Critical Apparatus147"The rest, … settle by-and-by!"

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 dawn of day: as in Tennyson, 'The Death of the Old Year' (1832), 11.
Editor’s Note
2 feels like May!: 'The spring has surprised us here', EBB wrote to Miss Mitford on 15 March 1853: '… The sun is powerful—we are rejoicing in our Italian climate': Raymond and Sullivan, iii. 381.
Editor’s Note
5 the South: the South wind.
Editor’s Note
7 as lief: I'd be as glad.
Editor’s Note
8 Runnels … rillets : cf. Shelley, Prometheus Unbound, iv. 196: 'two runnels of a rivulet'.
rillets: small rivulets, as in Keats, Endymion, ii. 945, and Tennyson, 'Recollections of the Arabian Nights' (1830), 48.
Critical Apparatus
10 1855P65S a foamy head
Critical Apparatus
11 1855P O'er each beryl
Editor’s Note
12 Paven: paved, mainly a poetical form, as in Comus, 885, and Shelley, 'Spirit of Plato', 2.
Critical Apparatus
15 1855P ago
Critical Apparatus
17 1855P the cold would
Editor’s Note
20 ingle: hearth, fire (often Sc. and Northern).
Editor’s Note
29 What's in the "Times"?': Louis Napoleon became Emperor of the French, as Napoleon III, on 2 December 1852, marrying Eugénie de Montijo in a civil ceremony on 29 January 1853, and in Notre-Dame the following day. The Times carried full reports, stressing the extravagance of the wedding. On 31 January, as Turner mentions, it stated that Eugénie's dresses cost £40,000 and that the bride and bridegroom sat on thrones on a carpet of ermine. Eugénie was indeed 'fair', and Napoleon was passionately in love with her: 'cold' and 'gruesome' refer to his political character. In Le Gouvernement du Deux Décembre (London, 1853, p. 437 n.) Victor Schoelcher described him as 'the hideous author of 2 December', with reference to the coup d'état of that date (see Jasper Ridley, Napoleon III and Eugénie, 1979). Whereas Browning was strongly opposed to Napoleon, EBB regarded him as 'an extraordinary man … & a man, too, with better stuff in him than is supposed by the Times Newspaper & the English nation generally. But I have no enthusiasm for him on the other side, after all', she added '… he does not allow of enough liberty for me' (Raymond and Sullivan, iii. 380).
Critical Apparatus
36 1855P sheen,
Editor’s Note
36 Fancy the Pampas' sheen!: another of the amusements of the lovers is to think of the great shining plains of S. America.
Critical Apparatus
40 1855P break once a while the
Editor’s Note
43 will our table turn?: on 16 May 1853 EBB told John Kenyon that they had 'tried the table experiment in this room a few days since … and failed; but we were impatient, and Robert was playing Mephistopheles, … and there was little chance of success under the circumstances': Letters of EBB, ii. 116–17.
Editor’s Note
47 in a fire: spiritualists believed that a mysterious force manifested itself on occasion through people of sensitive temperaments (streaming from their finger-tips), and that this explained mesmerism. Cf. 'Mesmerism', 63–5.
Critical Apparatus
49 1884S learn.
Editor’s Note
49 live and learn!: proverbial (ODEP 473ab).
Critical Apparatus
52 1855P56 neck.
Critical Apparatus
54 1855P case:
Critical Apparatus
56 1855P embrace!
Critical Apparatus
58 1855P vest; 1855, 1856 vest.
Editor’s Note
61 lappet: flap, lapel, or overlapping part. The lovers are now in the far North.
Editor’s Note
64 flirt: open and close swiftly, in the manner of a coquette with a fan.
Editor’s Note
69 the two spots: 'probably the nostrils, which, in the Mute Swan, might appear to a casual observer as two black spots taking up about half the width of the orange-coloured bill': Turner.
Editor’s Note
72 the mesmerizer Snow: an appropriate image, given EBB's deep interest in mesmerism.
Critical Apparatus
74 1855P56, 1884S sleep, 186368 sleep! 187075 sleep
Critical Apparatus
77 1855P56 to-and-fro!
Critical Apparatus
78 1872S ago!
Editor’s Note
89 severeth: cf. Paradise Lost, ix. 958: 'Our state cannot be severed, we are one' (Adam to Eve).
Editor’s Note
91 as the Preacher saith: 'Death and life are in the power of the tongue': Prov. 18: 21.
Critical Apparatus
98 1855P memories you amassed?
Critical Apparatus
*102 {reading of DC, BrU, 1889} 1855P88 true,
Editor’s Note
105 threats: 'threat [vb.] is seldom used but in poetry': Johnson.
the white: of the eyeball. Cf. Matt. 7: 3, etc.
Editor’s Note
112 curd: the whitish covering of the brain.
Critical Apparatus
122 1863 {line omitted in some copies}
Critical Apparatus
123 1855P65S In that minor
Editor’s Note
123 in a minor third: 'The interval in the cuckoo's notes increases as spring progresses. The time of the minor third is towards the middle of spring': Pettigrew and Collins. Cf. 'A Toccato of Galuppi's', 19 n.
Editor’s Note
125 the guelder-rose: the flower of the snowball tree.
Editor’s Note
131 the valiant Thumb: in some versions of his story Tom Thumb is a hero. See The Famous History of Tom Thumb, in John Ashton, Chap-Books of the Eighteenth Century (1882), 213: 'Yet none compar'd to brave Tom Thumb / In acts of Cavalry'. Cf. below, p. 131.
Editor’s Note
135 gear: things, superfluities.
Editor’s Note
138 unnipped: by frost or cold.
Editor’s Note
140 crypt: hiding-place, as in 'The Italian in England', 41.
Critical Apparatus
147 1855P65, 1868 settle it by and by!" 1865 settle it by-and-by!"
Critical Apparatus
148 1855P So she'll efface
Editor’s Note
148 efface the score: cancel my debt.
Critical Apparatus
150 1855P56 Just at twelve o'clock
Critical Apparatus
152 1872S, 1884S uproar:
Editor’s Note
154 I shall have her for evermore: cf. 'Porphyria's Lover' and perhaps 'Mesmerism'.
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