Robert Browning

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

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pg 319Critical ApparatusIN A BALCONY.1853.

Constance and Norbert.
Critical Apparatus1

Norbert. Now!

Constance. Not now!

Norbert. Give me them again, those hands:

Editor’s Note2Put them upon my forehead, how it throbs!

Critical Apparatus3Press them before my eyes, the fire comes through!

4You cruellest, you dearest in the world,

Critical Apparatus5Let me! The Queen must grant whate'er I ask—

6How can I gain you and not ask the Queen?

Critical Apparatus7There she stays waiting for me, here stand you;

Critical Apparatus8Some time or other this was to be asked;

9Now is the one time—what I ask, I gain:

Critical Apparatus10Let me ask now, Love!

Constance. Do, and ruin us.


Norbert. Let it be now, Love! All my soul breaks forth.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus12How I do love you! Give my love its way!

13A man can have but one life and one death,

14One heaven, one hell. Let me fulfil my fate—

Critical Apparatus15Grant me my heaven now! Let me know you mine,

pg 32016Prove you mine, write my name upon your brow,

Editor’s Note17Hold you and have you, and then die away,

Critical Apparatus18If God please, with completion in my soul!

Critical Apparatus19

Constance. I am not yours then? How content this man!

20I am not his—who change into himself,

21Have passed into his heart and beat its beats,

22Who give my hands to him, my eyes, my hair,

23Give all that was of me away to him—

24So well, that now, my spirit turned his own,

25Takes part with him against the woman here,

26Bids him not stumble at so mere a straw

27As caring that the world be cognizant

28How he loves her and how she worships him.

29You have this woman, not as yet that world.

30Go on, I bid, nor stop to care for me

31By saving what I cease to care about,

Editor’s Note32The courtly name and pride of circumstance—

33The name you'll pick up and be cumbered with

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus34Just for the poor parade's sake, nothing more;

35Just that the world may slip from under you—

36Just that the world may cry "So much for him—

Critical Apparatus37"The man predestined to the heap of crowns:

Critical Apparatus38"There goes his chance of winning one, at least!"

Critical Apparatus39

Norbert. The world!

Constance. You love it. Love me quite as well,

40And see if I shall pray for this in vain!

41Why must you ponder what it knows or thinks?

Editor’s Note42

Norbert. You pray for—what, in vain?

Constance. Oh my heart's heart,

pg 321Critical Apparatus43How I do love you, Norbert! That is right:

Critical Apparatus44But listen, or I take my hands away!

45You say, "let it be now": you would go now

46And tell the Queen, perhaps six steps from us,

47You love me—so you do, thank God!


Norbert. Thank God!

Constance. Yes, Norbert,—but you fain would tell your love,

Editor’s Note49And, what succeeds the telling, ask of her

50My hand. Now take this rose and look at it,

51Listening to me. You are the minister,

52The Queen's first favourite, nor without a cause.

53To-night completes your wonderful year's-work

54(This palace-feast is held to celebrate)

55Made memorable by her life's success,

Critical Apparatus56The junction of two crowns, on her sole head,

Critical Apparatus57Her house had only dreamed of anciently:

58That this mere dream is grown a stable truth,

59To-night's feast makes authentic. Whose the praise?

60Whose genius, patience, energy, achieved

61What turned the many heads and broke the hearts?

Editor’s Note62You are the fate, your minute's in the heaven.

Critical Apparatus63Next comes the Queen's turn. "Name your own reward!"

Editor’s Note64With leave to clench the past, chain the to-come,

65Put out an arm and touch and take the sun

66And fix it ever full-faced on your earth,

67Possess yourself supremely of her life,—

68You choose the single thing she will not grant;

Critical Apparatus69Nay, very declaration of which choice

pg 322Critical Apparatus70Will turn the scale and neutralize your work:

71At best she will forgive you, if she can.

72You think I'll let you choose—her cousin's hand?


Norbert. Wait. First, do you retain your old belief

74The Queen is generous,—nay, is just?

Constance. There, there!

75So men make women love them, while they know

76No more of women's hearts than . . . look you here,

77You that are just and generous beside,

Critical Apparatus78Make it your own case! For example now,

Critical Apparatus79I'll say—I let you kiss me, hold my hands—

80Why? do you know why? I'll instruct you, then—

Critical Apparatus81The kiss, because you have a name at court;

82This hand and this, that you may shut in each

83A jewel, if you please to pick up such.

Critical Apparatus84That's horrible? Apply it to the Queen—

Critical Apparatus85Suppose I am the Queen to whom you speak:

86"I was a nameless man; you needed me:

Critical Apparatus87"Why did I proffer you my aid? there stood

88"A certain pretty cousin at your side.

89"Why did I make such common cause with you?

90"Access to her had not been easy else.

Critical Apparatus91"You give my labour here abundant praise?

Critical Apparatus92" 'Faith, labour, which she overlooked, grew play.

93"How shall your gratitude discharge itself?

94"Give me her hand!"

Norbert. And still I urge the same.

95Is the Queen just? just—generous or no!


Constance. Yes, just. You love a rose; no harm in that:

97But was it for the rose's sake or mine

98You put it in your bosom? mine, you said—

99Then, mine you still must say or else be false.

pg 323100You told the Queen you served her for herself;

101If so, to serve her was to serve yourself,

102She thinks, for all your unbelieving face!

103I know her. In the hall, six steps from us,

104One sees the twenty pictures; there's a life

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus105Better than life, and yet no life at all.

Editor’s Note106Conceive her born in such a magic dome,

107Pictures all round her! why, she sees the world,

108Can recognize its given things and facts,

Editor’s Note109The fight of giants or the feast of gods,

110Sages in senate, beauties at the bath,

111Chases and battles, the whole earth's display,

112Landscape and sea-piece, down to flowers and fruit—

113And who shall question that she knows them all,

114In better semblance than the things outside?

Critical Apparatus115Yet bring into the silent gallery

Editor’s Note116Some live thing to contrast in breath and blood,

117Some lion, with the painted lion there—

118You think she'll understand composedly?

119—Say, "that's his fellow in the hunting-piece

120"Yonder, I've turned to praise a hundred times?"

121Not so. Her knowledge of our actual earth,

122Its hopes and fears, concerns and sympathies,

Editor’s Note123Must be too far, too mediate, too unreal.

124The real exists for us outside, not her:

Critical Apparatus125How should it, with that life in these four walls—

pg 324126That father and that mother, first to last

127No father and no mother—friends, a heap,

128Lovers, no lack—a husband in due time,

129And every one of them alike a lie!

Editor’s Note130Things painted by a Rubens out of nought

131Into what kindness, friendship, love should be;

Critical Apparatus132All better, all more grandiose than the life,

133Only no life; mere cloth and surface-paint,

134You feel, while you admire. How should she feel?

Critical Apparatus135Yet now that she has stood thus fifty years

136The sole spectator in that gallery,

137You think to bring this warm real struggling love

138In to her of a sudden, and suppose

Editor’s Note139She'll keep her state untroubled? Here's the truth—

Critical Apparatus140She'll apprehend truth's value at a glance,

Critical Apparatus141Prefer it to the pictured loyalty?

Critical Apparatus142You only have to say, "so men are made,

Critical Apparatus143"For this they act; the thing has many names,

144"But this the right one: and now, Queen, be just!"

Critical Apparatus145Your life slips back; you lose her at the word:

146You do not even for amends gain me.

Critical Apparatus147He will not understand; oh, Norbert, Norbert,

Critical Apparatus148Do you not understand?

Norbert. The Queen's the Queen:

149I am myself—no picture, but alive

150In every nerve and every muscle, here

Critical Apparatus151At the palace-window o'er the people's street,

Critical Apparatus152As she in the gallery where the pictures glow:

153The good of life is precious to us both.

154She cannot love; what do I want with rule?

pg 325155When first I saw your face a year ago

156I knew my life's good, my soul heard one voice—

157"The woman yonder, there's no use of life

158"But just to obtain her! heap earth's woes in one

159"And bear them—make a pile of all earth's joys

Critical Apparatus160"And spurn them, as they help or help not this;

Critical Apparatus161"Only, obtain her!" How was it to be?

Critical Apparatus162I found you were the cousin of the Queen;

Critical Apparatus163I must then serve the Queen to get to you.

164No other way. Suppose there had been one,

Editor’s Note165And I, by saying prayers to some white star

166With promise of my body and my soul,

167Might gain you,—should I pray the star or no?

168Instead, there was the Queen to serve! I served,

Critical Apparatus169Helped, did what other servants failed to do.

170Neither she sought nor I declared my end.

171Her good is hers, my recompense be mine,—

Critical Apparatus172I therefore name you as that recompense.

173She dreamed that such a thing could never be?

Critical Apparatus174Let her wake now. She thinks there was more cause

Critical Apparatus175In love of power, high fame, pure loyalty?

176Perhaps she fancies men wear out their lives

Critical Apparatus177Chasing such shades. Then, I've a fancy too;

178I worked because I want you with my soul:

Critical Apparatus179I therefore ask your hand. Let it be now!


Constance. Had I not loved you from the very first,

181Were I not yours, could we not steal out thus

182So wickedly, so wildly, and so well,

Critical Apparatus183You might become impatient. What's conceived

Critical Apparatus184Of us without here, by the folk within?

pg 326185Where are you now? immersed in cares of state—

186Where am I now? intent on festal robes—

187We two, embracing under death's spread hand!

Critical Apparatus188What was this thought for, what that scruple of yours

Critical Apparatus189Which broke the council up?—to bring about

Critical Apparatus190One minute's meeting in the corridor!

Critical Apparatus191And then the sudden sleights, strange secrecies,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus192Complots inscrutable, deep telegraphs,

Editor’s Note193Long-planned chance-meetings, hazards of a look,

194"Does she know? does she not know? saved or lost?"

Editor’s Note195A year of this compression's ecstasy

Critical Apparatus196All goes for nothing! you would give this up

197For the old way, the open way, the world's,

Critical Apparatus198His way who beats, and his who sells his wife!

199What tempts you?—their notorious happiness

Critical Apparatus200Makes you ashamed of ours? The best you'll gain

201Will be—the Queen grants all that you require,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus202Concedes the cousin, rids herself of you

Critical Apparatus203And me at once, and gives us ample leave

Critical Apparatus204To live like our five hundred happy friends.

205The world will show us with officious hand

206Our chamber-entry, and stand sentinel

Critical Apparatus207Where we so oft have stolen across its traps!

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus208Get the world's warrant, ring the falcons' feet,

pg 327Critical Apparatus209And make it duty to be bold and swift,

Critical Apparatus210Which long ago was nature. Have it so!

Critical Apparatus211We never hawked by rights till flung from fist?

Critical Apparatus212Oh, the man's thought! no woman's such a fool.


Norbert. Yes, the man's thought and my thought, which is more—

Critical Apparatus214One made to love you, let the world take note!

215Have I done worthy work? be love's the praise,

216Though hampered by restrictions, barred against

Critical Apparatus217By set forms, blinded by forced secrecies!

Critical Apparatus218Set free my love, and see what love can do

219Shown in my life—what work will spring from that!

220The world is used to have its business done

221On other grounds, find great effects produced

Critical Apparatus222For power's sake, fame's sake, motives in men's mouth.

Critical Apparatus223So, good: but let my low ground shame their high!

224Truth is the strong thing. Let man's life be true!

225And love's the truth of mine. Time prove the rest!

Critical Apparatus226I choose to wear you stamped all over me,

227Your name upon my forehead and my breast,

228You, from the sword's blade to the ribbon's edge,

229That men may see, all over, you in me—

230That pale loves may die out of their pretence

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus231In face of mine, shames thrown on love fall off.

232Permit this, Constance! Love has been so long

Editor’s Note233Subdued in me, eating me through and through,

Critical Apparatus234That now 't is all of me and must have way.

235Think of my work, that chaos of intrigues,

pg 328236Those hopes and fears, surprises and delays,

237That long endeavour, earnest, patient, slow,

238Trembling at last to its assured result:

Critical Apparatus239Then think of this revulsion! I resume

240Life after death, (it is no less than life,

241After such long unlovely labouring days)

242And liberate to beauty life's great need

Critical Apparatus243O' the beautiful, which, while it prompted work,

244Suppressed itself erewhile. This eve's the time,

Editor’s Note245This eve intense with yon first trembling star

246We seem to pant and reach; scarce aught between

247The earth that rises and the heaven that bends;

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus248All nature self-abandoned, every tree

249Flung as it will, pursuing its own thoughts

Critical Apparatus250And fixed so, every flower and every weed,

251No pride, no shame, no victory, no defeat;

Critical Apparatus252All under God, each measured by itself.

Critical Apparatus253These statues round us stand abrupt, distinct,

254The strong in strength, the weak in weakness fixed,

255The Muse for ever wedded to her lyre,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus256Nymph to her fawn, and Silence to her rose:

Critical Apparatus257See God's approval on his universe!

258Let us do so—aspire to live as these

Critical Apparatus259In harmony with truth, ourselves being true!

Critical Apparatus260Take the first way, and let the second come!

261My first is to possess myself of you;

Editor’s Note262The music sets the march-step—forward, then!

263And there's the Queen, I go to claim you of,

pg 329264The world to witness, wonder and applaud.

Editor’s Note265Our flower of life breaks open. No delay!


Constance. And so shall we be ruined, both of us.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus267Norbert, I know her to the skin and bone:

268You do not know her, were not born to it,

269To feel what she can see or cannot see.

Critical Apparatus270Love, she is generous,—ay, despite your smile,

Critical Apparatus271Generous as you are: for, in that thin frame

Editor’s Note272Pain-twisted, punctured through and through with cares,

Critical Apparatus273There lived a lavish soul until it starved,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus274Debarred of healthy food. Look to the soul—

275Pity that, stoop to that, ere you begin

276(The true man's-way) on justice and your rights,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus277Exactions and acquittance of the past!

278Begin so—see what justice she will deal!

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus279We women hate a debt as men a gift.

280Suppose her some poor keeper of a school

281Whose business is to sit thro' summer months

Critical Apparatus282And dole out children leave to go and play,

283Herself superior to such lightness—she

284In the arm-chair's state and pædagogic pomp—

285To the life, the laughter, sun and youth outside:

Critical Apparatus286We wonder such a face looks black on us?

287I do not bid you wake her tenderness,

Critical Apparatus288(That were vain truly—none is left to wake)

pg 330Critical Apparatus289But let her think her justice is engaged

290To take the shape of tenderness, and mark

Critical Apparatus291If she'll not coldly pay its warmest debt!

Critical Apparatus292Does she love me, I ask you? not a whit:

293Yet, thinking that her justice was engaged

294To help a kinswoman, she took me up—

295Did more on that bare ground than other loves

Editor’s Note296Would do on greater argument. For me,

Critical Apparatus297I have no equivalent of such cold kind

Critical Apparatus298To pay her with, but love alone to give

Critical Apparatus299If I give anything. I give her love:

300I feel I ought to help her, and I will.

301So, for her sake, as yours, I tell you twice

302That women hate a debt as men a gift.

303If I were you, I could obtain this grace—

Critical Apparatus304Could lay the whole I did to love's account,

305Nor yet be very false as courtiers go—

Critical Apparatus306Declaring my success was recompense;

307It would be so, in fact: what were it else?

Critical Apparatus308And then, once loose her generosity,—

Critical Apparatus309Oh, how I see it!—then, were I but you,

310To turn it, let it seem to move itself,

Critical Apparatus311And make it offer what I really take,

Critical Apparatus312Accepting just, in the poor cousin's hand,

Critical Apparatus313Her value as the next thing to the Queen's—

Critical Apparatus314Since none love Queens directly, none dare that,

pg 331Critical Apparatus315And a things shadow or a name's mere echo

Critical Apparatus316Suffices those who miss the name and thing!

317You pick up just a ribbon she has worn,

318To keep in proof how near her breath you came.

319Say, I'm so near I seem a piece of her—

320Ask for me that way—(oh, you understand)

Critical Apparatus321You'd find the same gift yielded with a grace,

322Which, if you make the least show to extort . . .

323—You'll see! and when you have ruined both of us,

324Dissertate on the Queen's ingratitude!

Critical Apparatus325

Norbert. Then, if I turn it that way, you consent?

Critical Apparatus326'T is not my way; I have more hope in truth:

327Still, if you won't have truth—why, this indeed,

Critical Apparatus328Were scarcely false, as I'd express the sense.

329Will you remain here?

Constance. O best heart of mine,

330How I have loved you! then, you take my way?

331Are mine as you have been her minister,

332Work out my thought, give it effect for me,

Editor’s Note333Paint plain my poor conceit and make it serve?

334I owe that withered woman everything—

335Life, fortune, you, remember! Take my part—

336Help me to pay her! Stand upon your rights?

337You, with my rose, my hands, my heart on you?

338Your rights are mine—you have no rights but mine.


Norbert. Remain here. How you know me!

Constance. Ah, but still—

[He breaks from her: she remains. Dance-music from within. pg 332Enter the Queen.
Critical Apparatus340

Queen. Constance? She is here as he said. Speak quick!

341Is it so? Is it true or false? One word!

Editor’s Note342

Constance. True.

Queen. Mercifullest Mother, thanks to thee!

Critical Apparatus343

Constance. Madam?

Queen. I love you, Constance, from my soul.

344Now say once more, with any words you will,

345'T is true, all true, as true as that I speak.


Constance. Why should you doubt it?

Queen. Ah, why doubt? why doubt?

Critical Apparatus347Dear, make me see it! Do you see it so?

348None see themselves; another sees them best.

349You say "why doubt it?"—you see him and me.

350It is because the Mother has such grace

351That if we had but faith—wherein we fail—

352Whate'er we yearn for would be granted us;

Critical Apparatus353Yet still we let our whims prescribe despair,

Critical Apparatus354Our fancies thwart and cramp our will and power,

355And while accepting life, abjure its use.

356Constance, I had abjured the hope of love

Critical Apparatus357And being loved, as truly as yon palm

Critical Apparatus358The hope of seeing Egypt from that plot.

Critical Apparatus359

Constance. Heaven!

Queen. But it was so, Constance, it was so!

360Men say—or do men say it? fancies say—

361"Stop here, your life is set, you are grown old.

362"Too late—no love for you, too late for love—

pg 333Critical Apparatus363"Leave love to girls. Be queen: let Constance love."

364One takes the hint—half meets it like a child,

365Ashamed at any feelings that oppose.

Critical Apparatus366"Oh love, true, never think of love again!

Critical Apparatus367"I am a queen: I rule, not love forsooth."

368So it goes on; so a face grows like this,

369Hair like this hair, poor arms as lean as these,

370Till,—nay, it does not end so, I thank God!


Constance. I cannot understand—

Queen. The happier you!

Critical Apparatus372Constance, I know not how it is with men:

373For women (I am a woman now like you)

374There is no good of life but love—but love!

375What else looks good, is some shade flung from love;

376Love gilds it, gives it worth. Be warned by me,

Critical Apparatus377Never you cheat yourself one instant! Love,

378Give love, ask only love, and leave the rest!

379O Constance, how I love you!

Constance. I love you.


Queen. I do believe that all is come through you.

381I took you to my heart to keep it warm

382When the last chance of love seemed dead in me;

383I thought your fresh youth warmed my withered heart.

384Oh, I am very old now, am I not?

385Not so! it is true and it shall be true!

Critical Apparatus386

Constance. Tell it me: let me judge if true or false.

Critical Apparatus387

Queen. Ah, but I fear you! you will look at me

388And say, "she's old, she's grown unlovely quite

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus389"Who ne'er was beauteous: men want beauty still."

Critical Apparatus390Well, so I feared—the curse! so I felt sure!


Constance. Be calm. And now you feel not sure, you say?


Queen. pg 334Constance, he came,—the coming was not strange—

Editor’s Note393Do not I stand and see men come and go?

394I turned a half-look from my pedestal

395Where I grow marble—"one young man the more!

Critical Apparatus396"He will love some one; that is nought to me:

397"What would he with my marble stateliness?"

398Yet this seemed somewhat worse than heretofore;

399The man more gracious, youthful, like a god,

400And I still older, with less flesh to change—

Editor’s Note401We two those dear extremes that long to touch.

402It seemed still harder when he first began

Critical Apparatus403To labour at those state-affairs, absorbed

404The old way for the old end—interest.

405Oh, to live with a thousand beating hearts

406Around you, swift eyes, serviceable hands,

407Professing they've no care but for your cause,

408Thought but to help you, love but for yourself,—

409And you the marble statue all the time

Editor’s Note410They praise and point at as preferred to life,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus411Yet leave for the first breathing woman's smile,

Editor’s Note412First dancer's, gipsy's or street baladine's!

413Why, how I have ground my teeth to hear men's speech

414Stifled for fear it should alarm my ear,

415Their gait subdued lest step should startle me,

Editor’s Note416Their eyes declined, such queendom to respect,

417Their hands alert, such treasure to preserve,

pg 335Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus418While not a man of them broke rank and spoke,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus419Wrote me a vulgar letter all of love,

Critical Apparatus420Or caught my hand and pressed it like a hand!

421There have been moments, if the sentinel

Editor’s Note422Lowering his halbert to salute the queen,

423Had flung it brutally and clasped my knees,

424I would have stooped and kissed him with my soul.

Critical Apparatus425

Constance. Who could have comprehended?

Queen. Ay, who—who?

426Why, no one, Constance, but this one who did.

427Not they, not you, not I. Even now perhaps

428It comes too late—would you but tell the truth.


Constance. I wait to tell it.

Queen. Well, you see, he came,

430Outfaced the others, did a work this year

431Exceeds in value all was ever done,

432You know—it is not I who say it—all

433Say it. And so (a second pang and worse)

434I grew aware not only of what he did,

435But why so wondrously. Oh, never work

436Like his was done for work's ignoble sake—

Critical Apparatus437Souls need a finer aim to light and lure!

438I felt, I saw, he loved—loved somebody.

439And Constance, my dear Constance, do you know,

440I did believe this while 't was you he loved.


Constance. Me, madam?

Queen. It did seem to me, your face

442Met him where'er he looked: and whom but you

Critical Apparatus443Was such a man to love? It seemed to me,

Critical Apparatus444You saw he loved you, and approved his love,

pg 336Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus445And both of you were in intelligence.

Critical Apparatus446You could not loiter in that garden, step

447Into this balcony, but I straight was stung

448And forced to understand. It seemed so true,

449So right, so beautiful, so like you both,

450That all this work should have been done by him

451Not for the vulgar hope of recompense,

452But that at last—suppose, some night like this—

453Borne on to claim his due reward of me,

454He might say "Give her hand and pay me so."

Critical Apparatus455And I (O Constance, you shall love me now!)

456I thought, surmounting all the bitterness,

457—"And he shall have it. I will make her blest,

458"My flower of youth, my woman's self that was,

459"My happiest woman's self that might have been!

460"These two shall have their joy and leave me here."

Critical Apparatus461Yes—yes!

Constance. Thanks!

Queen. And the word was on my lips

462When he burst in upon me. I looked to hear

Critical Apparatus463A mere calm statement of his just desire

Critical Apparatus464For payment of his labour. When—O heaven,

Critical Apparatus465How can I tell you? lightning on my eyes

Critical Apparatus466And thunder in my ears proved that first word

467Which told 't was love of me, of me, did all—

468He loved me—from the first step to the last,

Critical Apparatus469Loved me!

Constance. You hardly saw, scarce heard him speak

Critical Apparatus470Of love: what if you should mistake?

Queen. No, no—

pg 337471No mistake! Ha, there shall be no mistake!

472He had not dared to hint the love he felt—

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus473You were my reflex—(how I understood!)

Critical Apparatus474He said you were the ribbon I had worn,

475He kissed my hand, he looked into my eyes,

Critical Apparatus476And love, love came at end of every phrase.

Critical Apparatus477Love is begun; this much is come to pass:

Critical Apparatus478The rest is easy. Constance, I am yours!

479I will learn, I will place my life on you,

Critical Apparatus480Teach me but how to keep what I have won!

Critical Apparatus481Am I so old? This hair was early grey;

482But joy ere now has brought hair brown again,

483And joy will bring the cheek's red back, I feel.

484I could sing once too; that was in my youth.

485Still, when men paint me, they declare me . . . yes,

486Beautiful—for the last French painter did!

487I know they flatter somewhat; you are frank—

488I trust you. How I loved you from the first!

489Some queens would hardly seek a cousin out

490And set her by their side to take the eye:

491I must have felt that good would come from you.

492I am not generous—like him—like you!

493But he is not your lover after all:

494It was not you he looked at. Saw you him?

495You have not been mistaking words or looks?

Critical Apparatus496He said you were the reflex of myself.

497And yet he is not such a paragon

498To you, to younger women who may choose

499Among a thousand Norberts. Speak the truth!

500You know you never named his name to me:

501You know, I cannot give him up—ah God,

502Not up now, even to you!

pg 338 Critical Apparatus503

Constance. Then calm yourself.

Queen. See, I am old—look here, you happy girl!

Critical Apparatus504I will not play the fool, deceive—ah, whom?

505'T is all gone: put your cheek beside my cheek

Critical Apparatus506And what a contrast does the moon behold!

Editor’s Note507But then I set my life upon one chance,

Editor’s Note508The last chance and the best—am I not left,

509My soul, myself? All women love great men

510If young or old; it is in all the tales:

511Young beauties love old poets who can love—

Editor’s Note512Why should not he, the poems in my soul,

Critical Apparatus513The passionate faith, the pride of sacrifice,

Editor’s Note514Life-long, death-long? I throw them at his feet.

515Who cares to see the fountain's very shape,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus516Whether it be a Triton's or a Nymph's

Editor’s Note517That pours the foam, makes rainbows all around?

518You could not praise indeed the empty conch;

Editor’s Note519But I'll pour floods of love and hide myself.

pg 339Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus520How I will love him! Cannot men love love?

Editor’s Note521Who was a queen and loved a poet once

522Humpbacked, a dwarf? ah, women can do that!

Critical Apparatus523Well, but men too; at least, they tell you so.

524They love so many women in their youth,

525And even in age they all love whom they please;

526And yet the best of them confide to friends

527That 't is not beauty makes the lasting love—

528They spend a day with such and tire the next:

Editor’s Note529They like soul,—well then, they like phantasy,

530Novelty even. Let us confess the truth,

531Horrible though it be, that prejudice,

Critical Apparatus532Prescription . . . curses! they will love a queen.

Critical Apparatus533They will, they do: and will not, does not—he?

Editor’s Note534

Constance. How can he? You are wedded: 't is a name

535We know, but still a bond. Your rank remains,

536His rank remains. How can he, nobly souled

537As you believe and I incline to think,

538Aspire to be your favourite, shame and all?

Critical Apparatus539

Queen. Hear her! There, there now—could she love

like me?

540What did I say of smooth-cheeked youth and grace?

541See all it does or could do! so youth loves!

542Oh, tell him, Constance, you could never do

543What I will—you, it was not born in! I

544Will drive these difficulties far and fast

Editor’s Note545As yonder mists curdling before the moon.

546I'll use my light too, gloriously retrieve

547My youth from its enforced calamity,

pg 340548Dissolve that hateful marriage, and be his,

549His own in the eyes alike of God and man.

Critical Apparatus550

Constance. You will do—dare do . . . pause on what

you say!


Queen. Hear her! I thank you, sweet, for that surprise.

552You have the fair face: for the soul, see mine!

553I have the strong soul: let me teach you, here.

554I think I have borne enough and long enough,

555And patiently enough, the world remarks,

556To have my own way now, unblamed by all.

Critical Apparatus557It does so happen (I rejoice for it)

558This most unhoped-for issue cuts the knot.

559There's not a better way of settling claims

Editor’s Note560Than this; God sends the accident express:

561And were it for my subjects' good, no more,

562'T were best thus ordered. I am thankful now,

563Mute, passive, acquiescent. I receive,

564And bless God simply, or should almost fear

565To walk so smoothly to my ends at last.

566Why, how I baffle obstacles, spurn fate!

Critical Apparatus567How strong I am! Could Norbert: see me now!

Critical Apparatus568

Constance. Let me consider. It is all too strange.

Critical Apparatus569

Queen. You, Constance, learn of me; do you, like me!

570You are young, beautiful: my own, best girl,

571You will have many lovers, and love one—

Critical Apparatus572Light hair, not hair like Norbert's, to suit yours:

Critical Apparatus573Taller than he is, since yourself are tall.

Critical Apparatus574Love him, like me! Give all away to him;

575Think never of yourself; throw by your pride,

576Hope, fear,—your own good as you saw it once,

577And love him simply for his very self.

Editor’s Note578Remember, I (and what am I to you?)

pg 341Critical Apparatus579Would give up all for one, leave throne, lose life,

Critical Apparatus580Do all but just unlove him! He loves me.

Critical Apparatus581

Constance. He shall.

Queen. You, step inside my inmost heart!

Critical Apparatus582Give me your own heart: let us have one heart!

Critical Apparatus583I'll come to you for counsel; "this he says,

Critical Apparatus584"This he does; what should this amount to, pray?

Critical Apparatus585"Beseech you, change it into current coin!

Critical Apparatus586"Is that worth kisses? Shall I please him there?"

587And then we'll speak in turn of you—what else?

Critical Apparatus588Your love, according to your beauty's worth,

589For you shall have some noble love, all gold:

590Whom choose you? we will get him at your choice.

591—Constance, I leave you. Just a minute since,

592I felt as I must die or be alone

Critical Apparatus593Breathing my soul into an ear like yours:

594Now, I would face the world with my new life,

Critical Apparatus595Wear my new crown. I'll walk around the rooms,

596And then come back and tell you how it feels.

597How soon a smile of God can change the world!

Critical Apparatus598How we are made for happiness—how work

599Grows play, adversity a winning fight!

Critical Apparatus600True, I have lost so many years: what then?

601Many remain: God has been very good.

Critical Apparatus602You, stay here! 'T is as different from dreams,

603From the mind's cold calm estimate of bliss,

Critical Apparatus604As these stone statues from the flesh and blood.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus605The comfort thou hast caused mankind, God's moon!

[She goes out, leaving Constance. Dance-music from within. Norbert enters.
pg 342 Critical Apparatus606

Norbert. Well? we have but one minute and one word!


Constance. I am yours, Norbert!

Norbert. Yes, mine.

Constance. Not till now!

608You were mine. Now I give myself to you.

Critical Apparatus609

Norbert. Constance?

Constance. Your own! I know the thriftier way

610Of giving—haply, 't is the wiser way.

611Meaning to give a treasure, I might dole

612Coin after coin out (each, as that were all,

Editor’s Note613With a new largess still at each despair)

Critical Apparatus614And force you keep in sight the deed, preserve

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus615Exhaustless till the end my part and yours,

Critical Apparatus616My giving and your taking; both our joys

617Dying together. Is it the wiser way?

618I choose the simpler; I give all at once.

Critical Apparatus619Know what you have to trust to, trade upon!

Critical Apparatus620Use it, abuse it,—anything but think

621Hereafter, "Had I known she loved me so,

622"And what my means, I might have thriven with it."

623This is your means. I give you all myself.


Norbert. I take you and thank God.

Constance. Look on through years!

Critical Apparatus625We cannot kiss, a second day like this;

626Else were this earth no earth.

Norbert. With this day's heat

Critical Apparatus627We shall go on through years of cold.

Constance. So, best!

628—I try to see those years—I think I see.

pg 343629You walk quick and new warmth comes; you look back

630And lay all to the first glow—not sit down

631For ever brooding on a day like this

Critical Apparatus632While seeing embers whiten and love die.

633Yes, love lives best in its effect; and mine,

634Full in its own life, yearns to live in yours.


Norbert. Just so. I take and know you all at once.

636Your soul is disengaged so easily,

637Your face is there, I know you; give me time,

Editor’s Note638Let me be proud and think you shall know me.

639My soul is slower: in a life I roll

Critical Apparatus640The minute out whereto you condense yours—

641The whole slow circle round you I must move,

642To be just you. I look to a long life

Editor’s Note643To decompose this minute, prove its worth.

644'T is the sparks' long succession one by one

Editor’s Note645Shall show you, in the end, what fire was crammed

Critical Apparatus646In that mere stone you struck: how could you know,

647If it lay ever unproved in your sight,

Critical Apparatus648As now my heart lies? your own warmth would hide

649Its coldness, were it cold.

Constance. But how prove, how?


Norbert. Prove in my life, you ask?

Constance. Quick, Norbert—how?

Editor’s Note651

Norbert. That's easy told. I count life just a stuff

Editor’s Note652To try the soul's strength on, educe the man.

653Who keeps one end in view makes all things serve.

654As with the body—he who hurls a lance

pg 344Critical Apparatus655Or heaps up stone on stone, shows strength alike:

Critical Apparatus656So must I seize and task all means to prove

Editor’s Note657And show this soul of mine, you crown as yours,

658And justify us both.

Constance. Could you write books,

Critical Apparatus659Paint pictures! One sits down in poverty

660And writes or paints, with pity for the rich.

Critical Apparatus661

Norbert. And loves one's painting and one's writing, then,

662And not one's mistress! All is best, believe,

663And we best as no other than we are.

664We live, and they experiment on life—

665Those poets, painters, all who stand aloof

Editor’s Note666To overlook the farther. Let us be

Critical Apparatus667The thing they look at! I might take your face

668And write of it and paint it—to what end?

669For whom? what pale dictatress in the air

670Feeds, smiling sadly, her fine ghost-like form

671With earth's real blood and breath, the beauteous life

672She makes despised for ever? You are mine,

673Made for me, not for others in the world,

674Nor yet for that which I should call my art,

Critical Apparatus675The cold calm power to see how fair you look.

676I come to you; I leave you not, to write

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus677Or paint. You are, I am: let Rubens there

Critical Apparatus678Paint us!

Constance. So, best!

Norbert. I understand your soul.

679You live, and rightly sympathize with life,

Critical Apparatus680With action, power, success. This way is straight;

Critical Apparatus681And time were short beside, to let me change

pg 345682The craft my childhood learnt: my craft shall serve.

683Men set me here to subjugate, enclose,

Critical Apparatus684Manure their barren lives, and force thence fruit

685First for themselves, and afterward for me

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus686In the due tithe; the task of some one soul,

Critical Apparatus687Through ways of work appointed by the world.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus688I am not bid create—men see no star

689Transfiguring my brow to warrant that—

Critical Apparatus690But find and bind and bring to bear their wills.

691So I began: to-night sees how I end.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus692What if it see, too, power's first outbreak here

693Amid the warmth, surprise and sympathy,

Critical Apparatus694And instincts of the heart that teach the head?

Critical Apparatus695What if the people have discerned at length

Critical Apparatus696The dawn of the next nature, novel brain

697Whose will they venture in the place of theirs,

Critical Apparatus698Whose work, they trust, shall find them as novel ways

Critical Apparatus699To untried heights which yet he only sees?

700I felt it when you kissed me. See this Queen,

Editor’s Note701This people—in our phrase, this mass of men—

702See how the mass lies passive to my hand

pg 346Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus703Now that my hand is plastic, with you by

704To make the muscles iron! Oh, an end

Critical Apparatus705Shall crown this issue as this crowns the first!

Editor’s Note706My will be on this people! then, the strain,

Editor’s Note707The grappling of the potter with his clay,

708The long uncertain struggle,—the success

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus709And consummation of the spirit-work,

Critical Apparatus710Some vase shaped to the curl of the god's lip,

Critical Apparatus711While rounded fair for human sense to see

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus712The Graces in a dance men recognize

713With turbulent applause and laughs of heart!

714So triumph ever shall renew itself;

Critical Apparatus715Ever shall end in efforts higher yet,

Critical Apparatus716Ever begin . . .

Constance. I ever helping?

Norbert. Thus!

[As he embraces her, the Queen enters.
Critical Apparatus717

Constance. Hist, madam! So have I performed my part.

Editor’s Note718You see your gratitude's true decency,

Critical Apparatus719Norbert? A little slow in seeing it!

Critical Apparatus720Begin, to end the sooner! What's a kiss?

Critical Apparatus721

Norbert. Constance?

Constance. Why, must I teach it you again?

pg 347722You want a witness to your dulness, sir?

Critical Apparatus723What was I saying these ten minutes long?

724Then I repeat—when some young handsome man

725Like you has acted out a part like yours,

726Is pleased to fall in love with one beyond,

727So very far beyond him, as he says—

728So hopelessly in love that but to speak

729Would prove him mad,—he thinks judiciously,

730And makes some insignificant good soul,

731Like me, his friend, adviser, confidant,

Editor’s Note732And very stalking-horse to cover him

Critical Apparatus733In following after what he dares not face.

734When his end's gained—(sir, do you understand?)

735When she, he dares not face, has loved him first,

Editor’s Note736—May I not say so, madam?—tops his hope,

Critical Apparatus737And overpasses so his wildest dream,

738With glad consent of all, and most of her

739The confidant who brought the same about—

740Why, in the moment when such joy explodes,

Critical Apparatus741I do hold that the merest gentleman

742Will not start rudely from the stalking-horse,

743Dismiss it with a "There, enough of you!"

744Forget it, show his back unmannerly:

745But like a liberal heart will rather turn

746And say, "A tingling time of hope was ours;

747"Betwixt the fears and falterings, we two lived

Critical Apparatus748"A chanceful time in waiting for the prize:

Critical Apparatus749"The confidant, the Constance, served not ill.

750"And though I shall forget her in due time,

751"Her use being answered now, as reason bids,

Editor’s Note752"Nay as herself bids from her heart of hearts,—

pg 348753"Still, she has rights, the first thanks go to her,

754"The first good praise goes to the prosperous tool,

Critical Apparatus755"And the first—which is the last—rewarding kiss."

Critical Apparatus756

Norbert. Constance, it is a dream—ah, see, you smile!


Constance. So, now his part being properly performed,

758Madam, I turn to you and finish mine

759As duly; I do justice in my turn.

760Yes, madam, he has loved you—long and well;

761He could not hope to tell you so—'t was I

Critical Apparatus762Who served to prove your soul accessible,

763I led his thoughts on, drew them to their place

Critical Apparatus764When they had wandered else into despair,

Critical Apparatus765And kept love constant toward its natural aim.

766Enough, my part is played; you stoop half-way

767And meet us royally and spare our fears:

Critical Apparatus768'T is like yourself. He thanks you, so do I.

769Take him—with my full heart! my work is praised

770By what comes of it. Be you happy, both!

771Yourself—the only one on earth who can—

772Do all for him, much more than a mere heart

773Which though warm is not useful in its warmth

774As the silk vesture of a queen! fold that

775Around him gently, tenderly. For him—

Critical Apparatus776For him,—he knows his own part!

Norbert Have you done?

777I take the jest at last. Should I speak now?

778Was yours the wager, Constance, foolish child,

779Or did you but accept it? Well—at least

Critical Apparatus780You lose by it.

Constance. Nay, madam, 't is your turn!

781Restrain him still from speech a little more,

Critical Apparatus782And make him happier as more confident!

pg 349Critical Apparatus783Pity him, madam, he is timid yet!

Critical Apparatus784Mark, Norbert! Do not shrink now! Here I yield

785My whole right in you to the Queen, observe!

786With her go put in practice the great schemes

787You teem with, follow the career else closed—

788Be all you cannot be except by her!

Critical Apparatus789Behold her!—Madam, say for pity's sake

Critical Apparatus790Anything—frankly say you love him! Else

791He'll not believe it: there's more earnest in

Critical Apparatus792His fear than you conceive: I know the man!


Norbert. I know the woman somewhat, and confess

794I thought she had jested better: she begins

795To overcharge her part. I gravely wait

796Your pleasure, madam: where is my reward?


Queen. Norbert, this wild girl (whom I recognize

Editor’s Note798Scarce more than you do, in her fancy-fit,

Editor’s Note799Eccentric speech and variable mirth,

800Not very wise perhaps and somewhat bold,

801Yet suitable, the whole night's work being strange)

Critical Apparatus802—May still be right: I may do well to speak

803And make authentic what appears a dream

Critical Apparatus804To even myself. For, what she says, is true:

Critical Apparatus805Yes, Norbert—what you spoke just now of love,

806Devotion, stirred no novel sense in me,

807But justified a warmth felt long before.

Critical Apparatus808Yes, from the first—I loved you, I shall say:

Critical Apparatus809Strange! but I do grow stronger, now 't is said.

810Your courage helps mine: you did well to speak

811To-night, the night that crowns your twelvemonths' toil:

812But still I had not waited to discern

Critical Apparatus813Your heart so long, believe me! From the first

pg 350814The source of so much zeal was almost plain,

815In absence even of your own words just now

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus816Which hazarded the truth. 'T is very strange,

817But takes a happy ending—in your love

Critical Apparatus818Which mine meets: be it so! as you chose me,

Critical Apparatus819So I choose you.

Norbert. And worthily you choose.

820I will not be unworthy your esteem,

Critical Apparatus821No, madam. I do love you; I will meet

Critical Apparatus822Your nature, now I know it. This was well.

823I see,—you dare and you are justified:

824But none had ventured such experiment,

825Less versed than you in nobleness of heart,

Critical Apparatus826Less confident of finding such in me.

Critical Apparatus827I joy that thus you test me ere you grant

828The dearest richest beauteousest and best

Critical Apparatus829Of women to my arms: 't is like yourself

830So—back again into my part's set words—

831Devotion to the uttermost is yours,

832But no, you cannot, madam, even you,

833Create in me the love our Constance does.

834Or—something truer to the tragic phrase—

835Not yon magnolia-bell superb with scent

836Invites a certain insect—that's myself—

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus837But the small eye-flower nearer to the ground.

Critical Apparatus838I take this lady.

Constance. Stay—not hers, the trap—

Critical Apparatus839Stay, Norbert—that mistake were worst of all!

pg 351Critical Apparatus840He is too cunning, madam! It was I,

841I, Norbert, who . . .

Norbert. You, was it, Constance? Then,

842But for the grace of this divinest hour

Critical Apparatus843Which gives me you, I might not pardon here!

844I am the Queen's; she only knows my brain:

Critical Apparatus845She may experiment upon my heart

Critical Apparatus846And I instruct her too by the result.

847But you, sweet, you who know me, who so long

Editor’s Note848Have told my heart-beats over, held my life

849In those white hands of yours,—it is not well!


Constance. Tush! I have said it, did I not say it all?

851The life, for her—the heart-beats, for her sake!

Critical Apparatus852

Norbert. Enough! my cheek grows red, I think. Your test?

853There's not the meanest woman in the world,

854Not she I least could love in all the world,

Critical Apparatus855Whom, did she love me, had love proved itself,

Critical Apparatus856I dare insult as you insult me now.

857Constance, I could say, if it must be said,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus858"Take back the soul you offer, I keep mine!"

859But—"Take the soul still quivering on your hand,

860"The soul so offered, which I cannot use,

Critical Apparatus861"And, please you, give it to some playful friend,

862"For—what's the trifle he requites me with?"

863I, tempt a woman, to amuse a man,

864That two may mock her heart if it succumb?

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus865No: fearing God and standing 'neath his heaven,

866I would not dare insult a woman so,

867Were she the meanest woman in the world,

pg 352868And he, I cared to please, ten emperors!


Constance. Norbert!

Norbert. I love once as I live but once.

870What case is this to think or talk about?

871I love you. Would it mend the case at all

Critical Apparatus872If such a step as this killed love in me?

Critical Apparatus873Your part were done: account to God for it!

874But mine—could murdered love get up again,

Critical Apparatus875And kneel to whom you please to designate,

Editor’s Note876And make you mirth? It is too horrible.

877You did not know this, Constance? now you know

878That body and soul have each one life, but one:

879And here's my love, here, living, at your feet.


Constance. See the Queen! Norbert—this one more last word—

881If thus you have taken jest for earnest—thus

882Loved me in earnest . . .

Norbert. Ah, no jest holds here!

Critical Apparatus883Where is the laughter in which jests break up,

884And what this horror that grows palpable?

Editor’s Note885Madam—why grasp you thus the balcony?

Critical Apparatus886Have I done ill? Have I not spoken truth?

887How could I other? Was it not your test,

Critical Apparatus888To try me, what my love for Constance meant?

889Madam, your royal soul itself approves,

890The first, that I should choose thus! so one takes

Critical Apparatus891A beggar,—asks him, what would buy his child?

892And then approves the expected laugh of scorn

893Returned as something noble from the rags.

894Speak, Constance, I'm the beggar! Ha, what's this?

895You two glare each at each like panthers now.

pg 353896Constance, the world fades; only you stand there!

897You did not, in to-night's wild whirl of things,

898Sell me—your soul of souls, for any price?

Critical Apparatus899No—no—'t is easy to believe in you!

900Was it your love's mad trial to o'ertop

901Mine by this vain self-sacrifice? well, still—

Critical Apparatus902Though I might curse, I love you. I am love

Critical Apparatus903And cannot change: love's self is at your feet!

[The Queen goes out.
Critical Apparatus904

Constance. Feel my heart; let it die against your own!

Critical Apparatus905

Norbert. Against my own. Explain not; let this be!

Critical Apparatus906This is life's height.

Constance. Yours, yours, yours!

Norbert. You and I—

Editor’s Note907Why care by what meanders we are here

Critical Apparatus908I' the centre of the labyrinth? Men have died

Critical Apparatus909Trying to find this place, which we have found.

Critical Apparatus910

Constance. Found, found!

Norbert. Sweet, never fear what she can do!

911We are past harm now.

Constance. On the breast of God.

912I thought of men—as if you were a man.

913Tempting him with a crown!

Norbert. This must end here:

Critical Apparatus914It is too perfect.

Constance. There's the music stopped.

Critical Apparatus915What measured heavy tread? It is one blaze

916About me and within me.

Norbert. Oh, some death

917Will run its sudden finger round this spark

pg 354Critical Apparatus918And sever us from the rest!

Constance. And so do well.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus919Now the doors open.

Norbert. 'T is the guard comes.

Constance. Kiss!

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
title 1863, 1865 BALCONY. | a scene. | 1855. {the date '1853.' appears in 1888, 1889} {in 1855P63S the poem is divided into three parts, the second and third beginning at ll. 340 and 606 respectively; in these texts the title is followed by 'FIRST PART.'} {in 1863, 1865 the following stage direction precedes the names of the two characters:} In a Balcony.
Critical Apparatus
1 1855P65 Now now.
Editor’s Note
2 Put them upon my forehead: Browning suffered from severe headaches, particularly before his marriage. For a later occasion when EBB took his head 'in her two little hands', see Wedgwood, 102.
Critical Apparatus
3 1855P, 1855, 1863s65 through. 1856 through,
Critical Apparatus
5 1855P65 the
Critical Apparatus
7 1855P65 you.
Critical Apparatus
8 1855P56 asked,
Critical Apparatus
10 186884S us!
Critical Apparatus
12 1855P65 give
Editor’s Note
12 How I do love you!: cf. EBB, Sonnets from the Portuguese, xliii: 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.'
Critical Apparatus
15 1855P65 now.
Editor’s Note
17 Hold you and have you: an echo of 'The Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony' in the Book of Common Prayer. Cf. 'Mesmerism', 26.
Critical Apparatus
18 1855P63 soul.
Critical Apparatus
19 1855P65 how . . . . man?
Editor’s Note
32 pride of circumstance: cf Othello, iii. iii. 358.
Critical Apparatus
34 1855P more. 1863S more,
Editor’s Note
34 parade's sake: Johnson defines 'parade' as 'Show; ostentation'.
Critical Apparatus
37 1855P crowns. 185356 crowns!
Critical Apparatus
38 1855P56 least"
Critical Apparatus
39 186884S it!
Editor’s Note
42 my heart's heart: cf l. 752 below, and Hamlet, iii. ii. 71.
Critical Apparatus
43 1855P65 that . . . . right!
Critical Apparatus
44 1855P65 away.
Editor’s Note
49 succeeds: follows.
Critical Apparatus
56 1855P1856, 1863 That junction
Critical Apparatus
57 1855P65 anciently.
Editor’s Note
62 the fate: the destined one.
your minute's in the heaven: astrological in suggestion.
Critical Apparatus
63 1855P63S turn. Name . . . . reward!
Editor’s Note
64 clench: clinch.
the to-come: as in Shelley, 'Letter to Maria Gisborne', 200, and Hellas, 148 and 854. See too Sordello, v. 981 and vi. 206.
Critical Apparatus
69 1855P56 The very
Critical Apparatus
70 1855P65 work.
Critical Apparatus
78 1855P65 case.
Critical Apparatus
79 1855P65 me and hold
Critical Apparatus
81 1855P84S court,
Critical Apparatus
84 1855P1856, 1863, 1865 horrible!
Critical Apparatus
85 1855P84S speak.
Critical Apparatus
87 1853P there crouched
Critical Apparatus
91 1855P84S my labours here 1855P56 praise:
Critical Apparatus
92 1855P56 labour, while she
Critical Apparatus
105 1855P56 all;
Editor’s Note
105 Better than life: more lifelike than life itself Cf 410–12, and 'The Last Ride Together', 80–1.
Editor’s Note
106 dome: building.
Editor’s Note
109 The fight of giants: the revolt of the Giants against the gods was a favourite theme for sculptors in antiquity, and was often used in the decoration of temple pediments. It was also a theme of the Italian painters of the Renaissance.
the feast of gods: another common subject for painters, most splendidly treated by Bellini.
Critical Apparatus
115 1855P But bring
Editor’s Note
123 too far, too mediate: too distant, too indirect.
Critical Apparatus
*125 {reading of DC, BrU, 1889} 1855P84S walls, 1888 walls
Editor’s Note
130 Rubens: Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), the great Flemish painter.
Critical Apparatus
132 1855P84S than life,
Critical Apparatus
135 1855P63S And now
Critical Apparatus
140 1855P65 apprehend its value
Critical Apparatus
141 1855P63S loyalty!
Critical Apparatus
142 1880S84S "So
Critical Apparatus
143 1855P63S act,
Critical Apparatus
145 1855P65 And life
Critical Apparatus
147 1855P, 1855, 1863s84S understand!
Critical Apparatus
*148 {reading of DC, BrU, 1889} 1855P84S Queen, 1888 Queen
Critical Apparatus
151 1855P56 palace-window or in the
Critical Apparatus
152 1855P56 glow.
Critical Apparatus
160 1855P56 not here;
Critical Apparatus
161 186884S how
Critical Apparatus
162 1855P63S found she was the
Critical Apparatus
163 1855P56 to her—
1863 to her.
Editor’s Note
165 white star: propitious star.
Critical Apparatus
169 1855P56 And did
Critical Apparatus
172 1855P56 And let me name
Critical Apparatus
174 1855P56 was some cause—
Critical Apparatus
175 1855P56 The love . . . . power, of fame,
Critical Apparatus
177 1855P56 too.
Critical Apparatus
179 1855P63S now.
Critical Apparatus
183 1855P63S might be thus impatient.
Critical Apparatus
*184 {reading of DC, BrU, 1889} 1855P88 the folks within?
Critical Apparatus
188 1855P56 what this scruple
Critical Apparatus
189 1855P56 up, to
Critical Apparatus
190 1855P56 corridor?
Critical Apparatus
191 1855P56 sleights, long secresies,
Critical Apparatus
192 1855P56 The plots inscrutable,
Editor’s Note
192 Complots: as in Pippa Passes, iv. 128.
telegraphs: telegrams. Cf. Tennyson, The Princess (1847), Prologue, 77, and Clough, Mari Magno (written 1861), 'The Clergyman's Second Tale', 265.
Editor’s Note
193 hazards of a look: hazardous glances.
Editor’s Note
195 this compression's ecstasy: the ecstasy of being obliged to observe restraint. Cf. 'Cristina and Monaldeschi' (in Jocoseria), l. 4. from end: 'Love burst compression'.
Critical Apparatus
196 1855P56 nothing?
Critical Apparatus
198 1855P56 wife?
Critical Apparatus
200 1855P63 That you're ashamed
1865, 186884S That you are ashamed
1855P56 you'll get
Critical Apparatus
202 1855P56 cousin, and gets rid of
Editor’s Note
202 Concedes: grants (you).
Critical Apparatus
203 1855P56 And her at
Critical Apparatus
204 1855P56 live as our
Critical Apparatus
207 1855P56 When we . . . . across her traps!
Critical Apparatus
208 1855P56 the falcon's foot,
Editor’s Note
208 ring the falcons' feet: oblige the falcons to hawk, i.e. oblige us to love. Cf. 'Respectability'.
Critical Apparatus
209 1863S make that duty
Critical Apparatus
210 1855P56 When long ago 'twas nature. 1863S nature: have
Critical Apparatus
211 1855P56 He never
1884S Hawk never
Critical Apparatus
212 1884S thought;
Critical Apparatus
214 1855P63S note.
Critical Apparatus
217 1855P56 secresies. 1863S secrecies.
Critical Apparatus
218 1855P my life, and 1855P56 love will do {revised in Fields}
1863S can dare
Critical Apparatus
222 1855P56 motives you have named.
Critical Apparatus
223 1855P63S good. But 1855P56 high.
Critical Apparatus
226 1855P56 to have you
Critical Apparatus
231 1855P56 off—
Editor’s Note
231 shames: imputations of shame.
Editor’s Note
233 subdued: suppressed.
Critical Apparatus
234 1855P65 now it's all
Critical Apparatus
239 1855P63S revulsion.
Critical Apparatus
243 1855P68 Of the
Editor’s Note
245 trembling star: cf. Shelley, The Revolt of Islam, 3002.
Critical Apparatus
248 1855P self-abandoned—even each tree
Editor’s Note
248 self abandoned: as in Cowper, Iliad, xii. 138.
Critical Apparatus
250 1855P so, each small flower and weed the same,
Critical Apparatus
252 1855P56 itself! 1863S itself:
Critical Apparatus
253 1855P63S us, each abrupt,
Critical Apparatus
256 1855P84S The Nymph . . . . fawn, the Silence
1855P63S rose
Editor’s Note
256 Silence to her rose: The rose is a symbol of secrecy. Hence sub rosa, 'in confidence'.
Critical Apparatus
257 1855P63S And God's
Critical Apparatus
259 1855P63S true.
Critical Apparatus
260 1855P63S come.
Editor’s Note
262 the march-step: as a boy, Browning was delighted by a march by Charles Avison: see Parleyings with Certain People of Importance, vii, and (for the music) DeVane, Browning's Parleyings, 283.
Editor’s Note
265 Our flower of life: as in l. 458 below, and 'The Statue and the Bust', 105.
breaks open: blooms.
Critical Apparatus
*267 {reading of DC, BrU, 1889} 1855P63 bone—
186584S bone:
1888 bone
Editor’s Note
267 to the skin and bone: one of several references to the Queen's poor physique.
Critical Apparatus
270 1855P generous, despite
Critical Apparatus
271 1855P are. Yes, in
185563S are. For,
Editor’s Note
272 pain-twisted: not in OED2.
Critical Apparatus
273 1855P a generous soul
Critical Apparatus
274 1855P84S Debarred all healthy
Editor’s Note
274 Debarred: deprived.
Critical Apparatus
277 1855P63S past.
Editor’s Note
277 acquittance: settlement.
Critical Apparatus
279 1855P Men hate a gift as women hate a debt.
Editor’s Note
279 as men a gift: proverbial. Cf. ODEP 301b: 'Who receives a gift, sells his liberty.'
Critical Apparatus
282 1855P63S out children's leave
Critical Apparatus
286 1855P63S such an one looks
Critical Apparatus
288 1855P56 —That . . . . wake—
Critical Apparatus
*289 {reading of DC, BrU, 1889} 1855P88 But,
Critical Apparatus
291 1855P56 coldly do its warmest deed!
1863S70 warmest need! {revised in PM}
Critical Apparatus
292 1855P56 whit.
Editor’s Note
296 on greater argument: for a stronger reason.
Critical Apparatus
297 1855P63S of that cold
Critical Apparatus
298 1855P56 with; my love
Critical Apparatus
299 1855P63S love.
Critical Apparatus
303–4 1855P I could obtain this favour—I would lay | The whole of what I
Critical Apparatus
304 1855, 1856 Would lay
Critical Apparatus
306 1855P63S Declare that my
1884S Declaring her success my recompense;
Critical Apparatus
308 1855P then, when flows her
185563S once loosed her
Critical Apparatus
309 1855P56 As you will mark it—
1863S it— 1884S it! Oh, were
Critical Apparatus
310 1863S it, letting it
Critical Apparatus
311 1855P56 it give the thing I
Critical Apparatus
312 1855P56 Accepting so, in
Critical Apparatus
313 1855P56 All value . . . . the queen—
Critical Apparatus
314 1855P56 none loves her directly, none dares that!
1863S75 none loves Queens 1863S none dares that!
186375 none dares that,
Critical Apparatus
315 1855P63S A shadow of a thing, a
Critical Apparatus
316 1855P63S thing;
Critical Apparatus
321 1855P56 And find
Critical Apparatus
325 1855P So, if 1863S What, if
Critical Apparatus
326 1855P63S truth.
Critical Apparatus
328 1855P Is scarcely false, I'll turn it such a way.
1855, 1856 Is scarcely false, I'll so express
1863S false, I'd so express {before l. 339, 'SECOND PART.' appears in 1855P63S}
Editor’s Note
333 conceit: idea.
Critical Apparatus
340 1855P65 Constance!— . . . . Speak!
Editor’s Note
342 Mother: Mary.
Critical Apparatus
341 1855P–56, 1863, 1865 is it true—
1863S is it true
186884S word?
Critical Apparatus
343 1855P65 Madam!
Critical Apparatus
347 1855P63S it.
Critical Apparatus
353 1855P Howbeit we let such whims
185584S Howbeit we
Critical Apparatus
354 1855P Such very fancies
185584S Our very fancies
1855P84S will, |
Critical Apparatus
*355 {editors' emendation} 1855P56 And so accepting
1863S84S And so, accepting
1888, 1889 And while, accepting
1855P63S abjure ourselves!
186384S abjure ourselves.
Critical Apparatus
357 1855P65 And of being
Critical Apparatus
358 1855P63S that turf.
Critical Apparatus
359 1855P63S so.
Critical Apparatus
363 1855P70, 1880S, 1884S love!"
1875 love!'
Critical Apparatus
366 1855P Oh, . . . . of it again!
Critical Apparatus
367 1855P love, indeed.
185584S love, indeed."
Critical Apparatus
372 1855P56 men.
Critical Apparatus
377 1855P63S instant.
Critical Apparatus
386 1855P63S me!
Critical Apparatus
387 1855P56 you—
Critical Apparatus
389 1855P63S beauteous!
Editor’s Note
389 still: always.
Critical Apparatus
390 1855P65, 1884S sure.
Editor’s Note
393 and see men come and go: cf. 103–5, above.
Critical Apparatus
396 1855P63 one,—
Editor’s Note
401 extremes that long to touch: 'extremes meet' is proverbial.
Critical Apparatus
403 1855P84S Absorbed to . . . . at the state-affairs |
Editor’s Note
410 as preferred to life: cf. 105, above.
Critical Apparatus
411 1855P84S woman's cheek,
Editor’s Note
412 baladine's: a baladine (Fr.) is a dancer, or street-performer. The word occurs in Fifine at the Fair, 12, 101, 207.
Editor’s Note
416 declined: cast down.
queendom: the position or dignity of a queen, as in EBB, 'Dead Pan', xi.
Critical Apparatus
418 1855P56 of these broke
Editor’s Note
418 broke rank: left his station.
Critical Apparatus
419 1855P84S Or wrote
Editor’s Note
419 vulgar: ordinary.
Critical Apparatus
420 1855P65 hand.
Editor’s Note
422 halbert: a battle-axe mounted on a long handle.
Critical Apparatus
425 1855P63S comprehended!
Critical Apparatus
437 1855P63S It must have finer aims to spur it on! 186384S It must have finer aims to lure it on!
Critical Apparatus
443 1855P65 it
Critical Apparatus
444 1855P84S approved the love,
Critical Apparatus
445 1855P63S And that you both were 186384S And so you both were *{reading of 1855P84S, DC, BrU, 1889} 1888 intelligence
Editor’s Note
445 in intelligence: in close touch, understanding each other.
Critical Apparatus
446 1855P84S in the garden,
Critical Apparatus
455 1855P63S now)
Critical Apparatus
461 1855P65 yes—
Critical Apparatus
463 1855P Such a calm
Critical Apparatus
464 1855P63S In payment
Critical Apparatus
465 1855P84S you? cloud was on
Critical Apparatus
466 1855P84S ears at that
Critical Apparatus
469 1855P84S You did not hear . . . you thought he spoke
Critical Apparatus
470 1855P84S love?
Critical Apparatus
473 1855P63S reflex—how . . . . understood!
Editor’s Note
473 reflex: reflection.
Critical Apparatus
474 1855P the riband I
Critical Apparatus
476 1855P84S love was the end
Critical Apparatus
477 1855P63 pass,
Critical Apparatus
478 1855P65 yours—
Critical Apparatus
480 1855P84S But teach me how 1855P65 won.
Critical Apparatus
481 1855P65 this
Critical Apparatus
496 1855P63 myself—
Critical Apparatus
503 1855P75 girl, {revised in PM}
Critical Apparatus
504 1855P84S deceive myself;
Critical Apparatus
506 1855P84S Ah, what
Editor’s Note
507 I set my life: as a gambler.
Editor’s Note
508–9 am I not left, / My soul, myself?: asked about this passage by Furnivall, Browning replied: 'The great obstacle, in the Queen's mind, to the possibility of her awakening love, in the case of a young and handsome man, is her consciousness of being neither young nor handsome,—and she seeks for an instance where, in default of these qualities, the desired effect may be produced all the same. And this applies equally, or even more forcibly, to the second instance she gives—when driven to an extremity,—that, though all other attractions fail, men will find them in loving—not youth and beauty—but soul—phantasy—even that poorest one of rank—which she curses in recognition of its being the very poorest': Trumpeter, 102. Probably with reference to the simile about 'the fountain's very shape' [515], he replied (immediately before the passage just quoted): 'all I can reply is that the simile came in quite naturally and without stoppage of the Queen's "passionate feeling"—as I conceived the character, at least: depend on it, I never introduce a simile as an afterthought.'
Editor’s Note
512 why should not he: 'love' understood.
Critical Apparatus
513–14 1855P84S The love, the . . . . faith, the sacrifice, | The constancy? I
Editor’s Note
514 death-long: not in OED2.
Critical Apparatus
516 1855P84S And whether
Editor’s Note
516 a Triton's: Triton, son of Neptune, is generally represented as blowing a conch-shell.
Editor’s Note
517 that pours the foam: cf. 'Up at a Villa', 26 ff.
Editor’s Note
519 But I'll pour: quoting ll. 509–19, George Eliot italicized this line.
Critical Apparatus
520 1855P65 cannot
Editor’s Note
520 How I will love him!: see 12 n.
Editor’s Note
521 loved a poet once: probably, as Cooke suggested, Paul Scarron was the poet. The youthful Françoise d'Aubigné, the future Mme de Maintenon, married him when he was over forty and had been severely crippled by rheumatism for some ten years.
Critical Apparatus
523 1855P56 too!
Editor’s Note
529 phantasy: imagination, imagining.
Critical Apparatus
532 1855P63S Curses!
Critical Apparatus
533 1855P65 do. And
Editor’s Note
534 You are wedded: we hear nothing of her husband. Cf. 548.
Critical Apparatus
539 1855P65 there, there,
Editor’s Note
545 curdling: coagulating. Cf. Shelley, Prometheus Unbound, ii. iii. 22–7.
Critical Apparatus
550 1855P56 Pause
Critical Apparatus
557 1855P63S happen, I . . . . it,
Editor’s Note
560 express: on purpose.
Critical Apparatus
567 1855P56, 1863, 1865 could
Critical Apparatus
568 1880S84S consider!
Critical Apparatus
569 1855P63S like me.
Critical Apparatus
572 1855P84S yours,
Critical Apparatus
573 1855P84S And taller 1855P56 is, for you are 186384S is, for yourself
Critical Apparatus
574 1863S me, give . . . . him! 1855P56, 1863, 1865 give
Editor’s Note
578 to you: in comparison to you.
Critical Apparatus
579 1863S for love, leave
Critical Apparatus
580 1855P56 he
Critical Apparatus
581 1855P56, 1863, 1863 heart.
Critical Apparatus
582 1855P56 one heart— 1863S65 one heart.
Critical Apparatus
583 1855P63S "This
Critical Apparatus
584 1855P56 does,
Critical Apparatus
585 1855P65 coin.
Critical Apparatus
586 1855P,–65 shall
Critical Apparatus
588 1855P63S (according . . . . worth)
Critical Apparatus
593 1855P63S yours.
Critical Apparatus
595 1855P–56, 1863–84S With my
Critical Apparatus
598 1855P56 are all made
Critical Apparatus
600 1855P65 years. What
Critical Apparatus
602 1855P65 here.
Critical Apparatus
604 1863S from live flesh stage direction after l.
Critical Apparatus
605 1855P56 out. Dance-music {before l. 606 'PART THIRD.' appears in 1855P56, and 'THIRD PART.' in 1863S}
Editor’s Note
605 God's moon: apparently Love, which reflects God, as the moon reflects the sun.
Critical Apparatus
606 1855P65 Well! 1855P56 word— 1863S65 word.
Critical Apparatus
609 1855P65 Constance!
Editor’s Note
613 largess: bounty.
Critical Apparatus
614 1855P56 deed, reserve
Critical Apparatus
615 1880S, 1884S Exhaustless to the
Editor’s Note
615 Exhaustless: unexhausted, inexhaustible.
Critical Apparatus
616 1855P63S taking,
Critical Apparatus
619 1855P56 upon.
Critical Apparatus
620 1855P63S but say
Critical Apparatus
625 1855P63S this,
Critical Apparatus
627 1855P63S best.
Critical Apparatus
632 1855P84S seeing the embers
Editor’s Note
638 shall: note the stress on this word.
Critical Apparatus
640 1855P56 out in which you
Editor’s Note
643 decompose: analyse, open out. Cf. Scott, The Antiquary, ch. iv, 4th para. from end: 'to decompose the motives of my worthy friend'.
Editor’s Note
645 what fire was crammed: cf. Timon of Athens, i. i. 24–5: 'The fire i' th' flint / Shows not till it be struck'. Cook points out that 'enclosed fire is an image that intrigued Browning': on pp. 264–5 she cites other examples.
Critical Apparatus
646 1855P56 struck: you could not know,
Critical Apparatus
648 Fields lies:
Editor’s Note
651–2 a stuff: / To try the soul's strength on: cf Sordello, i. 766–70.
Editor’s Note
652 educe: bring out.
Critical Apparatus
655 1855P84S alike,
Critical Apparatus
656 1855P56, 186384S So I will seize and use all 1863S So will I . . . . and use all
Editor’s Note
657 this soul of mine: supply 'which'.
Critical Apparatus
659 1855P65 one
Critical Apparatus
661 1855P56 writing too,
Editor’s Note
666 overlook: see.
Critical Apparatus
667 1855P56 take that face
Critical Apparatus
675 1855P63S That cold
Critical Apparatus
677 1855P65 am. Let
Editor’s Note
677 Rubens: cf. 130. She no doubt points to a picture on the wall.
Critical Apparatus
678 1855P65 us.
Critical Apparatus
680 1855P63S success: this . . . . straight.
Critical Apparatus
681 1855P65 And days were
Critical Apparatus
684 1855P84S force the fruit
Critical Apparatus
686 1855P84S one man,
Editor’s Note
686 tithe: share, originally 'The tenth part; the part assigned to the maintenance of the ministry' (Johnson).
Critical Apparatus
687 1855P56, 1863 By ways 1863S With ways 1855P84S by themselves.
Critical Apparatus
688 1855P63S create, they see 186384S create—they see
Editor’s Note
688 no star: of genius. Cf. 'Pictor Ignotus', 34–5.
Critical Apparatus
690 1855P84S But bind in one and carry out their
Critical Apparatus
692 1855P84S too, my first
Editor’s Note
692 What if it see, too, power's first outbreak here: in himself, he means: is he the 'the new man' (l. 696, 1855) who is to be the leader?
Critical Apparatus
694 1855P56 The instincts
Critical Apparatus
695 1855P56 discerned in me
Critical Apparatus
696 1855P84S nature, the new man
Critical Apparatus
698 1855P56 And whom they trust to find them out new ways 1863S And whom they trust shall find them out new ways 186384S And who, they . . . . them out new ways
Critical Apparatus
699 1855P63S To the new heights 186384S To heights as new which
Editor’s Note
701 this mass of men: at the beginning of the first of his lectures On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History Carlyle told his audience that history 'is at bottom the History of . . . Great Men . . . the leaders of men . . . the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain'. Browning was among his audience. Cf. Sordello, i. 468–9; Luria, v. 301; 'Bishop Blougram's Apology', 756.
Critical Apparatus
703 1855P84S And how my . . . . plastic, and you
Editor’s Note
703 plastic: capable of giving shape to.
Critical Apparatus
705 1855P56 first.
Editor’s Note
706 My will be on this people!: optative or jussive: 'May my will . . .'
Editor’s Note
707 the potter with his clay: cf. 'Rabbi Ben Ezra', 151 ff.
Critical Apparatus
709 1855P56 In that uprising of
Editor’s Note
709 the spirit-work: no other example of this compound in OED2.
Critical Apparatus
710 1855P56 The vase
Critical Apparatus
711 1855P84S for lower men to
Critical Apparatus
712 1855P56 dance they recognise 1863S75 dance all recognise 1880S, 1884S dance all recognize
Editor’s Note
712 The Graces in a dance: the three Graces were goddesses of beauty, who spread the joy of Nature in the hearts of men and gods. They are commonly represented as scantily-clad or naked young women, as in Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus'.
Critical Apparatus
715 1855P56 Ever to end
Critical Apparatus
716 1855P56 Ever begun—
stage direction after l. 716 1855P56 her, enter the Queen.
Critical Apparatus
717 1855P65 madam—so I have performed 186884 S So I have performed
Editor’s Note
718 your gratitude's true decency: the appropriate expression of your gratitude. She wishes the Queen to interpret their embrace as no more than this. Cf. l. 755.
Critical Apparatus
719 1855P65 a
Critical Apparatus
720 1855P56 Begun to 1855P65 sooner.
Critical Apparatus
721 1855P56, 186365 Constance!
Critical Apparatus
723 1863S minutes since?
Editor’s Note
732 stalking-horse: an artificial horse behind which a fowler hid in pursuit of his game, as in As You Like It, v. iv. 100.
Critical Apparatus
733 1855P84S face—
Editor’s Note
736 tops: surpasses.
Critical Apparatus
737 1863S overpasses even his
Critical Apparatus
741 1855P56 do say that
Critical Apparatus
748 1855P56 prize.
Critical Apparatus
749 1855P confidant, I grant too, served 1855P56, 1865 ill; 1863S, 1863 ill!
Editor’s Note
752 heart of hearts: cf. Hamlet, iii. ii. 71.
Critical Apparatus
755 1855P56 last—thankful kiss."
Critical Apparatus
756 1855P65 Constance?
Critical Apparatus
762 1855P63 accessible.
Critical Apparatus
764 1855P56 When oft they 1863S84S When else they 1855P84S wandered out into
Critical Apparatus
765 1863 constant towards its
Critical Apparatus
768 1855P56 yourself—he
Critical Apparatus
776 1855P65 part.
Critical Apparatus
780 1855P56 Now madam, 1855P63S turn.
Critical Apparatus
782 1855P84S happier and more
Critical Apparatus
783 1855P63S yet.
Critical Apparatus
784 1855P65 do
Critical Apparatus
789 1855P63S her.—
Critical Apparatus
790 1855P63S him.
Critical Apparatus
792 185565 man.
Editor’s Note
798 fancy-fit: no earlier example in OED2.
Editor’s Note
799 variable: fickle.
Critical Apparatus
802 1884S —She may be
Critical Apparatus
804 1880S, 1884S is truth.
Critical Apparatus
805 1855P65 spoke but now
Critical Apparatus
808 1855P63S say,—
Critical Apparatus
809 1855P56 said,
Critical Apparatus
813 1863, 1865 me.
Critical Apparatus
816 1855P84S Which opened out the
Editor’s Note
816 hazarded: risked (telling).
Critical Apparatus
818 1855P56 so— 1863S65 so: 1855P84S you choose me,
Critical Apparatus
819 1855P65 choose!
Critical Apparatus
821 1855P you,
Critical Apparatus
822 1855P63S it; this 1855P56 well,
Critical Apparatus
826 1855P63S finding it in
Critical Apparatus
827 1855P56 I like that
Critical Apparatus
829 1855P56 arms! . . . . yourself!
Critical Apparatus
837 1855P56 ground:
Editor’s Note
837 eye-flower: daisy, i.e. day's eye; cf. Chaucer, Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, 332. Cf. too 'Transcendentalism', 26.
Critical Apparatus
838 1855P56 lady!
Critical Apparatus
839 1855P65 all.
Critical Apparatus
840 1855P56 (He . . . . madam!) it 1863S (He . . . . madam!)
Critical Apparatus
843 1855P63S I should not 1855P65 here.
Critical Apparatus
845 1855P84S experiment therefore on my
Critical Apparatus
846 1855P63S result;
Editor’s Note
848 told: counted.
Critical Apparatus
852 1855P63S test!
Critical Apparatus
855 1855P84S me, did love prove itself,
Critical Apparatus
856 1855P75 I dared insult
Critical Apparatus
858 1855P56, 1863, 1865 mine" 1863S mine:"
Editor’s Note
858 "Take back the soul: I could imagine myself rejecting a woman's love, but never telling her to offer it to 'some friend'.
Critical Apparatus
861 1855P56 some friend of mine,
Critical Apparatus
865 1855P65 No!
Editor’s Note
865 fearing: reverencing, as in Ps. 103: 13, etc.
Critical Apparatus
872 1855P84S Should such . . . . this kill love
Critical Apparatus
873 1855P65 it.
Critical Apparatus
875 1855P63 you pleased to
Editor’s Note
876 And make you mirth: to entertain you.
Critical Apparatus
883 187084S which jest breaks up,
1855P56 up? {revised in Fields}
Editor’s Note
885 Madam: addressed to the Queen.
Critical Apparatus
886 1855P75 spoken the truth?
Critical Apparatus
888 1855P75 me, and what
Critical Apparatus
891 1855P65 child,
Critical Apparatus
899 1855P65 you.
Critical Apparatus
902 1855P84S I should curse,
Critical Apparatus
903 1855P63S change!
1855P65 feet.
stage direction after l. 903 1855P56 [Queen
Critical Apparatus
904 1855P56 own.
Critical Apparatus
905 1855P65 own! explain . . . . be.
Critical Apparatus
906 1855P65 Yours! Yours! Yours!
Editor’s Note
907 meanders: winding ways.
Critical Apparatus
908 1855P68 In the
1855P65 men
Critical Apparatus
909 1855P63S place out, which
Critical Apparatus
910 1855P63S do—
Critical Apparatus
914 1855P65 perfect!
Critical Apparatus
915 1855P56, 1863, 1865 it
Critical Apparatus
918 1855P65 rest—
Critical Apparatus
919 1855P65 open—*{reading of 1855P84S, BrU, 1889} 1888 {some copies} Kiss
Editor’s Note
919 Kiss!: it is natural to suppose that the guard comes to lead the lovers away to the death of one or both of them. Such is the conclusion of most critics, including Elmer E. Stoll in From Shakespeare to Joyce (New York 1944, repr. in Drew). But when, in the last decade of his life, Browning read 'In a Balcony' aloud for a few friends, 'as full of dramatic interest . . . as if he had just written it', he demurred when one of those present 'said that it was a natural sequence that the step of the guard should be heard coming to take Norbert to his doom, as, with a nature like the queen's, who had known only one hour of joy in her sterile life, vengeance swift and terrible would follow on the sudden destruction of her happiness':

'Now, I don't quite think that', answered Browning, as if he were following out the play as a spectator. 'The queen had a large and passionate temperament, which had only once been touched and brought into intense life. She would have died, as by a knife in her heart. The guard would have come to carry away her dead body.'

'But I imagine that most people interpret it as I do', was the reply.

'Then', said Browning, with quick interest, 'don't you think it would be as well to put it in the stage directions, and have it seen that they were carrying her across the back of the stage?'

Whether this was ever done I do not know; but it was wonderful to me, as showing the personal interest he took in his own creations.

See Meredith, 154–5. One may recall Browning's uncertainty (in retrospect) about the meaning of 'Then all smiles stopped together' in 'My Last Duchess': see Vol. III, pp. 187–8 n.
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