Robert Browning

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

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Critical ApparatusSaul.

  • iv.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus28He stood as erect as that tent-prop, both arms stretched out wide
  • 29On the great cross-support in the centre, that goes to each side;
  • Critical Apparatus30He relaxed not a muscle, but hung there as, caught in his pangs
  • Editor’s Note31And waiting his change, the king-serpent all heavily hangs,
  • pg 36532Far away from his kind, in the pine, till deliverance come
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus33With the spring-time,—so agonized Saul, drear and stark, blind and dumb.
  • v.
  • Editor’s Note34Then I tuned my harp,—took off the lilies we twine round its chords
  • 35Lest they snap 'neath the stress of the noontide—those sunbeams like swords!
  • Editor’s Note36And I first played the tune all our sheep know, as, one after one,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus37So docile they come to the pen-door till folding be done.
  • 38They are white and untorn by the bushes, for lo, they have fed
  • 39Where the long grasses stifle the water within the stream's bed;
  • Critical Apparatus40And now one after one seeks its lodging, as star follows star
  • 41Into eve and the blue far above us,—so blue and so far!
  • vi.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus42—Then the tune, for which quails on the cornland will each leave his mate
  • Critical Apparatus43To fly after the player; then, what makes the crickets elate
  • 44Till for boldness they fight one another: and then, what has weight
  • Editor’s Note45To set the quick jerboa a-musing outside his sand house—
  • pg 36646There are none such as he for a wonder, half bird and half mouse!
  • 47God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear,
  • Critical Apparatus48To give sign, we and they are his children, one family here.
  • vii.
  • Editor’s Note49Then I played the help-tune of our reapers, their wine-song, when hand
  • Critical Apparatus50Grasps at hand, eye lights eye in good friendship, and great hearts expand
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus51And grow one in the sense of this world's life.—And then, the last song
  • 52When the dead man is praised on his journey—"Bear, bear him along
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus53"With his few faults shut up like dead flowerets! Are balm-seeds not here
  • Critical Apparatus54"To console us? The land has none left such as he on the bier.
  • 55"Oh, would we might keep thee, my brother!"—And then, the glad chaunt
  • 56Of the marriage,—first go the young maidens, next, she whom we vaunt
  • Critical Apparatus57As the beauty, the pride of our dwelling.—And then, the great march
  • Critical Apparatus58Wherein man runs to man to assist him and buttress an arch
  • Critical Apparatus59Nought can break; who shall harm them, our friends?—Then, the chorus intoned
  • pg 367Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus60As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned.
  • Critical Apparatus61But I stopped here: for here in the darkness Saul groaned.
  • viii.
  • Critical Apparatus62And I paused, held my breath in such silence, and listened apart;
  • Critical Apparatus63And the tent shook, for mighty Saul shuddered: and sparkles 'gan dart
  • Editor’s Note64From the jewels that woke in his turban, at once with a start,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus65All its lordly male-sapphires, and rubies courageous at heart.
  • Critical Apparatus66So the head: but the body still moved not, still hung there erect.
  • 67And I bent once again to my playing, pursued it unchecked, As I sang,—
  • x.
  • 97And lo, with that leap of my spirit,—heart, hand, harp and voice,
  • 98Each lifting Saul's name out of sorrow, each bidding rejoice
  • Editor’s Note99Saul's fame in the light it was made for—as when, dare I say,
  • Editor’s Note100The Lord's army, in rapture of service, strains through its array,
  • Editor’s Note101And upsoareth the cherubim-chariot—"Saul!" cried I, and stopped,
  • pg 370102And waited the thing that should follow. Then Saul, who hung propped
  • 103By the tent's cross-support in the centre, was struck by his name.
  • 104Have ye seen when Spring's arrowy summons goes right to the aim,
  • 105And some mountain, the last to withstand her, that held (he alone,
  • Editor’s Note106While the vale laughed in freedom and flowers) on a broad bust of stone
  • Editor’s Note107A year's snow bound about for a breastplate,—leaves grasp of the sheet?
  • Editor’s Note108Fold on fold all at once it crowds thunderously down to his feet,
  • Editor’s Note109And there fronts you, stark, black, but alive yet, your mountain of old,
  • 110With his rents, the successive bequeathings of ages untold—
  • 111Yea, each harm got in fighting your battles, each furrow and scar
  • 112Of his head thrust 'twixt you and the tempest—all hail, there they are!
  • 113—Now again to be softened with verdure, again hold the nest
  • Critical Apparatus114Of the dove, tempt the goat and its young to the green on his crest
  • Critical Apparatus115For their food in the ardours of summer. One long shudder thrilled
  • Critical Apparatus116All the tent till the very air tingled, then sank and was stilled
  • 117At the King's self left standing before me, released and aware.
  • pg 371Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus118What was gone, what remained? All to traverse, 'twixt hope and despair;
  • 119Death was past, life not come: so he waited. Awhile his right hand
  • Editor’s Note120Held the brow, helped the eyes left too vacant forthwith to remand
  • 121To their place what new objects should enter: 't was Saul as before.
  • Critical Apparatus122I looked up and dared gaze at those eyes, nor was hurt any more
  • 123Than by slow pallid sunsets in autumn, ye watch from the shore,
  • 124At their sad level gaze o'er the ocean—a sun's slow decline
  • 125Over hills which, resolved in stern silence, o'erlap and entwine
  • Critical Apparatus126Base with base to knit strength more intensely: so, arm folded arm
  • 127O'er the chest whose slow heavings subsided.
  • xi.
  •                                                                 What spell or what charm,
  • 128(For, awhile there was trouble within me) what next should I urge
  • Critical Apparatus129To sustain him where song had restored him?—Song filled to the verge
  • Editor’s Note130His cup with the wine of this life, pressing all that it yields
  • Critical Apparatus131Of mere fruitage, the strength and the beauty: beyond, on what fields,
  • 132Glean a vintage more potent and perfect to brighten the eye
  • pg 372Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus133And bring blood to the lip, and commend them the cup they put by?
  • 134He saith, "It is good;" still he drinks not: he lets me praise life,
  • Gives assent, yet would die for his own part.
  • xii.
  • 135                                                                            Then fancies grew rife
  • Critical Apparatus136Which had come long ago on the pasture, when round me the sheep
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus137Fed in silence—above, the one eagle wheeled slow as in sleep;
  • 138And I lay in my hollow and mused on the world that might lie
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus139'Neath his ken, though I saw but the strip 'twixt the hill and the sky:
  • 140And I laughed—"Since my days are ordained to be passed with my flocks,
  • Editor’s Note141"Let me people at least, with my fancies, the plains and the rocks,
  • Editor’s Note142"Dream the life I am never to mix with, and image the show
  • Critical Apparatus143"Of mankind as they live in those fashions I hardly shall know!
  • 144"Schemes of life, its best rules and right uses, the courage that gains,
  • Critical Apparatus145"And the prudence that keeps what men strive for." And now these old trains
  • pg 373Editor’s Note146Of vague thought came again; I grew surer; so, once more the string
  • 147Of my harp made response to my spirit, as thus—
  • xiii.
  •                                                                             "Yea, my King,"
  • 148I began—"thou dost well in rejecting mere comforts that spring
  • 149"From the mere mortal life held in common by man and by brute:
  • Editor’s Note150"In our flesh grows the branch of this life, in our soul it bears fruit.
  • 151"Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree,—how its stem trembled first
  • Editor’s Note152"Till it passed the kid's lip, the stag's antler; then safely outburst
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus153"The fan-branches all round; and thou mindest when these too, in turn
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus154"Broke a-bloom and the palm-tree seemed perfect: yet more was to learn,
  • Critical Apparatus155"E'en the good that comes in with the palm-fruit. Our dates shall we slight,
  • Editor’s Note156"When their juice brings a cure for all sorrow? or care for the plight
  • pg 374157"Of the palm's self whose slow growth produced them? Not so! stem and branch
  • 158"Shall decay, nor be known in their place, while the palm-wine shall staunch
  • Critical Apparatus159"Every wound of man's spirit in winter. I pour thee such wine.
  • 160"Leave the flesh to the fate it was fit for! the spirit be thine!
  • 161"By the spirit, when age shall o'ercome thee, thou still shalt enjoy
  • Editor’s Note162"More indeed, than at first when inconscious, the life of a boy.
  • Critical Apparatus163"Crush that life, and behold its wine running! Each deed thou hast done
  • 164"Dies, revives, goes to work in the world; until e'en as the sun
  • 165"Looking down on the earth, though clouds spoil him, though tempests efface,
  • 166"Can find nothing his own deed produced not, must everywhere trace
  • Critical Apparatus167"The results of his past summer-prime,—so, each ray of thy will,
  • 168"Every flash of thy passion and prowess, long over, shall thrill
  • 169"Thy whole people, the countless, with ardour, till they too give forth
  • Critical Apparatus170"A like cheer to their sons, who in turn, fill the South and the North
  • Critical Apparatus171"With the radiance thy deed was the germ of. Carouse in the past!
  • Critical Apparatus172"But the license of age has its limit; thou diest at last:
  • Critical Apparatus173"As the lion when age dims his eyeball, the rose at her height,
  • pg 375174"So with man—so his power and his beauty for ever take flight.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus175"No! Again a long draught of my soul-wine! Look forth o'er the years!
  • 176"Thou hast done now with eyes for the actual; begin with the seer's!
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus177"Is Saul dead? In the depth of the vale make his tomb—bid arise
  • Critical Apparatus178"A grey mountain of marble heaped four-square, till, built to the skies,
  • Editor’s Note179"Let it mark where the great First King slumbers: whose fame would ye know?
  • 180"Up above see the rock's naked face, where the record shall go
  • 181"In great characters cut by the scribe,—Such was Saul, so he did;
  • 182"With the sages directing the work, by the populace chid,—
  • 183"For not half, they'll affirm, is comprised there! Which fault; to amend,
  • 184"In the grove with his kind grows the cedar, whereon they shall spend
  • 185"(See, in tablets 't is level before them) their praise, and record
  • 186"With the gold of the graver, Saul's story,—the statesman's great word
  • Editor’s Note187"Side by side with the poet's sweet comment. The river's a-wave
  • Editor’s Note188"With smooth paper-reeds grazing each other when prophet-winds rave:
  • pg 376189"So the pen gives unborn generations their due and their part
  • Critical Apparatus190"In thy being! Then, first of the mighty, thank God that thou art!"
  • xiv.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus191And behold while I sang . . . but O Thou who didst grant me that day,
  • Critical Apparatus192And before it not seldom hast granted thy help to essay,
  • Editor’s Note193Carry on and complete an adventure,—my shield and my sword
  • 194In that act where my soul was thy servant, thy word was my word,—
  • Critical Apparatus195Still be with me, who then at the summit of human endeavour
  • Critical Apparatus196And scaling the highest, man's thought could, gazed hopeless as ever
  • 197On the new stretch of heaven above me—till, mighty to save,
  • 198Just one lift of thy hand cleared that distance—God's throne from man's grave!
  • 199Let me tell out my tale to its ending—my voice to my heart
  • Critical Apparatus200Which can scarce dare believe in what marvels last night I took part,
  • Critical Apparatus201As this morning I gather the fragments, alone with my sheep,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus202And still fear lest the terrible glory evanish like sleep!
  • pg 377Editor’s Note203For I wake in the grey dewy covert, while Hebron upheaves
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus204The dawn struggling with night on his shoulder, and Kidron retrieves
  • 205Slow the damage of yesterday's sunshine.
  • xv.
  • I say then,—my song
  • Editor’s Note206While I sang thus, assuring the monarch, and ever more strong
  • 207Made a proffer of good to console him—he slowly resumed
  • Editor’s Note208His old motions and habitudes kingly. The right-hand replumed
  • 209His black locks to their wonted composure, adjusted the swathes
  • 210Of his turban, and see—the huge sweat that his countenance bathes,
  • Editor’s Note211He wipes off with the robe; and he girds now his loins as of yore,
  • Editor’s Note212And feels slow for the armlets of price, with the clasp set before.
  • Editor’s Note213He is Saul, ye remember in glory,—ere error had bent
  • Editor’s Note214The broad brow from the daily communion; and still, though much spent
  • pg 378Editor’s Note215Be the life and the bearing that front you, the same, God did choose,
  • 216To receive what a man may waste, desecrate, never quite lose.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus217So sank he along by the tent-prop till, stayed by the pile
  • 218Of his armour and war-cloak and garments, he leaned there awhile,
  • Critical Apparatus219And sat out my singing,—one arm round the tent-prop, to raise
  • 220His bent head, and the other hung slack—till I touched on the praise
  • Critical Apparatus221I foresaw from all men in all time, to the man patient there;
  • 222And thus ended, the harp falling forward. Then first I was 'ware
  • Editor’s Note223That he sat, as I say, with my head just above his vast knees
  • 224Which were thrust out on each side around me, like oak-roots which please
  • 225To encircle a lamb when it slumbers. I looked up to know
  • Critical Apparatus226If the best I could do had brought solace: he spoke not, but slow
  • 227Lifted up the hand slack at his side, till he laid it with care
  • 228Soft and grave, but in mild settled will, on my brow: thro' my hair
  • 229The large fingers were pushed, and he bent back my head, with kind power—
  • Critical Apparatus230All my face back, intent to peruse it, as men do a flower.
  • 231Thus held he me there with his great eyes that scrutinized mine—
  • pg 379232And oh, all my heart how it loved him! but where was the sign?
  • 233I yearned—"Could I help thee, my father, inventing a bliss,
  • Critical Apparatus234"I would add, to that life of the past, both the future and this;
  • 235"I would give thee new life altogether, as good, ages hence,
  • 236"As this moment,—had love but the warrant, love's heart to dispense!"
  • xvi.
  • Editor’s Note237Then the truth came upon me. No harp more—no song more! outbroke—
  • xvii.
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus238"I have gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke:
  • Editor’s Note239"I, a work of God's hand for that purpose, received in my brain
  • 240"And pronounced on the rest of his handwork—returned him again
  • Critical Apparatus241"His creation's approval or censure: I spoke as I saw:
  • Critical Apparatus242"I report, as a man may of God's work—all's love, yet all's law.
  • Editor’s Note243"Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me. Each faculty tasked
  • Editor’s Note244"To perceive him, has gained an abyss, where a dew-drop was asked.
  • pg 380245"Have I knowledge? confounded it shrivels at Wisdom laid bare.
  • Editor’s Note246"Have I forethought? how purblind, how blank, to the Infinite Care!
  • 247"Do I task any faculty highest, to image success?
  • 248"I but open my eyes,—and perfection, no more and no less,
  • Editor’s Note249"In the kind I imagined, full-fronts me, and God is seen God
  • 250"In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.
  • 251"And thus looking within and around me, I ever renew
  • 252"(With that stoop of the soul which in bending upraises it too)
  • 253"The submission of man's nothing-perfect to God's all-complete,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus254"As by each new obeisance in spirit, I climb to his feet.
  • 255"Yet with all this abounding experience, this deity known,
  • 256"I shall dare to discover some province, some gift of my own.
  • Critical Apparatus257"There's a faculty pleasant to exercise, hard to hood-wink,
  • 258"I am fain to keep still in abeyance, (I laugh as I think)
  • Editor’s Note259"Lest, insisting to claim and parade in it, wot ye, I worst
  • Critical Apparatus260"E'en the Giver in one gift.—Behold, I could love if I durst!
  • Editor’s Note261"But I sink the pretension as fearing a man may o'ertake
  • Critical Apparatus262"God's own speed in the one way of love: I abstain for love's sake.
  • 263"—What, my soul? see thus far and no farther? when doors great and small,
  • pg 381264"Nine-and-ninety flew ope at our touch, should the hundredth appal?
  • 265"In the least things have faith, yet distrust in the greatest of all?
  • 266"Do I find love so full in my nature, God's ultimate gift,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus267"That I doubt his own love can compete with it? Here, the parts shift?
  • 268"Here, the creature surpass the Creator,—the end, what Began?
  • Critical Apparatus269"Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man,
  • 270"And dare doubt he alone shall not help him, who yet alone can?
  • 271"Would it ever have entered my mind, the bare will, much less power,
  • 272"To bestow on this Saul what I sang of, the marvellous dower
  • 273"Of the life he was gifted and filled with? to make such a soul,
  • Editor’s Note274"Such a body, and then such an earth for insphering the whole?
  • 275"And doth it not enter my mind (as my warm tears attest)
  • Editor’s Note276"These good things being given, to go on, and give one more, the best?
  • 277"Ay, to save and redeem and restore him, maintain at the height
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus278"This perfection,—succeed with life's dayspring, death's minute of night?
  • 279"Interpose at the difficult minute, snatch Saul the mistake,
  • Editor’s Note280"Saul the failure, the ruin he seems now,—and bid him awake
  • pg 382Editor’s Note281"From the dream, the probation, the prelude, to find himself set
  • Editor’s Note282"Clear and safe in new light and new life,—a new harmony yet
  • 283"To be run, and continued, and ended—who knows?—or endure!
  • Critical Apparatus284"The man taught enough, by life's dream, of the rest to make sure;
  • 285"By the pain-throb, triumphantly winning intensified bliss,
  • Critical Apparatus286"And the next world's reward and repose, by the struggles in this.
  • xviii.
  • Critical Apparatus287"I believe it! 'T is thou, God, that givest, 't is I who receive:
  • 288"In the first is the last, in thy will is my power to believe.
  • 289"All's one gift: thou canst grant it moreover, as prompt to my prayer
  • 290"As I breathe out this breath, as I open these arms to the air.
  • Editor’s Note291"From thy will, stream the worlds, life and nature, thy dread Sabaoth:
  • Critical Apparatus292"I will?—the mere atoms despise me! Why am I not loth
  • Critical Apparatus293"To look that, even that in the face too? Why is it I dare
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus294"Think but lightly of such impuissance? What stops my despair?
  • pg 383Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus295"This;—'t is not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do!
  • Editor’s Note296"See the King—I would help him but cannot, the wishes fall through.
  • 297"Could I wrestle to raise him from sorrow, grow poor to enrich.
  • 298"To fill up his life, starve my own out, I would—knowing which,
  • 299"I know that my service is perfect. Oh, speak through me now!
  • Critical Apparatus300"Would I suffer for him that I love? So wouldst thou—so wilt thou!
  • Editor’s Note301"So shall crown thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown—
  • 302"And thy love fill infinitude wholly, nor leave up nor down
  • Editor’s Note303"One spot for the creature to stand in! It is by no breath,
  • 304"Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death!
  • 305"As thy Love is discovered almighty, almighty be proved
  • 306"Thy power, that exists with and for it, of being Beloved!
  • Editor’s Note307"He who did most, shall bear most; the strongest shall stand the most weak.
  • Editor’s Note308" 'T is the weakness in strength, that I cry for! my flesh, that I seek
  • 309"In the Godhead! I seek and I find it. O Saul, it shall be
  • Editor’s Note310"A Face like my face that receives thee; a Man like to me,
  • pg 384Critical Apparatus311"Thou shalt love and be loved by, for ever: a Hand like this hand
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus312"Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee! See the Christ stand!"
  • xix.
  • 313I know not too well how I found my way home in the night.
  • Editor’s Note314There were witnesses, cohorts about me, to left and to right,
  • Editor’s Note315Angels, powers, the unuttered, unseen, the alive, the aware:
  • Editor’s Note316I repressed, I got through them as hardly, as strugglingly there,
  • 317As a runner beset by the populace famished for news—
  • Editor’s Note318Life or death. The whole earth was awakened, hell loosed with her crews;
  • Editor’s Note319And the stars of night beat with emotion, and tingled and shot
  • Critical Apparatus320Out in fire the strong pain of pent knowledge: but I fainted not,
  • 321For the Hand still impelled me at once and supported, suppressed
  • 322All the tumult, and quenched it with quiet, and holy behest,
  • Editor’s Note323Till the rapture was shut in itself, and the earth sank to rest.
  • pg 385324Anon at the dawn, all that trouble had withered from earth—
  • 325Not so much, but I saw it die out in the day's tender birth;
  • 326In the gathered intensity brought to the grey of the hills;
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus327In the shuddering forests' held breath; in the sudden wind-thrills;
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus328In the startled wild beasts that bore off, each with eye sidling still
  • Critical Apparatus329Though averted with wonder and dread; in the birds stiff and chill
  • Critical Apparatus330That rose heavily, as I approached them, made stupid with awe:
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus331E'en the serpent that slid away silent,—he felt the new law.
  • 332The same stared in the white humid faces upturned by the flowers;
  • Critical Apparatus333The same worked in the heart of the cedar and moved the vine-bowers:
  • 334And the little brooks witnessing murmured, persistent and low,
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus335With their obstinate, all but hushed voices—"E'en so, it is so!"

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
{In 1845 ll. 1–96 appear as 'Part the First' (see note to l. 96 below), in alternating lines of three and two stresses, 192 in all; the individual sections are not numbered. This arrangement is retained in 1849, but in 1855P and subsequent texts the completed poem appears in lines of five stresses, with individual sections numbered.}
Editor’s Note
1 Abner: the captain of Saul's host: 1 Sam. 14: 50. Here he is addressing David.
Critical Apparatus
2 1845, 1849 cheek:
Editor’s Note
3 countenance: cf. Acts 2: 28: 'thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance'. David was 'of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to': 1 Sam. 16: 12.
Critical Apparatus
4 1845, 1849 Nor drunken
Critical Apparatus
6 1845, 1849 be brightened, I—The
Critical Apparatus
7 {new section in 1845, 1849}
Editor’s Note
7 three days: 'Saul here suggests Christ in the tomb, in the same way, for example, that Jonah was thought to prefigure Christ: "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Mat. 12: 40). Such a suggestion is reinforced when we learn that during Saul's absence the faithful have fasted . . . as the Christian does during the Lenten season. Also, while in the tent Saul has wrestled with the evil spirit as Christ during his entombment descended to Hell and defeated the devil. Saul remains Saul, but he typifies Christ': Hellstrom, 376.
Critical Apparatus
8 1845, 1849 No sound 1855P63 prayer or of
Critical Apparatus
9 1845 Have gone their dread ways.
Critical Apparatus
10 {does not appear in 1845}
Editor’s Note
11 God's child: in the Bible good men are sometimes called the children of God. In 1 Sam. 16: 13 we hear how Samuel anointed David, 'and the Spirit of the Lord came upon [him] from that day forward'.
his dew: cf. Ps. 110: 3: 'thou hast the dew of thy youth'.
Editor’s Note
12 blue: Mrs Sara Coleridge wrote to John Kenyon 'to enquire whether [Browning] had authority for the "blue lilies" . . rather than white': Kintner, i. 508. When EBB asked Browning, he replied: 'lilies are of all colours in Palestine—one sort is particularized as white with a dark blue spot and streak—the water lily, lotos, which I think I meant, is blue altogether' 539. EBB reassured Kenyon. Cf. Thomas Moore's note to a line in Lalla Rookh, where he glosses 'Blue water-lilies' as 'The blue lotos, which grows in Cashmere and in Persia': Poetical Works 10 vols. (1840–1), vi. 81 n.
Critical Apparatus
13 1845, 1849 As thou brak'st: them to
Editor’s Note
13 as if no wild heat: cf. 35.
Critical Apparatus
14 1845, 1849 Were raging {no new section in 1845, 1849}
Editor’s Note
15 God of my fathers: Deut. 1: 21 etc.
Critical Apparatus
18 1845, 1849 knees o'er the
Critical Apparatus
19 1845, 1849 That leads to
Editor’s Note
19 the second enclosure: Hellstrom points out that before the building of the temple by David's son Solomon, the tabernacle of the Israelites was a tent (Exod. 40: 2) tripartite in structure.
Critical Apparatus
20 1845, 1849 open;
Editor’s Note
20 foldskirts: OED2 has no other example. Ruskin objected to 'skirts'—'as tremendous a long monosyllable as any in the language,'—at the end of a dactyl. 'Fold-skirts not a trochee?', Browning replied. 'A spondee possible in English? Two of the "longest monosyllables" continuing to be each of the old length when in junction?' See DeLaura, 'Ruskin and the Brownings', 326, and Collingwood, i. 201.
Critical Apparatus
21 1845, 1849 afraid;
Critical Apparatus
22 1845, 1849 And spoke, . . . . replied;
Critical Apparatus
23 1845, 1849 And first
Critical Apparatus
25 1845, 1849 pavilion,—
Critical Apparatus
26 1845, 1849 figure, gigantic, against it, | And 184556 all;— 1863S, 1863 all:
Editor’s Note
26 gigantic: see 1 Sam. 9: 2.
Critical Apparatus
28 184565 tent-prop;
Editor’s Note
28 both arms: a type of the Crucifixion. Hellstrom, 378, remarks that it is significant that the cruciform figure 'should be in the Holy of Holies, . . . for the Ark of the Covenant, which was a type of the cross, was kept in the Holy of Holies'.
Critical Apparatus
30 1845, 1849 So he bent not
Editor’s Note
31 the king-serpent: a serpent may be an emblem of good (as in Queen Mab), or of Christ crucified. Cf. John, 3: 14: 'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up'. There was a widespread belief that a serpent could renew itself, as it renews its skin.
Critical Apparatus
33 1845 and black, blind
Editor’s Note
33 stark: incapable of movement.
Editor’s Note
34 chords: 'The string[s] of a musical instrument': Johnson.
Editor’s Note
36 our sheep: cf. 1 Sam. 16: 11.
Critical Apparatus
37 1855P Very docile
1845 done
1849 done;
Editor’s Note
37 So docile: cf. textual notes. Browning revised 'So docile' (1845) to 'Very docile' in proof, to have an anapaest, but reverted to 1845, on Kenyon's suggestion: see Peterson, 28–9.
Critical Apparatus
40 1845, 1849 How one
Critical Apparatus
42 1845, 1849 Will leave each his
Editor’s Note
42 the tune: Browning was interested in the methods by which quails were captured; cf. 'The Englishman in Italy', 35.
Critical Apparatus
43 1845, 1849 To follow the
Editor’s Note
45 jerboa: a small rodent found in the deserts of Africa, which is a great jumper.
Critical Apparatus
48 1845, 1849 To show, we
Editor’s Note
49 help-tune: no other example in OED2.
Critical Apparatus
50 1845, 1849 Grasps hand,
Critical Apparatus
51 1845, 1849 life; . . . . the low song
Editor’s Note
51 the last song: cf. the funeral procession of Eglamor in Sordello, ii. 169 ff., and 'A Grammarian's Funeral'.
Critical Apparatus
53 1845, 1849 flowrets;
1855P65 are
Editor’s Note
53 balm-seeds: seeds of comfort.
Critical Apparatus
54 1845 has got none such 1849 land is left none such
1845, 1849 bier—
Critical Apparatus
57 1845, 1849 dwelling:
Critical Apparatus
58 1845, 1849 When man
Critical Apparatus
59 1845 our brothers?
Critical Apparatus
60 1845, 1849 enthroned—
1855P56 enthroned . . .
Editor’s Note
60 Levites: priests' assistants.
Critical Apparatus
61 1845 groaned:
Critical Apparatus
62 1845, 1849 silence!
1855P apart,
Critical Apparatus
63 184563S shuddered,—
Editor’s Note
64 woke: cf. Shelley, Adonais, 256.
Critical Apparatus
65 1845 All the lordly
1845, 1849 heart;
Editor’s Note
65 male-sapphires: 'male' is applied to precious stones 'on account of depth, brilliance or other accident of colour': OED2.
courageous: i.e. dark red.
Critical Apparatus
66 1845 head,
Critical Apparatus
68 {no new section in 1845, 1849}
1855P65 no
Critical Apparatus
69 1845 No muscle . . . . playing | No sinew unbraced,—
1849 No muscle . . . . playing, | No sinew unbraced;—
Critical Apparatus
70 1845, 1849 And the . . . . The
Critical Apparatus
71 1845, 1849 The rending their boughs . . . . the palm-trees,— | The
Critical Apparatus
72 1845, 1849 Of a plunge in the pool's
1849 The haunt of
Editor’s Note
72 living water: as in John 4: 10 (where it is metaphorical, however); cf. Song of Solomon, 4: 15.
Critical Apparatus
73 1845, 1849 lair:
Critical Apparatus
75 184565 the locust's-flesh steeped
1855P56 pitcher; 1863S, 1863 pitcher!
Editor’s Note
75 locust-flesh: perhaps the fruit of the carob-tree, Ceratonia siliqua. Some suppose this to have been the 'locusts' eaten by John the Baptist: Matt. 3: 4.
Critical Apparatus
76 1845, 1849 Where tall rushes tell
Critical Apparatus
77 1845, 1849 The water . . . . well,—
Critical Apparatus
78 1845, 1849 life here, mere
Critical Apparatus
79 1845, 1849 The heart
Critical Apparatus
81 1845, 1849 forth to the wolf hunt | For
Critical Apparatus
82 1884S thou kiss the
Critical Apparatus
83 1845, 1849 The song . . . . And heard her
1855P63 and heard her
Critical Apparatus
85 1845, 1849 thro' that life-time,
184555P, 1856 best . . ."
1855 best . . .'
1863S84S best!'
Editor’s Note
85 God's hand: Ps. 104: 28. 'His providential bounty and goodness': Cruden.
Critical Apparatus
86 1845, 1849 rest!
Editor’s Note
87 working: ferment.
Critical Apparatus
88 1845 spirit so true—
1849 spirit so true: 1855P65 true!
Critical Apparatus
89 1845, 1849 boyhood | With wonder
Critical Apparatus
90 1845 And the promise
1845, 1849 wealth in the future,— | The eye's eagle scope,—
Critical Apparatus
91 1845, 1849 monarch, * {reading of 1855P–72S, 1889} 1845, 1849 thine!
1884S thine:
1888 hine;
Critical Apparatus
92 1845 Oh all, all the
1849 Oh all gifts the
1845, 1849 combine,
Critical Apparatus
93 1845, 1849 head the joy and the pride, | Even rage like
1855P56 rage, like 1863S rage like
Editor’s Note
93 throe: cf. Colombe's Birthday, v. 111: 'an earthquake's throe'.
Critical Apparatus
94 1845, 1849 That opes the . . . . its glad labour, . . . . go—
1855P63 go:
Critical Apparatus
95 1845 And ambition that sees a sun lead it | Oh, all of these—all
1849 And ambition that sees a sun lead it— | Oh, all of these—all
1855P56, 1863 crowning it,—all
1863S crowning it—all
Critical Apparatus
96 1845, 1849 Combine to unite in one creature |—Saul! {in 1845 and 1849 the following appears after l. 96:} 1845 (End of Part the First.) 1849 END OF PART THE FIRST.
Editor’s Note
99 the light: as distinct from the darkness, literal and figurative, in which David had found him.
Editor’s Note
100 The Lord's army: cf. 1 Sam. 17: 45.
strains: with effort.
Editor’s Note
101 the cherubim-chariot: cf. Ezek. 10: 3 ff.
Editor’s Note
106 the vale laughed: cf. Wordsworth, The Prelude, iv. 326: 'The sea lay laughing at a distance'.
Editor’s Note
107 leaves grasp: lets go.
Editor’s Note
108 crowds thunderously: cf. Keats, Hyperion, ii. 8: 'thunderous waterfalls and torrents hoarse'.
Editor’s Note
109 stark: immobile.
Critical Apparatus
114 1855P63 on its crest
Critical Apparatus
115 1855P65 summer!
Critical Apparatus
116 1863S then sunk and
Critical Apparatus
118 1855P65 all
1868, 1872S, 1884S despair.
1870, 1875 despair,
Editor’s Note
118 All to traverse: i.e. a long journey.
Editor’s Note
120 remand: call back.
Critical Apparatus
122 1884S up, dared
Critical Apparatus
126 1855P56, 1863, 1865 more intense: so,
1863S more intense: so 1855P65 folded in arm
Critical Apparatus
129 1863S Song fills to
Editor’s Note
130 the wine of this life: cf. Macbeth, ii. iii. 93: 'the wine of life'.
Critical Apparatus
131 1855P65 beauty! Beyond,
Critical Apparatus
133 1884S Bring blood
Editor’s Note
133 the cup they put by: cf ll. 159, 175; and Ps. 116: 13: 'I will take the cup of salvation'. There is a reference to the wine of the Eucharist.
Critical Apparatus
136 1855P I had sought long
1855P63 the pastures, when
Critical Apparatus
137 1855P63S sleep,
Editor’s Note
137 the . . . eagle wheeled : cf. Wordsworth, Descriptive Sketches (1843), 276.
Critical Apparatus
139 1872S, 1884S sky.
Editor’s Note
139 his ken: the eagle's field of sight.
Editor’s Note
141 Let me people: cf. Wordsworth, The Prelude, i. 546: 'Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair'.
Editor’s Note
142 image: imagine.
Critical Apparatus
143 1884S know—
Critical Apparatus
145 1884S for!"
Editor’s Note
146 vague thought: a Wordsworthian phrase: see, e.g., 'The White Doe of Rylstone', 325; The Excursion, ii. 174 and vii. 941.
Editor’s Note
150 the branch of this life: 'As David moves forward in his narrative, his vision expands and the imagery more and more suggests . . . the vision of St. John, particularly that of Revelation . . . The image of the tree to suggest the development through the imperfect towards the perfect . . . is a commonplace in Christian writing': Hellstrom, 383.
Editor’s Note
152 outburst: 'rare', OED2, but not so in Browning.
Critical Apparatus
153 1855P56, 186368 thou mindedst when
Editor’s Note
153 fan-branches: branches spread out like a fan. Cf. 'fan-like' shoots in 'A Forest Thought', 22: see Vol. I, p. 542.
Critical Apparatus
154 1855P palm-tree stood perfect;
Editor’s Note
154 a-bloom: no earlier example in OED2.
Critical Apparatus
155 1855P Even the
185565 Ev'n the
Editor’s Note
156 a cure for all sorrow: an intoxicating liquor is made from the fermented sap of the date-tree.
Critical Apparatus
159 1855P wine!
Editor’s Note
162 inconscious: Browning sometimes used this older form: see EBB's comment on Luria, i. 358.
Critical Apparatus
163 1855P65 each
Critical Apparatus
167 1855P summer-prime:
Critical Apparatus
170 1872S, 1884S sons:
Critical Apparatus
171 1855P56 past.
Critical Apparatus
172 1855P63S, 1872S, 1884S last.
Critical Apparatus
*173 {reading of 1855P84S, DC, BrU} 1888 heigh
1889 height
Critical Apparatus
175 1855P65 again
1855P of the spirit! look
185565 look
1855P65 years—
Editor’s Note
175 soul-wine: spiritual wine.
Critical Apparatus
177 1855P65 in
Editor’s Note
177 Is Saul dead?: i.e. when you die.
Critical Apparatus
178 1855P63S skies.
Editor’s Note
179 the great First King: of Israel.
Editor’s Note
187 a-wave: the only other example in OED2 is from EBB, 'An Island', st. vi (Poems, 2 vols., 1850, ii. 183).
Editor’s Note
188 paper-reeds: papyri, the source of the writing material of the ancients.
prophet-winds: not in OED2. Prophetic winds.
Critical Apparatus
190 1863S being.
1855P56 art."
Critical Apparatus
191 1855P65 But
Editor’s Note
191 Thou: God.
Critical Apparatus
192 1884S seldom has granted
Editor’s Note
193 my shield and my sword: cf. Deut. 33: 29: 'Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency!'
Critical Apparatus
195 1884S Still help me,
1855P who reaching the
Critical Apparatus
196 1855P thought can, gazed
Critical Apparatus
200 1884S Which scarce dares believe
1855P56 marvels that night
Critical Apparatus
201 1872S, 1884S sheep!
Critical Apparatus
202 1884S And fear 1872S, 1884S sleep,
Editor’s Note
202 evanish: the verb occurs in Burns ('Tam o'Shanter', 66), in Tennyson ('Song', 'The lint white . . .', 15, in Poems Chiefly Lyrical, 1830) and elsewhere in Browning, e.g. in the Epilogue to Dramatis Personæ, 53.
Editor’s Note
203 Hebron: a place SW of Jerusalem, on a mountain. It was the headquarters of David's early rule.
Critical Apparatus
204 1884S Dawn
Editor’s Note
204 Kidron: 'the brook Cedron' (John 18: 1), which is dry 'not only in summer, but often in winter, though a storm speedily turns it into a torrent' (Hadow).
Editor’s Note
204–5 retrieves / Slow the damage: cf. Horace, Odes, iv. vii. 13: 'Damna tamen celeres reparant caelestia lunæ': 'Yet the swiftly-changing moons repair their losses in the sky'.
Editor’s Note
206 assuring: reassuring.
Editor’s Note
208 replumed: rearranged.
Editor’s Note
211 girds . . . his loins : a common biblical phrase: e.g. 1 Kgs. 18: 46.
Editor’s Note
212 of price: very valuable, as in 2 Henry IV, v. iii. 95.
Editor’s Note
213 error: Saul had been rebuked by Samuel for disobeying God's law (1 Sam. 15; 16 ff).
Editor’s Note
214 the daily communion: with God.
spent: worn, diminished.
Editor’s Note
215 that front you: which are before you.
Critical Apparatus
217 1872S, 1884S tent-prop, still, stayed
Editor’s Note
217 stayed: supported.
Critical Apparatus
219 1855P63 And so sat
Critical Apparatus
221 1855P63 all times, to
1855P63S there,
Editor’s Note
223 his vast knees: in 1 Sam. 9: 2 we read that 'from his shoulders and upward' Saul 'was higher than any of the people'.
Critical Apparatus
226 1863S solace. He
Critical Apparatus
230 1856 flower,
Critical Apparatus
234 1855P56 this. 1863S this!
Editor’s Note
237 No harp more—no song more!: Elizabeth Bieman comments that some critics have complained about the unexplained disappearance of Saul from the poem at this point, and accounts for it thus: 'The Old-Testament power-figure cannot inherit the New-Testament world explicitly, for the narratives in Samuel leave it very clear that David's ministrations do not save his king in the long run — and that figure of kingship . . . passes from the Biblical scene long before the King of kings is crowned with thorns': 'The ongoing Testament in Browning's Saul', UTQ 43 (1973–4), 164.
No harp more: from now on David speaks, prophetically.
Critical Apparatus
238 1855P65 spoke!
Editor’s Note
238 the whole round of creation: cf. Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, i. iv: para. vii: 'this great terrestrial and celestial Round'.
Editor’s Note
239 work: creation.
Critical Apparatus
241 1855P75 saw. 1884S saw,
Critical Apparatus
242 1884S "Reported, as man
1855P65 law!
Editor’s Note
243 the judgeship: the right of judging.
Editor’s Note
244 an abyss: an emptiness.
Editor’s Note
246 to: compared with.
Editor’s Note
249 full-fronts me: cf. 215 n.
Critical Apparatus
254 1855P65 feet!
Editor’s Note
254 obeisance: cf. Fr. obéir. Action or sign of obedience. Cf. 'stoop of the soul'.
Critical Apparatus
257 1855P63S There's one faculty
Editor’s Note
259 wot ye: you know (arch, and Biblical).
Critical Apparatus
260 1855P65 Behold!
Editor’s Note
261 sink: repress, set aside.
Critical Apparatus
262 1855P63S sake!
a dew-drop: cf. The Ring and the Book, viii. 695: 'One dew-drop comfort to humanity'.
Critical Apparatus
267 1855P65 here,
Editor’s Note
267 parts: roles.
Critical Apparatus
269 1863S all this for man,
Editor’s Note
274 such an earth for insphering the whole: cf. EBB, 'Adequacy' (in Poems, 1850, i. 6–8): 'the clear / Strong stars . . . insphere / Our habitation'.
Editor’s Note
276 one more, the best: immortality ('one' is stressed).
Critical Apparatus
278 1884S night:
Editor’s Note
278 succeed with life's dayspring: follow the brief night of death with renewed life.
Editor’s Note
280 Saul the failure: cf. 213 n.
Editor’s Note
281 the probation: 'human life . . . is a state of probation': Paley, Sermon xxxiii.
Editor’s Note
282 a new harmony: cf. 'Abt Vogler', 84.
Critical Apparatus
*284 {reading of DC, BrU, 1889}
1855P88 enough by
1855P56 sure.
Critical Apparatus
286 1855P56 the struggle in
Critical Apparatus
287 1855P63 'tis Thou,
1865 't is Thou,
Editor’s Note
291 Sabaoth: 'an Hebrew word that signifies Hosts or Armies. Jehova Sabaoth, The Lord of hosts, Rom. 9: 29. Whose host all creatures are, whether the host of heaven, or the angels and ministers of the Lord; or the stars and planets, which are as an army ranged in battle-array, and performing the will of God; or the people of the Lord, both of the Old and New Testament, which is truly the army of the Lord, of which God is the General and Commander': Cruden. The word occurs at Rom. 9: 29 and Jas. 5: 4, and is not to be confused with 'Sabbath'. Cruden's Concordance is the only book, apart from two Bibles, that Browning's mother is known to have given him. See Kelley and Coley, A 736.
Critical Apparatus
292 1855P I will,—
1855P63S me! and why . . . . I loth
1863, 1865 why
Critical Apparatus
293 1855P65 why
Critical Apparatus
294 1855P65 what
Editor’s Note
294 impuissance: four syllables, with stresses on the first and third, as in 'Cherries', 55, and 'A Pillar at Sebzevar', 140, and EBB, Aurora Leigh, ix. 469.
Critical Apparatus
295 1855P does . . . . would
Editor’s Note
295 what man Would do: aspiration is one of the main themes of Browning's poetry, from Pauline and Paracelsus onwards.
Editor’s Note
296 the wishes fall through: come to nothing.
Critical Apparatus
300 1855P63S So wilt Thou—
Editor’s Note
301 ineffablest: cf. 'Abt Vogler', ll. 7 and 65: 'the ineffable Name'.
Editor’s Note
303 the creature: cf. 2 Cor. 5: 17: 'Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.'
Editor’s Note
307 He who did most, shall bear most: cf. King Lear, v. iii. 325.
Editor’s Note
308 the weakness in strength: cf. 2 Cor. 12: 9: 'my strength is made perfect in weakness'.
Editor’s Note
310 A Face like my face: cf. the end of the Epilogue to Dramatis Personæ, 'That one Face, far from vanish, rather grows, / Or decomposes but to recompose, / Become my universe that feels and knows'.
Critical Apparatus
311 1856 forever! 1855P, 1855, 1863S ever!
Critical Apparatus
312 1863S the new gates of life
Editor’s Note
312 the Christ: 'The Messiah or "Lord's Anointed" whose advent was the subject of Jewish prophecy and expectation': OED2, which points out that in the Geneva and 1611 versions of the NT 'the Christ' is often the form.
Editor’s Note
314 There were witnesses: cf. Hebr. 12: 1: 'we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses'.
Editor’s Note
315 Angels, powers: cf. Rom. 8: 37–9. See too Paradise Lost, x. 34–5.
Editor’s Note
316 repressed: held back.
as hardly: with as much difficulty.
strugglingly: the only occurrence of the word in OED2, after the sixteenth century, is in Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, ch. xxii, para. 8. In 1845 Poe had dedicated The Raven and Other Poems to EBB, so Browning may well have read the tale. See Kelley and Coley, A 1876–7.
Editor’s Note
318 her crews: Milton habitually uses 'crew' for Satan's followers.
Editor’s Note
319 the stars . . . tingled : cf. Shelley, Prometheus Unbound, i. 134.
Critical Apparatus
320 1855P56 not.
Editor’s Note
323 the earth sank to rest: Bieman, 164, cites Heb. 12: 1–2, and Rom. 8: 37–9.
Critical Apparatus
327 1855P56, 1863, 1865 forests' new awe; in 1863S forests' new dusk; in
Editor’s Note
327 wind-thrills: gusts of wind. The compound is not in OED2.
Critical Apparatus
*328 {reading of 1855P–65, 1889} 186888 both oft, each
Editor’s Note
328 sidling: looking sideways.
Critical Apparatus
329 1855P56 averted, in wonder . . . . dread; and the
Critical Apparatus
330 1855P, 1855, 1863, 1865 awe! 1856 awe.
Critical Apparatus
331 1855P Even the
Editor’s Note
331 the new law: that of Christ.
Critical Apparatus
333 1855P63S vine-bowers.
Critical Apparatus
335 1855P56 —E'en so! . . . . so.
Editor’s Note
335 "E'en so, it is so!": cf. 'Amen'. Mrs Bronson described Browning's reading of 'the grand profession of faith' here, as a friend had described it to her: 'his voice failed him a very little, and when it was ended he turned his back to us, who were gathered about him in reverent silence, and laying the book quietly on the table, stood so for a moment': Meredith, 154.
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