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Browning's Shorter Poems



These selections from the poetry of Robert Browning have been made
with especial reference to the tastes and capacities of readers of the
high-school age. Every poem included has been found by experience to
be within the grasp of boys and girls. Most of Browning's best poetry
is within the ken of any reader of imagination and diligence. To the
reader who lacks these, not only Browning, but the great world of
literature, remains closed: Browning is not the only poet who requires
close study. The difficulties he offers are, in his best poems, not
more repellent to the thoughtful reader than the nut that protects and
contains the kernel. To a boy or girl of active mind, the difficulty
need rarely be more than a pleasant challenge to the exercise of a
little patience and ingenuity.

Browning, when at his best in vigor, clearness, and beauty, is
peculiarly a poet for young people. His freedom from sentimentality,
his liveliness of conception and narration, his high optimism, and his
interest in the things that make for the life of the soul, appeal to
the imagination and the feelings of youth.

The present edition, attempts but little in the way of criticism. The
notes cover such matters as are not readily settled by an appeal to
the dictionary, and suggest, in addition, questions that are designed
to help in interpretation and appreciation.


July, 1899.

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Porphyria's Lover by Robert Browning

Hi guys! :) I read this poem for my English class & here is my analysis of the poem. Feel free to add any comments, I'd love to hear them - share, share, share! :3 The first few lines introduce an ominous setting with strong wind and rain while also foreshadowing an unfortunate turn of events to come. The writer is brokenhearted and the weather simply adds to his sorrow. Porphyria then walks in gracefully and as she does so, the lines “she shut the cold..all the cottage warm” does not solely indicate that she literally did so by closing the door and setting the fire but also that she did so emotionally by which simply her presence alone was enough to brighten up the mood in the cottage and make it “warm”. This suggests that she is someone whose company is enjoyed by the writer and that she posses a warm personality exuding brightness and cheer. Her actions also suggest that the writer is in critical condition such that he was unable to set the fire himself. The lines “withdrew the dripping cloak.. damp hair fall” shows that Porphyria is a noblewoman – a woman of high class and standard. The phrases “when no voice replied”, “she put my arm around her waist” and “made my cheek lie there’ all further support that the writer is either terminally ill or mortally wounded to the point where Porphyria has to play the active role. The phrase “how she loved me” provides readers with concrete evidence that Porphyria is indeed the writer’s lover. The lines “too weak.. herself to me forever” tell us that although the two are lovers, there is something holding Porphyria back from giving herself to the writer completely. The phrase “pride and vainer ties” highlights that her obstruction could either be their difference in class, that she has been promised to another or that Porphyria has already been married – perhaps an arranged marriage. This all supports that their love is one that is forbidden. Porphyria’s love for the writer is so strong that she is willing to travel through wind and rain away from a “gay feast” that is possibly being held in her honour, simply to be with him. “Wind and rain” represents all the consequences that she has to face and all the trouble she has to go through to be truly happy, with her true lover. The lines “happy and proud.. worshipped me: surprise” shows that all previous doubt the writer had has now been cleared and he is sure that Porphyria loved him. The phrase “debated what to do” tells readers that he is thinking about how to sustain their forbidden relationship. A twist appears as suddenly the author is able to act. The next few lines describe straightforwardly that he strangled Porphyria with her hair. The phrase “no pain felt she” suggests that this is so as Porphyria was willing to sacrifice anything, even her life, to be with him. The phrase “laughed her blue eyes’ further supports that although she is dead, Porphyria is happy as long as she is with her lover. The writer then puts her head on his shoulder. This and the strangulation suggest that their love and yearn to be together was so strong, emotionally, that it even gave the writer the physical strength to do all this to be together forever. The line “that all it scorned at once is fled” shows that they now have no fear and that all troubled thoughts are gone – all that was caused by their forbidden relationship. Finally, the poem ends with the line “and yet God has not said a word”, indicating that there is no guilt between the two lovers and that God, too, has no objections against their act of love. Thank youuu! :)

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