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The poem is based on an old myth found in many forms, all turning
upon the attempt to cheat a magician out of his promised reward. See
Brewer's _Reader's Handbook_, Baring-Gould's _Curious Myths
of the Middle Ages_, Grimm's _Deutsche Sagen_, and the
_Encyclop�dia Britannica_. There are Persian and Chinese

The eldest son of William Macready, the actor, was confined to the
house by illness, and Browning wrote this _jeu d'esprit_ to amuse
the boy and to give him a subject for illustrative drawings.

LINE 1. =Hamelin=. A town in Hanover, Prussia.

89. =Cham=, or Khan. The title of the rulers of Tartary.

91. =Nizam=. The title of the sovereign of Hyderabad, the principal
state of India.

158. =Claret, Moselle=, etc. Names of wines.

179. =Caliph=. The title given to the successor of Mohammed, as
head of the Moslem state, and defender of the faith. _Century

TRAY. (PAGE 15.)

The poem tells in detail an actual incident, and was written as a
protest against vivisection.

3. =Sir Olaf=. A conventional name in romances of medi�val chivalry.

6. A satire upon Byronism. _Manfred_ and _Childe Harold_ are
heroes of this type.

Note the abruptness and vigor of the style. Where does it seem
effective? Where unduly harsh? Why does the poet welcome the third
bard? What things does the poem satirize?


The incident is real, except that the actual hero was a man, not a

1. =Ratisbon= (German Regensburg). A city in Austria, stormed by
Napoleon in 1809.

11. =Lannes=. Duke of Montebello, a general in Napoleon's army.

20. This sentence is incomplete. The idea is begun anew in line 23.

What two ideals are contrasted in Napoleon and the boy? By what means
is sympathy turned from one to the other? Show how rapidity and
vividness are given to the story.


Browning thus explains the origin of the poem: "There is no sort of
historical foundation about _Good News from Ghent_. I wrote it
under the bulwark of a vessel off the African coast, after I had been
at sea long enough to appreciate even the fancy of a gallop on the
back of a certain good horse 'York,' then in my stable, at home." It
would require a skilful imagination to create a set of circumstances
which could give any other plausible reason for the ride to "save Aix
from her fate."

14. =Lokeren=. Twelve miles from Ghent.

15. =Boom=. Sixteen miles from Lokeren.

16. =D�ffeld=. Twelve miles from Boom.

17. 19, 31, etc. =Mecheln= (Fr. Malines), =Aershot=, =Hasselt=, etc.
The reader may trace the direction and length of the ride in any large
atlas. Minute examinations of the route are, however, of no special

Note the rapidity of narration and the galloping movement of the
verse; the time of starting, and the anxious attention to the
_time_ as the journey proceeds. How are we given a sense of the
effort and distress of the horses? How do we see Roland gradually
emerging as the hero? Where is the climax of the story? Note,
especially, the power or beauty of lines 2, 5, 7, 15, 23, 25, 39, 40,
47, 51-53, 54-56.


(Published in the _Cornhill Magazine_, 1871. Browning gave the
�100 received for the poem to the fund for the relief of the people of
Paris, who were starving after the siege of 1870.)

The cause of James II., who had been removed from the English throne
in 1688, and succeeded by William and Mary, was taken up by the
French. The story is strictly historical, except that Herv� Riel asked
a holiday for the rest of his life.

5. =St. Malo on the Rance=. On the northern coast of France, in
Brittany. See any large atlas.

43. =pressed=. Forced to enter service in the navy.

44. =Croisickese=. A native of Croisic, in Brittany. Browning has used
the legends of Croisic for poetic material in his Gold Hair of Pornic
and in The Two Poets of Croisic.

46. =Malouins=. Inhabitants of St. Malo.

135. =The Louvre=. The great palace and art gallery of Paris.

Note the suggestion of the sea, and of eager hurry, in the movement
of the verse. Compare the directness of the opening with that of the
preceding poem: What is the advantage of such a beginning? How much
is told of the hero? By what means is his heroism emphasized? How is
Browning's departure from the legend a gain? Observe the abrupt energy
of lines 39-40; the repetition, in 79-80; the picture of Herv� Riel in
stanzas viii and x.


The story is from Herodotus, told there in the third person. See
Herodotus, VI., 105-106. The final incident and the reward asked by
the runner are Browning's addition.

[Greek: =Chairete, nik�men=]. Rejoice, we conquer.

4. =Zeus=. The chief of the Greek gods (Roman Jupiter). =Her of the �gis
and spear=. These were the emblems of Athena (Roman Minerva), the
goddess of wisdom and of warfare.

5. =Ye of the bow and the buskin=. Apollo and Diana.

8. =Pan=. The god of nature, of the fields and their fruits.

9. =Archons=. Rulers. =tettix=, the grasshopper, whose image
symbolized old age, and was worn by the senators of Athens. See the
myth of Tithonus and Tennyson's poem of that name.

13. =Persia= attempted a conquest of Athens in 490 B.C. and was
defeated by the Athenians in the famous battle of Marathon, under

18. To bring earth and water to an invading enemy was a symbol of

19. =Eretria=. A city on the island of Eub[oe]a, twenty-nine miles
north of Athens.

20. =Hellas=. The Greek name for Greece.

21. The Greeks of the various provinces long regarded themselves as of
one blood and quality, superior to the outer barbarians.

32. =Phoibos=, or Ph[oe]bus. Apollo, god of the sun and the arts.
=Artemis= (Roman Diana), goddess of the moon and patroness of hunting.

33. =Olumpos=. Olympus. A mountain of Greece which was the abode of
Zeus and the other gods.

52. =Parnes=. A mountain on the ridge between Attica and B[oe]otia,
now called Ozia.

62. =Erebos=. The lower world; the place of night and the dead.

80. =Miltiades= (?-489 B.C.). The Greek general who won the victory
over the Persians at Marathon in 490 B.C.

106. =Akropolis=. The citadel of Athens, where stood the court of
justice and the temple of the goddess Athene.

109. =Fennel-field=. The Greek name for fennel was [Greek: ho
Marathon] (Marathon). Hence the prophetic significance of Pan's gift
to the runner.

Compare the story in Herodotus (VI., 105-106) with Browning's more
spirited and poetic version. Observe how the strong patriotism, the
Greek love of nature, and the Greek reverence for the gods are brought
to the fore. What imagery in the poem is especially effective? What is
the claim of Pheidippides--as Browning presents him--to memory as a
hero? What ideals are most prominent in the poem?


4. =angled spar=. The Iceland spar has the power of polarizing light
and producing great richness and variety of color.

11. =Saturn=. The planet next beyond Jupiter; here chosen, perhaps,
for its changing aspects. See an encyclop�dia or dictionary.

This dainty love lyric is said to have been written with Mrs. Browning
in mind. It needs, however, no such narrow application for its
interpretation. It is the simple declaration of the lover that the
loved one reveals to him qualities of soul not revealed to others.
Observe the "order of lyric progress" in speaking first of nature,
then of the feelings.


The lover denies the evanescence of human love. He implies that in
some future time the love will reappear and be rewarded. Browning's
optimism lays hold sometimes of the present, sometimes of the future,
for the fulfilment of its hope. Especially strong is his "sense of the
continuity of life." "There shall never be one lost good," he makes
Abt Vogler say. The charm of this poem is more, perhaps, in its
tenderness of tone and purity of atmosphere than in its doctrine of


This poem was written in Rome in the winter of 1853-1854. The scene is
the Roman Campagna. The verse has a softness and a melody unusual in
Browning. Compare its structure with that of Holmes's _The Last
Leaf_. Note the elements of pastoral peace and gentleness in the
opening, and in the coloring of the scene. What two scenes are brought
into contrast? Note how the scenes alternate throughout the poem, and
how each scene is gradually developed according to the ordinary laws
of description. What ideals are thus compared? What does the poem


11. =Dalmatic=. A robe worn by medi�val kings on solemn occasions, and
still worn by deacons at the mass in the Roman Catholic church.

The lyric order appears sharply developed here in the parallelism of
the two stanzas. Point out this parallelism of idea. Does it fail
at any point? Note the chivalrous absence of reproach by the lover.
Observe the climax up to which each stanza leads, and the climax
within the last line of each stanza.


5. =Nautch=. An Indian dancing-girl, to whom Browning ascribes the
skill of a magician.

The poem celebrates the transforming and life-giving power of
affection. Note the abrupt and excited manner of utterance, and how
the speaker begins in the midst of things. He has already told
his story once, when the poem opens. Note also the parallelism of
structure, as in _Misconceptions_, the climax in each stanza, and
the echo in the last line of each. Tell the story in the common order
of prose narrative.


Study the development of the idea in the same manner as in
_Misconceptions_ and _Natural Magic_. Note the felicity of
imagery and diction.

A WALL. (PAGE 50.)

The clew to the meaning is to be sought in the last two stanzas. This
is one of the best examples of Browning's "assertion of the soul in


First construct the scene of the poem. What has the priest said? What
is the sick man's answer? What evidence is there that his imagination
is struggling to recall the old memory? What view of life does the
priest offer, and he reject? Does Browning indicate his preference for
either view, or tell the story impartially?


What key to the situation in the first line? Who are the speaker and
the one addressed? What mood and feeling are in control? Comment upon
the condensation of the thought and the movement of the verse.


25-27. Compare Emerson's lines in _The Rhodora:_--

"If eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for being."

To what things is the "Pretty Woman" compared? Of what use is she? How
is she to be judged?


8. =Gibson, John= (1790-1866). A famous sculptor.

12. =Grisi, Giulia=. A celebrated singer (1811-1869).

18. In allusion to the asceticism of the Hindoo religious devotees.

58. =bals-par�s=. Fancy-dress balls.

The poem is half-humorous, half-serious. The speaker, in her imaginary
conversation, gives her own history and that of the man she thinks she
might have loved. The story is on the "Maud Muller" motive, but with
less of sentimentality. The setting suggests the life of art students
in Paris, or in some Italian city. The poem is a plea for the freedom
of the individuality of a soul against the restrictions imposed by
conventional standards of value. Its touches of humor, of human
nature, and its summary of two lives in brief, are admirably done. Its
rhymes sometimes need the indulgence accorded to humorous writing.

A TALE. (PAGE 61.)

The source of the story is an epigram given in Mackail's _Select
Epigrams from Greek Anthology_. It is one of the happiest pieces of
Browning's lighter work.

65. =Lotte=, or Charlotte. A character in Goethe's _Sorrows of
Werther_, said to be drawn from the heroine of one of Goethe's
earlier love-affairs.

Who are the speaker and the one addressed? Whom does the cicada of the
tale symbolize? Whom the singer helped by the cicada? What application
is made of the story? What serious meanings and feelings underlie the
tone of raillery? What things mark the light and humorous tone of the
speaker? Point out the harmony between style and theme.


Note the swinging, martial movement, and the energetic spirit in these
lyrics. For an account of the history of the period, see Green's
_Short History of the English People_, Chapter VIII, and
Macaulay's _History of England_, Chapter I. For an account of the
qualities of the Cavaliers, see Macaulay's _Essay on Milton_.


1. =Kentish Sir Byng=. The first of the family known to fame was
George Byng, Viscount Torrington (1663-1733), who could not be the man
meant here by Browning.

2. =crop-headed=. In allusion to the close-cropped hair of the
Puritans. Long wigs were the fashion among the Cavaliers; hence the
Puritans were nicknamed "Roundheads."

7. =King Charles= the First. =Pym=, John (1584-1643). Leader of the
Parliament in its actions against King Charles and the Royalist party.

13. =Hampden=, John (1594-1643). One of the leaders of Parliament,
known principally for his resistance to the illegal taxations of
Charles I.

14. =Hazelrig=, Sir Arthur. One of the members of Parliament whom
Charles tried to impeach. =Fiennes=, Nathaniel. One of the leading
members of Parliament. =young Harry=. Son of Sir Henry Vane, and a
member of the Puritan party.

15. =Rupert=. Prince of the Palatinate (1619-1682), and nephew of
Charles I. He served in the King's army during the civil war.

23. =Nottingham=. "Charles I raised his standard here, in 1642, as the
beginning of the civil war."--_Century Dictionary_.


16. =Noll= was a contemptuous nickname for Oliver Cromwell, the leader
of the Puritans.


This poem is a companion piece to _Home Thoughts, from Abroad_.
It is, however, distinctly inferior to it in clearness, vividness of
feeling, and lyric sweetness.

3. =Trafalgar=, The scene of the famous victory of the English
admiral, Nelson, over the French fleet in 1805.

4. =Gibraltar=. The famous rocky promontory at the entrance of the
Mediterranean. It has been held as an English fort since 1704.


This little poem, published in 1890, is one of the good examples of a
love lyric written by an old man whose spirit is still youthful. There
are some similar things by Tennyson, in _Gareth and Lynette_, and
elsewhere in his later publications.

Note here the somewhat exaggerated art of the poem in the
alliterations and in the multiple comparisons.


The drama of _Pippa Passes_ is a succession of scenes, each
representing some crisis of human life, into which breaks, with
beneficent influence, a song of the girl Felippa, or "Pippa," on her
holiday from the silk-mills. She is unconscious of the influence she
exerts. William Sharp says these songs "are as pathetically fresh
and free as a thrush's song in a beleaguered city, and with the same
unconsidered magic."


The desertion of the liberal cause by Wordsworth, Southey, and others,
is the germinal idea of this poem. But Browning always strenuously
insisted that the resemblance went no further; that _The Lost
Leader_ is no true portrait of Wordsworth, though he became
poet-laureate. _The Lost Leader_ is a purely ideal conception,
developed by the process of idealization from an individual who serves
as a "lay figure."

13. =Shakespeare= was more of an aristocrat, surely, than a democrat.
Milton had championed the cause of liberty in prose and poetry, and
had worked for it as Cromwell's Latin secretary.

14. =Burns, Shelley=. What poems can you cite of either poet to place
him in this list?

Who is the speaker? What is the cause? Why does he not wish the "lost
leader" to return? How does he judge him? What does he expect for his
cause? What does he mean by lines 29-30? lines 31-32? Point out the
climax in the second stanza.


3. =your Prince=. Son of Napoleon III., born in March, 1856.

7. =The Congress= assembled to discuss Italy's unity and freedom.
=Gortschakoff= represented Russia; =Count Cavour=, Italy; =Buol=,
Austria. Austria had conquered Italy. See Browning's _The Italian in

12. =Petrarch's Vaucluse=. The fountain from which the Sorgue rises.
The town of Vaucluse (Valclusa) was the home of the poet Petrarch

14. =debt=. The obligation to visit a famous place.

39. =Tuileries=. The imperial palace in Paris.

43-44. What is meant? Death? Freedom?

46-47. In allusion to the game of _rouge-et-noir_. Criticise the
taste shown here.

In what sense does the poet intend to "save" the building? Describe
the scene that he recalls. What three types are the suicides? How does
the poet know? Why does he deny the failure of their lives? Does he
base his optimistic hope on reason or feeling? Note the climax in
line's 55-57. State in your own words the meaning of the last six


The problem of the religions doubter is here set forth by an analogy.

5. =letters=. The reference is of course to the Scriptures.

17 ff. In
reference to sceptical criticism.

What are the "fears and scruples" held by the speaker? What proof does
he desire to allay his doubts? Does he settle the doubt or put it
aside? Where is his spirit of reverence best shown?


="Instans Tyrannus"=, the threatening tyrant. The phrase is from
Horace's _Odes_, Book III., iii., as is probably the idea of the
poem. Gladstone translates the passage:--

"The just man in his purpose strong,
No madding crowd can turn to wrong.
The forceful tyrant's brow and word
. . . . . . .
His firm-set spirit cannot move."

There is novelty of conception in giving the situation from the
tyrant's point of view. Compare also the seventh Ode of Horace in Book

44. =gravamen=. Latin for burden, difficulty, annoyance.

69. =Just= (as) =my vengeance= (was) =complete=.

What conception do you get of the tyrant? What is his motive? What
things aggravate his hatred? How does he seek to "extinguish the man"?
What baffles him at first? What defeats him finally? Is he deterred
by physical or moral fear? By what means is the poem given vigor and
clearness? Note the dramatic effect in the last stanza.


At what point in his career does the speaker give his story? What have
been his motives? How was he at first treated? What indicates that
the change is not in him, but in the fickle mob? How does he view his
downfall? In what thought lies his sense of triumph? How does his
greatness of soul appear?


24. ="the voice of my delight"=. That is, the boy's simple praises.

What quality did the praise of the Pope and of the angel lack? What is
the meaning of the legend?


In Browning's early youth, while he was under the influence of Byron
and Pope, he found, at a bookstall, a stray copy of Shelley's _D�mon
of the World_. From this time on, Shelley's poetry was his ideal.
The term "moulted feather" has peculiar significance from the fact
that this was a poem which Shelley afterwards rejected.

How is childlike wonder expressed in the first two stanzas? How is the
difference between the speaker and his friend indicated? Why does the
name of Shelley mean so much more to one than to the other? In the
figure that follows, what do the moor and the eagle's feather stand


Note the essential elements of sonnet structure in metre, rhyme, and
number of lines. See the Introduction to Sharp's _Sonnets of this
Century_. Compare the idea of the poem with that of _The Lost


Written shortly after the death of Mrs. Browning.

Note the vividness of the imagery, the swiftness of the movement, the
rise to the climax, the change in spirit after the climax, and the
note of courage and hope that informs this poem. Compare it with
Tennyson's _Crossing the Bar_. What difference in spirit between
the two?


Sharp's _Life of Browning_ has the following passage: "Shortly
before the great bell of San Marco struck ten, he turned and asked if
any news had come concerning _Asolando_, published that day. His
son read him a telegram from the publishers, telling how great the
demand was, and how favorable were the advance articles in the leading
papers. The dying poet turned and muttered, 'How gratifying!' When the
last toll of St. Mark's had left a deeper stillness than before, those
by the bedside saw a yet profounder silence on the face of him whom
they loved."

What claim does Browning make for himself? Do you find this spirit in
any of his poetry which you have read?


Image the scene in the first stanza. Why are the poppies known by
their flutter, rather than their color? Note the rhyme effect and
climax in lines 11-13. What qualities predominate in the first scene?
How does the second scene differ from it? What are the characteristic
objects in the second? Has it more or less of the romantic, or of
grandeur? Compare the human element introduced in each scene. Note
the effectiveness of the epithets _a-flutter_, _wind-grieved_, _baked_,
_red-rusted_, _iron-spiked_. Show how the poem explains its title.


The setting of the story is Italy's struggle against Austria for her
liberty, known as the Revolution of 1848.

8. =Charles=. Carlo Alberto, Prince of Carignano, of the house of

19. =Metternich= (1773-1859). The Austrian diplomatist, and the enemy
of Italian liberty.

25. =Lombardy=. See the Atlas.

76. =Tenebr�= = darkness. A religious service in the Roman Catholic
church, commemorating the crucifixion.


Ferrara still preserves the medi�val traditions and appearance in
a marked degree. The Dukes of Ferrara were noted art patrons. Both
Ariosto and Tasso were members of their household; but neither poet
was fully appreciated by his master.

8. =Fra Pandolf=. An imaginary artist.

45-46. Professor Corson, in his _Introduction to Browning_,
quotes an answer from the poet himself: "'Yes, I meant that the
commands were that she should be put to death.' And then, after a
pause, he added, with a characteristic dash of expression, as if the
thought had just started in his mind, 'Or he might have had her shut
up in a convent.'"

56. =Claus of Innsbruck=. An imaginary artist.

This poem is a fine example of Browning's skill in the use of dramatic
monologue. (See Introduction.) The Duke is skilfully made to reveal
his own character and motives, and those of the Duchess, and at the
same time to indicate the actions of himself and his listener.

Construct in imagination the scene and the action of the poem. What
has brought the Duke and the envoy together? What things indicate the
Duke's pride? Was his jealousy due to pride or to affection? Does he
prize the picture as a work of art or as a memory of the Duchess? What
faults did he find in her? What character do these criticisms show her
to have had? What did he wish her to he? Note the anti-climax in
lines 25-28: what is the effect? What shows the Duke's difficulty in
breaking his reserve on this matter? What motive has he for so doing?
Where does the poet show skill in condensation, in character drawing,
in vividness, in enlisting the reader's sympathy?

_The Flight of the Duchess_ should be read as a development and
variation of this theme.


Ruskin gives this poem high praise: "Robert Browning is unerring in
every sentence he writes of the Middle Ages.... I know no other piece
of modern English prose or poetry in which there is so much told,
as in these lines, of the Renaissance spirit--its worldliness,
inconsistency, pride, hypocrisy, ignorance of itself, love of art, of
luxury, and of good Latin. It is nearly all that I have said of the
central Renaissance, in thirty pages of _The Stones of Venice_,
put into as many lines; Browning's also being the antecedent work."

It is not, however, for its historical accuracy that a poem is mainly
to be judged. The full and imaginative portrayal of a type, belonging
not to one age only, but to human nature, is a greater achievement.
And this achievement Browning has undoubtedly performed.

5. =Old Gandolf=. Evidently one of the Bishop's colleagues in holy
orders, and like him in holiness.

31. =onion-stone=. See the dictionary for descriptions of this and
other stones named in the poem.

41. =olive-frail=. A crate, made of rushes, for packing olives.

42. =lapis lazuli=. A very beautiful and valuable blue stone.

46. =Frascati=. A town near Rome, celebrated for its villas.

56-62. Such mixture of Christian and Pagan elements was a common
feature in Renaissance art and literature.

58. =tripod=. The triple-footed seat from which the priestesses of
Apollo at Delphi delivered the oracles. =thyrsus=. A staff entwined
with ivy and vines, and borne in the Bacchic processions.

77. =Tully=. Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman orator, statesman, and

79. =Ulpian=. A celebrated Roman jurist of the third century.

99. =Elucescebat=. Late Latin, from =elucesco=. The classical or
Ciceronian form would be =elucebat=, from =eluceo=. Here appears the
Bishop's love of good Latin.

108. =Term=. A pillar, widening toward the top, upon which is placed a
figure or a bust.

Who are grouped about the Bishop's bed? What does he desire? Why? What
tastes does he show? Point out evidences of his crimes, his suspicion,
his sensual ideals, his artistic tastes, his canting hypocrisy, his
confusion of the material and the immaterial, and the persistency of
his passions and feelings. Note the subtlety with which these things
are suggested, especially lines 18-19, 29-30, 33-44, 50-52, 59-62,
80-84, 122-125.


This is a little masterpiece in its vividness and condensation. The
passions of hate and jealousy have seldom been so well portrayed. The
time and place are probably France and the sixteenth or seventeenth
century. Berdoe has called attention in his _Browning
Cyclop�dia_, to the number of fine antitheses in the second stanza.

Who are present in the scene? Who are to be the victims? Account for
the speaker's _patience_ in stanza iii. Point out the things that
show the intensity of her hate. Does she display any other feeling
than hate and jealousy?


Where is the speaker? What scene is in his imagination? Trace the
growth in his mind of this scene: in color effects, in the kind of
life introduced, in the intensity of the feeling, in the vividness
with which he enters into it. What is the charm in lines 12-14?


4. =Bacchus=. The Roman god of wine, frequently invoked in the
garnishment of Latin and Italian speech.

42. =Pulcinello= is the Italian for clown or puppet, and the prototype
of the English Punch.

48, =Dante=, =Boccaccio=, and =Petrarch=. Italy's first three great
authors. See a biographical dictionary or encyclop�dia for their dates
and their works.

=St. Jerome= (340-420.) One of the fathers of the Roman, church.
He prepared the Latin translation of the Bible known as the

48. =the skirts of St. Paul has reached=. Has done almost as well as
St. Paul.

51. =Our Lady=. The image of the Virgin Mary. Observe our hero's taste
and his religions solemnity.

52. =seven swords=, etc. Representing the seven "legendary sorrows"
of the Virgin. See Berdoe's _Browning Cyclop�dia_, or Brewer's
_Reader's Handbook_, or _Dictionary of Phrase and Fable_ for
the list.

UP AT A VILLA is one of the best humorous poems in the language. The
hero's desires and sorrows are so _na�ve_, his tastes so gravely
held, that he provokes our sympathy as well as our laughter. One of
the charms of the poem is the way in which he is made to testify, in
spite of himself, to the beauties of the country (as in lines 7-9,
19-20, 22-25, 32-33, 36) and to the monotony or clanging emptiness of
the city (as in lines 12-14, 38-54). Compare lines 8 and 82 with the
picture in _De Gustibus_.


=Toccata=. See an unabridged dictionary.

1. =Galuppi=. Baldassare Galuppi, Venice, 1706-1785, a celebrated
musician and prolific composer.

6. =St. Mark's=. The famous cathedral of Venice. =Doges ... rings=.
The Doge was chief magistrate of Venice. The annual ceremony of
"wedding the Adriatic" by casting into it a gold ring was instituted
in 1174, in commemoration of the victory of the Venetian fleet over
Frederick Barbarossa, Emperor of Germany.

8. =Shylock's bridge=. By the Rialto. A house by the bridge, said to
be Shylock's, is still pointed out to visitors.

18. =clavichord=. An instrument of the type of the piano.

19 ff. =thirds=, =sixths=, etc. For the musical terms see an unabridged
dictionary or a musical dictionary.

30. Compare the lines in Fitzgerald's translation of the

"For some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from his vintage rolling Time hath prest,
Have drunk their cup a round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest."

This is the characteristic note of poetic melancholy, found again and
again from Virgil to Tennyson.

37-39. Is the ironical tone of these lines in harmony with the spirit
of the rest of the poem?

What does Galuppi's music mean to Browning? What does it recall of the
life in Venice? Is the lightness of tone in the music itself or in
the poet's idea of Venice? What emotions are aroused? What causes
the poet's sadness? Is the verse musical? Does it suit the ideas it


George Joseph Vogler, known also as Abb� (or Abt) Vogler (1748-1816),
was a German musician. He composed operas and other musical pieces,
became famous as an organist, and invented an organ with pedals and
several keyboards. Browning seems to have in mind the complex musical
harmonies of which the instrument was capable. See lines 10, 13, 52,
55, and 84 of the poem. See also the _Encyclop�dia Britannica_.

3. =Solomon=. Legends about Solomon and his power over the spirits of
earth and air are common in Jewish and Arabic literature.

9 ff. =building=. The idea of building by music is an old one. See
the classical story of Amphion and the walls of Thebes, Coleridge's
_Kubla Khan_, and Tennyson's _Gareth and Lynette_, lines

19. =rampired=. Furnished with _ramparts_.

23. The reference is to St. Peter's in Rome.

The musician's imagination takes fire from his playing, and his music
seems like a glorious palace which he is building. The notes are
conceived as spirits doing his bidding (stanzas i-iii). As he proceeds
the images change, and heaven and earth seem to unite with him in his
creative activity: light flashes forth, and heaven and earth draw
nearer together. Now he sees the past, the beginnings of things,
and the future; even the dead are back again in his presence. His
imagination has anulled time and space. As he thinks of his art, it
seems more glorious to him than painting and poetry: these work by
laws that can be explained and followed, while music is a direct
expression of the will, an act of higher creative power.

When the music ends he cannot be consoled by the thought that as good
music will come again. So he turns to the one unchanging thing, "the
ineffable Name." Thus he gains confidence to say, "there shall never
be one lost good." All failure and all evil are but a prelude to the
good that shall in the end prevail. So he returns in hope and patience
to the C major, the common chord of life.

ART VOGLER is famous, not only for its confident optimism, but as
an example of Browning's power of annexing a new domain--that of
music--to poetry.

Where does the musician cease to speak of Solomon's building and begin
to describe his own? Note, in stanza ii, how he speaks first of the
"keys," and afterwards has in mind the notes; how he speaks of the
bass notes as the foundation, and the upper notes as the structure.
Where is the climax of his creative vision? What does he mean in line
40? Is he right in saying music is less subject to laws than poetry
and painting? Why is he sad when his music ceases? Why does he turn to
God for consolation? Follow carefully the argument in stanza ix. Is
it convincing? What analogy does he find between music, and good and


Abraham Ben Meir Ben Ezra, into whose mouth Browning puts the
reflections in this poem, was born in Toledo, Spain, in 1090, and
died about 1168. He was distinguished as philosopher, astronomer,
physician, and poet. The ideas of the poem are drawn largely from the
writings of Rabbi Ben Ezra. See Berdoe's _Browning Cyclop�dia_.

1. =Grow old along with me=. Come, and let us talk of old age.

7-15. =Not that=. Connect "not that" of lines 7 and 10, and the "not
for, etc.," of 13, with "Do I remonstrate" in line 15.

29. =hold of=. Are like, share the nature of.

39-41. Compare _A Grammarian's Funeral_.

117. =be named=. That is, known, or distinguished.

124. =Was I= (whom) =the world arraigned=. Browning frequently omits
the relative.

139-144. Compare lines 36-41. Note here and elsewhere in this poem the
frequent repetition, and variation of the same idea.

151. =Potter's wheel=. The figure of the _Potter's wheel_ is
frequent in Oriental literature. See Isaiah lxiv. 8, and Jeremiah
xviii, 2-6; see also Fitzgerald's _Rubaiyat_, stanzas xxxvii,
xxxviii, lxxxii-xc.

169-171. In the period of youth.

172-174. In old age.

What cares agitate youth? Why is it better so? Wherein does man
partake of the nature of God? What plea is made for the "value and
significance of flesh"? Show how Browning denies the doctrine of
asceticism. What is meant by "the whole design," line 56? Why does
Rabbi Ben Ezra pause at the threshold of old age? What has youth
achieved? What advantage has old age? What are its pleasures? Its
employments? Explain the figure in lines 91-5. By what are the man and
his work to be judged? Compare the use of the figure of the Potter's
wheel with that in the Old Testament. What has Browning added? Point
out the element of optimism in the poem. How does its view of old age
differ from the pagan view? See Browning's _Cleon_.


The Grammarian is a type of the early scholars who gave to Europe the
treasures of Greek thought by translating the manuscripts recovered
after the fall of Constantinople. The time is therefore the
Renaissance, the latter part of the fifteenth century, and the place
probably Italy. The Grammarian was a scholar and thinker, not a mere
student of grammar in the modern sense.

23. =Our low life=. Lacking the learning and high endeavor of their

45-46. =the world bent on escaping=. That is, the world of the past.

48. =shaping=, their mind and character.

97-98. Compare with lines 65-72, 77-84, and 103-4.

129-131. The Greek particles [Greek: oti, oun, and de.]

Describe the scene and action of the poem. Note the march-like and
irregular movement of the verse: does it fit the theme? Why do they
carry the Grammarian up from the plain? What was his work? What was
his aim? What is the value of such work (1) in presenting an ideal of
life, (2) in the history of culture? What circumstances in his life
enhance his praise? Did he make any mistake? Does Browning think
so? How does Browning defend him? What imagery in the poem seems
especially effective? Are you reminded of anything in "Rabbi Ben
Ezra"? Criticise the rhymes and metre.


An Italian painter, of the Florentine school; born 1487, died 1531.
His merits and defects as an artist are given in the poem. The crime
to which he is here made to refer was the use, for building himself
a house, of the money intrusted to him by the French king for the
purchase of works of art. For an account of his life and work see the
article in the _Encyclop�dia Britannica_, and Vasari's _Lives
of the Painters_.

15. =Fiesole= (pronounced Fe-[='a]-so-l[ve]). A small Italian town
near Florence.

119. =Rafael=. The great painter, Raphael (1483-1520).

130. =Agnolo=. Michael Angelo (1475-1584), one of Italy's greatest
men: famous as sculptor, painter, architect, and poet.

150. =Fontainebleau=. A town southeast of Paris, formerly the
residence of French kings, and still famous for its Renaissance
architecture and for the landscapes around it.

241. =scudi=. The _scudo_ is an Italian silver coin worth about
one dollar.

262. =Leonard=. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), another of Italy's
great men: artist, poet, musician, and scientist.

Construct the scene and action of the poem. How does the coloring
harmonize with the artist's mood? Why is he weary? How does he think
of his art: what merit has it? What does it lack? How does he explain
this lack? What clew to it does his life afford? Is his art soulless
because he has done wrong? Or, do the lack of soul in his painting,
and the wrongdoing, and the infatuation with Lucrezia's beauty, all
arise from the same thing,--the man's own nature? Does he appeal to
your sympathy, or provoke your condemnation? Does he blame himself, or
another, or circumstances?

What idea have you of Lucrezia? What does she think of Andrea? Of his
art? What things does he desire of her?

What problems of life are here presented? Which is principal: the
relation of man and woman, the need of _soul_ for great work,
or the interrelation between character and achievement? Or, is there
something else for which the poem stands?

Can you cite any lines that embody the main idea of the poem? Does
anything in it remind you of _The Grammarian_, or of _Rabbi Ben


Setebos was the god of Caliban's mother, the witch Sycorax, on
Prospero's island.

Read Shakespeare's _The Tempest_. Observe especially all that is
said by or about Caliban. Observe that Browning makes Caliban usually
speak of himself in the third person, and prefixes an apostrophe to
the initial verb, as in the first line.

Tylor's _Primitive Culture_ and _Early History of Mankind_
give interesting accounts of the religions of savages.

How is Caliban's savage nature indicated in the opening scene? What
things does he think Setebos has made? From what motives? What limit
to the power of Setebos? Why does Caliban imagine these limits? How
does Setebos govern? Out of what materials does Caliban build his
conceptions of his deity? Why does he fear him? How does he propitiate
him? Why is he terrified at the end? Compare this passage with the
latter part of the Book of Job. What, in general, is the meaning
of the poem? Can you cite anything in the history of religions to
parallel Caliban's theology?


When Browning was asked by Rev. Dr. J.W. Chadwick whether the central
idea of this poem was constancy to an ideal,--"He that endureth to the
end shall be saved,"--he answered, "Yes, just about that."

4-5. =to afford suppression of=. To suppress.

11. ='gin write=. Write.

48. =its estray=. That is, Childe Roland himself.

66. =my prisoners=. Those who had met their death on the plain? Or,
its imprisoned vegetation?

68. =bents=. A kind of grass.

70. =as=. As if.

91. =Not it!= Memory did not give hope and solace.

106. =howlet=. A small owl.

114. =bespate=. Spattered.

133. =cirque=. A circle or enclosure.

137. =galley-slaves= whom =the Turk=, etc.

140. =engine=. Machine.

143. =Tophet=. Hell.

160. =Apollyon=. The Devil.

Note the hero's mood of doubt and despair. At what point in his quest
do we see him? What does he do after meeting the cripple? How does the
landscape seem as he goes on? What _moral_ quality does it seem
to have? See lines 56-75. What new elements are introduced to add to
the horror of the scene? What memories come to him of the failures of
his friends? Was their disgrace in physical or moral failure? How does
he come to find the Tower? Why does Browning represent it as a "dark
tower"? Does his courage fail at the end of his quest? Or does he win
the victory in finding the tower and blowing the challenge?


The Arabs were among the earliest in the cultivation of mathematical
and medical science. This fact, together with their monotheism, makes
Karshish an appropriate character for the experience of the poem.

1-14. An ancient and oriental idea of the soul and its relation to the

15. =Sage=. Abib, to whom the letter is sent.

17. =snake-stone=. A stone used to cure snake-bites.

19. =charms=. Note here and elsewhere the mixture of science and

21-33. The poet has given local color to the journey.

28. =Vespasian= was appointed general-in-chief against the insurgent
Jews in 67 A.D., and began the great siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The
date of the poem and the length of time since Lazarus's return to
life may thus be estimated.

37-38. Note the vividness gained by making Karshish keep the
physician's point of view.

44. =falling-sickness ... cure=. Epilepsy. Karshish is already
admitting into his letter the story of Lazarus.

48. Not only spiders, but many other animals or parts of animals were
formerly used as medicines.

64-65. Karshish, still half ashamed of his interest in the marvellous
story he has to tell, first gives this as a pretext, and then, in the
next lines confesses.

171 ff. Belief in magic survived in some degree among the educated
until a century or two ago.

177. =Greek-fire=. A violently inflammable substance, supposed to
have been a compound of naphtha, sulphur, and nitre, which was hurled
against the enemy in battle. As it was first used in 673, in the siege
of Constantinople, Browning is guilty of an unimportant anachronism.

252-255. A good touch, to make the earthquake mean to Karshish an omen
of the gravest event within his ken.

268-269. Karshish, still unconvinced by the story of Lazarus,
naturally regards it as irreverent.

304-311. This comes to Karshish as an afterthought, a corollary to the
idea in the body of the poem.

How is the general style of the verse-letter maintained? What is
Karshish's mission in Judea? How does he show his devotion to his art?
Point out instances of local color. Are they in harmony with the main
current of the poem, or do they detract from the interest in the
story? Why does Karshish work up to his story so diffidently? Why has
the incident taken such hold upon him? What do you conceive to be his
character and worth as a man?

What of Lazarus? What change has been wrought in him? Is he in any way
unfitted for this life? To what does Karshish compare him, with his
sudden wealth of insight behind the veil of the next world? Which of
the two men is better fitted for the condition in which he is placed?
What religious significance does the story of Lazarus come to have to
Karshish? What parallel ideas do you find in Rabbi Ben Ezra and in
this poem? Compare George Eliot's story, _The Lifted Veil_.

SAUL. (PAGE 196.)

This is generally regarded as one of Browning's greatest poems. Even
his detractors concede to it beauty of form, fervor of feeling, and
richness of imagery. The incident upon which it is based is found in
1 Samuel, chapter xvi. Saul is in the depths of mental eclipse, and
David has been summoned to cure him by music. The young shepherd sings
to him first the songs that appeal to the gentle animals; then the
songs that men use in their human relationships,--songs of labor, of
the wedding-feast, of the burial-service, of worship; then he sings
the joy of physical life, ending in an appeal to the ambition of King
Saul. Saul is roused, but not yet brought to _will_ to live. So
David sings anew of the life of the spirit, the spirit of Saul living
for his people. Then a touch of tenderness from the king flashes into
David a prophetic insight: If he, the imperfect, would do so much for
love of Saul, what would God, the all-perfect, do for men? And so he
reaches the conception of the Christ, the incarnation.

The poem is full of echoes of the Old Testament, fused with the spirit
of modern Christianity and modern thinking. It is touched here and
there with bits of beauty from Oriental landscape. The long, even
swell of the lines carries one along with no sense of the roughness so
common in Browning's verse. Rising by steady degrees to the climax, we
feel, like David, some sense of the "terrible glory," some sense of
the unseen presences that hovered around him as he made his way home
in the night.


_One Word More_ was appended to Browning's volume _Men and
Women_ (1855), by way of dedication of the book to his wife. It is
characteristic of its author in its reality of feeling, in its seeking
an unusual point of view, in its parenthetic and allusive style, and
its occasional high felicity of expression. Those who feel overpowered
by Browning's vigor and profundity of thought, might stop here to note
the exquisite inconsistency between the examples cited and the thing
thus illustrated. The painter turning poet, the poet turning painter,
the moon turning her unseen face to a mortal lover; these are compared
to Browning the poet,--writing another poem. The only difference in
his art is that the poet here speaks for himself in the first person,
and not, as usual, dramatically in the third person. The idea of the
poem may be found, stripped of digression and fanciful comparisons, in
the eighth, twelfth, fourteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth stanzas.
Something of the same idea appears in _My Star_.

5. =Rafael,= etc. More commonly spelled Raphael. Born in Italy in
1483, died in 1520; generally regarded as the greatest of painters.
The Sistine Madonna, at Dresden, is considered his greatest work. See
lines 21-24.

Only four of his sonnets exist. A translation of these is given in
Cooke's _Guide Book to Browning_. There is no authentic record of
such a "century of sonnets" having ever existed.

10. Tradition is dim and uncertain as to the identity of this love of

27. =Guido Reni= (1576-1642). A celebrated Italian painter. Berdoe
says that the volume owned by Guido Reni was a collection of a hundred
drawings by Raphael.

32-33. =Dante= (1265-1321). The greatest of Italian poets. His
_Divina Commedia_, consisting of the _Inferno_, _Purgatorio_,
and _Paradiso_, is his most famous work. His romantic passion
for Beatrice (pronounced B[=a]-[.a]-tr[=e]-che) is referred to in his
_Divina Commedia_, and is recounted in his _Vita Nuova_.

37-43. In allusion to the fact that Dante freely consigned his
enemies, political and personal, living or dead, to appropriate places
in his _Inferno_ and _Purgatorio_.

45-48. This interruption of his work is described in the thirty-fifth
section of the _Vita Nuova_. The hostile nature of the visit
seems to be of Browning's invention.--COOKE.

57. =Bice=. Beatrice.

74 ff. In allusion to Moses smiting the rock and bringing forth water.
See Exodus, chapter xvii.

95. =Egypt's flesh-pots=. See Exodus, chapter xvi.

97. =Sinai's cloven brilliance=. See Exodus, chapter six. 16-25.

101. =Jethro's daughter=, Zipporah. See Exodus, chapters ii and xviii.

136. =Cleon=. See the poem of that name. =Norbert=. See _In a

138. =Lippo=. See _Fra Lippo Lippi_.

150. =Samminiato=. San Miniato, a church in Florence.

160. =Mythos=. In reference to the myths of Endymion, the mortal
with whom the goddess Diana (the moon) fell in love. See a classical
dictionary, and Keats's poem _Endymion_.

163. =Zoroaster=. The founder of the Persian religion. Reference is
here made to his observations of the heavenly bodies while meditating
on religious things.

164. =Galileo= (1564-1642). The great Italian physicist and

165. =Keats=. See note on line 160.

174. =Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu=. See Exodus, chapter xxiv.

186. Compare the idea in _My Star_.