Catching a thought, living in the moment and the feeling of the moment fleeting away is all to show that words are not enough to express love.
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I wonder do you feel to-day As I have felt since, hand in hand, We sat down on the grass, to stray In spirit better through the land, This morn of Rome and May? For me, I touched a thought, I know, Has tantalized me many times, Like turns of thread the spiders throw Mocking across our path for rhymes To catch at and let go.
Help me to hold it! Where one small orange cup amassed Five beetles,—blind and green they grope Among the honey-meal: and last, Everywhere on the grassy slope I traced it. The thoughts brew within his mind in this moment of bliss that he wants to go further. Not to become one in body only but to become one with his beloved in soul and will too.
He wished to realize the heavenly love and ascend to a higher realm, but, unlike his will, his body was finite. That is what separates him from her. Were it not for this transmission of the quickening power of personality, the New Testament would be to a great extent a dead letter. It owes its significance to the quickened spirit which is brought to the reading of it.
The personality of Christ could not be, through a plastic sympathy, moulded out of the New Testament records, without the aid of intermediate personalities. The Messianic idea was not peculiar to the Jewish race— the idea of a Person gathering up within himself, in an effective fulness and harmony, the restorative elements of humanity, which have lost their power through dispersion and consequent obscuration. There have been Messiahs of various orders and ranks in every age,— great personalities that have realized to a greater or less extent though there has been but one, the God-Man, who fully realized , the spiritual potentialities in man, that have stood upon the sharpest heights as beacons to their fellows.
In the individual the species has, as it were, been gathered up, epitomized, and intensified, and he has thus been a prophecy, and to some extent a fulfilment of human destiny. Now, whether he came near or kept aloof the several forms he longed to imitate, not there the kingship lay, he sees too late. Those forms, unalterable first as last, proved him her copier, not the protoplast of nature: what could come of being free by action to exhibit tree for tree, bird, beast, for beast and bird, or prove earth bore one veritable man or woman more?
Means to an end such proofs are: what the end? This is a most important passage to get hold of in studying Browning. The enthusiastic Rhodian girl, Balaustion, after she has told the play of Euripides, years after her adventure, to her four friends, Petale, Phullis, Charope, and Chrusion, says:—. Ah, that brave bounty of poets, the one royal race that ever was, or will be, in this world! This must be taken, however, as only the articulation, the framework, of the great poem. It is richer in materials, of the most varied character, than any other long poem in existence.
The reader breathes throughout the ecclesiastical atmosphere of the Eternal City.
To return from this digression, the several monologues of which the poem consists, with the exception of those of the Canon Caponsacchi, Pompilia, and the Pope, are each curious and subtle and varied exponents of the workings, without the guidance of instinct at the heart, of the prepossessed, prejudiced intellect, and of the sources of its swerving into error. The poet could hardly have employed a more effective metaphor in which to embody the idea of mental swerving. The several monologues all going over the same ground, are artistically justified in their exhibiting, each of them, a quite distinct form of this swerving.
For the ultimate purpose of the poet, it needed to be strongly emphasized. It takes all conceivable attitudes toward the case, and each seems to be a perfectly easy one. Why take the artistic way to prove so much? Because, it is the glory and good of Art, that Art remains the one way possible of speaking truth, to mouths like mine, at least.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How look a brother in the face and say, Thy right is wrong, eyes hast thou yet art blind, thine ears are stuffed and stopped, despite their length: and, oh, the foolishness thou countest faith! And what is the inference the poet would have us draw from this passage? Are we not certain what manner of man Shakespeare was from his Works notwithstanding that critics are ever asserting their impersonality —far more certain than if his biography had been written by one who knew him all his life, and sustained to him the most intimate relations? We know Shakespeare—or he CAN be known, if the requisite conditions are met, better, perhaps, than any other great author that ever lived—know, in the deepest sense of the word, in a sense other than that in which we know Dr.
The moral proportion which is so signal a characteristic of his Plays could not have been imparted to them by the conscious intellect. It was SHED from his spiritual constitution. A work of Art, worthy of the name, need not be true to fact, but must be true in its spiritual attitude, and being thus true, it will tend to induce a corresponding attitude in those who do fealty to it.
It will have the influence, though in an inferior degree, it may be, of a magnetic personality. Personality is the ultimate source of spiritual quickening and adjustment. Literature and all forms of Art are but the intermediate agencies of personalities.
Study Guides on Works by Robert Browning
The artist cannot be separated from his art. As is the artist so MUST be his art. All this jumble, this gallimaufry, I say, does not impair the spiritual worth of the play. As an Art-product, it invites a rectified attitude toward the True and the Sweet. The explanation may partly be, that they have been too much occupied with the LETTER, and have fretted their nerves in angry dispute about readings and interpretations; as theologians have done in their study of the sacred records, instead of endeavoring to reach, through the letter, the personality of which the letter is but a manifestation more or less imperfect.
To KNOW a personality is, of course, a spiritual knowledge—the result of sympathy, that is, spiritual responsiveness.
Free Robert Browning Essays and Papers
Intellectually it is but little more important to know one rather than another personality. The highest worth of all great works of genius is due to the fact that they are apocalyptic of great personalities. The poetry of Browning everywhere says this, and says it more emphatically than that of any other poet in our literature. It says everywhere, that not through knowledge, not through a sharpened intellect, but through repentance, in the deeper sense to which I have just alluded, through conversion, through wheeling into a new centre its spiritual system, the soul attains to saving truth.
Salvation with him means that revelation of the soul to itself, that awakening, quickening, actuating, attitude-adjusting, of the soul, which sets it gravitating toward the Divine. As I recognized her, at potency of truth, so she, by the crystalline soul, knew me, never mistook the signs. Enough of this—let the wraith go to nothingness again, here is the orb, have only thought for her!
I have stood before, gone round a serious thing, tasked my whole mind to touch it and clasp it close,. God and man, and what duty I owe both,—I dare say I have confronted these in thought: but no such faculty helped here. I put forth no thought,—powerless, all that night I paced the city: it was the first Spring. Death meant, to spurn the ground, soar to the sky,—die well and you do that.
The very immolation made the bliss; death was the heart of life, and all the harm my folly had crouched to avoid, now proved a veil hiding all gain my wisdom strove to grasp. Into another state, under new rule I knew myself was passing swift and sure; whereof the initiatory pang approached, felicitous annoy, as bitter-sweet as when the virgin band, the victors chaste, feel at the end the earthy garments drop, and rise with something of a rosy shame into immortal nakedness: so I lay, and let come the proper throe would thrill into the ecstasy and out-throb pain.
This is a fleshly woman,—let the free bestow their life blood, thou art pulseless now! Sirs, I obeyed. I see the function here; I thought the other way self-sacrifice: this is the true, seals up the perfect sum. I pay it, sit down, silently obey. Enough, for I may die this very night: and how should I dare die, this man let live? Carry this forthwith to the Governor!
Browning is the most essentially Christian of living poets.
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Religion with him is, indeed, the all-in-all; but not any particular form of it as a finality. This is not a world for finalities of any kind, as he constantly teaches us: it is a world of broken arcs, not of perfect rounds. Christ gave no recipes. Christianity is with Browning, and this he sets forth again and again, a LIFE, quickened and motived and nourished by the Personality of Christ. And all that he says of this Personality can be accepted by every Christian, whatever theological view he may entertain of Christ.
The most remarkable thing, perhaps, about the vast body of Christian theology which has been developed during the eighteen centuries which have elapsed since Christ was in the flesh, is, that it is occupied so largely, it might almost be said, exclusively, with what Christ and his disciples TAUGHT, and with fierce discussions about the manifold meanings which have been ingeniously extorted from the imperfect RECORD of what he taught.
Whatever assaults and inroads may be made upon the original records by Goettingen professors, upon the august fabric of the Church, with its creeds and dogmas, and formularies, and paraphernalia, this fortress will stand forever, and mankind will forever seek and find refuge in it. Cleon, the poet, writes to Protos in his Tyranny that is, in the Greek sense, Sovereignty. Cleon must be understood as representing the ripe, composite result, as an individual, of what constituted the glory of Greece—her poetry, sculpture, architecture, painting, and music, and also her philosophy.
He acknowledges the gifts which the King has lavished upon him. By these gifts we are to understand the munificent national patronage accorded to the arts. By the slave women that are among the gifts sent to Cleon, seems to be indicated the degradation of the spiritual by its subjection to earthly ideals, as were the ideals of Greek art. This is more particularly indicated by the one white she-slave, the lyric woman, whom further on in his letter, Cleon promises to the King he will make narrate in lyric song we must suppose his fortunes, speak his great words, and describe his royal face.
The eventual rest in this world is not the Christian ideal. Earth-life, whatever its reach, and whatever its grasp, is to the Christian a broken arc, not a perfect round. At this he writes the King to marvel not.