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quite enough for the lyrical requirements of it. Hence, we find in some of his poems passages of exceptional idyllic excellence. Such are the songs from “Pippa Passes," as

"The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;

The hillside's dew-pearled;

The lark's on the wing;

The snail's on the thorn;

God's in his heaven

All's right with the world."



In such examples as "Cristina," Parting at Morning," "A Face," "My Star," "The Flight of the Duchess," "The Lost Leader," "In a Gondola," "By the Fireside," "In a Year," "The Statue and the Bust," "Too Late," "Garden Fancies," "Old Pictures in Florence," and in longer poems, such as "Saul" and "Cleon," there is more of that usual lyrical fervor - enough, at times, to make us wish that the author had given more attention to this order of verse. There is seen a good degree of what Professor Corson has seen fit to call "spiritual ebb and flow." Even at his best, however, Browning is not a lyrist of the first order. There is the same lack of symmetry, of excellence and sustained merit, that we have

noted in his dramas. There is little approach to the lyrical sweetness of Burns, or to that delicacy of touch that marks the masterly pen of Tennyson. The wonder is that, with his peculiar cast of mind and poetic ideals, he should have written. as lyrically as he did. It is only when he partially forgets his intellectual self and becomes more flexible, human, and objective that he at all succeeds, where the impassioned must control the speculative. The author has written much of his best poetry when not himself; when off his guard and out of his literary routine. We could spare "Sordello" and "The Inn Album" better than the songs of "Pippa Passes"; "Aristophanes' Apology" "far better than "Meeting at Night" and "The Last Ride Together." Would that our ambitious poet had better known the limit of his genius, and entered heartily into poetic competition with Tennyson and Swinburne and his own gifted partner within the well-established lines of lyrical verse.


When Ruskin writes, with his eye on Browning, that "the strength of poetry is in its thoughts, not in its forms"; when, with the same poet in

view, Swinburne writes of his "decisive and incisive faculty of thought," it is understood that Browning's mental character, as a poet, is praised at the expense of his character as a poet artist. Most of his warmest admirers are willing to yield any claim to his high merit as an æsthetic poet, if so be the other claim of mental acuteness be conceded. Corson and others take extreme positions here when they insist upon our author's special excellence in what is known as the art of verse. The language of Landor, that he wished Browning would "atticize a little," is more appropriate. Whatever influence such poets as Shelley and Keats may have had upon him, he never approximates to that degree of finish of form so notable in their best verse. We have spoken of our author's independence of method; of his scorn of precedent and tradition. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the province of literary art. He avows his freedom and acknowledges no master. He purposely looks away from what are called the established laws of verse, and would express no thanks to our American Lanier for interpreting a science of English verse. Had he lived in the Elizabethan Age, he might have written in the syllabic method of the classical poets; and had

he lived in the time of Pope, he might have used the accentual method - running counter, in each instance, to the prevailing habit of the time. He is thus a law unto himself, which means that he was subject to no law. Poetic license was with him a sacred principle. His extreme advocates justify this indifference to art on account of the wealth of his subject-matter-too copious and complex to be applied in obedience to the accepted canons of the schools. "He has so much material," says Professor Corson, "such a large thought and passion capital, that we never find him making a little go a great way"; as if, indeed, literary art were a cunning device to conceal poverty of idea by a superabundance of words. There have been English poets with equal mental endowment who have been, as well, consummate artists of expression, and, in this respect, our author's rightful masters. Thought only is not sufficient to constitute a poet of the first order. be special aptitude in its expression. limitations may, hence, be seen in that he had no special appreciation of poetry as an art, and no special ability to realize such an ideal, had he possessed it. What Ruskin calls "his seemingly careless and too rugged rhymes" are in reality such.

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He is unconscious of the purely æsthetic side of verse, as distinct from prose. When Bagehot, in his "Literary Studies," speaks of "pure art," as illustrated in Wordsworth, and "ornate art," in Tennyson, he adds a reference to the "grotesque art," as seen in Browning. Outside the narrow area of his songs and shorter dramatic lyrics, the reader may turn to almost any page of his longer poems, such as "The Inn Album," to see an example of this grotesqueness." There is an unnaturalness of manner that is itself a violation of The diction is stilted,


the first principles of art. prolix, and unduly quaint.

There is the evidence

of overstudy-what Mr. Hutton has happily termed "the crowded notebook style." Even in the sphere of blank verse, where the author is at his best, the violations of rhythm, accent, meter, and general structure are too frequent and flagrant to be overlooked. This grotesqueness, though admitted by his admirers, is defended on the theory that, when used, there was an artistic occasion " for it, and that in no other way could he express This is nothing else

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the reality of his thought. than saying that Browning's thought was as grotesque as his art, and forces us to the sweeping

conclusion that each must therefore be considered

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