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of Keats touched the depths in the soul of this growing boy who felt his affinity with their souls. In Memorabilia, a poem composed about 1854, we have a beautiful tribute to Shelley.

So too in Pauline we have a fine burst of admiration for this poet who stirred the young soul of the banker's son. Later in life Mr. Browning wrote to Dr. Furnivall, “For myself, I painfully contrast my notions of Shelley the man and Shelley, well, even the poet, with what they were sixty years ago."

Early Poems. -- Pauline bears the date of October 22, 1832; it was printed the following year. It is a poem of 1031 lines of blank verse. Browning was never very proud of this early production, as we find in his apology in the preface of the first collected edition of his works —“The first piece in the series, I acknowledge and retain with extreme repugnance.” Pauline contains the confession of a young poet to the woman he loves; it is full of passionate yearnings and a vague unrest.

“ The speaker appears to us a highly-gifted and on the whole rightnatured man, but possessed of a morbid self-consciousness and a limitless yet indecisive ambition.” The following passage illustrates the passionate aspiration of the poet:

“My God, my God, let me for once look on thee
As though naught else existed, we alone!
And as creation crumbles, my soul's spark
Expands till I can say — Even from myself

I need thee, and I feel thee and I love thee.” Browning's attitude toward the growth and development of his soul is well characterized in these lines:

“Souls alter not, and mine must still advance;

I cannot chain my soul: it will not rest
In its clay prison, this most narrow sphere:
It has strange impulse, tendency, desire,

Which nowise I account for nor explain.” In Paracelsus Browning makes his introduction to the public, for Pauline had been published anonymously. It appeared in 1835. Between the writing of Pauline and Paracelsus the young

poet had made a journey to Russia, having been invited to accompany the Russian consul-general. The visit left no immediate traces in the work of Browning, but undoubtedly had its influence in broadening a mind eager to absorb all knowledge.

Paracelsus is a long poem divided into five acts, or parts, for although the poem is arranged in dramatic form it is not a drama, but rather a poem in dialogue in which the hero discourses with his three friends Festus, Michal, and Aprile. Like Goethe's Faust and Shelley's Alastor, Paracelsus is the representative of the ambitious and restless few who would grasp all knowledge; in this case, not for self-glorification or for the sake of knowing,

“ But to become a star to men forever."


In contrast to Paracelsus who thinks the ultimate good is knowledge, we have the Italian poet, Aprile, who places love as the supreme end of life. To some Aprile suggests Shelley, but he is not to be identified with Shelley, though he has "unmistakably Shelleyan traits, and the dreamy pageant of his imaginary creations might stand for a summary review of Shelley's work. Had Shelley lived, he might have come nearer than anyone else to fulfilling the rounded and complete ideal of which Paracelsus and Aprile were dissevered halves.” *

The lofty character of the theme and Browning's own affinity with the aspiring Paracelsus produce some magnificent poetry.

“Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
There is an inmost center in us all,
Where truth abides in fulness; and around,
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
This perfect, clear perception — which is truth.
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Binds it and makes all error: and to KNOW
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.”

*C. H. Herford.

The poem has many short quotable sayings, such as:

“And men have oft grown old among their books
To die case-hardened in their ignorance."

“Make no more giants, god,
But elevate the race at once!”
“At worst I have performed my share of the task:
The rest is God's concern.”

“No mean trick
He left untried, and truly well-nigh wormed

All traces of God's finger out of him.”
“But though I cannot soar, I do not crawl.”

"If I stoop
Into a dark tremendous sea of cloud,
It is but for a time; I press God's lamp
Close to my breast; its splendor, soon or late,

Will pierce the gloom: I shall emerge one day.” The poem has four lyrics, one of which to me suggests Keats; it is a strange song of old spices and “haunts the brain like a perfume.”

“Heap cassia, sandal-buds and stripes

Of labdanum, and aloe-balls
Smeared with dull nard an Indian wipes

From out her hair: such balsam falls

Down sea-side mountain pedestals,
From tree-tops where tired winds are fain,
Spent with the vast and howling main,
To treasure half their island-gain.

And strew faint sweetness from some old

Egyptian's fine worm-eaten shroud
Which breaks to dust when once unrolled;

Or shredded perfume, like a cloud

From closet long to quiet vowed,
With mothed and dropping arras hung,
Mouldering her lute and books among,

As when a queen, long dead, was young." Pippa Passes. — Before writing Pippa Passes Browning had written Strafford, an historical tragedy, and Sordello, a very long

poem. Although the tragedy was acted by Mr. Macready, it was but a partial success; Sordello has always been considered the most difficult of Browning poems. Pippa Passes, published in 1841, is generally considered his most perfect piece of work, and it is pleasant to know that it is the most popular also. It is a dramatic poem made up of an Introduction, Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night. It is a story of the unconscious influence of a pure-minded and sweet-souled girl, Pippa, the silk-mill girl of Asolo, who in the unaffected enjoyment of her one holiday in the whole year walks about the streets singing her message into the lives of the grand people who she imagines are far removed from her and her life. Mrs. Sutherland Orr is authority for giving this account of the inception of this idea:

"Mr. Browning was walking alone in a wood near Dulwich, when the image flashed upon him of some one walking thus alone through life; one apparently too obscure to leave a trace of his or her passage, yet exercising a lasting though unconscious influence at every step of it; and the image shaped itself into the little silk-winder of Asolo, Felippa, or Pippa:

'The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side'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!""

The Dramas. - In addition to the dramas we have named he wrote King Victor and King Charles: a tragedy, 1842; The Return of the Druses: a tragedy in five acts, 1843; A Blot in the 'Scutcheon: a tragedy in three acts, 1843; Colombe's Birthday: a play in five acts, 1844; A Soul's Tragedy, 1846; Luria: a tragedy in five acts, 1846; In a Balcony, written in 1853 and published in Men and Women in 1855.

Of these the general reader will likely be most interested in A Blot in the 'Scutcheon, Colombe's Birthday, and in a Balcony.

A Blot in the 'Scutcheon was written in five days; it is con

sidered by some the "simplest, and perhaps the deepest and finest of Browning's plays.” When first acted it took strong hold upon the public, even the gallery growing enthusiastic in its appreciation. The heroine is Mildred, a very young girl -- it has been noted that Browning's heroines like Shakspere's are always young - whose sin together with her brother's misunderstanding of her conduct brings a tragic death to the three principal characters. In its gloomy effect the play suggests Othello. Dickens wrote to a friend, “I know nothing that is so affecting, nothing in any book I have ever read, as Mildred's recurrence to that 'I was so young - I had no mother.'On the other hand Professor Lounsbury once wrote of this play, “It is simply impossible to conceive rational beings in real life conducting themselves with so thorough a disregard of ordinary sense.”

In Colombe's Birthday we move in a less oppressive atmosphere. Here we have the story of a young ruler, Colombe of Ravenstein, Duchess of Juliers and Cleves, who enters upon her birthday, which happens to be also the first anniversary of her rule, with pleasant anticipations of a joyous day. Before the day is ended she finds that Prince Berthold is the true heir. The flattering courtiers of her prosperity fail her in her need, but Valence, the hero of the play, who has come to the court to present the wrongs of his townsmen, becomes her champion and reveals his love. Berthold, who is to be the great ruler of an empire some day, sees in the gracious and womanly Colombe a woman who would grace an emperor's throne, and he accordingly offers marriage, both as a solution to the question as to who should possess the duchy and as a greater field for Colombe's talents. Shall Colombe lose a throne or gain the love of a lifetime? She gives up Juliers and the world and takes love. In writing of the character of Colombe, Arthur Symons says:

The gay girlishness of the young Duchess, her joyousness and generous light heart; her womanliness, her earnestness, her clear, deep noble nature, attract us from her first words, and leave us, after the hour we have spent in her presence, with a memory like that of some woman whom we have met, for an hour or a moment, in the world or in books.”

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