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Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning By Robert Browning Characters: 2410

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


I was born the day this present Duke was-

(And O, says the song, ere I was old!)

In the castle where the other Duke was-

(When I was happy and young, not old!)35

I in the kennel, he in the bower:

We are of like age to an hour.

My father was huntsman in that day;

Who has not heard my father say

That, when a boar was brought to bay,40

Three times, four times out of five,

With his huntspear he'd contrive

To get the killing-place transfixed,

And pin him true, both eyes betwixt?

And that's why the old Duke would rather45

He lost a salt-pit than my father,

And loved to have him ever in call;

That's why my father stood in the hall

When the old Duke brought his infant out

To show the people, and while they passed50

The wondrous bantling round about,

Was first to start at the outside blast

As the Kaiser's courier blew his horn,

Just a month after the babe was born.

"And," quoth the Kaiser's courier, "since55

The Duke has got an heir, our Prince

Needs the Duke's self at his side";

The Duke looked down and seemed to wince,

But he thought of wars o'er the world wide,

Castles a-fire, men on their march,60

The topp

ling tower, the crashing arch;

And up he looked, and awhile he eyed

The row of crests and shields and banners

Of all achievements after all manners,

And "aye," said the Duke with a surly pride.65

The more was his comfort when he died

At next year's end, in a velvet suit,

With a gilt glove on his hand, his foot

In a silken shoe for a leather boot,

Petticoated like a herald,70

In a chamber next to an ante-room,

Where he breathed the breath of page and groom,

What he called stink, and they, perfume:

-They should have set him on red Berold

Mad with pride, like fire to manage!75

They should have got his cheek fresh tannage

Such a day as today in the merry sunshine!

Had they stuck on his fist a rough-foot merlin!

(Hark, the wind's on the heath at its game!

Oh, for a noble falcon-lanner80

To flap each broad wing like a banner,

And turn in the wind, and dance like flame!)

Had they broached a white-beer cask from Berlin

-Or if you incline to prescribe mere wine

Put to his lips, when they saw him pine,85

A cup of our own Moldavia fine,

Cotnar for instance, green as May sorrel

And ropy with sweet-we shall not quarrel.

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