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Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning By Robert Browning Characters: 1939

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

Well, such as he was, he must marry, we heard:

And out of a convent, at the word,125

Came the lady in time of spring.

-Oh, old thoughts they cling, they cling!

That day, I know, with a dozen oaths

I clad myself in thick hunting-clothes

Fit for the chase of urochs or buffle130

In winter-time when you need to muffle.

But the Duke had a mind we should cut a figure,

And so we saw the lady arrive:

My friend, I have seen a white crane bigger!

She was the smallest lady alive,135

Made in a piece of nature's madness,

Too small, almost, for the life and gladness

That overfilled her, as some hive

Out of the bears' reach on the high trees

Is crowded with its safe, merry bees:140

In truth, she was not hard to please!

Up she looked, down she looked, round at the mead,

Straight at the castle, that's best indeed

To look at from outside the walls;

As for us, styled the "serfs and thralls,"145

She as much tha

nked me as if she had said it,

(With her eyes, do you understand?)

Because I patted her horse while I led it;

And Max, who rode on her other hand,

Said, no bird flew past but she inquired150

What its true name was, nor ever seemed tired-

If that was an eagle she saw hover,

And the green and gray bird on the field was the plover.

When suddenly appeared the Duke:

And as down she sprung, the small foot pointed155

On to my hand-as with a rebuke,

And as if his backbone were not jointed,

The Duke stepped rather aside than forward,

And welcomed her with his grandest smile;

And, mind you, his mother all the while160

Chilled in the rear, like a wind to Nor'ward;

And up, like a weary yawn, with its pulleys

Went, in a shriek, the rusty portcullis;

And, like a glad sky the north-wind sullies,

The lady's face stopped its play,165

As if her first hair had grown gray;

For such things must begin some one day.

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