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Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning By Robert Browning Characters: 1463

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


She was active, stirring, all fire-

Could not rest, could not tire-175

To a stone she might have given life!

(I myself loved once, in my day)

-For a shepherd's, miner's, huntsman's wife,

(I had a wife, I know what I say)

Never in all the world such an one!180

And here was plenty to be done,

And she that could do it, great or small,

She was to do nothing at all.

There was already this man in his post,

This in his station, and that in his office,185

And the Duke's plan admitted a wife, at most,

To meet his eye, with the other trophies,

Now outside the hall, now in it,

To sit thus, stand thus, see and be seen,

At the proper place in the proper minute,190

And die away the life

between.

And it was amusing enough, each infraction

Of rule-(but for after-sadness that came)

To hear the consummate self-satisfaction

With which the young Duke and the old dame195

Would let her advise, and criticize,

And, being a fool, instruct the wise,

And, child-like, parcel out praise or blame:

They bore it all in complacent guise,

As though an artificer, after contriving200

A wheel-work image as if it were living,

Should find with delight it could motion to strike him!

So found the Duke, and his mother like him:

The lady hardly got a rebuff-

That had not been contemptuous enough,205

With his cursed smirk, as he nodded applause,

And kept off the old mother-cat's claws.

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