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Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning By Robert Browning Characters: 1780

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Well, early in autumn, at first winter-warning,

When the stag had to break with his foot, of a morning,

A drinking-hole out of the fresh tender ice

That covered the pond till the sun, in a trice,

Loosening it, let out a ripple of gold,220

And another and another, and faster and faster,

Till, dimpling to blindness, the wide water rolled;

Then it so chanced that the Duke our master

Asked himself what were the pleasures in season,

And found, since the calendar bade him be hearty,225

He should do the Middle Age no treason

In resolving on a hunting-party.

Always provided, old books showed the way of it!

What meant old poets by their strictures?

And when old poets had said their say of it,230

How taught old painters in their pictures?

We must revert to the proper channels,

Workings in tapestry, paintings on panels,

And gather up w

oodcraft's authentic traditions:

Here was food for our various ambitions,235

As on each case, exactly stated-

To encourage your dog, now, the properest chirrup,

Or best prayer to Saint Hubert on mounting your stirrup-

We of the household took thought and debated.

Blessed was he whose back ached with the jerkin240

His sire was wont to do forest-work in;

Blesseder he who nobly sunk "ohs"

And "ahs" while he tugged on his grandsire's trunk-hose;

What signified hats if they had no rims on,

Each slouching before and behind like the scallop,245

And able to serve at sea for a shallop,

Loaded with lacquer and looped with crimson?

So that the deer now, to make a short rhyme on't,

What with our Venerers, Prickers, and Verderers,

Might hope for real hunters at length and not murderers,250

And, oh, the Duke's tailor, he had a hot time on't!

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