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Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning By Robert Browning Characters: 2180

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


When the liquor's out why clink the cannikin?

I did think to describe you the panic in

The redoubtable breast of our master the mannikin,790

And what was the pitch of his mother's yellowness,

How she turned as a shark to snap the spare-rib

Clean off, sailors says, from a pearl-diving Carib,

When she heard, what she called the flight of the feloness

-But it seems such child's play,795

What they said and did with the lady away!

And to dance on, when we've lost the music,

Always made me-and no doubt makes you-sick.

Nay, to my mind, the world's face looked so stern

As that sweet form disappeared through the postern,800

She that kept it in constant good humor,

It ought to have stopped; there seemed nothing to do more.

But the world thought otherwise and went on,

And my head's one that its spite was spent on;

Thirty years are fled since that morning,805

And with them all my head's adorning.

Nor did the old Duchess die outright,

As you expect, of suppressed spite,

The natural end of every adder

Not suffered to empty

its poison-bladder;810

But she and her son agreed, I take it,

That no one should touch on the story to wake it,

For the wound in the Duke's pride rankled fiery,

So, they made no search and small inquiry-

And when fresh gypsies have paid us a visit, I've815

Noticed the couple were never inquisitive,

But told them they're folks the Duke don't want here,

And bade them make haste and cross the frontier.

Brief, the Duchess was gone and the Duke was glad of it,

And the old one was in the young one's stead,820

And took, in her place, the household's head,

And a blessed time the household had of it!

And were I not, as a man may say, cautious

How I trench, more than needs, on the nauseous,

I could favor you with sundry touches825

Of the paint-smutches with which the Duchess

Heightened the mellowness of her cheek's yellowness

(To get on faster) until at last her

Cheek grew to be one master-plaster

Of mucus and fucus from mere use of ceruse:830

In short, she grew from scalp to udder

Just the object to make you shudder.

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