Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 117 pages of information about Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde.

ROBERT BROWNING

Taken as a whole the man was great.  He did not belong to the Olympians, and had all the incompleteness of the Titan.  He did not survey, and it was but rarely that he could sing.  His work is marred by struggle, violence and effort, and he passed not from emotion to form, but from thought to chaos.  Still, he was great.  He has been called a thinker, and was certainly a man who was always thinking, and always thinking aloud; but it was not thought that fascinated him, but rather the processes by which thought moves.  It was the machine he loved, not what the machine makes.  The method by which the fool arrives at his folly was as dear to him as the ultimate wisdom of the wise.  So much, indeed, did the subtle mechanism of mind fascinate him that he despised language, or looked upon it as an incomplete instrument of expression.  Rhyme, that exquisite echo which in the Muse’s hollow hill creates and answers its own voice; rhyme, which in the hands of the real artist becomes not merely a material element of metrical beauty, but a spiritual element of thought and passion also, waking a new mood, it may be, or stirring a fresh train of ideas, or opening by mere sweetness and suggestion of sound some golden door at which the Imagination itself had knocked in vain; rhyme, which can turn man’s utterance to the speech of gods; rhyme, the one chord we have added to the Greek lyre, became in Robert Browning’s hands a grotesque, misshapen thing, which at times made him masquerade in poetry as a low comedian, and ride Pegasus too often with his tongue in his cheek.  There are moments when he wounds us by monstrous music.  Nay, if he can only get his music by breaking the strings of his lute, he breaks them, and they snap in discord, and no Athenian tettix, making melody from tremulous wings, lights on the ivory horn to make the movement perfect, or the interval less harsh.  Yet, he was great:  and though he turned language into ignoble clay, he made from it men and women that live.  He is the most Shakespearian creature since Shakespeare.  If Shakespeare could sing with myriad lips, Browning could stammer through a thousand mouths.  Even now, as I am speaking, and speaking not against him but for him, there glides through the room the pageant of his persons.  There, creeps Fra Lippo Lippi with his cheeks still burning from some girl’s hot kiss.  There, stands dread Saul with the lordly male-sapphires gleaming in his turban.  Mildred Tresham is there, and the Spanish monk, yellow with hatred, and Blougram, and Ben Ezra, and the Bishop of St. Praxed’s.  The spawn of Setebos gibbers in the corner, and Sebald, hearing Pippa pass by, looks on Ottima’s haggard face, and loathes her and his own sin, and himself.  Pale as the white satin of his doublet, the melancholy king watches with dreamy treacherous eyes too loyal Strafford pass forth to his doom, and Andrea shudders as he hears

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Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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