A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 488 pages of information about A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.).
title “dramatic,” and describe love as bound up with such varieties of life and character, that questions of life and character are necessarily raised by them; the emotion thus conveyed being really more intense, because more individual, than could be given in any purely lyric effusion not warmed by the poet’s own life.  Some few, however, are genuine lyrics, whether regarded as personal utterances or not; and in the case of two or three of these, the personal utterance is unmistakable.

Under the head of LYRICAL LOVE POEMS must be placed

     “One Word More,” to E. B. B. ("Men and Women.” 1855.)
     “Prospice.” ("Dramatis Personae.” 1864.)
     “Numpholeptos.” }
     “Prologue.” } “Pacchiarotto and other Poems.” 
     “Natural Magic.” } 1876. 
     “Magical Nature.” }
     “Introduction.” } “The Two Poets of Croisic.” 
     “A Tale.” } 1878.

“ONE WORD MORE” is a message of love, as direct as it is beautiful; but as such it also expresses an idea which makes it a fitting object of study.  Most men and women lay their highest gift at the feet of him or of her they love, and with it such honour as the world may render it.  They value both, as making them more worthy of those they love, and for their sake rejoice in the possession.  Mr. Browning feels otherwise.  According to him the gifts by which we are known to the world have lost graciousness through its contact.  Their exercise is marred by its remembered churlishness and ingratitude.  Every artist, he declares, longs “once” and for “one only,” to utter himself in a language distinct from his art; to “gain” in this manner, “the man’s joy,” while escaping “the artist’s sorrow.”  So Raphael, the painter, wrote a volume of sonnets to be seen only by one.  Dante, poet of the “Inferno,” drew an angel in memory of the one (of Beatrice).  He—­Mr. Browning—­has only his verse to offer.  But as the fresco painter steals a camel’s hair brush to paint flowerets on his lady’s missal—­as he who blows through bronze may also breathe through silver for the purpose of a serenade, so may he lend his talent to a different use.  He has completed his volume of “Men” and “Women.”  He dedicates it to her to whom this poem is addressed.  But his special offering to her is not the book itself, in which he speaks with the mouth of fifty other persons, but the word of dedication—­the “One Word More”—­in which he speaks to her from his own.  The dramatic turns lyric poet for the one only.

And what he says of himself, he in some degree thinks of her.  The moon, he reminds her, presents always the same surface to the world:  whether new-born, waxing, or waning; whether, as they late saw her, radiant above the hills of Florence; or, as she now appears to them, palely hurrying to her death over London house-tops.  But for the “moonstruck mortal” she holds another side, glorious or terrible as the case may be—­unknown alike to herdsman and huntsman, philosopher and poet, among the rest of mankind.  So she, who is his moon of poets, has also her world’s side, which he can see and praise with the rest;

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