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

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 381 pages of information about A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.).

“A SERENADE AT THE VILLA” has a tinge of melancholy humour, which makes it the more pathetic.  A lover has been serenading the lady of his affections through a sultry night, in which Earth seemed to turn painfully in her sleep, and the silent darkness was unbroken, except by an occasional flash of lightning, and a few drops of thundery rain.  He wishes his music may have told her that whenever life is dark or difficult there will be one near to help and guide her:  one whose patience will never tire, and who will serve her best when there are none to witness his devotion.  But her villa looks very dark; its closed windows are very obdurate.  The gate ground its teeth as it let him pass.  And he fears she only said to herself, that if the silence of a thundery night was oppressive, such noise was a worse infliction.

“ONE WAY OF LOVE.”  This lover has strewn the roses of a month’s gathering on his lady’s path, only for the chance of her seeing them:  as he has conquered the difficulties of the lute, only for the chance of her liking its sound; thrown his whole life into a love, which is hers to accept or reject.  She cares for none of these things.  So the roses may lie, the lute-string break.  The lover can still say, “Blest is he who wins her.”

“RUDEL TO THE LADY OF TRIPOLI” is a pathetic declaration, in which the lover compares himself to a sunflower, and proclaims it as his badge.  The French poet Rudel loves the “Lady of Tripoli;"[69] and she is dear to him as is the sun to that foolish flower, which by constant contemplation has grown into its very resemblance.  And he bids a pilgrim tell her that, as bees bask on the sunflower, men are attracted by his song; but, as the sunflower looks ever towards the sun, so does he, disregarding men’s applause, look towards the East, and her.

“IN THREE DAYS” is a note of joyful expectation, and doubtless a pure lyric, though classed as dramatic-lyrical.  The lover will see his love in three days; and his complex sense of the delay, as meaning both all this time, and only this, is leavened by the joyful consciousness that the reunion will be as absolute as the union has been.  He knows that life is full of chance and change.  The possibilities of three days are a great deal to encounter, very little to have escaped.  Unsuspected dangers may lurk in the coming year.  But—­he will see her in three days; and in that thought he can laugh all misgiving and all fear to scorn.

“IN A GONDOLA” is a love scene, beginning with a serenade from a gondola, and continued by the two lovers in it, after the Venetian fashion of the olden time.  They are escaping, as they think, the vigilance of a certain “Three”—­one of whom we may conjecture to be the lady’s husband or father—­and have already regained her home, and fixed the signal for to-morrow’s meeting, when the lover is surprised and stabbed.  As they glide through the canals of the city, by its dark or illuminated palaces, each concealing perhaps some drama of love or crime—­the sense of danger never absent from them,—­the tense emotion relieves itself in playful though impassioned fancies, in which the man and the woman vie with each other.  But when the blow has fallen, the light tone gives way, on the lover’s side, to one of solemn joy in the happiness which has been realized.

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A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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