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.).

IV.

ALONG THE BEACH.

The fear has become a certainty.  The wife reasons with her husband as they walk together.  “He wanted her love, and she gave it to him.  He has it, and yet is not content.  Why so?  She is not blind to his faults, but she does not love him the less for them.  She has taken him as he was, with the good seed in him and the bad, waiting patiently for the good to bring its harvest; enduring patiently when the harvest failed.  Whether praiseworthy or blameworthy, he has been her world!”

“That is what condemns her in his eyes:  she loves too well; she watches too patiently.  His nature is impatient of bondage.  Such devotion as hers is a bond.”

V.

ON THE CLIFF.

She reflects on the power of love.  A cricket and a butterfly settle down before her:  one on a piece of burnt-up turf, one on the dark flat surface of a rock which the receding tide has left bare.  The barren surfaces are transfigured by their brightness.  Just so will love settle on the low or barren in life, and transform it.

VI.

READING A BOOK UNDER THE CLIFF.

She has reached the transition stage between struggle and resignation.  She accepts change and its disappointments as the law of life.  We discover this in her comment on the book in question, from which some verses are introduced.[71] The author apostrophizes a moaning wind which appeals to him as a voice of woe more eloquent than any which is given to animal or man:  and asks it what form of suffering, mental or bodily, its sighs are trying to convey.  James Lee’s wife regards the mood here expressed as characteristic of a youthful spirit, disposed to enlarge upon the evils of existence by its over-weening consciousness of power to understand, strength to escape or overcome them.  Such a one, she says, can only learn by sad experience what the wind in its moaning means:  that subtle change which arrests the course of happiness, as the same wind, stirring however softly in a summer dawn, may annul the promise of its beauty.

       “Nothing can be as it has been before;
       Better, so call it, only not the same. 
       To draw one beauty into our hearts’ core,
       And keep it changeless! such our claim;
       So answered,—­Never more!”

She who has learnt it, can only ask herself if this old world-sorrow be cause for rejoicing through the onward impulse ever forced upon the soul; if it be sent to us in probation.  She cannot answer.  God alone knows.  The fully realized significance of such death in life gives an unutterable pathos to her concluding words.

VII.

AMONG THE ROCKS.

She accepts disappointment as also a purifier of love.  A sunny autumn morning is exercising its genial influence, and the courage of self-effacement awakens in her.  As earth blesses her smallest creatures with her smile, so should love devote itself to those less worthy beings who may be ennobled by it.  Its rewards must be sought in heaven.

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