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.).

Lyric.  “Let me love, as man may, content with such perfection as may fill a human heart; not looking beyond it for that which only an angel’s sense can apprehend.”

5.  “THE SUN” justifies the tendency to think of God as in human form.  Life moves us to many feelings of love and praise.  These embrace in an ascending scale all its beneficent agencies, unconscious and conscious, and cannot stop short of the first and greatest of all.  This First Cause must be thought of as competent to appreciate our praise and love, and as moved by a beneficent purpose to the acts which have inspired them.  The sun is a symbol of this creative power—­by many even imagined to be its reality.  But that mighty orb is unconscious of the feelings it may inspire; and the Divine Omnipotence, which it symbolizes, must be no less incompetent to earn them.  For purpose is the negation of power, implying something which power has not attained; and would imply deficiency in an existence which presents itself to our intelligence as complete.  Reason therefore tells us that God can have no resemblance with man; but it tells us, as plainly, that, without a fiction of resemblance, the proper relation between Creator and creature, between God and man, is unattainable.[121] If one exists, for whom the fiction or fancy has been converted into fact—­for whom the Unknowable has proved itself to contain the Knowable:  the ball of fire to hold within it an earthly substance unconsumed; he deserves credit for the magnitude, not scorn for the extravagance, of his conception.

Lyric.  “Fire has been cradled in the flint, though its Ethereal splendours may disclaim the association.”

6.  “MIHRAB SHAH” vindicates the existence of physical suffering as necessary to the consciousness of well-being; and also, and most especially, as neutralizing the differences, and thus creating the one complete bond of sympathy, between man and man.

Lyric.  “Your soul is weighed down by a feeble body.  In me a strong body is allied to a sluggish soul.  You would fitly leave me behind.  Impeded as you also are, I may yet overtake you.”

7.  “A CAMEL-DRIVER” declares the injustice of punishment, in regard to all cases in which the offence has been committed in ignorance; and shows also that, while a timely warning would always have obviated such an offence, it is often sufficiently punished by the culprit’s too tardy recognition of it.  “God’s justice distinguishes itself from that of man in the acknowledgment of this fact.”

The Lyric deals specially with the imperfections of human judgment.  “You have overrated my small faults, you have failed to detect the greater ones.”

8.  “TWO CAMELS” is directed against asceticism.  “An ill-fed animal breaks down in the fulfilment of its task.  A man who deprives himself of natural joys, not for the sake of his fellow-men, but for his own, is also unfitted for the obligations of Life.  For he cannot instruct others in its use and abuse.  Nor, being thus ignorant of earth, can he conceive of heaven.”

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