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ALL that I know
Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue;
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled :
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.
Incident of the French Camp.
You know, we French stormed Ratisbon:
A mile or so away
On a little mound, Napoleon
Stood on our storming-day;
2. A certain star.-The metaphor of this suggestive little poem is thus interpreted by Mrs. Orr, in her Handbook to Browning's Works":"My Star may be taken as a tribute to the personal element in love; the bright peculiar light in which the sympathetic soul reveals itself to the object of its sympathy "
1. Ratisbon. Or Regensburg, a town on the Danube, 65 miles north of Munich, not far from the river Isar. The "incident" here described was an actual occurrence.
Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew
Full-galloping; nor bridle drew
Until he reached the mound.
Then off there flung in smiling joy,
And held himself erect
By just his horse's mane, a boy :
You hardly could suspect―
(So tight he kept his lips compressed,
You looked twice ere you saw his breast
Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace
We've got you Ratisbon !
The Marshal's in the market-place,
And you'll be there anon
To see your flag-bird flap his vans
Where I, to heart's desire,
Perched him!" The chief's eye flashed; his plans
Soared up again like fire.
11. My army-leader Lannes.-One of Napoleon's most distinguished marshals. He commanded in the battles of Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Friedland, and others. For winning the battle of Montebello he was made Duke of Montebello.
29. Vans. From the French van, a wing. The wings of the imperial eagle upon the banner flap in the wind.
"You're wounded!" "Nay," the soldier's pride
Touched to the quick, he said:
Smiling the boy fell dead.
"I'm killed, Sire !" And his chief beside,
Home Thoughts, from Abroad.
OH, to be in England now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
And after April, when May follows,
And the white-throat builds, and all the swallows!
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
Rabbi ben Ezra.
In Rabbi ben Ezra Mr. Browning has crystallized his religious philosophy into a shape of abiding beauty. It has been called, not rashly, the noblest of modern religious poems. Alike in substance and in form it belongs to the highest order of meditative poetry; and it has an almost unique quality of grave beauty, of severe restraint, of earnest and measured enthusiasm. This is one of those poems which can never be profitably analyzed or commented on: it must be read. What the Psalm of Life is to the people who do not think, Rabbi ben Ezra might and should be to those who do: a light through the darkness-a lantern of guidance and a beacon of hope-to the wanderers lost and weary in the selva selvaggia. It is one of those poems that mold character.
GROW old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith, "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid !”
Not that, amassing flowers,
Youth sighed, "Which rose make ours,
Which lily leave and then as best recall?"
Not that, admiring stars,
It yearned, "Nor Jove, nor Mars;
Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!'
Not for such hopes and fears
Annulling youth's brief years,
Do I remonstrate: folly wide the mark!
Rather I prize the doubt
Low kinds exist without,
Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark.
2. The best is yet to be. -The poet expresses the thought in "Saul
By the spirit, when age shall o'ercome thee, thou still shalt enjoy
Poor vaunt of life indeed,
Were man but formed to feed
On joy, to solely seek and find and feast;
Such feasting ended, then
As sure an end to men;
Irks care the crop-full bird? Frets doubt the maw-crammed
Rejoice we are allied
To That which doth provide
And not partake, effect and not receive!
A spark disturbs our clod;
Nearer we hold of God
Who gives, than of His tribes that take, I must believe.
Then, welcome each rebuff
That turns earth's smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe!
Which comforts while it mocks,
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be,
And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale.
What is he but a brute
Whose flesh hath soul to suit,
24. Irks care, etc.-Care does not annoy, nor doubt fret, the well-fed bird or beast.
29. Nearer we hold of God.-We possess the right or title to a nearer relationship with God
40, 41.-In "Saul" the poet says: "'tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do."