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The forests had done it; there they stood;

We caught for a moment the powers at play :

They had mingled us so, for once and good,

Their work was done-we might go or stay,

They relapsed to their ancient mood.

240

How the world is made for each of us!
How all we perceive and know in it
Tends to some moment's product thus,
When a soul declares itself to wit
By its fruit, the thing it does!

Be hate that fruit, or love that fruit,
It forwards the general deed of man,
And each of the Many helps to recruit

The life of the race by a general plan;
Each living his own, to boot.

245

250

I am named and known by that moment's feat;
There took my station and degree;

So grew my own small life complete,

As Nature obtained her best of me-
One born to love you, sweet!

255

247-245. "With Mr. Browning," says Prof. Dowden, "those moments are most glorious in which the obscure tendency of many years has been revealed by the lightning of sudden passion, or in which a resolution that changes the current of life has been taken in reliance upon that insight which vivid emotion bestows; and those periods of our history are charged most fully with moral purpose, which take their direction from moments such as these." Here it is the remembrance of one of those supreme moments which determined the issue of his life, that leads the speaker of the poem to exclaim: "How the world is made for each of us!" etc.

And to watch you sink by the fireside now
Back again, as you mutely sit

Musing by fire-light, that great brow

And the spirit-small hand propping it,
Yonder, my heart knows how!

So, earth has gained by one man the more,

And the gain of earth must be heaven's gain too;
And the whole is well worth thinking o'er

When autumn comes: which I mean to do
One day, as I said before.

260

265

My Last Duchess.

FERRARA.

This poem-published in Bells and Pomegranates-is the first direct progenitor of Andrea del Sarto and the other great blank-verse monologues; in it we see the form, save for the scarcely appreciable presence of rhyme, already developed. The poem is a subtle study in the jealousy of egoismnot a study so much as a creation; and it places before us, as if bitten out by the etcher's acid. a typical autocrat of the Renaissance, with his serene selfcomposure of selfishness, quiet uncompromising cruelty, and genuine devotion to art. The scene and the actors in this little Italian drama stand out before us with the most natural clearness; there is some telling touch in every line, an infinitude of cunningly careless details, instinct with suggestion, and an appearance through it all of simple artless ease, such as only the very finest art can give.

THAT'S my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call

That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will 't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,

5

3. Frà Pandolf.—An imaginary artist, as also Claus of Innsbruck in the last verse.

But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 't was not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps
Over my lady's wrist too much,” or
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat:" such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had

"Paint

A heart-how shall I say?-too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 't was all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool

IO

15

20

25

Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule

She rode with round the terrace-all and each

Would draw from her alike the approving speech,

30

Or blush, at least. She thanked men,—good! but thanked

Somehow I know not how-as if she ranked

My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name

With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill

35

In speech (which I have not)--to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say,

"Just this

Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark"--and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set

40

Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
--E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,

As if alive.

Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
Will 't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;

Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,

Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!"

44

50

55

45. I gave commands.-It is not necessary to suppose that the "commands" were for her death. Prolonged cruelty would have served his purpose.

54. Notice Neptune.-As they are about to descend the stairs, the soulless old virtuoso calls the envoy's attention to a work of art in the courtyard below, of which he is especially proud.

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