The Works and Influence of Robert Browning Essays and Papers

This essay has a total of 4701 words and 26 pages.

The Works and Influence of Robert Browning

The Works and Influence of Robert Browning
Robert Browning was one of the most recognized and respected poets of his time. The
Victorian period that he lived in and his upbringing made him the dramatic and intelligent
poet that he was. His most famous types of poetry were his lyrical and romantic poems.
Browning influenced poetic society with his dramatic monologues, long poems, and silent
listener techniques. He can be compared to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Alfred Lord
Tennyson, other literary figures of the time. Therefore, because of Browning’s
unique and sometimes absurd poetry, people have been fascinated with his writing and still
are today.

Born in 1812, Robert Browning was one of the most recognized poets of the Victorian Age.
Guided by the influence of his father he was reading and writing by the age of five
(Everett 1). His father, a scholar and artist, gave Browning a huge variety of different
books from a collection of 6,000 volumes in six languages. Browning and his father used
to bond by sitting around together analyzing books they had both read. In his adolescent
years he flourished in his studies and became quite the young poet by the age of twelve
(Brainard 253).

When Browning was twelve he wrote a handful of poems, which he entitled
“Incondita. 221; Though he wrote almost nothing between the ages of thirteen to
twenty, he seemed to show the makings of a great poet with his collection of juvenile
creations. His two most prominent of these poems, “The Dance of Death,” and,
“The First Born of Egypt,” reflect his influences from other poetry of the
time and his adolescent emotions.

When the young Browning matured into an adult, in 1832, he published Pauline. The poem
about a deep infatuation with the imaginary Pauline conveyed a depressive and saddening
image. Critics of Browning's at the time commented that his plays (also including
Paracelsus and Sordella) carried with them a morbid self - consciousness. When questioned
about his early poems Browning explained that while writing he portrayed different
characters that he did not realize. Though Browning’s first three poems were not
that successful they helped explain his earlier hopes and poetic style. After many
tumultuous years of ridicule and development of his poetry Browning finally met his angel
(and soon to be wife), Elizabeth Barrett, a well-known poet herself. With her help and
popularity Elizabeth gave Browning the push he needed to resolve the difficulties he was
facing with his poetry. Browning went on to publish collections such as Christmas Eve and
Easter Day which represented his serious approaches on issues such as religion and others
which he had incorporated into his fiction. As the years progressed Browning sharpened his
skills and direction.

Browning loved drama. He believed that every person had in himself or herself the ability
to be good or evil. Tastes, talents, and weaknesses, were necessary elements of the total
man (Loving 13). Because of his education and ways of thinking his poems were sometimes
absurd and hard to comprehend by many readers. The pamphlets that he wrote; Dramatic
Lyrics, Romances, and Personae collaborate his love of music, nature, beauty, and man.

In “Count Gismond,” from Dramatic Lyrics, the narrator is portrayed as a woman
who marries a man who has been searching for love all his life:

Christ God who savest man, save most
Of men Count Gismond who saved me!
Count Gauthier, when he chose his post,
Chose time and place and company
To suit it; when he struck at length
My honour, 't was with all his strength.

And doubtlessly, ere he could draw
All points to one, he must have schemed!
That miserable morning saw
Few half so happy as I seemed,
While being dressed in queen's array
To give our tourney prize away.

I thought they loved me, did me grace
To please themselves; 't was all their deed;
God makes, or fair or foul, our face;
If showing mine so caused to bleed
My cousins' hearts, they should have dropped
A word, and straight the play had stopped.

They, too, so beauteous! Each a queen
By virtue of her brow and breast;
Not needing to be crowned, I mean,
As I do. E'en when I was dressed,
Had either of them spoke, instead
Of glancing sideways with still head!

But no: they let me laugh, and sing
My birthday song quite through, adjust
The last rose in my garland, fling
A last look on the mirror, trust
My arms to each an arm of theirs,
And so descend the castle-stairs-

And come out on the morning troop
Of merry friends who kissed my cheek,
And called me queen, and made me stoop
Under the canopy-(a streak
That pierced it, of the outside sun,
Powdered with gold its gloom's soft dun)-

And they could let me take my state
And foolish throne amid applause
Of all come there to celebrate
My queen's-day-Oh I think the cause
Of much was, they forgot no crowd
Makes up for parents in their shroud!
However that be, all eyes were bent
Upon me, when my cousins cast
Theirs down; 't was time I should present
The victor's crown, but ... there, 't will last
No long time ... the old mist again
Blinds me as then it did. How vain!

See! Gismond's at the gate, in talk
With his two boys: I can proceed.
Well, at that moment, who should stalk
Forth boldly-to my face, indeed-
But Gauthier? and he thundered "Stay!"
And all stayed. "Bring no crowns, I say!

"Bring torches! Wind the penance-sheet
"About her! Let her shun the chaste,
"Or lay herself before their feet!
"Shall she, whose body I embraced
"A night long, queen it in the day?
"For honour's sake no crowns, I say!"

I? What I answered? As I live,
I never fancied such a thing
As answer possible to give.
What says the body when they spring
Some monstrous torture-engine's whole
Strength on it? No more says the soul.

Till out strode Gismond; then I knew
That I was saved. I never met
His face before, but, at first view,
I felt quite sure that God had set
Himself to Satan; would who spend
A minute's mistrust on the end?

He strode to Gauthier, in his throat
Gave him the lie, then struck his mouth
With one back-handed blow that wrote
In blood men's verdict there. North, South,
East, West, I looked. The lie was dead,
And damned, and truth stood up instead.

This glads me most, that I enjoyed
The heart o' the joy, with my content
In watching Gismond unalloyed
By any doubt of the event:
God took that on him-I was bid
Watch Gismond for my part: I did.

Did I not watch him while he let
His armourer just brace his greaves,
Rivet his hauberk, on the fret
The while! His foot ... my memory leaves
No least stamp out nor how anon
He pulled his ringing gauntlets on.

And e'en before the trumpet's sound
Was finished, prone lay the false knight,
Prone as his lie, upon the ground:
Gismond flew at him, used no sleight
O' the sword, but open-breasted drove,
Cleaving till out the truth he clove.

Which done, he dragged him to my feet
And said, "Here die, but end thy breath
"In full confession, lest thou fleet
"From my first, to God's second death!
"Say, hast thou lied? "And, "I have lied
"To God and her,"he said, and died.

Then Gismond, kneeling to me, asked
-What safe my heart holds, though no word
Could I repeat now, if I tasked
My powers for ever, to a third
Dear even as you are. Pass the rest
Until I sank upon his breast.

Over my head his arm he flung
Against the world; and scarce I felt
His sword (that dripped by me and swung)
A little shifted in its belt:
For he began to say the while
How South our home lay many a mile.

So, 'mid the shouting multitude
We two walked forth to never more
Return. My cousins have pursued
Their life, untroubled as before
I vexed them. Gauthier's dwelling-place
God lighten! May his soul find grace!

Our elder boy has got the clear
Great brow, tho' when his brother's black
Full eye shows scorn, it ... Gismond here?
And have you brought my tercel back?
I was just telling Adela
How many birds it struck since May.
Count Gismond has always fallen in and out of love with friends and women because he says
that they always betray him in the end ( Smalley 51). The countess is the one to break
the spell and so they are married. The Count vows to get revenge on the once beloved
friends, now foes, which he seeks out to kill. The countess, a religious women, believes
in prayer and faith and says:

Christ God with savest man, save most
Of men Count Gismond who saved me!
To suit it; when he struck at length
My honour, ’twas with all his strength
The countess will stick by Count Gismond’s side even when he decides to seek revenge
on the old friends that he now loathes.

Browning leads the poem to take a turn when he conveys mysterious undertones of the
countess’ true unhappiness with her life and husband ( Roberts 102). The countess
is distressed by her husband’s vices, though she tries to make herself believe they
are virtues. In all actuality the countess is distressed by her husband’s antics
against those he loved before. The poem notes how the countess is weary as she walks
alongside her husband’s dripping sword and how she sees her husband in her young
son’s black scornful eyes ( Adams 1), proving there may be more to the poem than
meets the eye.

“My Last Duchess” is another of Browning's famous poems from Dramatic Lyrics:
That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: FrÓ Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will 't please you sit and look at her? I said
"FrÓ Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
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, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
FrÓ Pandolf chanced to say, "Her mantle laps
Over my Lady's wrist too much," or "Paint
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
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, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
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,
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-o ld name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
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
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
--E'en then would be some stooping; and I chuse
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
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
As if alive. 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 pretence
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
It is one of his most representative dramatic monologues. The Duke is looking at the
picture of his deceased wife on the wall and mourning her beauty and her being and how he
will never love another again (Roberts 103). Browning makes it seem as if the Duke is
speaking to the reader while in all actuality (which is not found out until later in the
poem) he is speaking to the convoy of a count. This leads the reader to immerse himself
in the poem, and for the time being be inside the poem as one of the characters. The Duke
comments on how his wife was always happy. When she died the Duke claimed that no one
Continues for 13 more pages >>

  • The Works and Influence of Robert Browning
    The Works and Influence of Robert Browning The Works and Influence of Robert Browning Robert Browning was one of the most recognized and respected poets of his time. The Victorian period that he lived in and his upbringing made him the dramatic and intelligent poet that he was. His most famous types of poetry were his lyrical and romantic poems. Browning influenced poetic society with his dramatic monologues, long poems, and silent listener techniques. He can be compared to Elizabeth Barrett Br