Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Channeling My Inner Goth

I'm not in a writing mood. I've had a lot of spare time in front of my laptop during teaching and tutoring today so in lieu of writing, I've been entertaining myself with some random internet searches. I was fascinated with Robert Browning for years, and there was a period when I read everything I could find about him, including a collection of his letters. I looked up some of his poetry today.

This is a poem that almost everyone has read at some point, I think. The premise is sick (not in a good way) but there's something about his writing that makes me wish I could meet him. You know that question . . . if you could invite any eight people, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would you assemble? Browning would definitely be at mine. I think he would really enjoy his visit with Oprah, Bob Marley, Anais Nin, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Che Guevara and Frida Kahlo (on second thought . . . Oprah might be a little bit of a wet blanket at that gathering so I might replace her with Helen of Troy, just for party dynamics).


The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me---she
Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

I really like this second poem except for the last two lines, which are totally cheezy. If I could write like this, I would be describing things 24/7.


The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

1 comment:

  1. Porphyria's Lover was *so* one of my favorite poems in English Lit in high school ... Nice to re-read it.