Dramatic Romances, by Robert Browning

The Boy and the Angel

Morning, evening, noon and night,

“Praise God!” sang Theocrite.

Then to his poor trade he turned,

Whereby the daily meal was earned.

Hard he laboured, long and well;

O’er his work the boy’s curls fell.

But ever, at each period,

He stopped and sang, “Praise God!”

Then back again his curls he threw,

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And cheerful turned to work anew.

Said Blaise, the listening monk, “Well done;

I doubt not thou art heard, my son:

As well as if thy voice today

Were praising God, the Pope’s great way.

This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome

Praises God from Peter’s dome.”

Said Theocrite, “Would God that I

Might praise him, that great way, and die!”

Night passed, day shone,

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And Theocrite was gone.

With God a day endures alway,

A thousand years are but a day.

God said in heaven, “Nor day nor night

Now brings the voice of my delight.”

Then Gabriel, like a rainbow’s birth

Spread his wings and sank to earth;

.

Entered, in flesh, the empty cell,

Lived there, and played the craftsman well;

And morning, evening, noon and night,

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Praised God in place of Theocrite.

And from a boy, to youth he grew:

The man put off the stripling’s hue:

The man matured and fell away

Into the season of decay:

And ever o’er the trade he bent,

And ever lived on earth content.

(He did God’s will; to him, all one

If on the earth or in the sun.)

God said, “A praise is in mine ear;

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There is no doubt in it, no fear:

So sing old worlds, and so

New worlds that from my footstool go.

Clearer loves sound other ways:

I miss my little human praise.”

Then forth sprang Gabriel’s wings, off fell

The flesh disguise, remained the cell.

’Twas Easter Day: he flew to Rome,

And paused above Saint Peter’s dome.

In the tiring-room close by

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The great outer gallery,

With his holy vestments dight,

Stood the new Pope, Theocrite:

And all his past career

Came back upon him clear,

Since when, a boy, he plied his trade,

Till on his life the sickness weighed;

And in his cell, when death drew near,

An angel in a dream brought cheer:

And rising from the sickness drear

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He grew a priest, and now stood here.

To the East with praise he turned,

And on his sight the angel burned.

“I bore thee from thy craftsman’s cell

And set thee here; I did not well.

“Vainly I left my angel-sphere,

Vain was thy dream of many a year.

“Thy voice’s praise seemed weak; it dropped —

Creation’s chorus stopped!

“Go back and praise again

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The early way, while I remain.

“With that weak voice of our disdain,

Take up creation’s pausing strain.

“Back to the cell and poor employ:

Resume the craftsman and the boy!”

Theocrite grew old at home;

A new Pope dwelt in Peter’s dome.

One vanished as the other died:

They sought God side by side.

“The Boy and the Angel.” An imaginary legend illustrating the worth of humble, human love to God, who missed in the praise of the Pope, Theocrite, and of the Angel Gabriel, the precious human quality in the song of the poor boy, Theocrite.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/browning/robert/dramatic/poem5.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:32