Dramatic Lyrics, by Robert Browning

A Lovers’ Quarrel.

I.

Oh, what a dawn of day!

How the March sun feels like May!

All is blue again

After last night’s rain,

And the South dries the hawthorn-spray.

Only, my Love’s away!

I’d as lief that the blue were grey,

II.

Runnels, which rillets swell,

Must be dancing down the dell,

With a foaming head

On the beryl bed

Paven smooth as a hermit’s cell;

Each with a tale to tell,

Could my Love but attend as well.

III.

Dearest, three months ago!

When we lived blocked-up with snow —

When the wind would edge

In and in his wedge,

In, as far as the point could go —

Not to our ingle, though,

Where we loved each the other so!

IV.

Laughs with so little cause!

We devised games out of straws.

We would try and trace

One another’s face

In the ash, as an artist draws;

Free on each other’s flaws,

How we chattered like two church daws!

V.

What’s in the ‘Times”? — a scold

At the Emperor deep and cold;

He has taken a bride

To his gruesome side,

That’s as fair as himself is bold:

There they sit ermine-stoled,

And she powders her hair with gold.

VI.

Fancy the Pampas’ sheen!

Miles and miles of gold and green

Where the sunflowers blow

In a solid glow,

And — to break now and then the screen —

Black neck and eyeballs keen,

Up a wild horse leaps between!

VII.

Try, will our table turn?

Lay your hands there light, and yearn

Till the yearning slips

Thro’ the finger-tips

In a fire which a few discern,

And a very few feel burn,

And the rest, they may live and learn!

VIII.

Then we would up and pace,

For a change, about the place,

Each with arm o’er neck:

’Tis our quarter-deck,

We are seamen in woeful case.

Help in the ocean-space!

Or, if no help, we’ll embrace.

IX.

See, how she looks now, dressed

In a sledging-cap and vest!

’Tis a huge fur cloak —

Like a reindeer’s yoke

Falls the lappet along the breast:

Sleeves for her arms to rest,

Or to hang, as my Love likes best.

X.

Teach me to flirt a fan

As the Spanish ladies can,

Or I tint your lip

With a burnt stick’s tip

And you turn into such a man!

Just the two spots that span

Half the bill of the young male swan.

XI.

Dearest, three months ago

When the mesmerizer Snow

With his hand’s first sweep

Put the earth to sleep:

’Twas a time when the heart could show

All — how was earth to know,

‘Neath the mute hand’s to-and-fro?

XII.

Dearest, three months ago

When we loved each other so,

Lived and loved the same

Till an evening came

When a shaft from the devil’s bow

Pierced to our ingle-glow,

And the friends were friend and foe!

XIII.

Not from the heart beneath —

’Twas a bubble born of breath,

Neither sneer nor vaunt,

Nor reproach nor taunt.

See a word, how it severeth!

Oh, power of life and death

In the tongue, as the Preacher saith!

XIV.

Woman, and will you cast

For a word, quite off at last

Me, your own, your You —

Since, as truth is true,

I was You all the happy past —

Me do you leave aghast

With the memories We amassed?

XV.

Love, if you knew the light

That your soul casts in my sight,

How I look to you

For the pure and true

And the beauteous and the right —

Bear with a moment’s spite

When a mere mote threats the white!

XVI.

What of a hasty word?

Is the fleshly heart not stirred

By a worm’s pin-prick

Where its roots are quick?

See the eye, by a fly’s foot blurred —

Ear, when a straw is heard

Scratch the brain’s coat of curd!

XVII.

Foul be the world or fair

More or less, how can I care?

’Tis the world the same

For my praise or blame,

And endurance is easy there.

Wrong in the one thing rare —

Oh, it is hard to bear!

XVIII.

Here’s the spring back or close,

When the almond-blossom blows:

We shall have the word

In a minor third

There is none but the cuckoo knows:

Heaps of the guelder-rose!

I must bear with it, I suppose.

XIX.

Could but November come,

Were the noisy birds struck dumb

At the warning slash

Of his driver’s-lash —

I would laugh like the valiant Thumb

Facing the castle glum

And the giant’s fee-faw-fum!

XX.

Then, were the world well stripped

Of the gear wherein equipped

We can stand apart,

Heart dispense with heart

In the sun, with the flowers unnipped —

Oh, the world’s hangings ripped,

We were both in a bare-walled crypt!

XXI.

Each in the crypt would cry

“But one freezes here! and why?

“When a heart, as chill,

“At my own would thrill

“Back to life, and its fires out-fly?

“Heart, shall we live or die?

“The rest. . . . settle by-and-by!”

XXII.

So, she’d efface the score,

And forgive me as before.

It is twelve o’clock:

I shall hear her knock

In the worst of a storm’s uproar,

I shall pull her through the door,

I shall have her for evermore!

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/browning/robert/lyrics/chapter19.html

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