Dramatic Romances, by Robert Browning

The Patriot

An Old Story


It was roses, roses, all the way,

With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:

The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,

The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,

A year ago on this very day.


The air broke into a mist with bells,

The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.

Had I said, “Good folk, mere noise repels—

But give me your sun from yonder skies!”


They had answered, “And afterward, what else?”


Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun

To give it my loving friends to keep!

Nought man could do, have I left undone:

And you see my harvest, what I reap

This very day, now a year is run.


There’s nobody on the house-tops now—

Just a palsied few at the windows set;

For the best of the sight is, all allow,

At the Shambles’ Gate — or, better yet,


By the very scaffold’s foot, I trow.


I go in the rain, and, more than needs,

A rope cuts both my wrists behind;

And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,

For they fling, whoever has a mind,

Stones at me for my year’s misdeeds.


Thus I entered, and thus I go!

In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.

“Paid by the world, what dost thou owe

Me?”— God might question; now instead,


’Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.

“The Patriot” is a hero’s story of the reward and punishment dealt him for his services within one year. To act regardless of praise or blame, save God’s, seems safer.


Last updated Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 18:43