We keep mostly genre stuff in the garage: Ngaio Marsh…Dashiell Hammett…Francis Iles… Simenon…Clifford D. Simak…Joanna Russ… Sheridan le Fanu… Mary Braddon…
And then I found two copies of Poems of Robert Browning. My husband and I had the same text in college.
And so I have fallen in love with Browning…again!
Every garage should have a copy of Browning.
I sat in the garage (it was raining outside) and opened the book to the famous poem “My Last Duchess.” Written in iambic pentameter couplets, this elegant monologue has a Gothic twist. The persona of the poem, a sixteenth-century Duke of Ferrara, begins by pointing out a painting of his late wife, his Last Duchess. His auditor, ironically, is an envoy making the arrangements for his marriage to a young bride.
The poem begins:
That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
If you like horror, do read My Last Duchess.
Browning was a master of the dramatic monologue. The persona, or speaker, of a dramatic monologue reveals his thoughts, feelings, and psychological motives to an unheard auditor.
There is much to analyze in Browning’s poesy, but I am here only to cheer you on!
8 thoughts on “Garage Lit: The Poems of Robert Browning”
One of my favourite conversation-stoppers is to say that “The Ring and the Book” is the best novel in English.
I do have a copy and had better find it while I’m in the Browning mood. I love a good novel in verse!
Have you read Edith Wharton’s short story “The Duchess at Prayer”? it has so many echoes of “My Last Duchess” Wharton’s story could be a fan-fic pendant to the poem.
I do look forward to reading it. Thanks, Gina. Edith Wharton is brilliant.
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Thank you for writing about Browning. He created so many crazy “men in black” (hat tip to Johnny Cash) but also some inspirational characters. I hope that you take the time to read the exceptional “The Bishop Orders His Tomb”. I also very fondly recall comparing “Fra Lippo Lippi” and “Andrea del Sarto” in my classes. His understanding of human psychology and his artistry are brilliant.
I’ve done a lot of rereading of Browning lately. He’s stunning, perhaps less read these days? I’m not sure who’s in style and who’s not…
On Mon, May 27, 2019 at 4:42 PM Thornfield Hall: A Book Blog wrote:
I have absolutely no idea about who or what is in style. But I remember when there were Browning Societies in many cities. I have heard that they often played the part of a romantic introduction. I know of a novel, “The Good Soldier” where a couple meet at a Browning Society. There’s a bit about it in Wikipedia:
He’s psychologically very perspicacious and the structure of his dramatic monologues can be brilliant.
Oh, I’d love to join a Browning Society. 🙂 Oddly, i hear more about Elizabeth Barrett Browning than Robert these days. Secretly I prefer Robert.