Portuguese IV

Continuing the them first announced in yesterday's sonnet:

from Sonnets from the Portuguese
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

IV

Thou hast thy calling to some palace-floor,
Most gracious singer of high poems! where
The dancers will break footing, from the care
Of watching up thy pregnant lips for more.
And dost thou lift this house's latch too poor
For hand of thine? and canst thou think and bear
To let thy music drop here unaware
In folds of golden fulness at my door?
Look up and see the casement broken in,
The bats and owlets builders in the roof!
My cricket chirps against thy mandolin.
Hush, call no echo up in further proof
Of desolation! there's a voice within
That weeps . . . as thou must sing . . . alone, aloof.

Because this is more a continuation of a thought, it, lack many sequels, lacks some of the power of the original, and yet there is so much that is striking here.  Her high regard for Robert in noting that cultured people will stumble in their dancing just because they wait for him to speak, and yet he chooses to spend time with her, "to let thy music drop here unaware//in folds of golden fulness at my door?"  He abandons his audience, the audience to which he is entitled and instead spends his poetry in fruitless and "unheard" pleading.  But it is not unheard, nor is it unappreciated, and one of the loveliest lines of this sonnet is the comparison of the two poets--the one representing society and its golden people, the other desolation--"my cricket chirps against thy mandolin. . . "

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