Poem of the Week--Robert Browning

"Two in the Campagna"

There is always a difficulty in representing the inimitable and magnificent Robert Browning--dramatic monologue, lyrical?  What to choose.  This would not have been my choice (for short lyric/dramatic, I would have selected "Caliban upon Setebos"--however, I recognize that would present some background difficulties for some readers--and the purpose of the series is to present poetry that does not make inordinate demands for background knowledge.

One thing I can say is that this presents a lovely complementary view that parallels, in some ways, The Sonnets from the Portuguese.

I'm seriously considering the next lengthy poem I may undertake to gloss might be The Ring and the Book. For lack of a better description--a novel in verse running to some 500 pages.  And much of it exquisitely beautiful in the way that only Browning can be.

By the way, I love this series of poems (Poem of the Week)--not because they are always the best poems to present, but because the writer/editor makes a serious effort to supply context and to guide the reader through the poem.  I would prefer that the poem come before the guide so that the reader is encouraged to go back through after their initial encounter and deepen their understanding of what they have just read.  But that's why there are so many blogs and commentators--my style is always to aim at the pedagogical--poetry needs to be read by more people and if you make it friendly--as these articles do--perhaps more will indulge in the sheer luxury and perfection of language that defines the art of poetry.

It's a shame Robert Browning is rarely read anymore save for "My Last Duchess."  Truly an exquisite poem, but not even the height of his art--just provocative enough to keep it bubbling away through the years.  "I gave commands. . . ."  go, read, enjoy


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