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And slip away. 'T is said, he reached mau's Ages ago, a lady there, age

At the farthest window facing the East At some blind northern court; made, first a Asked, “Who rides by with the royal air?"

page, Then tutor to the children; last, of use The bridesmaids' prattle around her ceased; About the hunting-stables. I deduce 49 She leaned forth, one on either hand; He wrote the little tract. On worming dogs,' They saw how the blush of the bride inWhereof the name in sundry catalogues

creased — Is extant yet. A Protus of the race Is rumored to have died a monk in Thrace, They felt by its beats her heart expand And if the same, he reached senility." As one at each ear and both in a breath II Here's John the Smith's rough-hammered | Whispered, “The Great-Duke Ferdinand.”

head. Great eye, Gross jaw and griped lips do what granite can | That selfsame instant, underneath, To give you the crown-grasper. What a The Duke rode past in his idle way, man!

Empty and fine like a swordless sheath.


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This poem was published first in 1855 as an independent issue. A correspondent of an American paper once asked the following questions respecting this poem :

"1. When, how, and where did it happen? Browning's divine vagueness lets one gather only that the lady's husband was a Riccardi. 2. Who was the lady? who the duke? 3. The magnificent house wherein Florence lodges her préfet is known to all Florentine ball-goers as the Palazzo Riccardi. It was bought by the Riccardi from the Medici in 1659. From none of its windows did the lady gaze at her more than royal lover. From what window, then, if from any ? Are the statne and the bust still in their original positions ?"

The letter fell into the hands of Mr. Thomas J. Wise, who sent it to Mr. Browning, and received the following answer.

Jan. 8, 1887. DEAR MR. WISE, -I have seldom met with such a strange inability to understand what seems the plainest matter possible: "ball-goers" are probably not history-readers, but any guide-book would confirm what is sufficiently stated in the poem. I will append a note or two, however. 1. "This story the townsmen tell"; " when, how, and where," constitutes the subject of the poem. 2. The lady was the wife of Riccardi ; and the duke, Ferdinand, just as the poem says. 3. As it was built by, and inhabited by, the Medici till sold, long after, to the Riccardi, it was not from the duke's palace, but a window in that of the Riccardi, that the lady gazed at her lover riding by. The statue is still in its place, looking at the window under which "now is the empty shrine." Can anything be clearer? My “ vagueness " leaves what to be " gathered " when all these things are put down in black and white ! Oh. "ball-goers" !

He looked at her, as a lover can;
She looked at him, as one who awakes:
The past was a sleep, and her life began. 30

Now, love so ordered for both their sakes,
A feast was held that selfsame night
In the pile which the mighty shadow makes.

(For Via Larga is three-parts light,
But the palace overshadows one,
Because of a crime, which may God requite!

To Florence and God the wrong was done,
Through the first republic's murder there
By Cosimo and his cursed son.)

THERE's a palace in Florence, the world The Duke (with the statue's face in the knows well,

square) And a statue watches it from the square, Turned in the midst of his multitude And this story of both do our townsmen tell. | At the bright approach of the bridal pair.



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The world meanwhile, its noise and stir, 58 The bridegroom, not a thought to be seen
Through a certain window facing the East | On his steady brow and quiet mouth,
She could watch like a convent's chronicler. Said, “Too much favor for me so mean!

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" 'Tis only the coat of a page to borrow, | “Yet my passion must wait a night, nor And tie my hair in a horse-boy's trim.

cool And I save my soul - but not to-mor For to-night the Envoy arrives from France row

Whose heart I unlock with thyself, my tool.

(She checked herself and her eye grew dim) | “I need thee still and might miss perchance. “My father tarries to bless my state: To-day is not wholly lost, beside, I must keep it one day more for him. With its hope of my lady's countenance: “ Is one day more so long to wait ?

“For I ride — what should I do but ride ? Moreover the Duke rides past, I know; 80 And passing her palace, if I list, We shall see each other, sure as fate." | May glance at its window – well betide!”

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So said, so done: nor the lady missed One day as the lady saw her youth
One ray that broke from the ardent brow, | Depart, and the silver thread that streaked
Nor a curl of the lips where the spirit Her hair, and, worn by the serpent's tooth,

The brow $0 puckered, the chin so Be sure that each renewed the vow,

peaked, — No morrow's sun should arise and set And wondered who the woman was, And leave them then as it left them now. Hollow-eyed and baggard-cheeked,


But next day passed, and next day yet,
With still fresh cause to wait one day more
Ere each leaped over the parapet.
And still, as love's brief morning wore, 130
With a gentle start, half smile, half sigh,
They found love not as it seemed before.

Fronting her silent in the glass —
“Summon here,” she suddenly said,
“ Before the rest of my old self pass,
“ Him, the Carver, a hand to aid,
Who fashions the clay no love will change,
And fixes a beauty never to fade.

They thought it would work infallibly,
But not in despite of heaven and earth:
The rose would blow when the storm passed

“Let Robbia's craft so apt and strange Arrest the remains of young and fair, 170 And rivet them while the seasons range.




“ Make me a face on the window there, Meantime they could profit in winter's Waiting as ever, mute the while, dearth

My love to pass below in the square! By store of fruits that supplant the rose: The world and its ways have a certain worth: “And let me think that it may beguile

Dreary days which the dead must spend And to press a point while these oppose Down in their darkness under the aisle, Were simple policy; better wait: We lose no friends and we gain no foes. “To say, "Wbat matters it at the end ?

I did no more while my heart was warm Meantime, worse fates than a lover's fate, Than does that image, my pale-faced Who daily may ride and pass and look

friend.' Where his lady watches behind the grate!

• Where is the use of the lip's red charm, And she - she watched the square like a The heaven of hair, the pride of the brow, book

And the blood that blues the inside arm Holding one picture and only one, Which daily to find she undertook:

“ Unless we turn, as the soul knows how,

The earthly gift to an end divine ? When the picture was reached the book was. A lady of clay is as good, I trow.”

done, And she turned from the picture at night to But long ere Robbia's cornice, fine, scheme

With flowers and fruits which leaves enOf tearing it out for herself next sun. 150


Was set where now is the empty shrine – So weeks grew months, years; gleam by

(And, leaning out of a bright blue space, The glory dropped from their youth and love, As a ghost might lean from a chink of sky, And both perceived they had dreamed a The passionate pale lady's face - 192 dream;

Eying ever, with earnest eye Which hovered as dreams do, still above: And quick-turned neck at its breathless But who can take a dream for a truth?

stretch, Oh, hide our eyes from the next remove! Some one who ever is passing by -)


The Duke bad sighed like the simplest Must a game be played for the sake of wretch

pelf? In Florence, “Youth - my dream escapes! Where a button goes, 't were an epigram Will its record stay?” And he bade them To offer the stamp of the very Guelph. fetch

The true has no value beyond the sham: Some subtle moulder of brazen shapes — As well the counter as coin, I submit, “Can the soul, the will, die out of a man When your table's a hat, and your prize, a Ere his body find the grave that gapes ?



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So! while these wait the trump of doom,

FRA LIPPO LIPPI How do their spirits pass, I wonder, Nights and days in the narrow room ? I AM poor brother Lippo, by your leave !

You peed not clap your torches to my face. Still, I suppose, they sit and ponder Zooks, what's to blame? you think you What a gift life was, ages ago,

see a monk! Six steps out of the chapel youder.

What, 't is past midnight, and you go the

rounds, Only they see not God, I know,

And here you catch me at an alley's end Nor all that chivalry of his,

Where sportive ladies leave their doors The soldier-saints who, row on row,

ajar ?

The Carmine 's my cloister: hunt it up, Burn upward each to his point of bliss - Do, – harry out, if you must show your Since, the end of life being manifest,

zeal, He had burned bis way through the world Whatever rat, there, baps on his wrong to this.


And nip each softling of a wee white I hear you reproach, “But delay was mouse, best,

Weke, weke, that's crept to keep him comFor their end was a crime.” – Oh, a crime pany! will do

Aha, you know your betters! Then, you 'll As well, I reply, to serve for a test,


Your hand away that's fiddling on my As a virtue golden through and through,

throat, Sufficient to vindicate itself

230 | And please to kuow me likewise. Who Aud prove its worth at a moment's view I I am I?

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Why, one, sir, who is lodging with a friend And saints again. I could not paint all Three streets off — he's a certain ...

night how d' ye call ?

Ouf! I leaned out of window for fresh Master - a... Cosimo of the Medici,

air. I'the house that caps the corner. Boh! you There came a hurry of feet and little feet, were best!

A sweep of lute-strings, lauglis, and whifts Remember and tell me, the day you 're

of song, — hanged,

Flower o' the broom, How you affected such a gullet's-gripe! 20 Take away love, and our earth is a tomb ! But you, sir, it concerns you that your Flower o' the quince, knaves

I let Lisa go, and what good in life since ? Pick up a manner, nor discredit you: Flower o the thyme - and so on. Round Zooks, are we pilchards, that they sweep

they went. the streets

Scarce had they turned the corner when a And count fair prize what comes into their

titter net?

Like the skipping of rabbits by moonlight, He's Judas to a tittle, that man is!

- three slim shapes, Just such a face! Why, sir, you make And a face that looked up ... zooks, sir, amends.

flesh and blood, Lord, I'm not angry! Bid your hangdogs That's all I'm made of! Into shreds it

went, Drink out this quarter-florin to the health Curtain and counterpane and coverlet, Of the munificent House that harbors me All the bed-furniture - a dozen knots, (And many more beside, lads! more be There was a ladder! Down I let myself, side!)

Hands and feet, scrambling somehow, and And all's come square again. I'd like his

so dropped, face

And after them. I came up with the fun His, elbowing on his comrade in the door | Hard by Saint Laurence, hail fellow, well With the pike and lantern, — for the slave

met, that holds

Flower o' the rose, John Baptist's head a-dangle by the hair If I've been merry, what matter who knows? With one hand (“ Look you, now," as who | And so as I was stealing back again 30 should say)

To get to bed and have a bit of sleep And his weapon in the other, yet un | Ere I rise up to-morrow and go work wiped!

On Jerome knocking at his poor old breast It's not your chance to have a bit of With his great round stone to subdue the

chalk, A wood-coal or the like? or you should see! You snap me of the sudden. Ah, I see! Yes, I'm the painter, since you style me | Though your eye twinkles still, you shake

your head What, brother Lippo's doings, up and Mine's shaved - a monk, you say - the down,

sting 's in that! You know them and they take you ? like If Master Cosimo announced himself, enough!

Mum's the word naturally; but a monk! I saw the proper twinkle in your eye Come, what am I a beast for? tell us, 'Tell you, I liked your looks at very first.

80 Let's sit and set things straight now, hip I was a baby when my mother died to haunch.

And father died and left me in the street. Here's spring come, and the nights one I starved there, God knows how, a year or makes up bands

two To roam the town and sing out carnival, 1 On fig-skins, melon-parings, rinds and And I've been three weeks shut within my

shucks, mew,

Refuse and rubbish. One fine frosty day, A-painting for the great man, saints and My stomach being empty as your hat, saints

| The wind doubled me up and down I went.





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