“ Time to taste life," another would have said,

“Up with the curtain!”
This man said rather, “ Actual life comes next?

Patience a moment!
Grant I have mastered learning's crabbed text,

Still there's the comment.
Let me know all! Prate not of most or least,

Painful or easy!
Even to the crumbs I'd fain eat up the feast,

Aye, nor feel queasy."
Oh, such a life as he resolved to live,

When he had learned it,
When he had gathered all books had to give!

Sooner, he spurned it.
Image the whole, then execute the parts-

Fancy the fabric
Quite, ere you build, ere steel strike fire from quartz,

Ere mortar dab brick!



(Here's the town-gate reached; there's the market-place

Gaping before us.)
Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace

75 (Hearten our chorus!) That before living he'd learn how to live

No end to learning:
Earn the means first-God surely will contrive
Use for our earning.

80 Others mistrust and say, “ But time escapes!

Live now or never!
He said, “What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes!

Man has Forever."
Back to his book then: deeper drooped his head:


Calculus racked him:

64. Qucasy (Norw. kveis, sickness after a debauch). Qualmish, nauseated. 70-72. Fabric, dab brick.

Note effect of this and similar rhymes. 86-88. Diseases attacked him. Calculus (L.). The stone. Tussis (L.). A cough.




Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead:

Tussis attacked him.
Now, master, take a little rest!”—not he!

(Caution redoubled!
Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly!)

Not a whit troubled,
Back to his studies, fresher than at first,

Fierce as a dragon
He (soul-hydroptic with a sacred thirst)

Sucked at the flagon.
Oh, if we draw a circle premature,

Heedless of far gain,
Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure

Bad is our bargain!
Was it not great? did not he throw on God

(He loves the burthen)-
God's task to make the heavenly period

Perfect the earthen?
Did not he magnify the mind, show clear

Just what it all meant?
He would not discount life, as fools do here,

Paid by installment.
He ventured neck or nothing-heaven's success

Found, or earth's failure:
“Wilt thou trust death or not?” He answered “ Yes!

Hence with life's pale lure!”
That low man seeks a little thing to do,

Sees it and does it:
This high man, with a great thing to pursue,

Dies ere he knows it.
That low man goes on adding one to one,

His hundred's soon hit:
This high man, aiming at a million,

Misses an unit.




I 20

95. Hydroptic (Gr. hydropikos). Dropsical, thirsty." Every lust is a kind of hydropic distemper, and the more we drink the more we shall thirst.- Tillotson.

97, 103-104. Cf. Abt Vogler. “On earth the broken arcs ; in heaven the perfect round.”


That, has the world here-should he need the next,

Let the world mind him!
This, throws Himself on God, and unperplexed

Seeking shall find him.
So, with the throttling hands of death at strife,

Ground he at grammar;
Still, thro’ the rattle, parts of speech were rife:

While he could stammer
He settled Hoti's business—let it be!—
Properly based Oun-

130 Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De,

Dead from the waist down.
Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place:

Hail to your purlieus,
All ye highfliers of the feathered race,

135 Swallows and curlews! Here's the top-peak; the multitude below

Live, for they can, there:
This man decided not to Live but Know-
Bury this man there?

140 Here-here's his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form,

Lightnings are loosened,
Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm,

Peace let the dew send!
Lofty designs must close in like effects:

145 Loftily lying, Leave him—still loftier than the world suspects,

Living and dying.

123. The keynote of this poem is Browning's favorite tenet, which the Talmud thus words: “ It is not incumbent on thee to complete the work ; but thou must not therefore desist from it."

129-131. To know the whole he would perfect himself in the minutest parts. Hoti, the Greek particle, ötı, that, etc. Oun, the Greek particle, oův, then, etc. Concerning “the doctrine of the enclitic De," Browning cited scholarly authority and said “that De meaning 'towards' and as a demonstrative appendage is not to be confounded with the accentuated De meaning ‘but,' was the doctrine' which the Grammarian bequeathed to those capable of receiving it.

134. Purlieus (L. per, through + Fr. allée, go). Outlying districts.

141. This man of lofty aspirations must have a burial place symbolic of his past and future.



Cavalier Tunes *


KENTISH Sir Byng stood for his King,
Bidding the crop-headed Parliament swing:
And, pressing a troop unable to stoop
And see the rogues flourish and honest folk droop,
Marched them along, fifty-score strong,
Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song.



God for King Charles! Pym and such carles
To the Devil that prompts 'em their treasonous parles!
Cavaliers, up! Lips from the cup,
Hands from the pasty, nor bite take nor sup,
Till you're-
(Chorus) Marching along, fifty-score strong,

Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song.



Hampden to hell, and his obsequies' knell
Serve Hazelrig, Fiennes, and young Harry as well!

* These three songs were included in the Dramatic Lyrics published in 1842 as the third number of Bells and Pomegranates. The third was originally entitled My Wife Gertrude. They have been set to music by Dr. Villiers Stanford.

“The speaker is a typical cavalier of the days of Charles I., the time is the height of the Civil War with the issue still in the balance, the place a banquet hall echoing the clash of glasses and shouts of cavaliers."

I. John Pym, John Hampden, Sir Arthur Hazelrig, William Fiennes, and Sir Harry Vane "the Younger" were English patriot statesmen. Prince Rupert was a Bavarian soldier, a general in the army of his uncle, Charles I.

7. Carles (Dial., Eng.). Churls, rustics—in contempt. 8. Parles (Fr. parler, speak). Parleys.

England, good cheer! Rupert is near!

15 Kentish and loyalist, keep we not here, (Chorus) Marching along, fifty-score strong,

Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song.



Then, God for King Charles! Pym and his snarls
To the Devil that pricks on such pestilent carles!
Hold by the right, you double your might;
So, onward to Nottingham, fresh for the fight,
(Chorus) March we along, fifty-score strong,

Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song!




KING CHARLES, and who'll do him right now?
King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now?
Give a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now,
King Charles!



Who gave me the goods that went since?
Who raised me the house that sank once?
Who helped me to gold I spent since?
Who found me in wine you drank once?
(Chorus) King Charles, and who'll do him right now ?

King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now?
Give a rouse : here's, in hell's despite now,

King Charles !
II. Rouse (Sw. rusa, rush). “An awakening to or a signal for action."


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