Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Hot Haze of Browning

Poem of the Day:
"A Lovers' Quarrel" by Robert Browning
My Last Duchess and Other Poems

Today's heat was vigorous; it was a cloud of smokey smokey strength and air so thick it was almost solid.

Such is similar to my reading of Browning. One of the only Victorian poetry books among my modern collection, I forgot how troublesome rhyme, form and length are to me. I need space -- physical space on the page and space from rhyme and other devices that tighten and fix a poem's rhythm.

Despite this, Browning's poem is sonically pleasing: "Oh, what a dawn of day!/How the March sun feels like May!" (lines 1-2). May sun aside, he and his lover have quarreled and the beautiful weather is wasted on him.

He continues on, drawing for us a pastoral scene. Browning writes, "Runnels, which rillets swell,/Must be dancing down the dell,/With a foaming head/On the beryl bed/Paven smooth as a hermit's cell" (lines 8-12).

Despite the beauteous field that his words conjure, I am caught in the thickness of the AABBA rhyme scheme -- at times it reads limerick-y.

I think on any other day I would really enjoy Browning. Today is just a hot day. I want space to breathe and walk and time to cool off. Whereas Browning's March day is full of a May sun, my July day was full of the sun, right up against the earth, nuzzling its way onto my wilting shoulder.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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