Robert Browning (1812-1889 / London / England)
O the old wall here! How I could pass
Life in a long midsummer day,
My feet confined to a plot of grass,
My eyes from a wall not once away!
And lush and lithe do the creepers clothe
Yon wall I watch, with a wealth of green:
Its bald red bricks draped, nothing loath,
In lappets of tangle they laugh between.
Now, what is it makes pulsate the robe?
Why tremble the sprays? What life o'erbrims
The body,--the house no eye can probe,--
Divined, as beneath a robe, the limbs?
And there again! But my heart may guess
Who tripped behind; and she sang, perhaps:
So the old wall throbbed, and its life's excess
Died out and away in the leafy wraps.
Wall upon wall are between us: life
And song should away from heart to heart!
I--prison-bird, with a ruddy strife
At breast, and a lip whence storm-notes start--
Hold on, hope hard in the subtle thing
That's spirit: tho' cloistered fast, soar free;
Account as wood, brick, stone, this ring
Of the rueful neighbours, and--forth to thee!
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