Robert Browning

(1812-1889 / London / England)

De Gustibus---


I.

Your ghost will walk, you lover of trees,
(If our loves remain)
In an English lane,
By a cornfield-side a-flutter with poppies.
Hark, those two in the hazel coppice---
A boy and a girl, if the good fates please,
Making love, say,---
The happier they!
Draw yourself up from the light of the moon,
And let them pass, as they will too soon,
With the bean-flowers' boon,
And the blackbird's tune,
And May, and June!

II.

What I love best in all the world
Is a castle, precipice-encurled,
In a gash of the wind-grieved Apennine
Or look for me, old fellow of mine,
(If I get my head from out the mouth
O' the grave, and loose my spirit's bands,
And come again to the land of lands)---
In a sea-side house to the farther South,
Where the baked cicala dies of drouth,
And one sharp tree---'tis a cypress---stands,
By the many hundred years red-rusted,
Rough iron-spiked, ripe fruit-o'ercrusted,
My sentinel to guard the sands
To the water's edge. For, what expands
Before the house, but the great opaque
Blue breadth of sea without a break?
While, in the house, for ever crumbles
Some fragment of the frescoed walls,
From blisters where a scorpion sprawls.
A girl bare-footed brings, and tumbles
Down on the pavement, green-flesh melons,
And says there's news to-day---the king
Was shot at, touched in the liver-wing,
Goes with his Bourbon arm in a sling:
---She hopes they have not caught the felons.
Italy, my Italy!
Queen Mary's saying serves for me---
(When fortune's malice
Lost her---Calais)---
Open my heart and you will see
Graved inside of it, ``Italy.''
Such lovers old are I and she:
So it always was, so shall ever be!

Submitted: Sunday, May 13, 2001

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