Robert Browning

(1812-1889 / London / England)

The Patriot


AN OLD STORY.

I.

It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.

II.

The air broke into a mist with bells,
The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.
Had I said, ``Good folk, mere noise repels---
But give me your sun from yonder skies!''
They had answered, ``And afterward, what else?''

III.

Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
To give it my loving friends to keep!
Nought man could do, have I left undone:
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.

IV.

There's nobody on the house-tops now---
Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
At the Shambles' Gate---or, better yet,
By the very scaffold's foot, I trow.

V.

I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year's misdeeds.

VI.

Thus I entered, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
``Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
``Me?''---God might question; now instead,
'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.

Submitted: Sunday, May 13, 2001
Edited: Sunday, May 13, 2001

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  • Stephen Holbrook-sishton (12/20/2009 5:41:00 PM)

    'The Patriot' is about how the mighty fall after a period of exhilerating popularity. In a sense it is the experience of most celebs nowadays. One minute you're the very best the next - yesterday's news, only in Browning's case he's talking about a patriot. The crowds are behaving differently to the ones a year ago. Before, they were worshipping, now they're waiting for his execution. The patriots who fit the bill are many, JC included. A poem for all time. (Report) Reply

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