Robert Browning

(1812-1889 / London / England)

My Last Duchess

Poem by Robert Browning

FERRARA.

That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fr Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
``Fr Pandolf'' by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Fr Pandolf chanced to say ``Her mantle laps
``Over my lady's wrist too much,'' or ``Paint
``Must never hope to reproduce the faint
``Half-flush that dies along her throat:'' such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart---how shall I say?---too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace---all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,---good! but thanked
Somehow---I know not how---as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech---(which I have not)---to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, ``Just this
``Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
``Or there exceed the mark''---and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
---E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

Form: Dramatic Monologue


Comments about My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

  • Mahtab BangaleeMahtab Bangalee (2/3/2020 3:55:00 AM)

    superb
    great
    and fantastic
    dramatic monologue

    excellent and fabulous poetic expression(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (8/4/2019 10:56:00 PM)

    Very long, but the dramatic monologue gives more than a glimpse of the character of the Duke, who is the only speaker. The Duke is speaking of his late wife, in a critical way, not mourning for her.
    An example of Browning's consummate mastery of the dramatic monologue form, in which he has no equals.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Chinelo I. (11/16/2018 4:32:00 AM)

    Only genius can subtly show someone with his head stuck far up his own, he can't breathe properly this well with just the right amount of grandiose.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • imaan shahid (5/29/2018 6:53:00 AM)

    its a dead poem i read 1 line and its too long(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Oratile DiratsagaeOratile Diratsagae (5/11/2018 9:32:00 AM)

    Nice poem. I loved it a lot(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • abdul kanmd (2/2/2018 9:58:00 AM)

    fuck your mom dick headsAlready ReportedReply

    4 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • abdul kanmd (2/2/2018 9:55:00 AM)

    he is stupid he told the listener that he killed the duchess and that he is threatening anyone who looks at her(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • pappu pandey (12/7/2017 5:31:00 AM)

    chheee chheee chheee chheee chheee(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (3/1/2016 8:42:00 AM)

    It is one of the famous poem that likes.(Report)Reply

    7 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Ecem Gerede (7/14/2015 6:16:00 AM)

    This is a great piece if work... when I learnt the background story I literally fall in love with this poem.(Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • Naida Nepascua SupnetNaida Nepascua Supnet (5/18/2015 7:53:00 AM)

    I want to stop reading after the first three lines... but of course I did not.
    Long and descriptive.
    And yes, a nice one,
    read it too.(Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (3/30/2015 7:04:00 PM)

    A subtle dramatic monologue. The speaker, who talks to a silent listener, refers to a portrait of his late wife, whom he probably did away with: 'Then all smiles stopped together.' He is rationalizing and deluding himself, and justifying himself to his companion.(Report)Reply

    8 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (7/6/2014 3:41:00 AM)

    A poetry that loved much and recited in true spirits.It has its moral values and relevance between the art and real life I think and felt it so beautiful.(Report)Reply

    10 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Leon Boyle (2/11/2014 4:42:00 AM)

    The most silly thing i have ever read(Report)Reply

    Anton KAnton K(11/5/2015 1:16:00 PM)

    That's exactly what I thought - about your comment.

    20 person liked.
    27 person did not like.
  • Christopher Gould (7/7/2013 3:15:00 PM)

    The Duke is a man of refinement: a politician and an aesthete but he seems morally unbalanced and even a savage.Browning interests himself here with the relationship between art and life and art and morality which also interestd contemporaries like John Ruskin and Henry James.The duke even regards his wives as art objects to be owned and perhaps thrown away when unsatisfactory.
    I think Browning hints that the duke has a barbarian attitude which he gets from his German ancestors who came over the Alps into Italy nine hundred years previously.His link with Klaus of Insbruck is a link with a distant ho0meland whose attitudes he has not quite thrown off.
    So Browning is certainly not one who thinks to be aesthetically aware is to be moral; it might be just to be posessive.Characters in other poems are reminiscent of the Duke and the Duchess.She is of a free hearted and loving type who lives for the moment like Brother Lawrence or the one who sang Oh to be in England now that Aprils hereThe Duke is like The Pied Piper of Hamelin who has artistic powers and gifts but who takes a lethal revenge when he feels himself wronged.
    So the poem is a well told story but also a deep meditation(Report)Reply

    35 person liked.
    18 person did not like.
  • Grim Reaper (2/19/2010 9:04:00 AM)

    One of Robert Browning's greatest poem is the My Last Duchess well known for the most dramatic poem he ever wrote.In the poem the last duchess was killed by her husband the duke who finds himself jealous for her the duchess seducing men by her image and likeness.Even in the portrait of her deceased duchess you can see how beauty can be a sin.The lesson here that love can be also deadly for it can kill someone you love.In my opinion the duke has the right kill her duchess for she is the one to be blame for hatred, jealousy, and pain of the duke.I deny the fact that love is the most good thing to happen but the real thing its not true.You can say that the duke is so selfish and so arrogant but the truth about it really hurts when your not being loved by your love ones.I can even relate my story but time is running out I need to sleep because my eyes really hurts and I need to shut my computer before its too late....(Report)Reply

    43 person liked.
    84 person did not like.
  • Joriz De Guia (2/19/2010 7:34:00 AM)

    The duke is so selfish but maybe it is because of the duchess attitude towards him.(Report)Reply

    28 person liked.
    86 person did not like.
  • Earl Estologa (2/19/2010 1:34:00 AM)

    The poem speaks about the true intentions of the duke in a clever yet twisted way. It's all about the the duke's selfishness and pride. The duke is so obsessed with himself that he didn't like the way the duchess treat him. He want's all the attention from his duchess that he cannot simply handle the duchess attitude. I would say that this poem enchant's the reader's by the twisted plot with a lot of drama. I recommend this poem sothat you can understand the true meaning of love and selfishness.(Report)Reply

    31 person liked.
    51 person did not like.
  • Andrew Hoellering (4/22/2009 8:11:00 AM)

    A good summary, Sam. The Duke prefers his wife as a work of art (line two) as she causes him less stress that way. It was the gift of well-earned compliments, not objects, that delighted the Duchess and “the heart too soon made glad” that made the Duke (as cold as she was warm and spontaneous) jealous.
    “I choose / Never to stoop” is an ominous and disturbing line, as is “This grew, I gave commands/Then all smiles stopped together” and “There she stands/ As if alive.”
    The Duke is only able to handle his warm-hearted, impulsive wife when he can turn her into a work of art –and at the end of the poem he is discussing the dowry of his next wife!
    Without telling us what to think, Browning give us an in-depth knowledge of two very different people, their situation and relationship. No wonder his dramatic monologue is world famous(Report)Reply

    25 person liked.
    43 person did not like.
  • Sam Plant (1/19/2009 11:41:00 AM)

    I will just give a quick summary of what I feel this poem is about.
    Basically, the way I see this poem is a warning to his future wife and her family.
    The situtation is that the Duke of Ferrara shows a painting of his previous Duchess that he had killed due to his jealousy.
    He makes complaints of how other men could make her happy with their gifts, for example the white mule. The Duke is severely jealous that she showed no more appreciation to him for his gifts. This is evident when Browning writes 'Somehow-I know not how-as if she ranked, My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name, With anybody's gift.'
    Unable to handle this jealousy and unable to 'stoop' and 'blame this type of trifling' the Duke simply orders his lover to be killed.
    Then the final few lines give another quick insight into another area of the Dukes somewhat bitter personality. He says 'Together down, sir' after the murder of the Duchess as though it is nothing to him and also, he speaks of the statue of Neptune, taming a seahorse. The Duke likes to see taming, as he wanted to tame the Duchess and make her show less gratitude to people bearing gifts for her.(Report)Reply

    25 person liked.
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Read poems about / on: together, husband, daughter, horse, joy, passion, smile, hope, sea, thanks, work, rose



Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 13, 2001



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