Monday, September 3, 2018

Robert Browning*

Robert Browning (1812—1889) is as much celebrated for his romance with poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning as he is for his poetry. His first published book Pauline: A Fragment of a Confession was denounced by John Stuart Mill as being dominated by the poet’s personal emotions and self-consciousness; this critique may be responsible for Browning subsequently veiling himself from his readers in his dramatic monologues.

He was raised in an evangelical home, but briefly became an atheist after having immersed himself in the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley. This was short-lived, however, and after his marriage to Elizabeth Barrett Browning his Christian faith grew steadily deeper — although, like much of his private life, was not declared in a personal way in his poetry.

His extensive piece Christmas-Eve and Easter-Day is an examination of different attitudes towards Christianity, and is one of his most significant contributions from his married years (1846 to 1861). Robert and Elizabeth lived primarily in Florence. Her grave is in the English Cemetery there, and his is in Westminster Abbey.

from Christmas-Eve - X

Earth breaks up, time drops away,
In flows heaven, with its new day
Of endless life, when He who trod,
Very man and very God,
This earth in weakness, shame and pain,
Dying the death whose signs remain
Up yonder on the accursed tree,—
Shall come again, no more to be
Of captivity the thrall,
But the one God, All in all,
King of kings, Lord of lords,
As His servant John received the words,
“I died, and live for evermore!”

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Robert Browning: first post, third post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.