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Any Wife To Any Husband Analysis



Author: poem of Robert Browning Type: poem Views: 54

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I



My love, this is the bitterest, that thou

Who art all truth and who dost love me now

As thine eyes say, as thy voice breaks to say—

Shouldst love so truly and couldst love me still

A whole long life through, had but love its will,

Would death that leads me from thee brook delay!



II



I have but to be by thee, and thy hand

Would never let mine go, thy heart withstand

The beating of my heart to reach its place.

When should I look for thee and feel thee gone?

When cry for the old comfort and find none?

Never, I know! Thy soul is in thy face.



III



Oh, I should fade—'tis willed so! might I save,

Galdly I would, whatever beauty gave

Joy to thy sense, for that was precious too.

It is not to be granted. But the soul

Whence the love comes, all ravage leaves that whole;

Vainly the flesh fades—soul makes all things new.



IV



And 'twould not be because my eye grew dim

Thou couldst not find the love there, thanks to Him

Who never is dishonoured in the spark

He gave us from his fire of fires, and bade

Remember whence it sprang nor be afraid

While that burns on, though all the rest grow dark.



V



So, how thou wouldst be perfect, white and clean

Outside as inside, soul and soul's demesne

Alike, this body given to show it by!

Oh, three-parts through the worst of life's abyss,

What plaudits from the next world after this,

Couldst thou repeat a stroke and gain the sky!



VI



And is it not the bitterer to think

That, disengage our hands and thou wilt sink

Although thy love was love in very deed?

I know that nature! Pass a festive day

Thou dost not throw its relic-flower away

Nor bid its music's loitering echo speed.



VII



Thou let'st the stranger's glove lie where it fell;

If old things remain old things all is well,

For thou art grateful as becomes man best:

And hadst thou only heard me play one tune,

Or viewed me from a window, not so soon

With thee would such things fade as with the rest.



VIII



I seem to see! we meet and part: 'tis brief:

The book I opened keeps a folded leaf,

The very chair I sat on, breaks the rank;

That is a portrait of me on the wall—

Three lines, my face comes at so slight a call;

And for all this, one little hour's to thank.



IX



But now, because the hour through years was fixed,

Because our inmost beings met amd mixed,

Because thou once hast loved me—wilt thou dare

Say to thy soul and Who may list beside,

"Therefore she is immortally my bride,

Chance cannot change that love, nor time impair.



X



"So, what if in the dusk of life that's left,

I, a tired traveller, of my sun bereft,

Look from my path when, mimicking the same,

The fire-fly glimpses past me, come and gone?

- Where was it till the sunset? where anon

It will be at the sunrise! what's to blame?"



XI



Is it so helpful to thee? canst thou take

The mimic up, nor, for the true thing's sake,

Put gently by such efforts at at beam?

Is the remainder of the way so long

Thou need'st the little solace, thou the strong?

Watch out thy watch, let weak ones doze and dream!



XII



"—Ah, but the fresher faces! Is it true,"

Thou'lt ask, "some eyes are beautiful and new?

Some hair,—how can one choose but grasp such wealth?

And if a man would press his lips to lips

Fresh as the wilding hedge-rose-cup there slips

The dew-drop out of, must it be by stealth?



XIII



"It cannot change the love kept still for Her,

Much more than, such a picture to prefer

Passing a day with, to a room's bare side.

The painted form takes nothing she possessed,

Yet while the Titian's Venus lies at rest

A man looks. Once more, what is there to chide?"



XIV



So must I see, from where I sit and watch,

My own self sell myself, my hand attach

Its warrant to the very thefts from me—

Thy singleness of soul that made me proud,

Thy purity of heart I loved aloud,

Thy man's truth I was bold to bid God see!



XV



Love so, then, if thou wilt! Give all thou canst

Away to the new faces—disentranced—

(Say it and think it) obdurate no more,

Re-issue looks and words from the old mint—

Pass them afresh, no matter whose the print

Image and superscription once they bore!



XVI



Re-coin thyself and give it them to spend,—

It all comes to the same thing at the end,

Since mine thou wast, mine art, and mine shalt be,

Faithful or faithless, sealing up the sum

Or lavish of my treasure, thou must come

Back to the heart's place here I keep for thee!



XVII



Only, why should it be with stain at all?

Why must I, 'twixt the leaves of coronal,

Put any kiss of pardon on thy brow?

Why need the other women know so much

And talk together, "Such the look and such

The smile he used to love with, then as now!"



XVIII



Might I die last and shew thee! Should I find

Such hardship in the few years left behind,

If free to take and light my lamp, and go

Into thy tomb, and shut the door and sit

Seeing thy face on those four sides of it

The better that they are so blank, I know!



XIX



Why, time was what I wanted, to turn o'er

Within my mind each look, get more and more

By heart each word, too much to learn at first,

And join thee all the fitter for the pause

'Neath the low door-way's lintel. That were cause

For lingering, though thou called'st, If I durst!



XX



And yet thou art the nobler of us two.

What dare I dream of, that thou canst not do,

Outstripping my ten small steps with one stride?

I'll say then, here's a trial and a task—

Is it to bear?—if easy, I'll not ask—

Though love fail, I can trust on in thy pride.



XXI



Pride?—when those eyes forestall the life behind

The death I have to go through!—when I find,

Now that I want thy help most, all of thee!

What did I fear? Thy love shall hold me fast

Until the little minute's sleep is past

And I wake saved.—And yet, it will not be!






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