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Protus Analysis

Author: Poetry of Robert Browning Type: Poetry Views: 293

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Among these latter busts we count by scores,

Half-emperors and quarter-emperors,

Each with his bay-leaf fillet, loose-thonged vest,

Loricand low-browed Gorgon on the breast,---

One loves a baby face, with violets there,

Violets instead of laurel in the hair,

As those were all the little locks could bear.

Now read here.``Protus ends a period

``Of empery beginning with a god;

``Born in the porphyry chamber at Byzant,

``Queens by his cradle, proud and ministrant:

``And if he quickened breath there, 'twould like fire

``Pantingly through the dim vast realm transpire.

``A fame that he was missing spread afar:

``The world from its four corners, rose in war,

``Till he was borne out on a balcony

``To pacify the world when it should see.

``The captains ranged before him, one, his hand

``Made baby points at, gained the chief command.

``And day by day more beautiful he grew

``In shape, all said, in feature and in hue,

``While young Greek sculptors, gazing on the child,

``Because with old Greek sculptore reconciled.

``Already sages laboured to condense

``In easy tomes a life's experience:

``And artists took grave counsel to impart

``In one breath and one hand-sweep, all their art---

``To make his graces prompt as blossoming

``Of plentifully-watered palms in spring:

``Since well beseems it, whoso mounts the throne,

``For beauty, knowledge, strength, should stand alone,

``And mortals love the letters of his name.''

---Stop! Have you turned two pages? Still the same.

New reign, same date.The scribe goes on to say

How that same year, on such a month and day,

``John the Pannonian, groundedly believed

``A Blacksmith's bastard, whose hard hand reprieved

``The Empire from its fate the year before,---

``Came, had a mind to take the crown, and wore

``The same for six years (during which the Huns

``Kept off their fingers from us), till his sons

``Put something in his liquor''---and so forth.

Then a new reign.Stay---``Take at its just worth''

(Subjoins an annotator) ``what I give

``As hearsay.Some think, John let Protus live

``And slip away.'Tis said, he reached man's age

``At some blind northern court; made, first a page,

``Then tutor to the children; last, of use

``About the hunting-stables.I deduce

``He wrote the little tract `On worming dogs,'

``Whereof the name in sundry catalogues

``Is extant yet.A Protus of the race

``Is rumoured to have died a monk in Thrace,---

``And if the same, he reached senility.''

Here's John the Smith's rough-hammered head.Great eye,

Gross jaw and griped lips do what granite can

To give you the crown-grasper.What a man!


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