A reading of a classic poem about England
‘Oh, to be in England’: the opening line of Robert Browning’s poem praising England while abroad has become more famous than the poem’s actual title, ‘Home-Thoughts, from Abroad’. Before we proceed to an analysis of the poem’s language and meaning, here’s a reminder of it.
Home-Thoughts, from Abroad
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now! Read the rest of this entry
A reading of a classic dramatic monologue
‘Porphyria’s Lover’ is one of Browning’s first great poems, written when he was in his early twenties. It is also one of the first great dramatic monologues in English verse, the 1830s being the decade in which Browning and Tennyson developed the genre, penning a series of classic poems which see the poet adopting a persona and ‘staging’ a soliloquy given by an (often unreliable) speaker. Here, the speaker is the titular lover of the girl, Porphyria. Before we proceed to an analysis of ‘Porphyria’s Lover’, here’s a reminder of Browning’s poem.
The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm; Read the rest of this entry
Are these the best Browning poems?
Robert Browning (1812-89) was a prolific poet, so whittling down his poetic oeuvre to just ten defining poems is going to prove a challenge. With that in mind, it’s best to view the following list of Browning’s ten best poems as indicative – there are many other classic Robert Browning poems around. Still, these are our particular favourites, and, we hope, none is out of place in a Browning top ten.
‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came’. A grotesque quasi-medieval dramatic monologue detailing the quest of the titular Roland, this poem was produced in an attempt to overcome writer’s block: in 1852 Browning had set himself the New Year’s Resolution to write a new poem every day, and this vivid dreamscape is what arose from his fevered imagination. Browning borrowed the title from a line in Shakespeare’s King Lear; the character of Roland as he appears in Browning’s poem has in turn inspired Stephen King to write his Dark Tower series, while J. K. Rowling borrowed the word ‘slughorn’ from the poem when creating the name of her character Horace Slughorn. Read the rest of this entry