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which became the land of his adoption. He loved Italy devotedly all his life; his own words were,

“Open my heart and you will see

Graved inside of it, 'Italy."" Thus while he had not such a thorough and regular

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education as Matthew Arnold enjoyed, he had a broad and deep cultivation, he loved art in its various forms, music and painting as well as poetry. He came under the spell of Byron, and a little later was fascinated by Shelley.

Browning's literary career, which extended over a period of fifty years, began in 1833 with the publication

of his first long poem, Pauline, which was followed by Paracelsus. Shortly after the publication of Paracelsus, a well-known actor, Macready, met Browning and asked him to write a play. Browning wrote Strafford, and it was successfully produced at the Covent Garden Theatre. In 1841 Browning consented to publish a number of his plays and poems in a series of cheap pamphlets, the series to be called Bells and Pomegranates. The first number contained Pippa Passes and was sold for sixpence. At first people were slow to recognize as a genius this new, strong, earnest poet, who wrote so buoyantly and hopefully of life and death. He made many friends, however, for his winning personality drew to him all sorts and conditions of men, among them Wordsworth and Tennyson.

In 1845 the romance of Browning's life began in his introduction to Elizabeth Barrett, whose poems he had long admired. She was an invalid, seldom leaving her couch, a delicate, spiritual woman, who had early imbibed a love of Greek literature, as Browning himself had. Browning loved her at first sight and made her his wife in 1846, ignoring the despotic opposition of her father. It was a most happy marriage, in spite of Wordsworth's wondering remark when he heard of it: “So, Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett have gone off together! Well, I hope they may understand each other — nobody else could!” They did understand each other most perfectly, for each spoke the language of spirit and truth, and their life together was an exquisite living love-poem. They settled in Florence, in an old palace called Casa Guidi, and here they loved and lived and wrote. In 1855 Men and Women was published, containing fifty of Browning's best known and some of his noblest poems.

Mrs. Browning's frail life began to fade, although she was surrounded by all that love could devise for her, and she died in 1861. Browning returned to England, where he did not shut himself up in morbid sorrow, but lived a sane, wholesome life, going out a great deal, hearing the best music, going to the art exhibitions, and strengthening all with whom he came in contact by his noble personality. In 1868 Browning's greatest work, The Ring and the Book, was published. It is a huge psychological epic of more than twentyone thousand lines, one of the most considerable poetic achievements of the century. He returned to Italy, and was living in Venice, when, taking cold, bronchitis set in, and he died after a short illness, on December 12, 1889.

Browning had the scholar's love of curious learning, the artist's delight in beauty. He loved books and poetry, paintings, sculpture, and music, but he felt that even art and knowledge were narrower and less wonderful than life. He did not shut himself away in a library or a studio; he entered into the wholesome joys of man's life, of "the mere living," and declared

"Indeed to know is something,

But, knowing naught, to enjoy is something too."

While a great deal that he wrote is hard to understand, and deals with profound subjects, Browning could, when he chose, write simple and spirited narrative poems, such as Hervé Riel, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, or How they brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix. It is doubtful whether in any one of his dramas he really meets the needs of the stage, yet, while he is not a dramatist, a large proportion of his poems, monologues, idyls, or lyrics, are distinctly dramatic in spirit. The dramatic monologue is a poetic form in which, while there is only one

speaker, he is not speaking to himself, as in a soliloquy, but to some one else, whose presence is constantly suggested or implied. Browning probably excels all other poets in his mastery of this form. In My Last Duchess we can fairly watch the merry light fade from the Duchess' face, before the withering blight of the Duke's chill presence.

Browning believes that if we are to understand the meaning and purpose of our life here, we must think of it as merely a prelude and a preparation for a life hereafter.

This world is a great training-school, a place where souls are developed and disciplined by pain and by pleasure, — where they are given a chance to grow. While this earthly life will end, its effect upon the soul will remain:

"Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure.”

The most important thing in life, therefore, is neither art nor knowledge, neither pain nor pleasure: it is the soul, and the use it makes of its earthly experience. With the Pre-Raphaelites art is an end in itself; with Browning it is only a means for the soul's development. In such a poem as Abt Vogler, Browning shows us how music can lift us out of ourselves:

The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky,
Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard;":

In Andrea del Sarto we are taught to perceive that the aspiration in a picture is worth more than mere technical skill. As Andrea looks at Raphael's work he is in despair, for, although he feels that he could improve the drawing, he says,

its soul is right, He means right — that a child may understand”

and Andrea knew that with all his skill he could not paint the soul in the picture, for he had not kept his own soul free from guilt. Browning saw the art for art's sake when he wrote The Bishop Orders his Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church, for there the art was made simply an accessory to the Bishop's pride, and became “Vanity."

With Browning, life must be lived to the full, and love enters, and is used also as a means of attaining the highest. In Youth and Art, Browning shows us how small all earthly gain is, if we barter love for riches. The young students in the poem might have found bliss, but they chose wealth, and the youth sums it up,

“ This could have happened once,
And we missed it, lost it forever.”

So art, and love, and all of life go to the development of the soul. The soul in its relation to the unseen is the chief subject of Browning's work, as — in his judgment - it is the supreme interest in life. Familiar as this may seem to us, Browning had virtually created poetry of a wholly new order. As life here is to be looked at as a preparation for life hereafter, we are to welcome all experiences, and they are important chiefly as they forward, or retard, the growth of the soul. So Browning teaches us to prize all experiences, — joy, sorrow, aspiration, and moments of intense feeling, for in them we too have our Mount of Vision, and our souls learn to breathe a purer air.

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