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Robert Browning

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Robert Browning- My Last DuchessZach Mummert/Crystal Wagner

My Last DuchessThat's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will't please you sit and look at her? I said "Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I) And seemed they would ask me, if they durst, How such a glance came there; so not the first Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess's cheek: perhaps Fra Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps Over my lady's wrist too much," or Paint Must never hope to reproduce the faint Half flush that dies along her throat": such stuff Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough For calling up that spot of you. She had A heart--how shall I say?--too soon made glad, Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Sir, 'twas all one! My favor at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule She rode with round the terrace--all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least. She thanked men--good! but thanked Somehow--I know not how--as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame This sort of trifling? Even had you skill In speech--(which I have not)--to make your will Quite clear to such a one, and say, "Just this Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss Or there exceed the mark"--and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse --E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet the company below, then. I repeat The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretense Of mine dowry will be disallowed Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea horse, thought a rarity, Which claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

3 QuestionsQ: What do you think happened to the duchess?A: She was murdered by the narratorQ: Can you imagine the events implied in this poem taking place today? Explain.A: Yes, it can and does happen today. It might be harder to get away with murder these days but murderous jealous lovers are still alive and wellQ:How does the marriage in this poem compare to Browning's own marriage?A: Browning's lasted much longer however he, like the narrator, did not approve of the company his wife kept, he didn't like her seeing mediums, and also didn't like her addiction to morphine. However he was not a jealous man, he was happy for his wifes sucess even when his work sold poorly.

Biography of Robert BrowningRobert Browning was born in 1812. He had an extensive education, and became determined to become a poet in his teenage years. Browning published several poems, plays, and pamphlets that were financed by his family, but struggled to find success. In 1845 he wrote to Elizabeth Barrett who was already a famous poet. They soon met and fell in love. His fame grew slowly through the 1840's and 50's. He lived in Italy until 1961 when Elizabeth died. He returned to England with their 12 year old son. His fame grew and reached its peak in 1869 when he published "The Ring and the Book." By the time he died in 1889 he was considered one of the greatest poets of his time.

3 Lit. Terms1. Paradox- The speaker is seemingly praising his late wife only to later reveal he is the cause of her demise.2. Rhyme Scheme- The poem uses a simple rhyme scheme AABBCC... etc3. Mood- The mood is very pleasant at first appearing to be a poem of praise, the sinister nature of the narrator is revealed subtley thus making to mood more macabre

Works by Browning1. Pauline: A Fragment of a Confession 2. Paracelsus 3. Stafford4. Sordello5. Men & Women

Timeline of Victorian Period1837: Charles Dickens publishes Oliver Twist1839: Edgar Allan Poe publishes "Fall of the House of Usher"1843: William Wordsworth becomes poet laureate1846: Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning elope1848: Communist Manifesto is published by Karl Marx and Friedrich1859: Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species1865: Lewis Carroll publishes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland1884: Mark Twain publishes Adventures of Huckleberry Finn1887: The first Sherlock Holmes book in published1900: L. Frank Baum released The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

http://www.literaryhistory.com/19thC/Public_Domain_Photos/BrowningR.jpg


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