It’s Poetry Day!

By the time you read this, I hope like heck this is how I feel about my manuscript.

My Star

All that I know
    Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
    (like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
    Now a dart of blue;
Till my friends have said
    They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
    They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
    Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.

But I might feel more like this.

My Last Duchess


That’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,
That depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as 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, ‘t was not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ 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 joy. 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, ‘t was all one! My favour 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 pretence
Of mine for 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.

P.S. These are by Robert Browning. Quite the poet.

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Barbara Monajem
13 years ago

Cool! I’d never read the first one, but studied the second years ago in school. Even then, it made me want to write a story (but the heroine would get rescued in my version – either the dead heroine or the poor girl about to be married to that freak, or both).

Hopefully you are smiling today!

Is the first poem about Browning’s wife?

Megan Frampton
13 years ago

Good luck with the Star, Carolyn.

13 years ago


Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.
Hope you feel this, Carolyn!

13 years ago

I’ll have to read the second one again when I’m not so tired.

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after

‘My Last Duchess’ is pure perfection, it puts me in mind of a sarah vaughan song you know, all bittersweet and tendre.

13 years ago

I’ve loved “My Last Duchess” since I was a teenager. With an economy of words he paints a 3-dimensional picture of both the duke and duchess, so that one wants to tell the Count and his daughter to run far, far away before she too becomes another art object to be displayed. At the end the way he points out the Neptune “which Claus of Innsbruck struck in bronze for me” is chilling — in fact, the whole poem is beautifully, horribly chilling.

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