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Victorian Poetry

Early Victorian Period (age of expansion) (1830-1848)

Victoria becomes Queen


1830-1848 (time of trouble)
Technological and industrial change
Several economic depressions
Widespread unemployment
Rioting
Poor working conditions (esp. women/children) (Elizabeth Barretts Cry of the Children (1843).

Mid Victorian Period (age of improvement) (1848-1870)

Agricultural/trade flourished
Economic prosperity/improving conditions in factories
Religious controversy and conflict between religion and science Origin of Species 1859 published
by Charles Darwin; cause of serious anxiety and conflict
Growth of materialism

Late Victorian Period (decay of values 1870-1901)


Victorian Literature

Novel evolved as dominant literary form


Highlighted Victorian attitudes of propriety, place in society, social controversies, issue w/women.
Decades on education, leadership, role of science and religion
Very didactic (moralizing, rather than the effusive free flowing feeling of Romantic Period)
Very energetic

Browning (1812-1889)

Formally educated by bank clerk father w/his extensive library and religious mother had some
boarding school exp. Primarily educated at home.
Extremely well-read and esoteric (brilliant mind)
Admired works of Percy Blythe Shelley from age 14 became an atheist and liberal
Love affair w/poet Elizabeth Barrett who was 6 years older, semi invalid, already renowned, and whose
father hated Browning.

Poetry
Reader is silent listener complete the dramatic scene by inference and imagination. Speaker is often
argumentative in tone.
Dramatic monologue (compared to joining of lyrical and ballad with Wordsworths lyrical ballads.
Browning joins drama lyric); speaker is separate from the poet (views presented by speaker are not
poets own thoughts). The speakers voice is not reliable. In Brownings poems, more is revealed
about the speaker than intended to know. Browning was concerned with the hypocrisy of the
church/government in Victorian period. He loved being in love, like Keats; nothing better than love.
Reader works through the words of the speaker to discover meaning of poem. E.g. the reader can infer
what sort of woman the duchess really was, and what sort of man the duke is, and may also infer what
the poet himself thinks of the speaker he has created. Meaning in this poem, results from the readers
reconstruction of a story quite different from the one the duke thinks he is telling.

Respectability 1852
By the title of the poem is meant respectability according to the standard of the beau monde (world of high
society and fashion). The speaker is a woman as is indicated in the third stanza. The monologue is addressed to
her lover. In this poem Browning gives us a more vulgar, but none the less vital aspect of love. This is no
peaceful harmony, this scene is set on a windy, rainy night in Paris. Two reckless lovers either two old
acquaintances or picked up on that night (it doesnt matter which) come tripping along gaily arm in arm. The
man chaffs at the worldly conventions, at the dullness of society, at the hypocrisy of the so called respectable
people, and congratulates himself and his companion on the fun they are having. What fools theyd been if they
waited through a long formal courtship for the sanction of a expensive marriage. The world he says does not
forbid kisses, only it says you must see the magistrate first. My finger must not touch your soft lips until it is
covered by the glove of marriage. Bah! What do we care for the worlds good word! At this moment they
reach the lighted windows of the institute and glance inside to see highly proper but terribly tedious company.
Inside they see the hypocritical Guizot compelled by political exigency to shake hands with his enemy
Montalembert. Continue the faade until they get beyond the light of the lampions.
Stanza one - shows that they have disregarded the conventionalities of the beau monde. Had they conformed to
them many precious months and years would have passed before they found out the world, and what it fears.
One cannot well judge of any state of things while in it. It must be looked at from the outside.
Stanza two the idea is repeated in a more special form in the first four lines of the stanza; and in the last four
their own non-conventional and Bohemian life is indicated.
Stanza three lines1-4: the speaker knows that this beau monde does not proscribe love, provided it be in
accordance with the proprieties which it has determined upon and established. Verse 5: the worlds good
word! a contemptuous exclamation : whats the worlds good word worth? the Institute! (the reference is to
the French institute), the Institute! with all its authoritative, dictatorial learnedness!
Lines 22: Guizot and Montalembert were both members of the Institute, and being thus in the same boat,
Guizot conventionally receives Montalembert.
Lines 7 & 8: these two unconventional Bohemian lovers, strolling together at night, at their own sweet will, see
down the court along which they are strolling, three lampions flare, which indicate some big place or other
where the repectables do congregate; and the woman says to her companion, with a humorous sarcasm Put
forward your best foot! that is, we must be very correct passing along here in this brilliant light.
the Institute a building in Paris which the lovers are approaching in their walk. The speaker is reminded
that at a meeting of the French Academy, held in the Institute, occurred a glaring instance of the hypocrisy
which he thinks is characteristic of all social relations. In 1852, Francois Guizot had delivered a flowery speech
of welcome in honor of Charles Montalembert, an author whom Guizot at heart despised. lampions
ornamental lamps illuminating the courtyard of the Institute.
Form
3, 8 line stanzas. Rhyme Scheme ABBACDDC. The poem uses alternating 7 lines of iambic tetrameter with
one line of iambic trimeter.
Rhyme Scheme
Use of end rhyme as well as internal rhyme (line 14, rain and Seine, and line 6 passd and fast.
Themes
Challenging rules and expectations. Social relations are filled with hypocrisy. The world wastes time through
rigid rules.
Language
To support the setting France.
Punctuation
At the end of each stanza there is the use of a question and then finally an exclamation (which would
show the speakers position of putting on a faade).

Enjambment, caesuras.

Imagery:
Night/dark, warmth/light
Sensuous imagery fingers to caress your lips.
Tone
Sarcastic in the words of the lover to her companion
Common Ideas in Brownings Work
Concept of propriety Putting on a facade

Soliloquy of a Spanish Cloister 1842


Summary: This highly entertaining poem portrays the grumblings of a jealous monk who finds his pleasures
more in the flesh than in the spirit. Robert Brownings Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister, in nine stanzas of
seventy-two lines, consists of the under-the-breath mutterings of a cloistered monk as he observes with hatred
Brother Lawrence watering his myrtle-bushes in the convent garden. Everything about Brother Lawrence
irritates the speaker deeply. He cannot stand the way that the monk spends refection talking about the weather
and his beloved plants, the way he eats and drinks hardily while the speaker is always careful to demonstrate his
own piety by laying his knife and fork crosswise. Presenting himself as the model of righteousness, the speaker
condemns a fellow monk, Brother Lawrence, for his immorality; but we soon recognize that the faults he
assigns to Lawrence are in fact his own. The speaker of the poem wants the reader to see that Brother Lawrence
is a bad person, yet in doing this he reveals more about himself which shows him to be actually worse than
Brother Lawrence. The monk, who is the speaker of the poem, attempts to convince the reader that he is a just,
moral man. One of the ways he attempts to do this is by telling the reader about the special little things that he
does to display his faith. Lines thirty-three through forty-one set forth just such an example:
"When he finishes reflection,
Knife and fork he never lays
Cross-wise, to my recollection
As I do, in Jesus praise.
I and Trinity illustrate,
Drinking watered orange-pulpIn three sips the Arian frustrate;
While he drains his at one gulp!"
In the first sentence of this section, the speaker tells the reader how good he is by telling how he places his fork
and knife crosswise when he finishes eating to show that he remembers the death of Christ on the cross. The
second sentence makes reference to the Arian doctrine which denied the Trinity. The speaker displays his belief
in the Trinity and his stand against this Arian doctrine by drinking this orange juice in three sips instead of one
gulp. Although these acts may appear minor, the speaker uses them to show that he is better, in this case, than
Brother Lawrence.
While these are the characteristics the speaker would have the reader believe he personifies in his life, these are
not the characteristics he actually portrays to the reader. It is readily understandably that the speaker is not all he
claims to be. The second sentence of the poem reveals the true character of the speaker: "If hate killed me,
Brother Lawrence, / God's blood, Would not mine kill you!" Most people would not consider hate a
characteristic of a good person, so the speaker "cuts his own throat," so to speak. Not only does he hate Brother
Lawrence, but he carries it to the extreme by desiring to cause Brother Lawrence to stumble, and even bring
about the damnation of his soul. Line fifty-three clearly exposes this desire:
"If I trip him just a-dying,
Sure of heaven as sure can be,
Spin him round and send him flying
Off to hell, a Manichee?"
Without a doubt, the speaker is not the good man he claims to be.
The speaker also attempts to impugn the character of Brother Lawrence by asserting that hi is a profane, sinful
man. One of the methods employed by the speaker to accomplish that goal is to spread stories as to the
motivation for the actions of Brother Lawrence. A paramount example of this is in the fourth stanza:
"Saint, forsooth! While brown Dolores
Squats outside the Convent bank
With Sanchicha, telling stories,
Steeping tresses in the tank,

Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs,


- Can't I see his dead eye glow,
Bright as 'twere a Barbary corsair's?
(That is, if he'd let it show!)"
This stanza makes reference to two of the nuns in the convent near the monastery. The women are apparently
washing their hair and carrying on a conversation. The speaker accuses Brother Lawrence of lusting after these
women, which is bad enough without taking into consideration that these men are monks, sworn to chastity. The
speaker talks of the "light in the eyes" of Brother Lawrence. Yet the speaker goes on to say, "That is, if he'd let it
show!" This suggests that there really is no evidence to support this accusation.
In all actuality, the text points to the fact that the speaker, deep down, knows that Brother Lawrence is not a
hypocrite. The seventh stanza lends itself to establishing this point:
"There's a great text in Galatians,
Once you trip on it, entails
Twenty-nine distinct damnations,
One sure, if another fails.
If I trip him just a-dying,
Sure of heaven as sure can be,
Spin him round and send him flying
Off to hell, a Manichee?"
It is obvious that the speaker is attempting to cause Brother Lawrence to stumble when he speaks of tripping
him as he is dying, in order to see that he goes to hell. The speaker goes to the Bible to find his sources for ways
to trip Brother Lawrence, convinced that he will eventually find something to cause Brother Lawrence to falter.
There are a couple of questions that arise from this stanza concerning the speaker's contention that Brother
Lawrence is a hypocrite. First of all, if Brother Lawrence is a sinful hypocrite, why would the speaker need to
cause him to stumble? He would already be going to hell without any help from the speaker. Secondly, the lines,
"If I trip him just a-dying, / Sure of heaven as sure can be," seem to imply that the speaker believes that Brother
Lawrence is headed for heaven unless something is done to cause him to stumble. These two arguments make a
strong case for the idea that the speaker does not really believe that Brother Lawrence is a hypocrite, but rather
the speaker is attempting to ruin the reputation of Brother Lawrence.
Indeed, Robert Browning weaves a tangled web of opinion and characterizations. The speaker obviously
considers himself to be a good man, and yet he does not portray the characteristics that would cause the reader
to have the same judgment. In the same manner, the speaker would have the reader believe that Brother
Lawrence is an immoral hypocrite. Yet the evidence brings about the conclusion the Brother Lawrence is really
a good man. It would seem that the speaker is jealous of the way Brother Lawrence lives, and therefore attempts
to tear Brother Lawrence down in an attempt to raise himself up.
Unlike many of Browning's monologues, this one has no real historical specificity: we have no clues as to when
the speaker might have lived, and the Spanish cloister is simply an anonymous monastery. "Soliloquy of the
Spanish Cloister" explores moral hypocrisy. On the surface, the poem may seem to be a light historical piece,
the utterings of a grumpy but interesting monk--however, it repeatedly approaches a tone similar to that used by
the more strident of Victorian essayists and religious figures. Browning portrays this man's interior commentary
to show that behind righteousness often lurks self-righteousness and corruption. The speaker levels some rather
malevolent curses at Brother Lawrence, accusing his fellow monk of gluttony and lechery, when it is obvious,
based on the examples he gives, that it is the speaker himself who is guilty of these sins (for example, when
describing the supposed focus of Lawrence's lecherous attentions, the speaker indulges in fairly abundant detail;
clearly he has been looking for himself.) Moreover, the speaker's fantasies about trapping Lawrence into
damnation suggest that Lawrence is in fact a good man who will receive salvation. Thus Browning implies that
the most vehement moralists invent their own opposition in order to elevate themselves.

Perhaps most importantly, the speaker describes a bargain he would make with Satan to hurt Lawrence. The
speaker claims he could make such a bargain that Satan would believe he was getting the speaker's soul when in
fact a loophole would let the speaker escape. The paradox here is that making any sort of bargain with the devil
to the disadvantage of another, whether one tricks Satan in the end or not, must necessarily involve the loss of
one's soul: the very act of making such a treacherous bargain constitutes a mortal sin. No one could admire this
speaker's moral dissolution; yet he represents a merely thinly veiled version of people whose public characters
are very much admired--the moralists and preachers of Browning's day. Browning exposes such people's
hypocrisy and essential immorality. There is a faade where the internal nature of the speaker is opposite of
his external look. Outwardly, the speaker follows propriety (e.g. line 38 drinking watered orange-pulpin
three sips the Arian frustrate; while he drains his at one gulp!) The reader must decide on the reliability of the
speaker.
Form
The poem comprises nine, eight-line stanzas, each rhyming ABABCDCD. The lines fall roughly into tetrameter,
although with some irregularities. Browning makes ample use of the conventions of spoken language, including
nonverbal sounds ("Gr-r-r-") and colloquial language ("Hell dry you up with its flames!"). Many of the later
dramatic monologues dispense with rhyme altogether, but this poem retains it, perhaps to suggest the speaker's
self-righteousness and careful adherence to tradition and formal convention.
Because the speaker here is talking to himself, the poem is not technically a dramatic monologue as so many of
Browning's poems are; rather, it is, as its title suggests, a "soliloquy" (even though it is a freestanding poem, and
not a speech from a play). Nevertheless it shares many of the features of the dramatic monologues: an interest in
sketching out a character, an attention to aestheticizing detail, and an implied commentary on morality.
Themes
Critical of religions hypocrisy
Behind righteousness, often lurks self-righteousness and corruption

Language
Informal language/related to setting of monastery salve tibi, Arian - a follower of the doctrine of Arius, a
presbyter of Alexandria in the 4th century, who denied the divinity of Christ and hence (implicitly)
denied the Trinity. His opinions were embraced by large sections of Christendom, and the dissensions by which
the church was rent lasted for nearly a century, Manichee - An adherent of a religious system widely accepted
from the third to the fifth century, composed of Gnostic Christian, Mazdean and pagan elements, Belial - The
spirit of evil personified; used from early times as a name for the Devil or one of the fiends, and by Milton as
the name of one of the fallen angels.
Insulting language swine, etc.
Irreverent language - of speaker (praying and cursing under same breath) which presents irony
Symbolism
Garden = Brother Lawrence
Knife and fork = Cross
One gulp = gluttony (one of the 7 deadly sins)
Good and evil (characters of Brother Lawrence and the speaker)
Biblical Allusions
Religion, monks, Brother Lawrence, Galatians, Satan, holy trinity (use of 3), prayers e.g. Plena Gratia, Ave,
Virgo, etc.
Imagery
Dark Hell (wishes for damnation on Brother Lawrence) Give ones soul to Satan
Tone
Critical/jealous/bitter/hateful (can influence the reader to see the theme of hypocrisy)
Irony

Internal nature of speaker is opposite of his external look


In behavior of the speaker - Praying and swearing under same breath
That while the speaker is trying to get Brother Lawrence with the dirty book, and the reference to his being
excited by Brown Dolores, and Sanchicha and their private parts, it shows that he himself has noticed and
indeed owns the dirty book. This proves hypocritical. Ironically the speaker seems worse than Brother
Lawrence.
Punctuation
Exclamation marks to show hatred (first stanza and beyond), Caesuras
Common Ideas in Brownings Work
Hypocrisy of society
Putting on faade (like in My Last Duchess)
Monologue/Soliloquy reveals more about the speaker than the subject (as in My Last Duchess)

Love Among the Ruins


fourteen

Summary: First published in volume I of Men and Women, 1855, in fourteen six-line stanzas; changed
to present seven twelve-line stanzas in 1863. Written in January 1852. There has been much learned
and irrelevant argument about the supposed location of the ruin Browning is describing. The ruins
may be those of such cities as Babylon, or Nineveh or one of the Etruscan cities of Italy. The speaker,
overlooking a pasture where sheep graze, recalls that once a great ancient city, his country's capital,
stood there. After spending four stanzas describing the beauty and grandeur of the ancient city, the
speaker says that "a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair/Waits me there", and that "she looks now,
breathless, dumb/Till I come." The speaker, after musing further on the glory of the city and thinking
of how he will greet his lover, closes by rejecting the majesty of the old capital and preferring instead
his love:
Oh heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
Earth's returns
For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in,
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
Love is best.
In stanza I: presents two settings. Speaker is introduced, tone is slow and dreary. In Stanza II: present
time of the ruins and what it used to be like. Passage of time through nature. Stanza III: Begins with a
sarcastic tone, and shows nature overtaking the city. Stanza IV: Evilness of city is overtaken by
nature. Urgency pace quickens. Stanza V: tone changes disappointed of vision of city and its sin,
with lover disappointed of vision. The girl presented is part of city personified characterization eager
eye, yellow hair same as images as city of gold. Stanza VI: poem speeds up, city vision comes back.
Stanza VII: Chaos, prepares for war- sarcasm (in full forceGold of course sin of glory city;
city versus country, sin versus goodness, reveals theme dismissal of conventional views.
Form

Browning here employs an unusual structure of rhyming couplets in which long lines are paired with
short lines of three syllables. AABB rhyme scheme. This may be related to the theme of the poem, a
comparison between love and material glory. The speaker, overlooking a pasture where sheep graze,
recalls that once a great ancient city, his country's capital, stood there. After spending four stanzas
describing the beauty and grandeur of the ancient city, the speaker says that "a girl with eager eyes and
yellow hair/Waits me there", and that "she looks now, breathless, dumb/Till I come." The speaker, after
musing further on the glory of the city and thinking of how he will greet his lover, closes by rejecting
the majesty of the old capital and preferring instead his love:
The unusual stanza used in this poem was invented by Browning. The contrast between past and present, which
is the core of the poem, is reinforced by devoting one half of each stanza to the past and the other to the present.
Themes
Love is best/better than material glory.
Dismissal of conventional views
Motifs
Glory/shame/love
Imagery

Metal/gold/bright
Wicked city/pure country
Paradoxes
Battle: who wins? How victor period typical? dismissing conventions.
Irony
Title provides irony
Tone
Sarcastic
Common Ideas in Brownings Work
Dismissal of conventional views

My Last Duchess 1842


Summary: This poem is loosely based on historical events involving Alfonso, the Duke of Ferrara, who lived
in the 16th century. The Duke is the speaker of the poem, and tells us he is entertaining an emissary who has
come to negotiate the Duke's marriage (he has recently been widowed) to the daughter of another powerful
family. As he shows the visitor through his palace, he stops before a portrait of the late Duchess, apparently a
young and lovely girl. The Duke begins reminiscing about the portrait sessions, then about the Duchess herself.
His musings give way to a diatribe on her disgraceful behavior: he claims she flirted with everyone and did not
appreciate his "gift of a nine-hundred-years- old name." As his monologue continues, the reader realizes with
ever-more chilling certainty that the Duke in fact caused the Duchess's early demise: when her behavior
escalated, "[he] gave commands; / Then all smiles stopped together." Having made this disclosure, the Duke
returns to the business at hand: arranging for another marriage, with another young girl. As the Duke and the
emissary walk leave the painting behind, the Duke points out other notable artworks in his collection. But
Browning has more in mind than simply creating a colorful character and placing him in a picturesque historical
scene. Rather, the specific historical setting of the poem harbors much significance: the Italian Renaissance held
a particular fascination for Browning and his contemporaries, for it represented the flowering of the aesthetic
and the human alongside, or in some cases in the place of, the religious and the moral. Thus the temporal setting
allows Browning to again explore sex, violence, and aesthetics as all entangled, complicating and confusing
each other: the lushness of the language belies the fact that the Duchess was punished for her natural sexuality.
The Duke's ravings suggest that most of the supposed transgressions took place only in his mind. Like some of
Browning's fellow Victorians, the Duke sees sin lurking in every corner. The reason the speaker here gives for
killing the Duchess ostensibly differs from that given by the speaker of "Porphyria's Lover" for murder
Porphyria; however, both women are nevertheless victims of a male desire to inscribe and fix female sexuality.
The desperate need to do this mirrors the efforts of Victorian society to mold the behavior--sexual and
otherwise--of individuals. For people confronted with an increasingly complex and anonymous modern world,
this impulse comes naturally: to control would seem to be to conserve and stabilize. The Renaissance was a
time when morally dissolute men like the Duke exercised absolute power, and as such it is a fascinating study
for the Victorians: works like this imply that, surely, a time that produced magnificent art like the Duchess's
portrait couldn't have been entirely evil in its allocation of societal control--even though it put men like the
Duke in power.
A poem like "My Last Duchess" calculatedly engages its readers on a psychological level. Because we hear
only the Duke's musings, we must piece the story together ourselves. Browning forces his reader to become
involved in the poem in order to understand it, and this adds to the fun of reading his work. It also forces the
reader to question his or her own response to the subject portrayed and the method of its portrayal. We are
forced to consider, Which aspect of the poem dominates: the horror of the Duchess's fate, or the beauty of the
language and the powerful dramatic development? Thus by posing this question the poem firstly tests the
Victorian reader's response to the modern world--it asks, Has everyday life made you numb yet?--and secondly
asks a question that must be asked of all art--it queries, Does art have a moral component, or is it merely an
aesthetic exercise? In these latter considerations Browning prefigures writers like Charles Baudelaire and Oscar
Wilde.
Form
Dramatic Monologue:
"My Last Duchess" comprises rhyming iambic pentameter lines (heroic
couplets).AABBCC rhyme scheme. The lines do not employ end-stops; rather, they use enjambment--that is,
sentences and other grammatical units do not necessarily conclude at the end of lines. Consequently, the rhymes
do not create a sense of closure when they come, but rather remain a subtle driving force behind the Duke's
compulsive revelations. The Duke is quite a performer: he mimics others' voices, creates hypothetical situations,
and uses the force of his personality to make horrifying information seem merely colorful. Indeed, the poem
provides a classic example of a dramatic monologue: the speaker is clearly distinct from the poet; an audience is
suggested but never appears in the poem; and the revelation of the Duke's character is the poem's primary aim.
A dramatic monologue presents a moment in which the main character of the poem discusses a topic and, in so
doing, also reveals his personal feelings to a listener. Only the main character, called the speaker, talkshence
the term monologue. During his discourse, the speaker makes comments that reveal information about his

personality and psyche, knowingly or unknowingly. The main focus of a dramatic monologue is this personal
information, not the topic which the speaker happens to be discussing.
Themes
Faade of the Victorian period looks not feelings (would the envoy who is not a member of the upper
class report back truthfully to his employer it would mean death for her.)
The theme is the arrogant, authoritarian mindset of a proud Renaissance duke. In this respect, the more
important portrait in the poem is the one the duke "paints" of himself with his words.
Repression of female sexuality
Punctuation
Caesuras - Use of dramatic pausespretends hes struggling with words, but characterizes him as
conniving/pretending.
Enjambment to keep the subject matter moving/to heighten the content.
Imagery
Figurative Language: metaphor the insignificance of sea-horse for Duke and Duchess.
Descriptive Language: visual fruit imagery
Symbolism
Painting = girl as an object to him
Curtain = controlling the Duchess (he could hide the painting) ironically in life he couldnt control the Duchess
and her feelings
Statue of Neptune = taming the girl in death (even though he couldnt in real life).
Language
Sensuous/Elevated to show intelligence and his arrogance/
Tone
Arrogant/Casual (discussing her death) which is understated/Sarcastic
Mood
Sad as he valued her so little and she was good at heart.
Juxtaposition
Duke and Duchess as characters (good and evil/free spirited and controlling) The Duke is arrogant, name
dropper, socialite, materialistic, jealous while the Duchess was happy with the simple things, pleased by anyone
flush in cheek, too soon made glad, and nature (cherries, orchard)
Irony
That the Duke appears to be so intelligent, well spoken and such a good catch, yet after listening to his own
ramblings that he reveals he is a murderer.
Allusions
Neptune which functions as a symbol.
Common Ideas in Brownings Work
The reader finds out more about the speaker than originally thought
Comments on societal faade
Critical statements on society the Page embodies society. As he is trying to further his position he will most
likely not reveal what he knows about the Duke to his employer. He wont do the right thing.

Women and Roses


Summary: This poem, Women and Roses, was part of Men and Women, a book of 51 poems written
in Italy and published in 1855, after he had married Elizabeth Barrett. The book helped to repair his
reputation, which had been suffered at the hands of critics in 1840 when he published Sordello.
Women and Roses is about perfect love - finding a rose with no thorns. Browning makes use of the
classic poetic link between womanhood and flowers - especially roses. 1. Like Chaucer in the
Romaunt of the Rose and also like Tennyson in Maud, the speaker in the following
dream lyric associates roses with fair women and a garden of roses with the garden of love. William
Morris noted in 1855 that the poem's concentrated thought cannot be paraphrased because in such
poems there are so many exquisitely small and delicate turns of thought running through the music and
along with it.
Form
8 stanza poem, consisting of alternating stanzas of 3 lines, and 9 lines. Rhyme scheme is AAA, AABBCCDDE.

In stanza I: the beautiful women of the past are first evoked.


Stanza II: how they capture his love and devotion
Stanzas III and IV
Stanzas V, VI: those of the present.
Stanza VII, VIII: finally those of the future. All however elude him.
Themes
Perfect love
What is far conquers what is near so concentrate on the future
Time
Punctuation
Enjambment, caesuras, question marks, exclamation marks.
Imagery
Descriptive language: nature imagery.
Figurative language: flowers/roses are women; similes to describe women,
Symbols
Flowers = women
Rose tree = Brownings life
Tone
Dreamlike/reflective
Biblical Allusion
Eve perfection
Number three
Typical of Brownings Poetry
Passionate imagery
Sexual/sensual overtones
Heightened emotions