Define "a Life"...

... still searching for a clear definition of that thing people keep telling me I need to get...

Location: Springfield, PA

Thursday, May 07, 2009

English Major Trivia

Today's Robert Browning's birthday. Although I was never all that big on Browning, he's inextricably wedged in my pile of English major knowledge. For one thing, I think every poetry survey touches on "My Last Duchess" or one of his other character/narrator poems. I can easily see why -- their conceit of speaking in the first-person is conveniently accessible to rudimentary explication. For another, there's "Porphyria's Lover," one of those poems with a somewhat sensational interpretation to be teased out an decoded; any suggestion of necrophilia, in a "serious" poem, is understandably appealing to adolescent sensibilities. 

As I read more of his work later in my academic years, I found that I preferred some of the poems that have no elaborate conceits or literary references. Simpler stuff like Now!

 Out of your whole life give but a moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it, -- so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present, condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection's endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense,
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me --
Me, sure that, despite of time future, time past,
This tick of life-time's one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet,
The moment eternal -- just that and no more --
When ecstasy's utmost we clutch at the core,
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut, and lips meet! 


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