Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NATURE'S REMORSES; ROME, 1861, by ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING



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NATURE'S REMORSES; ROME, 1861, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Her soul was bred by a throne, and fed
Last Line: Sunshine from heaven, and the eyes of a child.
Subject(s): Italy; Remorse; Despair; Italians


I

HER soul was bred by a throne, and fed
From the sucking-bottle used in her race
On starch and water (for mother's milk
Which gives a larger growth instead),
And, out of the natural liberal grace,
Was swaddled away in violet silk.

II

And young and kind, and royally blind,
Forth she stepped from her palace-door
On three-piled carpet of compliments,
Curtains of incense drawn by the wind
In between her for evermore
And daylight issues of events.

III

On she drew, as a queen might do,
To meet a Dream of Italy, --
Of magical town and musical wave,
Where even a god, his amulet blue
Of shining sea, in an ecstasy
Dropt and forgot in a Nereid's cave.

IV

Down she goes, as the soft wind blows,
To live more smoothly than mortals can,
To love and to reign as queen and wife,
To wear a crown that smells of a rose,
And still, with a sceptre as light as a fan,
Beat sweet time to the song of life.

V

What is this? As quick as a kiss
Falls the smile from her girlish mouth!
The lion-people has left its lair,
Roaring along her garden of bliss,
And the fiery underworld of the South
Scorched a way to the upper air.

VI

And a fire-stone ran in the form of a man,
Burningly, boundingly, fatal and fell,
Bowling the kingdom down! Where was the King?
She had heard somewhat, since life began,
Of terrors on earth and horrors in hell,
But never, never of such a thing.

VII

You think she dropped when her dream was stopped,
When the blotch of Bourbon blood inlay,
Lividly rank, her new lord's cheek?
Not so. Her high heart overtopped
The royal part she had come to play.
Only the men in that hour were weak.

VIII

And twice a wife by her ravaged life,
And twice a queen by her kingdom lost,
She braved the shock and the countershock
Of hero and traitor, bullet and knife,
While Italy pushed, like a vengeful ghost,
That son of the Cursed from Gaeta's rock.

IX

What will ye give her, who could not deliver,
German Princesses? A laurel-wreath
All over-scored with your signatures,
Graces, Serenities, Highnesses ever?
Mock her not, fresh from the truth of Death,
Conscious of dignities higher than yours.

X

What will ye put in your casket shut,
Ladies of Paris, in sympathy's name?
Guizot's daughter, what have you brought her?
Withered immortelles, long ago cut
For guilty dynasties perished in shame,
Putrid to memory, Guizot's daughter?

XI

Ah poor queen! so young and serene!
What shall we do for her, now hope's done,
Standing at Rome in these ruins old,
She too a ruin and no more a queen?
Leave her that diadem made by the sun
Turning her hair to an innocent gold

XII

Ay! bring close to her, as 't were a rose, to her,
Yon free child from an Apennine city
Singing for Italy, -- dumb in the place!
Something like solace, let us suppose, to her
Given, in that homage of wonder and pity,
By his pure eyes to her beautiful face.

XIII

Nature, excluded, savagely brooded;
Ruined all queendom and dogmas of state:
Then, in reaction remorseful and mild,
Rescues the womanhood, nearly eluded,
Shows her what's sweetest in womanly fate --
Sunshine from Heaven, and the eyes of a child.





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