Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FEARS AND SCRUPLES, by ROBERT BROWNING



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FEARS AND SCRUPLES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Here's my case. Of old I used to love
Last Line: What if this friend happened to be -- god?
Subject(s): Fear; Letters


HERE's my case. Of old I used to love him,
This same unseen friend, before I knew:
Dream there was none like him, none above him, --
Wake to hope and trust my dream was true.

Loved I not his letters full of beauty?
Not his actions famous far and wide?
Absent, he would know I vowed him duty;
Present, he would find me at his side.

Pleasant fancy! for I had but letters,
Only knew of actions by hearsay:
He himself was busied with my betters;
What of that? My turn must come some day.

"Some day" proving -- no day! Here's the puzzle.
Passed and passed my turn is. Why complain?
He's so busied! If I could but muzzle
People's foolish mouths that give me pain!

"Letters?" (hear them!) "You a judge of writing?
Ask the experts! How they shake the head
O'er these characters, your friend's inditing --
Call them forgery from A to Z!

"Actions? Where's your certain proof" (they brother)
"He, of all you find so great and good,
He, he only, claims this, that, the other
Action -- claimed by men, a multitude?"

I can simply wish I might refute you,
Wish my friend would, -- by a word, a wink, --
Bid me stop that foolish mouth, -- you brute you!
He keeps absent, -- why, I cannot think.

Never mind! Though foolishness may flout me,
One thing's sure enough: 't is neither frost,
No, nor fire, shall freeze or burn from out me
Thanks for truth -- though falsehood, gained -- though lost.

All my days, I'll go the softlier, sadlier,
For that dream's sake! How forget the thrill
Through and through me as I thought "The gladlier
Lives my friend because I love him still!"

Ah, but there's a menace some one utters!
"What and if your friend at home play tricks?
Peep at hide-and-seek behind the shutters?
Mean your eyes should pierce through solid bricks?

"What and if he, frowning, wake you, dreamy?
Lay on you the blame that bricks -- conceal?
Say 'At least I saw who did not see me,
Does see now, and presently shall feel'?"

"Why, that makes your friend a monster!" say you:
"Had his house no window? At first nod,
Would you not have hailed him?" Hush, I pray you!
What if this friend happened to be -- God?





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