The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!
Those famous lines are from Browning's 1841 Pippa Passes. It's Pippa's song. Pippa is a silk mill worker in Asolo, and has three holidays per year. The poem goes through the morning, noon, evening and night of Pippa's day off. She treasures her precious free time. This is from "Morning":
Oh, Day, if I squander a wavelet of thee,
A mite of my twelve-hours treasure,
The least of thy gazes or glances,
(Be they grants thou art bound to, or gifts above measure)
One of thy choices, or one of thy chances,
(Be they tasks God imposed thee, or freaks at thy pleasure)
My Day, if I squander such labour or leisure,
Then shame fall on Asolo, mischief on me!
Thy long blue solemn hours serenely flowing,
Whence earth, we feel, gets steady help and good
Thy fitful sunshine-minutes, coming, going,
As if earth turned from work in gamesome mood
All shall be mine! But thou must treat me not
As the prosperous are treated, these who live
At hand here, and enjoy the higher lot,
In readiness to take what thou wilt give,
And free to let alone what thou refusest;
For, Day, my holiday, if thou ill-usest
Me, who am only Pippa, old-year's sorrow,
Cast off last night, will come again to-morrow
Whereas, if thou prove gentle, I shall borrow
Sufficient strength of thee for new-year's sorrow.
All other men and women that this earth
Belongs to, who all days alike possess,
Make general plenty cure particular dearth,
Get more joy, one way, if another, less:
Thou art my single day, God lends to leaven
What were all earth else, with a feel of heaven,
Sole light that helps me through the year thy suns!
Try, now! Take Asolo's Four Happiest Ones
And let thy morning rain on that superb
Great haughty Ottima; can rain disturb
Her Sebald's homage? All the while thy rain
Beats fiercest on her shrub-house window-pane,
He will but press the closer, breathe more warm
Against her cheek; how should she mind the storm?
And, morning past, if mid-day shed a gloom
O'er Jules and Phene, what care bride and groom
Save for their dear selves? Tis their marriage-day;
And while they leave church, and go home their way,
Hand clasping hand, within each breast would be
Sunbeams and pleasant weather spite of thee!
Then, for another trial, obscure thy eve
With mist, will Luigi and his mother grieve?
The Lady and her child, unmatched, forsooth,
She in her age, as Luigi in his youth,
For true content? The cheerful town, warm, close,
And safe, the sooner that thou art morose,
Receives them! And yet once again, out-break
In storm at night on Monsignor, they make
Such stir about, whom they expect from Rome
To visit Asolo, his brother's home,
And say here masses proper to release
A soul from pain, what storm dares hurt his peace?
Calm would he pray, with his own thoughts to ward
Thy thunder off, nor want the angels' guard!
But Pippa just one such mischance would spoil
Her day that lightens the next twelve-month's toil
At wearisome silk-winding, coil on coil!
And here I let time slip for nought!
Aha, you foolhardy sunbeam caught
With a single splash from my ewer!
You that would mock the best pursuer,
Was my basin over-deep?
One splash of water ruins you asleep,
And up, up fleet your brilliant bits
Wheeling and counterwheeling,
Reeling, broken beyond healing
Now grow together on the ceiling!
That will task your wits!
Whoever quenched fire first, hoped to see
Morsel after morsel flee
As merrily, as giddily . . .
Meantime, what lights my sunbeam on,
Where settles by degrees the radiant cripple?
Oh, is it surely blown, my martagon?
New-blown and ruddy as St. Agnes' nipple,
Plump as the flesh-bunch on some Turk bird's poll!
Be sure if corals, branching 'neath the ripple
Of ocean, bud there, fairies watch unroll
Such turban-flowers; I say, such lamps disperse
Thick red flame through that dusk green universe!
I am queen of thee, floweret;
And each fleshy blossom
Preserve I not (safer
Than leaves that enbower it,
Or shells that embosom)
From weevil and chafer?
Laugh through my pane, then; solicit the bee;
Gibe him, be sure; and, in midst of thy glee,
Love thy queen, worship me!
Worship whom else? For am I not, this day,
Whate'er I please? What shall I please to-day?
My morning, noon, eve, night how spend my day?
To-morrow I must be Pippa who winds silk,
The whole year round, to earn just bread and milk:
But, this one day, I have leave to go,
And play out my fancy's fullest games;
I may fancy all day and it shall be so
The entire piece is here. Yes, Browning specialized in the dramatic monologue. I can easily imagine Pippa as a one-person stage performance. Off topic, but I always got a kick out of the name of Pippa Passes, KY, aka Caney Creek.