We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
That's my last duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will't please you sit and look at her? I said "Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, That depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain drawn for you, but I) And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, How such a glance came there; so not the first Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 't was not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps Fra Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps Over my lady's wrist too much" or "Paint Must never hope to reproduce the faint Half-flush that dies along her throat:" such stuff Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough For calling up that spot of joy. She had A heart - how shall I say? - too soon made glad, Too easily impressed: she liked whate'er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Sir, 't was all one! My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule She rode with round the terrace -all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush,at least. She thanked men - good! but thanked Somehow - I know not how - as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame This sort of trifling? Even had you skill In speech - (which I have not) - to make your will Quite clear to such a one, and say, "Just this Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss Or there exceed the mark"- and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse - E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. Will 't please you rise? We'll meet The company below, then. I repeat, The Count, your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretence Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting is my object. Nay, we'll go Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.
Another Browning dramatic monologue. This poem is in every high school anthology, but it still knocks me out. The Duke of Ferrara speaks throughout, during his negotiations for his next marriage, and implies that he had his last duchess murdered, or put away. She was "made too soon glad." I think the "Notice Neptune" bit says it all.
Sounds to me as if the Duchess was spreading her favors around and blushing for others;
A heart - how shall I say? - too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed: she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere."
The strumpet. Dukey was jealous and tried to put the kibosh on her smiling ways:
"Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together."
Then the abrupt declaration, "There she stands as if alive." The Duke waxed her, sending the eager blush to Davy Jones Locker.
This is undoubtedly my favorite poem of Browning's. I agree with you, jephnol, the Duke probably waxed her. The terribly offensive thing is, like most conscienceless criminals, he's proud of himself for doing it. She sounds like such a delightful spontaneous person ... "a heart too soon made glad" ... what a wonderful friend to have.
"All that is required for the triumph of evil, is for enough good men to do nothing" to defend innocence.
I, too, have always been fond of this poem. I often wondered why the courting of the new Duchess continued. The Duke is clearly angling for a dowry, but why would the Count continue, assuming his servant reported the conversation.