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When we leave Paracelsus, Sordello and the Dramas behind, and find ourselves among the host of occasional poems contained in the Dramatic Lyrics and Romances, in Men and Women, in Dramatis Personae, and in the later volumes, it is like leaving an unencumbered sea for one studded with a thousand islands. Every island is worth a visit and different from the rest. Their variety, their distinct scenery, their diverse inhabitants, the strange surprises in them, are as continual an enchantment for the poetic voyager as the summer isles of the Pacific. But while each of them is different from the rest, yet, like the islands in the Pacific, they fall into groups; and to isolate these groups is perhaps the best way to treat so varied a collection of poems. To treat them chronologically would be a task too long and wearisome for a book. To treat them zoologically, if I may borrow that term, is possible, and may be profitable. This chapter is dedicated to the poems which relate to Love.

Commonly speaking, the term Love Poems does not mean poems concerning the absolute Love, or the love of Ideas, such as Truth or Beauty, or Love of mankind or one’s own country, or the loves that belong to home, or the love of friends, or even married love unless it be specially bound up, as it is in Browning’s poem of By the Fireside, with ante-nuptial love but poems expressing the isolating passion of one sex for the other; chiefly in youth, or in conditions which resemble those of youth, whether moral or immoral. These celebrate the joys and sorrows, rapture and despair, changes and chances, moods, fancies, and imaginations, quips and cranks and wanton wiles, all the tragedy and comedy, of that passion, which is half of the sense and half of the spirit, sometimes wholly of the senses and sometimes wholly of the spirit. It began, in one form of it, among the lower animals and still rules their lives; it has developed through many thousand years of humanity into myriads of shapes in and outside of the soul; into stories whose varieties and multitudes are more numerous than the stars of heaven or the sand of the seashore; and yet whose multitudinous changes and histories have their source in two things only in the desire to generate, which is physical; in the desire to forget self in another, which is spiritual. The union of both these desires into one passion of thought, act and feeling is the fine quintessence of this kind of love; but the latter desire alone is the primal motive of all the other forms of love, from friendship and maternal love to love of country, of mankind, of ideas, and of God.

With regard to love-poems of the sort we now discuss, the times in history when they are most written are those in which a nation or mankind renews its youth. Their production in the days of Elizabeth was enormous, their passion various and profound, their fancy elaborate, their ornament extravagant with the extravagance of youth; and, in the hands of the greater men, their imagination was as fine as their melody. As that age grew older they were not replaced but were dominated by more serious subjects; and though love in its fantasies was happily recorded in song during the Caroline period, passion in English love-poetry slowly decayed till the ideas of the Revolution, before the French outbreak, began to renew the youth of the world. The same career is run by the individual poet. The subject of his youth is the passion of love, as it was in Browning’s Pauline. The subjects of his manhood are serious with other thought and feeling, sad with another sadness, happy with another happiness. They traverse a wider range of human feeling and thought, and when they speak of love, it is of love in its wiser, steadier, graver and less selfish forms. It was so with Browning, who far sooner than his comrades, escaped from the tangled wilderness of youthful passion. It is curious to think that so young a creature as he was in 1833 should have left the celebration of the love of woman behind him, and only written of the love which his Paracelsus images in Aprile. It seems a little insensitive in so young a man. But I do not think Browning was ever quite young save at happy intervals; and this falls in with the fact that his imagination was more intellectual than passionate; that while he felt love, he also analysed, even dissected it, as he wrote about it; that it scarcely ever carried him away so far as to make him forget everything but itself. Perhaps once or twice, as in The Last Ride Together, he may have drawn near to this absorption, but even then the man is thinking more of his own thoughts than of the woman by his side, who must have been somewhat wearied by so silent a companion. Even in By the Fireside, when he is praising the wife whom he loved with all his soul, and recalling the moment of early passion while yet they looked on one another and felt their souls embrace before they spoke it is curious to find him deviating from the intensity of the recollection into a discussion of what might have been if she had not been what she was a sort of excursus on the chances of life which lasts for eight verses before he returns to that immortal moment. Even after years of married life, a poet, to whom passion has been in youth supreme, would scarcely have done that. On the whole, his poetry, like that of Wordsworth, but not so completely, is destitute of the love-poem in the ordinary sense of the word; and the few exceptions to which we might point want so much that exclusiveness of a lover which shuts out all other thought but that of the woman, that it is difficult to class them in that species of literature. However, this is not altogether true, and the main exception to it is a curious-piece of literary and personal history. Those who read Asolando, the last book of poems he published, were surprised to find with what intensity some of the first poems in it described the passion of sexual love. They are fully charged with isolated emotion; other thoughts than those of love do not intrude upon them. Moreover, they have a sincere lyric note. It is impossible, unless by a miracle of imagination, that these could have been written when he was about eighty years of age. I believe, though I do not know, that he wrote them when he was quite a young man; that he found them on looking over his portfolios, and had a dim and scented pleasure in reading and publishing them in his old age. He mentions in the preface that the book contains both old and new poems. The new are easily isolated, and the first poem, the introduction to the collection, is of the date of the book. The rest belong to different periods of his life. The four poems to which I refer are Now, Summum Bonum, A Pearl A Girl, and Speculative. They are beautiful with a beauty of their own; full of that natural abandonment of the whole world for one moment with the woman loved, which youth and the hours of youth in manhood feel. I should have been sorry if Browning had not shaped into song this abandonment. He loved the natural, and was convinced of its rightness; and he had, as I might prove, a tenderness for it even when it passed into wrong. He was the last man in the world to think that the passion of noble sexual love was to be despised. And it is pleasant to find, at the end of his long poetic career, that, in a serious and wise old age, he selected, to form part of his last book, poems of youthful and impassioned love, in which the senses and the spirit met, each in their pre-eminence.

The two first of these, Now and Summum Bonum, must belong to his youth, though from certain turns of expression and thought in them, it seems that Browning worked on them at the time he published them. I quote the second for its lyric charm, even though the melody is ruthlessly broken,

All the breath and the bloom of the year in the bag of one bee:
All the wonder and wealth of the mine in the heart of one gem:
In the core of one pearl all the shade and the shine of the sea:
Breath and bloom, shade and shine, wonder, wealth, and
how far above them
Truth, that’s brighter than gem,
Trust, thats purer than pearl,
Brightest truth, purest trust in the universe all were for me
In the kiss of one girl.

The next two poems are knit to this and to Now by the strong emotion of earthly love, of the senses as well as of the spirit, for one woman; but they differ in the period at which they were written. The first, A Pearl A Girl, recalls that part of the poem By the Fireside, when one look, one word, opened the infinite world of love to Browning. If written when he was young, it has been revised in after life.

A simple ring with a single stone
To the vulgar eye no stone of price:
Whisper the right word, that alone
Forth starts a sprite, like fire from ice,
And lo, you are lord (says an Eastern scroll)
Of heaven and earth, lord whole and sole
Through the power in a pearl.

A woman (’tis I this time that say)
With little the world counts worthy praise
Utter the true word out and away
Escapes her soul: I am wrapt in blaze,
Creation’s lord, of heaven and earth
Lord whole and sole by a minutes birth
Through the love in a girl!

The second Speculative also describes a moment of love-longing, but has the characteristics of his later poetry. It may be of the same date as the book, or not much earlier. It may be of his later manhood, of the time when he lost his wife. At any rate, it is intense enough. It looks back on the love he has lost, on passion with the woman he loved. And he would surrender all Heaven, Nature, Man, Art in this momentary fire of desire; for indeed such passion is momentary. Momentariness is the essence of the poem. “Even in heaven I will cry for the wild hours now gone by Give me back the Earth and Thyself.” Speculative, he calls it, in an after irony.

Others may need new life in Heaven
Man, Nature, Art made new, assume!
Man with new mind old sense to leaven,
Nature new light to clear old gloom,
Art that breaks bounds, gets soaring-room.

I shall pray: Fugitive as precious
Minutes which passed, return, remain!
Let earth’s old life once more enmesh us,
You with old pleasure, me old pain,
So we but meet nor part again!”

Nor was this reversion to the passion of youthful love altogether a new departure. The lyrics in Ferishtah’s Fancies are written to represent, from the side of emotion, the intellectual and ethical ideas worked out in the poems. The greater number of them are beautiful, and they would gain rather than lose if they were published separately from the poems. Some are plainly of the same date as the poems. Others, I think, were written in Browning’s early time, and the preceding poems are made to fit them. But whatever be their origin, they nearly all treat of love, and one of them with a crude claim on the love of the senses alone, as if that as if the love of the body, even alone were not apart from the consideration of a poet who wished to treat of the whole of human nature. Browning, when he wished to make a thought or a fact quite plain, frequently stated it without any of its modifications, trusting to his readers not to mistake him; knowing indeed, that if they cared to find the other side in this case the love which issues from the senses and the spirit together, or from the spirit alone they would find it stated just as soundly and clearly. He meant us to combine both statements, and he has done so himself with regard to love.

When, however, we have considered these exceptions, it still remains curious how little the passionate Love-poem, with its strong personal touch, exists in Browning’s poetry. One reason may be that Love-poems of this kind are naturally lyrical, and demand a sweet melody in the verse, and Browning’s genius was not especially lyrical, nor could he inevitably command a melodious movement in his verse. But the main reason is that he was taken up with other and graver matters, and chiefly with the right theory of life; with the true relation of God and man; and with the picturing for absolute Love’s sake, and in order to win men to love one another by the awakening of pity of as much of humanity as he could grasp in thought and feeling. Isolated and personal love was only a small part of this large design.

One personal love, however, he possessed fully and intensely. It was his love for his wife, and three poems embody it. The first is By the Fireside. It does not take rank as a true love lyric; it is too long, too many-motived for a lyric. It is a meditative poem of recollective tenderness wandering through the past; and no poem written on married love in England is more beautiful. The poet, sitting silent in the room where his wife sits with him, sees all his life with her unrolled, muses on what has been, and is, since she came to bless his life, or what will be, since she continues to bless it; and all the fancies and musings which, in a usual love lyric, would not harmonise with the intensity of love-passion in youth, exactly fit in with the peace and satisfied joy of a married life at home with God and nature and itself. The poem is full of personal charm. Quiet thought, profound feeling and sweet memory like a sunlit mist, soften the aspect of the room, the image of his wife, and all the thoughts, emotions and scenery described. It is a finished piece of art.

The second of these poems is the Epilogue to the volumes of Men and Women, entitled One Word More. It also is a finished piece of art, carefully conceived, upbuilded stone by stone, touch by touch, each separate thought with its own emotion, each adding something to the whole, each pushing Browning’s emotion and picture into our souls, till the whole impression is received. It is full, and full to the brim, with the long experience of peaceful joy in married love. And the subtlety of the close of it, and of Browning’s play with his own fancy about the moon, do not detract from the tenderness of it; for it speaks not of transient passion but of the love of a whole life lived from end to end in music.

The last of these is entitled Prospice. When he wrote it he had lost his wife. It tells what she had made of him; it reveals alike his steadfast sadness that she had gone from him and the steadfast resolution, due to her sweet and enduring power, with which, after her death, he promised, bearing with him his sorrow and his memory of joy, to stand and withstand in the battle of life, ever a fighter to the close and well he kept his word. It ends with the expression of his triumphant certainty of meeting her, and breaks forth at last into so great a cry of pure passion that ear and heart alike rejoice. Browning at his best, Browning in the central fire of his character, is in it.

Fear death? to feel the fog in my throat,
The mist in my face,
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
I am nearing the place,
The power of the night, the press of the storm,
The post of the foe;
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
Yet the strong man must go:
For the journey is done and the summit attained
And the barriers fall,
Though a battle’s to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
The reward of it all.
I was ever a fighter, so one fight more,
The best and the last!
I would hate that Death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,
And bade me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers
The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life’s arrears
Of pain, darkness and cold.
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,
The black minute’s at end,
And the elements’ rage, the fiend-voices that rave,
Shall dwindle, shall blend,
Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain,
Then a light, then thy breast,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
And with God be the rest!

Leaving now these personal poems on Love, we come to those we may call impersonal. They are poems about love, not in its simplicities, but in its subtle moments moments that Browning loved to analyse, and which he informed not so much with the passion of love, as with his profound love of human nature. He describes in them, with the seriousness of one who has left youth behind, the moods of love, its changes, vagaries, certainties, failures and conquests. It is a man writing, not of the love of happy youth, but of love tossed on the stormy seas of manhood and womanhood, and modified from its singular personal intensity by the deeper thought, feeling and surprising chances of our mortal life. Love does not stand alone, as in the true love lyric, but with many other grave matters. As such it is a more interesting subject for Browning. For Love then becomes full of strange turns, unexpected thoughts, impulses unknown before creating varied circumstances, and created by them; and these his intellectual spirituality delighted to cope with, and to follow, labyrinth after labyrinth. I shall give examples of these separate studies, which have always an idea beyond the love out of which the poem arises. In some of them the love is finally absorbed in the idea. In all of them their aim is beyond the love of which they speak.

Love among the Ruins tells of a lover going to meet his sweetheart. There are many poems with this expectant motive in the world of song, and no motive has been written of with greater emotion. If we are to believe these poems, or have ever waited ourselves, the hour contains nothing but her presence, what she is doing, how she is coming, why she delays, what it will be when she comes a thousand things, each like white fire round her image. But Browning’s lover, through nine verses, cares only for the wide meadows over which he makes his way and the sheep wandering over them, and their flowers and the ruins in the midst of them; musing on the changes and contrasts of the world the lonely land and the populous glory which was of old in the vast city. It is only then, and only in two lines, that he thinks of the girl who is waiting for him in the ruined tower. Even then his imagination cannot stay with her, but glances from her instantly thinking that the ancient king stood where she is waiting, and looked, full of pride, from the high tower on his splendid city. When he has elaborated this second excursion of thought he comes at last to the girl. Then is the hour of passion, but even in its fervour he draws a conclusion, belonging to a higher world than youthful love, as remote from it as his description of the scenery and the ruins. “Splendour of arms, triumph of wealth, centuries of glory and pride, they are nothing to love. Love is best.” It is a general, not a particular conclusion. In a true Love-poem it would be particular.

Another poem of waiting love is In Three Days. And this has the spirit of a true love lyric in it. It reads like a personal thing; it breathes exaltation; it is quick, hurried, and thrilled. The delicate fears of chance and change in the three days, or in the years to come, belong of right and nature to the waiting, and are subtly varied and condensed. It is, however, the thoughtful love of a man who can be metaphysical in love, not the excluding mastery of passion.

Two in the Campagna is another poem in which love passes away into a deeper thought than love a strange and fascinating poem of twofold desire. The man loves a woman and desires to be at peace with her in love, but there is a more imperative passion in his soul to rest in the infinite, in accomplished perfection. And his livelong and vain pursuit of this has wearied him so much that he has no strength left to realise earthly love. Is it possible that she who now walks with him in the Campagna can give him in her love the peace of the infinite which he desires, and if not, why where is the fault? For a moment he seems to catch the reason, and asks his love to see it with him and to grasp it. In a moment, like the gossamer thread he traces only to see it vanish, it is gone and nothing is left, save

Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.

Least of all is the woman left. She has quite disappeared. This is not a Love-poem at all, it is the cry of Browning’s hunger for eternity in the midst of mortality, in which all the hunger for earthly love is burnt to dust.

The rest are chiefly studies of different kinds of love, or of crises in love; moments in its course, in its origin or its failure. There are many examples in the shorter dramatic pieces, as In a Balcony; and even in the longer dramas certain sharp climaxes of love are recorded, not as if they belonged to the drama, but as if they were distinct studies introduced by chance or caprice. In the short poems called “dramatic” these studies are numerous, and I group a few of them together according to their motives, leaving out some which I shall hereafter treat of when I come to discuss the women in Browning. Evelyn Hope has nothing to do with the passion of love. The physical element of love is entirely excluded by the subject. It is a beautiful expression of a love purely spiritual, to be realised in its fulness only after death, spirit with spirit, but yet to be kept as the master of daily life, to whose law all thought and action are referred. The thought is noble, the expression of it simple, fine, and clear. It is, moreover, close to truth there are hundreds of men who live quietly in love of that kind, and die in its embrace.

In Cristina the love is just as spiritual, but the motive of the poem is not one, as in Evelyn Hope, but two. The woman is not dead, and she has missed her chance. But the lover has not. He has seen her and in a moment loved her. She also looked on him and felt her soul matched by his as they “rushed together.” But the world carried her away and she lost the fulness of life. He, on the contrary, kept the moment for ever, and with it, her and all she might have been with him.

Her soul’s mine: and thus grown perfect,
I shall pass my life’s remainder.

This is not the usual Love-poem. It is a love as spiritual, as mystic, even more mystic, since the woman lives, than the lover felt for Evelyn Hope.

The second motive in Cristina of the lover who meets the true partner of his soul or hers, and either seizes the happy hour and possesses joy for ever, or misses it and loses all, is a favourite with Browning. He repeats it frequently under diverse circumstances, for it opened out so many various endings, and afforded so much opportunity for his beloved analysis. Moreover, optimist as he was in his final thought of man, he was deeply conscious of the ironies of life, of the ease with which things go wrong, of the impossibility of setting them right from without. And in the matter of love he marks in at least four poems how the moment was held and life was therefore conquest. Then in Youth and Art, in Dis Aliter Visum, in Bifurcation, in The Lost Mistress, and in Too Late, he records the opposite fate, and in characters so distinct that the repetition of the motive is not monotonous. These are studies of the Might-have-beens of love.

Another motive, used with varied circumstance in three or four poems, but fully expanded in James Lee’s Wife, is the discovery, after years of love, that love on one side is lost irretrievably. Another motive is, that rather than lose love men or women will often sacrifice their conscience, their reason, or their liberty. This sacrifice, of all that makes our nobler being for the sake of personal love alone, brings with it, because the whole being is degraded, the degradation, decay, and death of personal love itself.

Another set of poems describes with fanciful charm, sometimes with happy gaiety, love at play with itself. True love makes in the soul an unfathomable ocean in whose depths are the imaginations of love, serious, infinite, and divine. But on its surface the light of jewelled fancies plays a thousand thousand sunny memories and hopes, flying thoughts and dancing feelings. A poet would be certain to have often seen this happy crowd, and to desire to trick them out in song. So Browning does in his poem, In a Gondola. The two lovers, with the dark shadow of fate brooding over them, sing and muse and speak alternately, imaging in swift and rival pictures made by fancy their deep-set love; playing with its changes, creating new worlds in which to place it, but always returning to its isolated individuality; recalling how it began, the room where it reached its aim, the pictures, the furniture, the balcony, her dress, all the scenery, in a hundred happy and glancing pictures; while interlaced through their gaiety and the gaiety made keener by the nearness of dark fate is coming death, death well purchased by an hour of love. Finally, the lover is stabbed and slain, and the pity of it throws back over the sunshine of love’s fancies a cloud of tears. This is the stuff of life that Browning loved to paint interwoven darkness and brightness, sorrow and joy trembling each on the edge of the other, life playing at ball, as joyous as Nausicaa and her maids, on a thin crust over a gulf of death.

Just such another poem of the sportiveness of love, only this time in memory, not in present pleasure, is to be found in A Lovers’ Quarrel, and the quarrel is the dark element in it. Browning always feels that mighty passion has its root in tragedy, and that it seeks relief in comedy. The lover sits by the fireside alone, and recalls, forgetting pain for a moment, the joyful play they two had together, when love expressed its depth of pleasure in dramatic fancies. Every separate picture is done in Brownings impressionist way. And when the glad memories are over, and the sorrow returns, passion leaps out

It is twelve o’clock:
I shall hear her knock
In the worst of a storm’s uproar,
I shall pull her through the door,
I shall have her for evermore!

This is partly a study of the memory of love; and Browning has represented, without any sorrow linked to it, memorial love in a variety of characters under different circumstances, so that, though the subject is the same, the treatment varies. A charming instance of this is The Flowers Name; easy to read, happy in its fancy, in its scenery, in the subtle play of deep affection, in the character of its lover, in the character of the girl who is remembered a good example of Browning’s power to image in a few verses two human souls so clearly that they live in our world for ever. Meeting at Night Parting at Morning is another reminiscence, mixed up with the natural scenery of the meeting and parting, a vivid recollection of a fleeting night of passion, and then the abandonment of its isolation for a wider, fuller life with humanity. I quote it for the fine impassioned way in which human feeling and natural scenery are fused together.


The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow.
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears.
Than the two hearts beating each to each!


Round the cape of a sudden came the sea,
And the sun looked over the mountain’s rim:
And straight was a path of gold for him,
And the need of a world of men for me.

The poem entitled Confessions is another of these memories, in which a dying man, careless of death, careless of the dull conventions of the clergyman, cares for nothing but the memory of his early passion for a girl one happy June, and dies in comfort of the sweetness of the memory, though he thinks

How sad and bad and mad it was.

Few but Browning would have seen, and fewer still have recorded, this vital piece of truth. It represents a whole type of character those who in a life of weary work keep their day of love, even when it has been wrong, as their one poetic, ideal possession, and cherish it for ever. The wrong of it disappears in the ideal beauty which now has gathered round it, and as it was faithful, unmixed with other love, it escapes degradation. We see, when the man images the past and its scenery out of the bottles of physic on the table, how the material world had been idealised to him all his life long by this passionate memory

Do I view the world as a vale of tears?
Ah, reverend sir, not I.

It might be well to compare with this another treatment of the memory of love in St. Martin’s Summer. A much less interesting and natural motive rules it than Confessions; and the characters, though more in society than the dying man, are grosser in nature; gross by their inability to love, or by loving freshly to make a new world in which the old sorrow dies or is transformed. There is no humour in the thing, though there is bitter irony. But there is humour in an earlier poem A Serenade at the Villa, where, in the last verse, the bitterness of wrath and love together (a very different bitterness from that of St. Martin’s Summer), breaks out, and is attributed to the garden gate. The night-watch and the singing is over; she must have heard him, but she gave no sign. He wonders what she thought, and then, because he was only half in love, flings away

Oh how dark your villa was,
Windows fast and obdurate!
How the garden grudged me grass
Where I stood the iron gate
Ground its teeth to let me pass!

It is impossible to notice all these studies of love, but they form, together, a book of transient phases of the passion in almost every class of society. And they show how Browning, passing through the world, from the Quartier Latin to London drawing-rooms, was continually on the watch to catch, store up, and reproduce a crowd of motives for poetry which his memory held and his imagination shaped.

There is only one more poem, which I cannot pass by in this group of studies. It is one of sacred and personal memory, so much so that it is probable the loss of his life lies beneath it. It rises into that highest poetry which fuses together into one form a hundred thoughts and a hundred emotions, and which is only obscure from the mingling of their multitude. I quote it, I cannot comment on it.

Never the time and the place
And the loved one all together!
This path how soft to pace!
This May what magic weather!
Where is the loved one’s face?
In a dream that loved one’s face meets mine
But the house is narrow, the place is bleak
Where, outside, rain and wind combine
With a furtive ear, if I strive to speak,
With a hostile eye at my flushing cheek,
With a malice that marks each word, each sign!
O enemy sly and serpentine,
Uncoil thee from the waking man!
Do I hold the Past
Thus firm and fast
Yet doubt if the Future hold I can?
This path so soft to pace shall lead
Through the magic of May to herself indeed!
Or narrow if needs the house must be,
Outside are the storms and strangers: we
Oh, close, safe, warm sleep I and she,
I and she!

That, indeed, is passionate enough.

Then there is another group tales which embody phases of love. Count Gismond is one of these. It is too long, and wants Browning’s usual force. The outline of the story was, perhaps, too simple to interest his intellect, and he needed in writing poetry not only the emotional subject, but that there should be something in or behind the emotion through the mazes of which his intelligence might glide like a serpent.

The Glove is another of these tales a good example of the brilliant fashion in which Browning could, by a strange kaleidoscopic turn of his subject, give it a new aspect and a new ending. The world has had the tale before it for a very long time. Every one had said the woman was wrong and the man right; but here, poetic juggler as he is, Browning makes the woman right and the man wrong, reversing the judgment of centuries. The best of it is, that he seems to hold the truth of the thing. It is amusing to think that only now, in the other world, if she and Browning meet, will she find herself comprehended.

Finally, as to the mightier kinds of love, those supreme forms of the passion, which have neither beginning nor end; to which time and space are but names; which make and fill the universe; the least grain of which predicates the whole; the spirit of which is God Himself; the breath of whose life is immortal joy, or sorrow which means joy; whose vision is Beauty, and whose activity is Creation these, united in God, or divided among men into their three great entities love of ideas for their truth and beauty; love of the natural universe, which is God’s garment; love of humanity, which is God’s child these pervade the whole of Browning’s poetry as the heat of the sun pervades the earth and every little grain upon it. They make its warmth and life, strength and beauty. They are too vast to be circumscribed in a lyric, represented in a drama, bound up even in a long story of spiritual endeavour like Paracelsus. But they move, in dignity, splendour and passion, through all that he deeply conceived and nobly wrought; and their triumph and immortality in his poetry are never for one moment clouded with doubt or subject to death. This is the supreme thing in his work. To him Love is the Conqueror, and Love is God.