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Love in a Life/Life in a Love

Two poems by Robert Browning for his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Robert Browning was an English poet and one of the most influential of the Victorian era
Robert Browning was an English poet and one of the most influential of the Victorian era

Love in a Life

  • I
  • Room after room,
  • I hunt the house through
  • We inhabit together.
  • Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her —
  • Next time, herself! — not the trouble behind her
  • Left in the curtain, the couch’s perfume!
  • As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew:
  • Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.
  • II
  • Yet the day wears,
  • And door succeeds door;
  • I try the fresh fortune —
  • Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
  • Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
  • Spend my whole day in the quest, — who cares?
  • But ’tis twilight, you see, — with such suites to explore,
  • Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!

Life in a Love

  • Escape me?
  • Never —
  • Beloved!
  • While I am I, and you are you,
  • So long as the world contains us both,
  • Me the loving and you the loth,
  • While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
  • My life is a fault at last, I fear:
  • It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
  • Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
  • But what if I fail of my purpose here?
  • It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
  • To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall,
  • And, baffled, get up and begin again, —
  • So the chase takes up one’s life, that’s all.
  • While, look but once from your farthest bound
  • At me so deep in the dust and dark,
  • No sooner the old hope goes to ground
  • Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
  • I shape me —
  • Ever
  • Removed!

Robert Browning (1812–1889) was an English poet and one of the most influential of Victorian-era poets, having a direct impact on the Georgian and Modernist movements in poetry that succeeded the Victorian age. Best known for such dramatic monologues as “My Last Duchess” and a style characterized by irony, dark humor, and social commentary, Browning is also one half of a famous literary marriage, his better half being Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In 1855, Mr. Browning published one of his more acclaimed books of poems, Men and Women, which he dedicated to Mrs. Browning and in which the two poems above appear.

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Robert Browning was an English poet and one of the most influential of the Victorian era
Robert Browning was an English poet and one of the most influential of the Victorian era

Love in a Life

  • I
  • Room after room,
  • I hunt the house through
  • We inhabit together.
  • Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her —
  • Next time, herself! — not the trouble behind her
  • Left in the curtain, the couch’s perfume!
  • As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew:
  • Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.
  • II
  • Yet the day wears,
  • And door succeeds door;
  • I try the fresh fortune —
  • Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
  • Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
  • Spend my whole day in the quest, — who cares?
  • But ’tis twilight, you see, — with such suites to explore,
  • Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!

Life in a Love

  • Escape me?
  • Never —
  • Beloved!
  • While I am I, and you are you,
  • So long as the world contains us both,
  • Me the loving and you the loth,
  • While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
  • My life is a fault at last, I fear:
  • It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
  • Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
  • But what if I fail of my purpose here?
  • It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
  • To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall,
  • And, baffled, get up and begin again, —
  • So the chase takes up one’s life, that’s all.
  • While, look but once from your farthest bound
  • At me so deep in the dust and dark,
  • No sooner the old hope goes to ground
  • Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark,
  • I shape me —
  • Ever
  • Removed!

Robert Browning (1812–1889) was an English poet and one of the most influential of Victorian-era poets, having a direct impact on the Georgian and Modernist movements in poetry that succeeded the Victorian age. Best known for such dramatic monologues as “My Last Duchess” and a style characterized by irony, dark humor, and social commentary, Browning is also one half of a famous literary marriage, his better half being Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In 1855, Mr. Browning published one of his more acclaimed books of poems, Men and Women, which he dedicated to Mrs. Browning and in which the two poems above appear.

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