Robert Browning is one of the most loved poets. His poems, with the beautiful rhyming scheme, profound message, and a style of delivery that delights the readers, have carved a space in many readers’ hearts. So we decided to make a list of five Robert Browning poems that are our favorites.
From Home-Thoughts, From Abroad to Meeting at Night, take a look at the five best poems by Browning along with a brief explainer about the poem. Let’s get started.
Home Thoughts, From Abroad
Oh, to be in England Now that April's there, And whoever wakes in England Sees, some morning, unaware, That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England—now! And after April, when May follows, And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows! Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge Leans to the field and scatters on the clover Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edge— That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture! And though the fields look rough with hoary dew, All will be gay when noontide wakes anew The buttercups, the little children's dower —Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
Home Thoughts, from Abroad, is a poem that describes the love that the poet has for England. Browning tries to reflect that it is when we are far away from something we love, that we tend to understand its importance in our life. Perhaps, when Browning wrote this poem he was in Italy with his wife.
In this poem, Browning points out each and everything that happens during April and May. He talks about the birds that sing, the flowers that grow, and describes the tree that leans over the clover field. However, then the poet talks about his present view which he seems to be unhappy about.
The whole is about the predictability of the nature of spring in England that makes it more beautiful. He knows that it is never going to change. It is when we love something so intensively that we remember even its most vivid details.
My Last Duchess
FERRARA 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, The depth and passion of its earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have 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, ’twas 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, ’twas 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 an 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 pretense 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!
Yes, the poem ends here. One can say that dramatic monologue was Browning’s forte and he proved that in his poems every time. My Last Duchess is Browning’s most famous and widely studied poem. The speaker of the poem is the Duke of Ferrara who was chatting with a guest and reveals the story behind the painting of the duchess.
In the poem, we understand how in the Victorian era men objectified women and treated them as property that they owned. We do not know whether the duke’s last duchess was killed or locked away somewhere, but the only presence of the duchess is through a painting.
This poem reflects the jealousy of the duke and his nature of claiming things to be his own. He couldn’t bear the duchess being happy and kind to others. After reading the poem, we are astonished as the duke confesses to the murder of his last duchess without actually confessing it.
The rain set early in to-night, The sullen wind was soon awake, It tore the elm-tops down for spite, And did its worst to vex the lake: I listened with heart fit to break. When glided in Porphyria; straight She shut the cold out and the storm, And kneeled and made the cheerless grate Blaze up, and all the cottage warm; Which done, she rose, and from her form Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl, And laid her soiled gloves by, untied Her hat and let the damp hair fall, And, last, she sat down by my side And called me. When no voice replied, She put my arm about her waist, And made her smooth white shoulder bare, And all her yellow hair displaced, And, stooping, made my cheek lie there, And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair, Murmuring how she loved me — she Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour, To set its struggling passion free From pride, and vainer ties dissever, And give herself to me for ever. But passion sometimes would prevail, Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain A sudden thought of one so pale For love of her, and all in vain: So, she was come through wind and rain. Be sure I looked up at her eyes Happy and proud; at last I knew Porphyria worshipped me; surprise Made my heart swell, and still it grew While I debated what to do. That moment she was mine, mine, fair, Perfectly pure and good: I found A thing to do, and all her hair In one long yellow string I wound Three times her little throat around, And strangled her. No pain felt she; I am quite sure she felt no pain. As a shut bud that holds a bee, I warily oped her lids: again Laughed the blue eyes without a stain. And I untightened next the tress About her neck; her cheek once more Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss: I propped her head up as before, Only, this time my shoulder bore Her head, which droops upon it still: The smiling rosy little head, So glad it has its utmost will, That all it scorned at once is fled, And I, its love, am gained instead! Porphyria's love: she guessed not how Her darling one wish would be heard. And thus we sit together now, And all night long we have not stirred, And yet God has not said a word!
Porphyria’s Lover can be read as one of the most disturbing poems by Robert Browning where the speaker is a man who kills his lover. The poem seems to take unexpected turns, the ones that you expect the least. The speaker seemed to be waiting for his lover in the storm and when she appears they confess their love to each other.
What follows next is that the speaker strangles his lover with her hair to keep her happy and in love with him forever. She was always going to remain pure like this and the speaker thinks even God has agreed to his sins. A little psychotic?
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Hamelin Town's in Brunswick, By famous Hanover city; The river Weser, deep and wide, Washes its wall on the southern side; A pleasanter spot you never spied; But, when begins my ditty, Almost five hundred years ago, To see the townsfolk suffer so From vermin, was a pity.
After reading The Pied Piper of Hamelin I feel that My Last Duchess was Browning’s shortest poem. The poem The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a narrative poem and it relates to the classic legend of the town of Hamelin and its burghers.
The burghers wanted to rid the town of the rats that were overrunning it. And then one day, a piper turns up and offers to get rid of the town rats with a fee, so the piper does as promised. But, the mayor refuses to pay him any money.
To take revenge, the piper plays his pipe and leads all the children in the town through a mountain’s passage from where they never return. Though the people in the town tried to pay the money they owed, they could not. This poem simply delivers a message of keeping promises.
Meeting at Night
I 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. II 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, thro' its joys and fears, Than the two hearts beating each to each!
“Meeting at Night” by Robert Browning is a poem that symbolizes love and all the efforts that the speaker puts in just to meet his lover. This poem can be related to Browning’s personal life, at the time of his courtship with Elizabeth Barrett.
Elizabeth’s father was against Browning and was forbidden to meet Elizabeth. However, he was ready to fight everything and face all the obstacles just to meet his beloved.
This poem symbolizes the bold writing style of Browning during the victorian era as the poem is sexually suggestive. One can read it if one wants to understand that love is worth all the effort.
These were some of the best poems by Robert Browning that are read worldwide. His poems open a portal to the Victorian Era, where we understand much more about the society he lived in. My favorite poem is “My Last Duchess”. Which one is yours?
- Meeting at Night by Robert Browning: Complete Analysis
- The Analysis of My Last Duchess by Robert Frost
- Home-Thoughts, From Abroad by Robert Browning: Complete Analysis