Robert Browning

This lesson, that our human speech is naught,
Our human testimony false, our fame
And human estimation words and wind.

1 thought on “Robert Browning

  1. shinichi Post author

    The Ring and the Book

    by Robert Browning

    Such, then, the final state o’ the story. So
    Did the Star Wormwood in a blazing fall
    Frighten awhile the waters and lie lost:
    So did this old woe fade from memory,
    Till after, in the fulness of the days,
    I needs must find an ember yet unquenched,
    And, breathing, blow the spark to flame. It lives,
    If precious be the soul of man to man.
    So, British Public, who may like me yet,
    (Marry and amen!) learn one lesson hence
    Of many which whatever lives should teach:
    This lesson, that our human speech is naught,
    Our human testimony false, our fame
    And human estimation words and wind.
    Why take the artistic way to prove so much?
    Because, it is the glory and good of Art,
    That Art remains the one way possible
    Of speaking truth, to mouths like mine, at least.
    How look a brother in the face and say,
    “Thy right is wrong, eyes hast thou yet art blind,
    “Thine ears are stuffed and stopped, despite their length,
    “And, oh, the foolishness thou countest faith!”
    Say this as silverly as tongue can troll—
    The anger of the man may be endured,
    The shrug, the disappointed eyes of him
    Are not so bad to bear—but here’s the plague
    That all this trouble comes of telling truth,
    Which truth, by when it reaches him, looks false,
    Seems to be just the thing it would supplant,
    Nor recognisable by whom it left—
    While falsehood would have done the work of truth.
    But Art,—wherein man nowise speaks to men,
    Only to mankind,—Art may tell a truth
    Obliquely, do the thing shall breed the thought,
    Nor wrong the thought, missing the mediate word.
    So may you paint your picture, twice show truth,
    Beyond mere imagery on the wall,—
    So, note by note, bring music from your mind,
    Deeper than ever the Andante dived,—
    So write a book shall mean, beyond the facts,
    Suffice the eye and save the soul beside.

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