Saturday, August 13, 2005


by Robert Browning

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 worse 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! --

* * *

This poem deals with death in a very manly, "tough" way. Death is not something to fear, although it is difficult. Instead, it's a challenge. At the end, when the challenge is over, it becomes tender -- the speaker will see his love again.

The rhythm and meter complement the meaning. It has a fierce sound, almost like someone gasping out the words while running or fighting. It sounds eager. The speaker is eager for death to come so that he can see the fight out to its end.

1 comment:

Sheila said...

My apologies, Constant Reader, for a weird technical problem that was plaguing this blog. The words "death" and "dead" were being omitted. This is a serious problem when my two most recent poems were about death.

Now I am on a different computer and should be fine, but feel free to point out to me any odd missing words. (I believe I also had some trouble with the word "havoc." But the computer had no problem with the word "hell." I think it's quite odd to be afraid of death and not of hell. My dad's filtering software must have been psychotic.)