Two in the Campagna

By Robert Browning 1812–1889 Robert Browning
I
I wonder do you feel to-day
         As I have felt since, hand in hand,
We sat down on the grass, to stray
         In spirit better through the land,
This morn of Rome and May?

II
For me, I touched a thought, I know,
         Has tantalized me many times,
(Like turns of thread the spiders throw
         Mocking across our path) for rhymes
To catch at and let go.

III
Help me to hold it! First it left
         The yellowing fennel, run to seed
There, branching from the brickwork's cleft,
         Some old tomb's ruin: yonder weed
Took up the floating weft,

IV
Where one small orange cup amassed
         Five beetles,—blind and green they grope
Among the honey-meal: and last,
         Everywhere on the grassy slope
I traced it. Hold it fast!

V
The champaign with its endless fleece
         Of feathery grasses everywhere!
Silence and passion, joy and peace,
         An everlasting wash of air—
Rome's ghost since her decease.

VI
Such life here, through such lengths of hours,
         Such miracles performed in play,
Such primal naked forms of flowers,
         Such letting nature have her way
While heaven looks from its towers!

VII
How say you? Let us, O my dove,
         Let us be unashamed of soul,
As earth lies bare to heaven above!
         How is it under our control
To love or not to love?

VIII
I would that you were all to me,
         You that are just so much, no more.
Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free!
         Where does the fault lie? What the core
O' the wound, since wound must be?

IX
I would I could adopt your will,
         See with your eyes, and set my heart
Beating by yours, and drink my fill
         At your soul's springs,—your part my part
In life, for good and ill.

X
No. I yearn upward, touch you close,
         Then stand away. I kiss your cheek,
Catch your soul's warmth,—I pluck the rose
         And love it more than tongue can speak—
Then the good minute goes.

XI
Already how am I so far
         Out of that minute? Must I go
Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
         Onward, whenever light winds blow,
Fixed by no friendly star?

XII
Just when I seemed about to learn!
         Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern—
         Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.

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Poet Robert Browning 1812–1889

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Spring, Living, Love, Nature, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Trees & Flowers, Romantic Love, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Allusion, Rhymed Stanza

 Robert  Browning

Biography

Although the early part of Robert Browning’s creative life was spent in comparative obscurity, he has come to be regarded as one of the most important poets of the Victorian period. His dramatic monologues and the psycho-historical epic The Ring and the Book (1868-1869), a novel in verse, have established him as a major figure in the history of English poetry. His claim to attention as a children’s writer is more modest, resting . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Spring, Living, Love, Nature, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Trees & Flowers, Romantic Love, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Allusion, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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