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74 Works of Robert Browning

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Halbert And Hob

Story type: Poetry

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Here is a thing that happened. Like wild beasts whelped, for den, In a wild part of North England, there lived once two wild men, Inhabiting one homestead, neither a hovel nor hut, Time out of mind their birthright: father and son, these,–but,– Such a son, such a father! Most wildness by degrees Softens away: […]

Heap cassia, sandal-buds, and stripes Of labdanum, and aloe-balls, Smeared with dull nard an Indian wipes From out her hair; such balsam falls Down sea-side mountain pedestals, From tree-tops where tired winds are fain, Spent with the vast and howling main, To treasure half their island-gain. And strew faint sweetness from some old Egyptian’s fine […]

Over the sea our galleys went With cleaving prows in order brave To a speeding wind and a bounding wave– A gallant armament; Each bark built out of a forest-tree Left leafy and rough as first it grew, And nailed all over the gaping sides, Within and without, with black bull-hides, Seethed in fat and […]

Thus the Mayne glideth Where my Love abideth. Sleep’s no softer; it proceeds On through lawns, on through meads, On and on, whate’er befall, Meandering and musical, Though the niggard pasturage Bears not on its shaven ledge Aught but weeds and waving grasses To view the river as it passes, Save here and there a […]

Here’s the garden she walked across, Arm in my arm, such a short while since; Hark, now I push its wicket, the moss Hinders the hinges and makes them wince! She must have reached this shrub ere she turned, As back with that murmur the wicket swung; For she laid the poor snail, my chance […]

MEETING AT NIGHT The gray 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. Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach; Three […]

The morn when first it thunders in March, The eel in the pond gives a leap, they say; As I leaned and looked over the aloed arch Of the villa-gate this warm March day, No flash snapped, no dumb thunder rolled 5 In the valley beneath where, white and wide And washed by the morning […]

I wonder do you feel today 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? For me, I touched a thought, I know, [A] Has tantalized me many times, (Like turns of thread the spiders throw […]

In Three Days

Story type: Poetry

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So, I shall see her in three days And just one night, but nights are short, Then two long hours, and that is morn. See how I come, unchanged, unworn! Feel, where my life broke off from thine, How fresh the splinters keep and fine– Only a touch and we combine! Too long, this time […]

May And Death

Story type: Poetry

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I wish that when you died last May, Charles, there had died along with you Three parts of spring’s delightful things; Aye, and, for me, the fourth part, too. A foolish thought, and worse, perhaps! There must be many a pair of friends Who, arm in arm, deserve the warm Moon-births and the long evening-ends. […]

O Lyric Love

Story type: Poetry

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O lyric Love, half angel and half bird, And all a wonder and a wild desire– Boldest of hearts that ever braved the sun, Took sanctuary within the holier blue, And sang a kindred soul out to his face– Yet human at the red-ripe of the heart– When the first summons from the darkling earth […]

Oh, the old wall here! How I could pass Life in a long midsummer day, My feet confined to a plot of grass, My eyes from a wall not once away! And lush and lithe do the creepers clothe Yon wall I watch, with a wealth of green: Its bald red bricks draped, nothing loth, […]

House

Story type: Poetry

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Shall I sonnet-sing you about myself? Do I live in a house you would like to see? Is it scant of gear, has it store of pelf? “Unlock my heart with a sonnet-key”? Invite the world, as my betters have done? “Take notice: this building remains on view, Its suites of reception every one, Its […]

Shop

Story type: Poetry

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So, friend, your shop was all your house! Its front, astonishing the street, Invited view from man and mouse To what diversity of treat Behind its glass–the single sheet! What gimcracks, genuine Japanese: Gape-jaw and goggle-eye, the frog; Dragons, owls, monkeys, beetles, geese; Some crush-nosed human-hearted dog: Queer names, too, such a catalogue! I thought, […]

Good, to forgive; Best, to forget! Living, we fret; Dying, we live. Fretless and free, Soul, clap thy pinion! Earth have dominion, Body, o’er thee! Wander at will, Day after day– Wander away, Wandering still– Soul that canst soar! Body may slumber: Body shall cumber Soul-flight no more. Waft of soul’s wing! What lies above? […]

(Prefatory stanzas to The Two Poets of Croisic ) Such a starved bank of moss Till, that May-morn, Blue ran the flash across: Violets were born! Sky–what a scowl of cloud Till, near and far, Ray on ray split the shroud: Splendid, a star! World–how it walled about Life with disgrace Till God’s own smile […]

What a pretty tale you told me Once upon a time –Said you found it somewhere (scold me!) Was it prose or was it rhyme, Greek or Latin? Greek, you said, While your shoulder propped my head. Anyhow there’s no forgetting This much if no more, That a poet (pray, no petting!) Yes, a bard, […]

Wanting is–what? Summer redundant, Blueness abundant, –Where is the blot? Beamy the world, yet a blank all the same –Framework which waits for a picture to frame; What of the leafage, what of the flower? Roses embowering with naught they embower! Come then, complete incompletion, O comer,[A] Pant through the blueness, perfect the summer! Breathe […]

Muleykeh

Story type: Poetry

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If a stranger passed the tent of Hoseyn, he cried, “A churl’s!” Or haply, “God help the man who has neither salt nor bread!” –“Nay,” would a friend exclaim, “he needs nor pity nor scorn More than who spends small thought on the shore-sand, picking pearls, –Holds but in light esteem the seed-sort, bears instead […]

Round us the wild creatures, overhead the trees, Underfoot the moss-tracks–life and love with these! I to wear a fawn-skin, thou to dress in flowers; All the long lone summer day, that greenwood life of ours! Rich-pavilioned, rather–still the world without– Inside–gold-roofed, silk-walled silence round about! Queen it thou on purple–I, at watch and ward, […]

Never the time and the place And the loved one all together! This path–how soft to pace! This May–what magic weather! Where is the loved one’s face? In a dream that loved one’s face meets mine, But the house is narrow, the place is bleak Where, outside, rain and wind combine With a furtive ear, […]

“The Poet’s age is sad: for why? In youth, the natural world could show No common object but his eye At once involved with alien glow– His own soul’s iris-bow. “And now a flower is just a flower; Man, bird, beast are but beast, bird, man Simply themselves, uncinct by dower Of dyes which, when […]

1855 I only knew one poet in my life: And this, or something like it, was his way. You saw go up and down Valladolid, A man of mark, to know next time you saw. His very serviceable suit of black Was courtly once and conscientious still, And many might have worn it, though none […]

Transcendentalism

Story type: Poetry

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Stop playing, poet! May a brother speak? ‘Tis you speak, that’s your error. Song’s our art: Whereas you please to speak these naked thoughts Instead of draping them in sights and sounds. –True thoughts, good thoughts, thoughts fit to treasure up! But why such long prolusion and display, Such turning and adjustment of the harp, […]

1842 I am a goddess of the ambrosia courts, And save by Here, Queen of Pride, surpassed By none whose temples whiten this the world. Through heaven I roll my lucid moon along; I shed in hell o’er my pale people peace; On earth I, caring for the creatures, guard Each pregnant yellow wolf and […]

Pictor Ignotus

Story type: Poetry

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FLORENCE, 15- 1845 I could have painted pictures like that youth’s Ye praise so. How my soul springs up! No bar Stayed me–ah, thought which saddens while it soothes! –Never did fate forbid me, star by star, To outburst on your night with all my gift Of fires from God: nor would my flesh have […]

1842 There’s heaven above, and night by night I look right through its gorgeous roof; No suns and moons though e’er so bright Avail to stop me; splendor-proof I keep the broods of stars aloof: For I intend to get to God, For ‘t is to God I speed so fast, For in God’s breast, […]

Fra Lippo Lippi

Story type: Poetry

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I am poor brother Lippo, by your leave! You need not clap your torches to my face. Zooks, what’s to blame? you think you see a monk! What, ’tis past midnight, and you go the rounds, And here you catch me at an alley’s end Where sportive ladies leave their doors ajar? The Carmine’s my […]

1855 No more wine? then we’ll push back chairs and talk. A final glass for me, though: cool, i’ faith! We ought to have our Abbey back, you see. It’s different, preaching in basilicas, And doing duty in some masterpiece Like this of brother Pugin’s, bless his heart! I doubt if they’re half baked, those […]

Cleon

Story type: Poetry

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“As certain also of your own poets have said”– 1855 Cleon the poet (from the sprinkled isles, Lily on lily, that o’erlace the sea, And laugh their pride when the light wave lisps “Greece”)– To Protus in his Tyranny: much health! They give thy letter to me, even now: I read and seem as if […]

1842 I I know a Mount, the gracious Sun perceives First, when he visits, last, too, when he leaves The world; and, vainly favored, it repays The day-long glory of his steadfast gaze By no change of its large calm front of snow. And underneath the Mount, a Flower I know, He cannot have perceived, […]

Tray

Story type: Poetry

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Sing me a hero! Quench my thirst Of soul, ye bards! Quoth Bard the first: “Sir Olaf, deg. the good knight, did don 3 His helm, and eke his habergeon …” Sir Olaf and his bard—-! “That sin-scathed brow” deg. (quoth Bard the second), deg.6 “That eye wide ope as tho’ Fate beckoned My hero […]

I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; “Good speed!” cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew; “Speed!” echoed the wall to us galloping through; Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast. Not a word to each […]

Herve Riel

Story type: Poetry

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On the sea and at the Hogue, sixteen hundred ninety two, Did the English fight the French,–woe to France! And, the thirty-first of May, helter-skelter thro’ the blue. Like a crowd of frightened porpoises a shoal of sharks pursue, Came crowding ship on ship to St. Malo on the Rance, 5 With the English fleet […]

Pheidippides

Story type: Poetry

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[Greek: Chairete, nikomen] First I salute this soil of the blessed, river and rock! Gods of my birthplace, daemons and heroes, honour to all! Then I name thee, claim thee for our patron, co-equal in praise –Ay, with Zeus the Defender, with Her of the aegis and spear! 4 Also, ye of the bow and […]

My Star

Story type: Poetry

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All that I know Of a certain star Is, it can throw (Like the angled spar) [A] Now a dart of red, Now a dart of blue; Till my friends have said They would fain see, too, My star that dartles the red and the blue! Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, […]

Evelyn Hope

Story type: Poetry

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Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead! Sit and watch by her side an hour. That is her book-shelf, this her bed; She plucked that piece of geranium-flower, Beginning to die too, in the glass; Little has yet been changed, I think: The shutters are shut, no light may pass Save two long rays thro’ the hinge’s […]

Misconceptions

Story type: Poetry

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This is a spray the bird clung to, Making it blossom with pleasure, Ere the high tree-top she sprung to, Fit for her nest and her treasure. Oh, what a hope beyond measure Was the poor spray’s, which the flying feet hung to,– So to be singled out, built in, and sung to! This is […]

Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles Miles and miles On the solitary pastures where our sheep Half-asleep Tinkle homeward thro’ the twilight, stray or stop As they crop– Was the site once of a city great and gay, (So they say) Of our country’s very capital, its prince Ages since Held his court in, […]

Natural Magic

Story type: Poetry

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All I can say is–I saw it! The room was as bare as your hand. I locked in the swarth little lady,–I swear, From the head to the foot of her–well, quite as bare! “No Nautch shall cheat me,” said I, “taking my stand [1] At this bolt which I draw!” And this bolt–I withdraw […]

Apparitions

Story type: Poetry

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(Prologue to “The Two Poets of Croisic.”) Such a starved bank of moss Till, that May-morn, Blue ran the flash across: Violets were born! Sky–what a scowl of cloud Till, near and far, Ray on ray split the shroud: Splendid, a star! World–how it walled about Life with disgrace, Till God’s own smile came out: […]

A Wall

Story type: Poetry

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O the old wall here! How I could pass Life in a long midsummer day, My feet confined to a plot of grass, My eyes from a wall not once away! And lush and lithe do the creepers clothe Yon wall I watch, with a wealth of green: Its bald red bricks draped, nothing loath, […]

Confessions

Story type: Poetry

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What is he buzzing in my ears? “Now that I come to die, Do I view the world as a vale of tears?” Ah, reverend sir, not I! What I viewed there once, what I view again Where the physic bottles stand On the table’s edge,–is a suburb lane, With a wall to my bedside […]

Let’s contend no more, Love, Strive nor weep: All be as before, Love, –Only sleep! What so wild as words are? I and thou In debate, as birds are, Hawk on bough! See the creature stalking While we speak! Hush and hide the talking, Cheek on cheek. What so false as truth is, False to […]

A Pretty Woman

Story type: Poetry

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That fawn-skin-dappled hair of hers, And the blue eye Dear and dewy, And that infantine fresh air of hers! To think men cannot take you, Sweet, And infold you, Ay, and hold you, And so keep you what they make you, Sweet! You like us for a glance, you know– For a word’s sake Or […]

Youth And Art

Story type: Poetry

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It once might have been, once only: We lodged in a street together, You, a sparrow on the housetop lonely, I, a lone she-bird of his feather. Your trade was with sticks and clay, You thumbed, thrust, patted, and polished, Then laughed “They will see some day, Smith made, and Gibson demolished.” 8 My business […]

A Tale

Story type: Poetry

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(Epilogue to “The Two Poets of Croisic.”) What a pretty tale you told me Once upon a time –Said you found it somewhere (scold me!) Was it prose or was it rhyme, Greek or Latin? Greek, you said, While your shoulder propped my head. Anyhow there’s no forgetting This much if no more, That a […]

Kentish Sir Byng stood for his King, Bidding the crop-headed Parliament swing: And, pressing a troop unable to stoop And see the rogues flourish and honest folk droop, Marched them along, fifty score strong, Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song. God for King Charles! Pym and such carles To the Devil that prompts ’em their treasonous […]

I King Charles, and who’ll do him right now? King Charles, and who’s ripe for fight now? Give a rouse; here’s, in hell’s despite now, King Charles! II Who gave me the goods that went since? Who raised me the house that sank once? Who helped me to gold I spent since? Who found me […]

I Boot, saddle, to horse, and away! Rescue my castle before the hot day Brightens to blue from its silvery gray, CHO.–Boot, saddle, to horse, and away! II Ride past the suburbs, asleep as you’d say; Many’s the friend there, will listen and pray “God’s luck to gallants that strike up the lay– CHO.–Boot, saddle, […]

Nobly, nobly, Cape Saint Vincent to the Northwest died away; Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay; Bluish ‘mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar deg. lay; In the dimmest Northeast distance dawned Gibraltar deg. grand and gray; “Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?”–say, Whoso turns […]

Summum Bonum

Story type: Poetry

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All the breath and the bloom of the year in the bag of one bee: All the wonder and wealth of the mine in the heart of one gem: In the core of one pearl all the shade and the shine of the sea: Breath and bloom, shade and shine,–wonder, wealth, and–how far above them– […]

The Lost Leader

Story type: Poetry

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Just for a handful of silver he left us, Just for a riband to stick in his coat– Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us, Lost all the others she lets us devote; They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver, So much was theirs who so little allowed; How all […]

Day! Faster and more fast, O’er night’s brim, day boils at last: Boils, pure gold, o’er the cloud-cup’s brim. Where spurting and suppressed it lay, For not a froth-flake touched the rim Of yonder gap in the solid gray Of the eastern cloud, an hour away; But forth one wavelet, then another, curled, Till the […]

A Face

Story type: Poetry

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If one could have that little head of hers Painted upon a background of pure gold, Such as the Tuscan’s early art prefers! No shade encroaching on the matchless mould Of those two lips, which should be opening soft In the pure profile; not as when she laughs, For that spoils all: but rather as […]

Here’s my case. Of old I used to love him. This same unseen friend, before I knew: Dream there was none like him, none above him,– Wake to hope and trust my dream was true. Loved I not his letters deg. full of beauty? 5 Not his actions famous far and wide? Absent, he would […]

Apparent Failure

Story type: Poetry

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“We shall soon lose a celebrated building.” —Paris Newspaper. No, for I’ll save it! Seven years since I passed through Paris, stopped a day To see the baptism of your Prince, 3 Saw, made my bow, and went my way: Walking the heat and headache off, I took the Seine-side, you surmise, Thought of the […]

“Why?” Because all I haply can and do, All that I am now, all I hope to be,– Whence comes it save from fortune setting free Body and soul the purpose to pursue, God traced for both? If fetters, not a few, Of prejudice, convention, fall from me, These shall I bid men–each in his […]

Memorabilia

Story type: Poetry

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Ah, did you once see Shelley plain, And did he stop and speak to you, And did you speak to him again? How strange it seems and new! But you were living before that, And also you are living after; And the memory I started at– My starting moves your laughter! I crossed a moor […]

At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time, When you set your fancies free, Will they pass to where–by death, fools think, imprisoned– Low he lies who once so loved you whom you loved so, –Pity me? Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken! What had I on earth to do […]

Prospice

Story type: Poetry

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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 […]

"De Gustibus–"

Story type: Poetry

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Your ghost will walk, you lover of trees, (If our loves remain) In an English lane, By a cornfield-side a-flutter with poppies. Hark, those two in the hazel coppice– A boy and a girl, if the good fates please, Making love, say,– The happier they! Draw yourself up from the light of the moon. And […]

ANCIEN REGIME Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly, May gaze through these faint smokes curling whitely, As thou pliest thy trade in this devil’s-smithy– Which is the poison to poison her, prithee? He is with her, and they know that I know Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow […]

ROME, 15– Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity! Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back? Nephews–sons mine … ah God, I know not! Well, She, men would have to be your mother once, Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was! 5 What’s done is done, and she is dead beside, Dead long ago, and […]

(As distinguished by an Italian person of quality.) Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare, The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city square; Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there! Something to see, by Bacchus deg., something to hear, […]

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 white-throat builds, and […]

Abt Vogler

Story type: Poetry

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(AFTER HE HAS BEEN EXTEMPORIZING UPON THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT OF HIS INVENTION) Would that the structure brave, the manifold music I build, Bidding my organ obey, calling its keys to their work, Claiming each slave of the sound, at a touch, as when Solomon willed Armies of angels that soar, legions of demons that lurk, […]

Oh Galuppi, Baldassaro, this is very sad to find! 1 I can hardly misconceive you; it would prove me deaf and blind; But altho’ I take your meaning, ’tis with such a heavy mind! Here you come with your old music, and here’s all the good it brings. What, they lived once thus at Venice […]

Andrea Del Sarto

Story type: Poetry

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(CALLED “THE FAULTLESS PAINTER”) But do not let us quarrel any more, No, my Lucrezia! bear with me for once: Sit down and all shall happen as you wish. You turn your face, but does it bring your heart? I’ll work then for your friend’s friend, never fear. Treat his own subject after his own […]

A Rabbi Ben Ezra

Story type: Poetry

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Grow old along with me 1 The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith “A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!” Not that, amassing flowers, Youth sighed, “Which rose make ours, […]

“Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” [‘Will sprawl, now that the heat of day is best, Flat on his belly in the pit’s much mire, With elbows wide, fists clenched to prop his chin, And, while he kicks both feet in the cool slush, And feels about his spine small […]

Saul

Story type: Poetry

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I Said Abner, “At last thou art come! Ere I tell, ere thou speak. Kiss my cheek, wish me well!” Then I wished it, and did kiss his cheek. And he, “Since the King, O my friend, for thy countenance sent, Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor until from his tent Thou return with […]

Karshish, the picker up of learning’s crumbs, The not incurious in God’s handiwork (This man’s flesh he hath admirably made, Blown like a bubble, kneaded like a paste, To coop up and keep down on earth a space That puff of vapour from his mouth, man’s soul) –To Abib, all sagacious in our art, Breeder […]

One Word More

Story type: Poetry

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TO E.B.B. I There they are, my fifty men and women Naming me the fifty poems finished! Take them, Love, the book and me together; Where the heart lies, let the brain lie also. II Rafael made a century of sonnets, 5 Made and wrote them in a certain volume Dinted with the silver-pointed pencil […]