**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Prologue To Pacchiarotto [A Wall]
by [?]

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,
In lappets of tangle they laugh between.

Now, what is it makes pulsate the robe?
Why tremble the sprays? What life o’erbrims
The body–the house, no eye can probe–
Divined as, beneath a robe, the limbs?

And there again! But my heart may guess
Who tripped behind; and she sang perhaps;
So, the old wall throbbed, and its life’s excess
Died out and away in the leafy wraps!

Wall upon wall are between us; life
And song should away from heart to heart!
I–prison-bird, with a ruddy strife
At breast, and a lip whence storm-notes start–

Hold on, hope hard in the subtle thing
That’s spirit: though cloistered fast, soar free;
Account as wood, brick, stone, this ring
Of the rueful neighbors, and–forth to thee!


This poem was written and printed as the Prologue to Pacchiarotto and How he Worked in Distemper, published in 1876. It was, however, given the title “A Wall” when published in 1880 in Selections from Robert Browning’s Poems, Second Series. The last two stanzas express one of the fundamental ideas of Browning’s poetry. Under the figure of the wall with its pulsating robe of vines and the eagerness of the lover to penetrate to the life within the house, he sets forth his thought of the barrier between himself and a longed-for future life in heaven. The “forth to thee” is to be interpreted as referring to his wife.