Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Confessions
By Robert Browning (1812–1889)
 
I
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!
 
II
What I viewed there once, what I view again
        5
  Where the physic bottles stand
On the table’s edge,—is a suburb lane,
  With a wall to my bedside hand.
 
III
That lane sloped, much as the bottles do,
  From a house you could descry        10
O’er the garden-wall: is the curtain blue
  Or green to a healthy eye?
 
IV
To mine, it serves for the old June weather
  Blue above lane and wall;
And that farthest bottle labelled “Ether”        15
  Is the house o’ertopping all.
 
V
At a terrace, somewhere near the stopper,
  They watched for me, one June,
A girl: I know, sir, it ’s improper,
  My poor mind ’s out of tune.        20
 
VI
Only, there was a way … you crept
  Close by the side, to dodge
Eyes in the house, two eyes except:
  They styled their house “The Lodge.”
 
VII
What right had a lounger up their lane?
        25
  But, by creeping very close,
With the good wall’s help,—their eyes might strain
  And stretch themselves to Oes,
 
VIII
Yet never catch her and me together,
  As she left the attic, there,        30
By the rim of the bottle labelled “Ether,”
  And stole from stair to stair,
 
IX
And stood by the rose-wreathed gate. Alas,
  We loved, sir—used to meet:
How sad and bad and mad it was—        35
  But then, how it was sweet!
(1864.)    
 
 
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