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
 
The Householder
By Robert Browning (1812–1889)
 
(Epilogue to Fifine at the Fair)

I
SAVAGE I was sitting in my house, late, lone:
  Dreary, weary with the long day’s work:
Head of me, heart of me, stupid as a stone:
  Tongue-tied now, now blaspheming like a Turk;
When, in a moment, just a knock, call, cry,        5
  Half a pang and all a rapture, there again were we!—
“What, and is it really you again?” quoth I:
  “I again, what else did you expect?” quoth She.
 
II
“Never mind, hie away from this old house—
  Every crumbling brick embrowned with sin and shame!        10
Quick, in its corners ere certain shapes arouse!
  Let them—every devil of the night—lay claim,
Make and mend, or rap and rend, for me! Goodbye!
  God be their guard from disturbance at their glee,
Till, crash, down comes the carcass in a heap!” quoth I:        15
  “Nay, but there’s a decency required!” quoth She.
 
III
“Ah, but if you knew how time has dragged, days, nights!
  All the neighbour-talk with man and maid—such men!
All the fuss and trouble of street-sounds, window-sights:
  All the worry of flapping door and echoing roof; and then        20
All the fancies … Who were they had leave, dared try
  Darker arts that almost struck despair in me?
If you knew but how I dwelt down here!” quoth I:
  “And was I so better off up there?” quoth She.
 
IV
“Help and get it over! Reunited to his wife
        25
  (How draw up the paper lets the parish-people know?)
Lies M., or N., departed from this life,
  Day the this or that, month and year the so and so.
What i’ the way of final flourish? Prose, verse? Try!
  Affliction sore long time he bore, or, what is it to be?        30
Till God did please to grant him ease. Do end!” quoth I:
  “I end with—Love is all and Death is nought!” quoth She.
(1872.)    
 
 
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