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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Robert Browning
 
        A pretty woman’s worth some pains to see,
Nor is she spoiled, I take it, if a crown
Completes the forehead pale and tresses pure.
  1
        All June I bound the rose in sheaves,
Now, rose by rose, I strip the leaves.
  2
        All service is the same with God—
With God, whose puppets, best and worst,
Are we: there is no last nor first.
  3
        All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower.
  4
        Autumn wins you best by this, its mute
Appeal to sympathy for its decay.
  5
        Better have failed in the high aim, as I,
Than vulgarly in the low aim succeed
As, God be thanked! I do not.
  6
        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 suppress’d 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 whole sunrise, not to be supprest,
Rose, reddened, and its seething breast
Flickered in bounds, grew gold, then overflowed the world.
  7
        Dear, dead women, with such hair, too—what’s become of all the gold
Used to hang and brush their bosoms?
  8
        Faster and more fast,
O’er night’s brim, day boils at last;
Boils, pure gold, o’er the cloud-cup’s brim.
  9
        Finds progress, man’s distinctive mark alone,
Not God’s, and not the beast’s;
God is, they are,
Man partly is, and wholly hopes to be.
  10
            For thence,—a paradox
    Which comforts while it mocks,—
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
    What I aspired to be,
    And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i’ the scale.
  11
                  God is a perfect poet,
Who in His person acts His own creations.
  12
        God smiles as He has always smiled;
Ere suns and moons could wax and wane,
Ere stars were thundergirt, or piled
The Heavens, God thought on me His child;
Ordained a life for me, arrayed
Its circumstances, every one
To the minutest; ay, God said
This head this hand should rest upon
Thus, ere He fashioned star or sun.
  13
        God’s in His Heaven—
All’s right with the world!
  14
        God’s justice, tardy though it prove perchance,
Rests never on the track until it reach
Delinquency.
  15
        Good, to forgive;
Best to forget!
  16
                    Hand
Grasps hand, eye lights eye in good friendship,
And great hearts expand,
And grow one in the sense of this world’s life.
  17
        Have you found your life distasteful?
  My life did, and does, smack sweet.
Was your youth of pleasure wasteful?
  Mine I saved and hold complete.
Do your joys with age diminish?
  When mine fail me I’ll complain.
Must in death your daylight finish?
  My sun sets to rise again.
  18
        Her voice changed like a bird’s:
There grew more of the music and less of the words.
  19
        I give the fight up; let there be an end,
A privacy, an obscure nook for me,
I want to be forgotten even by God.
  20
 
 
        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.
  21
        I send my heart up to thee, all my heart
In this my singing!
For the stars help me, and the sea bear part.
  22
        I trust in Nature for the stable laws
Of beauty and utility. Spring shall plant
And Autumn garner to the end of time.
I trust in God—the right shall be the right
And other than the wrong, while He endures;
I trust in my own soul, that can perceive
The outward and the inward, Natures good
And God’s.
  23
        In some time, His good time, I shall arrive;
He guides me and the bird
  In His good time.
  24
        It’s wiser being good than bad;
  It’s safer being meek than fierce:
It’s fitter being sane than mad.
  My own hope is, a sun will pierce
The thickest cloud earth ever stretched;
  That, after Last, returns the First,
Though a wide compass round be fetched;
  That what began best, can’t end worst,
  Nor what God blessed once, prove accurst.
  25
        Italy, my Italy!
Queen Mary’s saying serves for me—
(When fortune’s malice
Lost her Calais)—
Open my heart and you will see
Graved inside of it, “Italy.”
  26
        Love, hope, fear, faith,—these make humanity;
These are its sign, and note, and character.
  27
        ’Mid the sharp, short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well,
The wild tulip at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell,
Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell.
  28
              No thought which ever stirred
A human breast should be untold.
  29
            Of what I call God,
And fools call Nature.
  30
        Sorrow, the heart must bear,
Sits in the home of each, conspicuous there.
Many a circumstance, at least,
Touches the very breast.
For those
Whom any sent away,—he knows;
And in the live man’s stead,
Armor and ashes reach
The house of each.
  31
        That low man seeks a little thing to do,
  Sees it and does it;
This high man, with a great thing to pursue,
  Dies ere he knows it.
  32
        There shall never be one lost good! What was shall live as before;
The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;
What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven a perfect round.
  33
        Things are where things are, and, as fate has willed,
So shall they be fulfilled.
  34
        Thou art my single day, God lends to leaven
What were all earth else, with a feel of heaven.
  35
        ’Tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do.
  36
        To me at least was never evening yet
But seemed far beautifuller than its day.
  37
        Wander at will,
Day after day,—
Wander away,
Wandering still—
Soul that canst soar!
Body may slumber:
Body shall cumber
Soul-flight no more.
  38
        What’s come to perfection perishes,
Things learned on earth we shall practise in heaven;
Works done least rapidly Art most cherishes.
  39
        What? Was man made a wheel-work to wind up,
And be discharged, and straight wound up anew?
No! grown, his growth lasts; taught, he ne’er forgets;
May learn a thousand things, not twice the same.
  40
  Be sure they sleep not whom God needs.  41
  Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure.  42
  Fair or foul the lot apportioned life on earth, we bear alike.  43
  Progress is the law of life,—man is not man as yet.  44
  So may a glory from defect arise.  45
  Talent should minister to genius.  46
  There are times when patience proves at fault.  47
  Truth is truth howe’er it strike.  48
 
 
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