Sunday, October 27, 2013

Browning - Poetry

The next poem in the book (the booking being 'The 100 Best Poems of All Time', edited by Leslie Pockell) is Robert Browning's 'Memorabilia'.  The little blurb before the poem says that it is in the form of 'ironic dramatic monologue'.  Here it is:

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; with a name of its own
And a certain use in the world no doubt,
Yet a hand's-breadth of it shines alone
'Mid the blank miles round about:

For there I picked up on the heather
And there I put inside m;y breast
A molted feather, an eagle feather!
Well, I forget the rest.

Irony is a tough medium, especially in print.  If I'd read this cold, I would have baffled that anyone had remembered it.  But . . . if you put it in the mouth of some loud mouth, I can see it.  The strange, circular thoughts and the forgotten event at the end work well there.  In fact, I can see memorizing this, so that you can return fire when cornered by a boring relative at Thanksgiving.
Not my favorite, but good for what it does.

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