one. This, I think, is the moral to be drawn from the story

The speaker is one to whom Shelley is an almost ideal being. He can hardly think of him as a man of flesh and blood. He meets some one who has actually seen him and talked with him; and it's all so strange to him, and he expresses so much surprise at it, that it moves the laughter of the other, and he breaks off and speaks of crossing a moor. Only a hand's breadth of it shines alone 'mid the blank miles round about; for there he picked up, and put inside his breast, a moulted feather, an eagle-feather. He forgets the rest. There is, in fact, nothing more for him to remember. The eagle-feather causes an isolated flash of association with the poet of the atmosphere, the winds, and the clouds, "The meteoric poet of air and sea."

one. This, I think, is the moral to be drawn from the story

The speaker, a Spaniard, it must be supposed, describes to his companion the only poet he knew in his life, who roamed along the promenades and through the by-streets and lanes and alleys of Valladolid, an old dog, bald and blindish, at his heels. He appeared interested in whatever he looked on, and his looks went everywhere, taking in the cobbler at his trade, the man slicing lemons into drink, the coffee-roaster's brazier, and the boys turning its winch; books on stalls, strung-up fly-leaf ballads, posters by the wall; "`If any beat a horse, you felt he saw; If any cursed a woman, he took note.' Yet stared at nobody, -- you stared at him, And found, less to your pleasure than surprise, He seemed to know you, and expect as much." Popular imagination is active as to who and what he is; perhaps a spy, or it may be "a recording chief-inquisitor, the town's true master if the town but knew", who by letters keeps "our Lord the King" well informed "of all thought, said, and acted"; but of the King's approval of these letters there has been no evidence of any kind.

one. This, I think, is the moral to be drawn from the story

The speaker found no truth in one of the popular reports, namely, that this strange man lived in great luxury and splendor. On the contrary, he lived in the plainest, simplest manner; played a game of cribbage with his maid, in the evening, and, when the church clock struck ten, went straight off to bed. It seems that while the belief of the people was, that this man kept up a correspondence with their earthly Lord, the King, noting all that went on, the speaker, in the monologue is aware that it was the Heavenly King with whom he corresponded. In the last paragraph of his monologue he expresses the wish that he might have looked in, yet had haply been afraid, when this man came to die, and seen, ministering to him, the heavenly attendants, -- "who line the clean gay garret sides, And stood about the neat low truckle-bed With the heavenly manner of relieving guard. Here had been, mark, the general-in-chief, Thro' a whole campaign of the world's life and death, Doing the King's work all the dim day long, * * * * * And, now the day was won, relieved at once!"

one. This, I think, is the moral to be drawn from the story

He then adds that there was "`No further show or need of that old coat, You are sure, for one thing! Bless us, all the while How sprucely WE are dressed out, you and I!'" we who are so inferior to that divine poet; but, "A second, and the angels alter that."

This monologue is addressed by a poet to a brother-poet whom he finds fault with for speaking naked thoughts instead of draping them in sights and sounds. If boys want images and melody, grown men, you think, want abstract thought. Far from it. The objects which throng our youth, we see and hear, quite as a matter of course. But what of it, if you could tell what they mean? The German Boehme, with his affinities for the abstract, never cared for plants until, one day, he noticed they could speak; that the daisy colloquized with the cowslip on SUCH themes! themes found extant in Jacob's prose. But when life's summer passes while reading prose in that tough book he wrote, getting some sense or other out of it, who helps, then, to repair our loss? Another Boehme, say you, with a tougher book and subtler abstract meanings of what roses say? Or some stout Mage like John of Halberstadt, who MADE THINGS Boehme WROTE THOUGHTS about? Ah, John's the man for us! who instead of giving us the wise talk of roses, scatters all around us the roses themselves, pouring heaven into this shut house of life. So come, the harp back to your heart again, instead of speaking dry words across its strings. Your own boy-face bent over the finer chords, and following the cherub at the top that points to God with his paired half-moon wings, is a far better poem than your poem with all its naked thoughts.

The poet, it appears, speaks here in his own person. Sauntering about Paris, he comes upon the Doric little Morgue, the dead-house, where they show their drowned. He enters, and sees through the screen of glass, the bodies of three men who committed suicide, the day before, by drowning themselves in the Seine.

In the last stanza, he gives expression to his hopeful philosophy, which recognizes "some soul of goodness, in things evil"; * which sees in human nature, "potentiality of final deliverance from the evil in it, given only time enough for the work". In this age of professed and often, no doubt, affected, agnosticism and pessimism, Browning is the foremost apostle of Hope. He, more than any other great author of the age, whether philosopher, or poet, or divine, has been inspired with the faith that "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."

Compare with this, the following stanzas from Tennyson's `In Memoriam', Section 54: -- "Oh yet we trust that somehow good Will be the final goal of ill, To pangs of nature, sins of will, Defects of doubt, and taints of blood. That nothing walks with aimless feet; That not one life shall be destroyed, Or cast as rubbish to the void, When God hath made the pile complete. * * * * * Behold, we know not anything; I can but trust that good shall fall At last -- far off -- at last, to all, And every winter change to spring."

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