in one human being as Mrs. Stowe has conferred upon the

"If we apply these tests to Browning, there can be, I think, no doubt as to the answer. He is, in common with all poets, both musician and painter, but much more the latter than the former. He is never for a moment the slave of his ear, if I may so express it. We know that he has, on the contrary, the mastery of music. But music helps and supports his imagination, never controls it. Music is to Browning an inarticulate revelation of the truth of the supersensual world, the `earnest of a heaven'. He is no voluptuary in music. Music is simply the means by which the soul wings its way into the azure of spiritual theory and contemplation. Take only `Saul' and `Abt Vogler' in illustration. `Saul' is a magnificent interpretation of the old theme, a favorite with the mystics, that evil spirits are driven out by music. But in this interpretation it is not the mere tones, the thrumming on the harp, it is the religious movement of the intelligence, it is the truth of Divine love throbbing in every chord, which constitutes the spell. And so in `Abt Vogler'; the abbot's instrument is only the means whereby he strikes out the light of faith and hope within him. Not to dwell upon this point, I would only say that it seems clear that Browning has the finest acoustic gifts, and could, if he had chosen, have scattered musical bons-bons through every page. But he has printed no `versus inopes rerum, nugaeque canorae' (Hor. ad Pis.). He has had higher objects in view, and has dispensed better stuff than that which lingers in the ear, and tends to suppress rather than support the higher activity of thought.

in one human being as Mrs. Stowe has conferred upon the

"When for a moment he shuts his eyes, and falls purely into the listening or `musing' mood, he becomes the instrument of a rich deep music, breaking out of the heart of the unseen world, as in the Dirge of unfaithful Poets in `Paracelsus', or the Gypsy's Incantation in the `Flight of the Duchess', or the Meditation at the crisis of Sordello's temptation.

in one human being as Mrs. Stowe has conferred upon the

"When the keen inquisitive intelligence is in its full waking activity there grows `more of the words' and thought, and `less of the music', to invert a phrase of the poet's. The melody ceases, the rhythm is broken, as in all intense, earnest conversation. At times only the tinkle of the pairing rhymes, of which Browning has made a most witty use, reminds that we are called to partake a mood in which commonplace associations are melting into the ideal. I believe the economy of music is a necessity of Browning's art; and it would be only fair, if those who attack him on this ground would consider how far thought of such quality as his admits of being chanted, or otherwise musically accompanied. In plain words the problem is, how far the pleasures of sound and of sense can be united in poetry; and it will be found in every case that a poet sacrifices something either to the one or to the other. Browning has said something in his arch way on this point. In effect, he remarks, Italian prose can render a simple thought more sweetly to the ear than either Greek or English verse. It seems clear from many other of his critical remarks that he considers the demand for music in preference to thought in poetry, as the symptom of a false taste.

in one human being as Mrs. Stowe has conferred upon the

"Browning's poetry is to be gazed at, rather than listened to and recited, for the most part. It is infinitely easier to listen for an hour to spiritual music than to fix one's whole attention for a few minutes on a spiritual picture. In the latter act of mind we find a rich musical accompaniment distracting, while a slight musical accompaniment is probably helpful. And perhaps we may characterize Browning's poetry as a series of spiritual pictures with a faint musical accompaniment.

"For illustration by extreme contrast, Milton may be compared with Browning. Milton was a great hearsay poet, Browning repeats no hearsay. In reading Milton, the difficulty is to keep up the mental tension where there is so little thought, strictly speaking. With Browning the highest tension is exacted.

"He is pre-eminently the looker, the seer, the `maker-see'; the reporter, the painter of the scenery and events of the soul. And if the sense of vision is our noblest, and we instinctively express the acts of intelligence in terms drawn from physical vision, the poet who leans most towards the `SEER of Power and Love in the absolute, Beauty and Goodness in the concrete', takes the higher rank. This is no matter for bigotry of taste. Singers and seers, musicians and reporters, and reproducers of every degree, who have something to tell us or to show us of the `world as God has made it, where all is beauty', we have need of all. But of singers there are many, of seers there are few, that is all."

In the most difficult form of verse, namely, blank verse, Browning has shown himself a great master, and has written some of the very best in the literature. And great as is the extent of his blank verse, the `Ring and the Book' alone containing 21,116 verses, it never entirely lapses into prose.

One grand merit of blank verse is in the SWEEP of it; another, in its pause-melody, which can be secured only by a skilful recurrence of an unbroken measure; without this, variety of pause ceases to be variety, and results in a metrical chaos; a third is in its lightsomeness of movement, its go, when well-freighted with thought. All these merits are found united in much of Browning's blank verse, especially in that of `The Ring and the Book'. As an example of this, take the following passage from the monologue of the Canon Caponsacchi. It gives expression to his vision of Count Guido's spiritual down-sliding; "in the lowest deep a lower deep still threatening to devour him, opens wide": -- "And thus I see him slowly and surely edged Off all the table-land whence life upsprings Aspiring to be immortality, As the snake, hatched on hill-top by mischance, Despite his wriggling, slips, slides, slidders down Hill-side, lies low and prostrate on the smooth Level of the outer place, lapsed in the vale: So I lose Guido in the loneliness, Silence, and dusk, till at the doleful end, At the horizontal line, creation's verge, From what just is to absolute nothingness -- Lo, what is this he meets, strains onward still? What other man, deep further in the fate, Who, turning at the prize of a foot-fall To flatter him and promise fellowship, Discovers in the act a frightful face -- Judas, made monstrous by much solitude! The two are at one now! Let them love their love That bites and claws like hate, or hate their hate That mops and mows and makes as it were love! There, let them each tear each in devil's-fun, Or fondle this the other while malice aches -- Both teach, both learn detestability! Kiss him the kiss, Iscariot! Pay that back, That smatch o' the slaver blistering on your lip -- By the better trick, the insult he spared Christ -- Lure him the lure o' the letters, Aretine! Lick him o'er slimy-smooth with jelly-filth O' the verse-and-prose pollution in love's guise! The cockatrice is with the basilisk! There let him grapple, denizens o' the dark, Foes or friends, but indissolubly bound, In their one spot out of the ken of God Or care of man for ever and ever more!"

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