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Browning everywhere lays great stress on those moments of exalted feeling, when the soul has an unchecked play and is revealed to itself. See in the section of the Introduction on Personality and Art, the passage quoted from the Canon's Monologue in `The Ring and the Book', and the remarks on conversion.

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Mr. Nettleship, in his `Essays on Browning's Poetry', has traced somewhat minutely the symbolical meaning which he sees in the scenery and circumstances of `By the Fireside'. Readers are referred to these Essays.

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The speaker in this noble monologue is one who, having fought a good fight and finished his course, lived and wrought thoroughly in sense, and soul, and intellect, is now ready and eager to encounter the `Arch-Fear', Death; and then he will clasp again his Beloved, the soul of his soul, who has gone before. He leaves the rest to God.

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With this monologue should be read the mystical description, in `The Passing of Arthur' (Tennyson's Idylls of the King), of "the last, dim, weird battle of the west", beginning, -- "A deathwhite mist slept over sand and sea."

This poem is the Prologue to `Fifine at the Fair'.

Amphibian is one who unites both lives within himself, the material and the spiritual, in complete concord and mutual subservience -- one who "lives and likes life's way", and can also free himself of tether, leave the solid land, and, unable to fly, swim "in the sphere which overbrims with passion and thought", -- the sphere of poetry. Such an one may be said to be Browning's ideal man. "The value and significance of flesh" is everywhere recognized in his poetry. "All good things are ours," Rabbi Ben Ezra is made to say, "nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul." The full physical life, in its relation to the spiritual, was never more beautifully sung than it is sung by David, in the poem of `Saul'. See the passage beginning, "Oh! our manhood's prime vigor!" and the passage in `Balaustion's Adventure', descriptive of Hercules, as he returns, after his conflict with Death, leading back Alkestis.

The original title in `Dramatis Personae' (first published in 1864) was `James Lee'.

The poem consists of a succession of soliloquies (rather than monologues*), separated, it must be supposed, by longer or shorter intervals of time, and expressive of subjective states induced in a wife whose husband's love, if it ever were love, indeed, gradually declines to apathy and finally entire deadness. What manner of man James Lee was, is only faintly intimated. The interest centres in, is wholly confined to, the experiences of the wife's heart, under the circumstances, whatever they were.

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