Saturday, February 11, 2012

February 11

And so on February 11, 1846 Browning begins by trying to sort out the 'plague' situation but finds it is easier to turn on the charm with a story:

"...yesterday morning as I turned to look for a book, an old fancy seized me to try the 'sortes' and dip into the first page of the first I chanced upon, for my fortune; I said 'what will be the event of my love for Her'—in so many words—and my book turned out to be—'Cerutti's Italian Grammar!'—a propitious source of information ... the best to be hoped, what could it prove but some assurance that you were in the Dative Case, or I, not in the ablative absolute? I do protest that, with the knowledge of so many horrible pitfalls, or rather spring guns with wires on every bush ... such dreadful possibilities of stumbling on 'conditional moods,' 'imperfect tenses,' 'singular numbers,'—I should have been too glad to put up with the safe spot for the sole of my foot though no larger than afforded by such a word as 'Conjunction,' 'possessive pronoun—,' secure so far from poor Tippet's catastrophe. Well, I ventured, and what did I find? This—which I copy from the book now—'If we love in the other world as we do in this, I shall love thee to eternity'—from 'Promiscuous Exercises,' to be translated into Italian, at the end."

Cunning charmer.

And watch as he rolls over agreeing with her on 'Luria'.

"Domizia is all wrong; I told you I knew that her special colour had faded,—it was but a bright line, and the more distinctly deep that it was so narrow. One of my half dozen words on my scrap of paper 'pro memoria' was, under the 'Act V.' 'she loves'—to which I could not bring it, you see! Yet the play requires it still,—something may yet be effected, though.... I meant that she should propose to go to Pisa with him, and begin a new life. But there is no hurry—I suppose it is no use publishing much before Easter—I will try and remember what my whole character did mean—it was, in two words, understood at the time by 'panther's-beauty'—on which hint I ought to have spoken! But the work grew cold, and you came between, and the sun put out the fire on the hearth nec vult panthera domari! (Neither wants to be a tamed panther!)
For the 'Soul's Tragedy'—that will surprise you, I think. There is no trace of you there,—you have not put out the black face of it—it is all sneering and disillusion—and shall not be printed but burned if you say the word—now wait and see and then say! I will bring the first of the two parts next Saturday."

All this agreeing with her is going to wear on her (and eventually on him.) But in February 1846 it is rather nice to be respected by a great poet.

1 comment:

  1. He does turn on the charm. I wonder what it would be like to have such a mind as his or hers. I can't even imagine. My game playing in prospective or current relationships doesn't come near to this. I'm just a simple kid.