Friday, February 10, 2012

February 10

February 10, 1846 is a Tuesday and Miss Barrett has just been reading Browning's new poem 'Luria' in it's draft form. Now, she is in her comfort zone. Ah, poetry!

"Ever dearest, I have been possessed by your 'Luria' just as you would have me, and I should like you to understand, not simply how fine a conception the whole work seems to me, so developed, but how it has moved and affected me, without the ordinary means and dialect of pathos, by that calm attitude of moral grandeur which it has—it is very fine. For the execution, that too is worthily done—although I agree with you, that a little quickening and drawing in closer here and there, especially towards the close where there is no time to lose, the reader feels, would make the effect stronger—but you will look to it yourself—and such a conception must come in thunder and lightning, as a chief god would—must make its own way ... and will not let its poet go until he speaks it out to the ultimate syllable. Domizia disappoints me rather. You might throw a flash more of light on her face—might you not? But what am I talking? I think it a magnificent work—a noble exposition of the ingratitude of men against their 'heroes,' and (what is peculiar) an humane exposition ... not misanthropical, after the usual fashion of such things: for the return, the remorse, saves it—and the 'Too late' of the repentance and compensation covers with its solemn toll the fate of persecutors and victim. We feel that Husain himself could only say afterward ... 'That is done.' And now—surely you think well of the work as a whole? You cannot doubt, I fancy, of the grandeur of it—and of the subtilty too, for it is subtle—too subtle perhaps for stage purposes, though as clear, ... as to expression ... as to medium ... as 'bricks and mortar' ... shall I say?

'A people is but the attempt of many
To rise to the completer life of one.'

There is one of the fine thoughts. And how fine he is, your Luria, when he looks back to his East, through the half-pardon and half-disdain of Domizia. Ah—Domizia! would it hurt her to make her more a woman ... a little ... I wonder! "

I offer a large taste of her commentary because I think it illustrates that she is not frightened of criticizing him. She is very delicate about it, but willing to offer her opinion. This high level analysis goes on for several letters as she wends her way through 'Luria' several times.

And is she demanding when it comes to his love for her? Not openly. But she is certainly demanding when it comes to his supplying her with poems:

"And remember, please, that I am to read, besides, the 'Soul's Tragedy,' and that I shall dun you for it presently."

Cough up the poems Browning! 

So, lulled into happiness with a peek at his new poem she blunts her arrow on his mistake of yesterday.

"Yet here's a naiveté which I found in your letter! I will write it out that you may read it—
'However it' (the headache) 'was no sooner gone in a degree, than a worse plague came—I sate thinking of you.'
Very satisfactory that is, and very clear."

She ends the letter with this charming tease:

"Your worse ... worst plague
Your own

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