Monday, November 19, 2012

Novermber 19, 1845

Browning sends a copy of the verse that Walter Savage Landor wrote for him to his publisher, Edward Moxon:

"Wednesday Night.

Dear Moxon,

I’ll be bound, now, people are always 'snubbing' me, like friend Harness t’other day, just because they fancy I have nobody to take my part—whereas, look here,—what has come to me this very morning! But I keep such matters to myself and so nobody is the wiser .. or rather the nobodies are not the wiser!

In earnest,—very kind & gracious this of Landor, is it not? And I am, I hope, properly proud of it—and so, knowing your own friendly sympathy, I have got a copy made for you for which you shall thank me—(you who love Chaucer, and can appreciate the felicity of the epithet 'hale' as applied to him)—when I see you in a day or two. Forster’s notice .. is not that most generous, too? Mr Harness, forsooth! If he goes and does the 'quizzing article' he hints at, I’ll be hanged if I don’t rhyme him to death like an Irish Rat!

Ever yours faithfully,

R Browning."
Do you think Browning was quite gleeful to receive the sonnet from Landor? He is wonderfully playful here, I'll be bound. We will see the last line of this poem referred to many times in the letters twixt Miss Barrett and Browning because Browning took to teasing Miss Barrett as being his Siren.
Here is the text:

To Robert Browning

There is delight in singing, tho’ none hear
Beside the singer; and there is delight
In praising, tho’ the praiser sit alone
And see the prais’d far off him, far above.
Shakspeare is not our poet, but the world’s,
Therefore on him no speech! and brief for thee,
Browning! Since Chaucer was alive and hale,
No man hath walkt along our roads with step
So active, so inquiring eye, or tongue
So varied in discourse. But warmer climes
Give brighter plumage, stronger wing: the breeze
Of Alpine highths thou playest with, borne on
Beyond Sorrento and Amalfi, where
The Siren waits thee, singing song for song.

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