Soliloquy Of The Spanish Cloister

Robert Browning 1812 (Camberwell) – 1889 (Venice)

I.

Gr-r-r---there go, my heart's abhorrence!
  Water your damned flower-pots, do!
If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,
  God's blood, would not mine kill you!
What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming?
  Oh, that rose has prior claims---
Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
  Hell dry you up with its flames!

II.

At the meal we sit together:
  _Salve tibi!_ I must hear
Wise talk of the kind of weather,
  Sort of season, time of year:
_Not a plenteous cork-crop: scarcely
  Dare we hope oak-galls, I doubt:
What's the Latin name for ``parsley''?_
  What's the Greek name for Swine's Snout?

III.

Whew! We'll have our platter burnished,
  Laid with care on our own shelf!
With a fire-new spoon we're furnished,
  And a goblet for ourself,
Rinsed like something sacrificial
  Ere 'tis fit to touch our chaps---
Marked with L. for our initial!
  (He-he! There his lily snaps!)

IV.

_Saint_, forsooth! While brown Dolores
  Squats outside the Convent bank
With Sanchicha, telling stories,
  Steeping tresses in the tank,
Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs,
  ---Can't I see his dead eye glow,
Bright as 'twere a Barbary corsair's?
  (That is, if he'd let it show!)

V.

When he finishes refection,
  Knife and fork he never lays
Cross-wise, to my recollection,
  As do I, in Jesu's praise.
I the Trinity illustrate,
  Drinking watered orange-pulp---
In three sips the Arian frustrate;
  While he drains his at one gulp.

VI.

Oh, those melons? If he's able
  We're to have a feast! so nice!
One goes to the Abbot's table,
  All of us get each a slice.
How go on your flowers? None double
  Not one fruit-sort can you spy?
Strange!---And I, too, at such trouble,
  Keep them close-nipped on the sly!

VII.

There's a great text in Galatians,
  Once you trip on it, entails
Twenty-nine distinct damnations,
  One sure, if another fails:
If I trip him just a-dying,
  Sure of heaven as sure can be,
Spin him round and send him flying
  Off to hell, a Manichee?

VIII.

Or, my scrofulous French novel
  On grey paper with blunt type!
Simply glance at it, you grovel
  Hand and foot in Belial's gripe:
If I double down its pages
  At the woeful sixteenth print,
When he gathers his greengages,
  Ope a sieve and slip it in't?

IX.

Or, there's Satan!---one might venture
  Pledge one's soul to him, yet leave
Such a flaw in the indenture
  As he'd miss till, past retrieve,
Blasted lay that rose-acacia
  We're so proud of! _Hy, Zy, Hine ..._
'St, there's Vespers! _Plena grati
  Ave, Virgo!_ Gr-r-r---you swine!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert Browning

Robert Browning was the father of poet Robert Browning. more…

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