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Poetry Archives

A continuing selection of classic and contemporary poems.

The Patriot

Robert Browning

An Old Story

I

It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad.
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day!

II

The air broke into a mist with bells,
The old walls rocked with the crowds and cries.
Had I said, “Good folks, mere noise repels— 
But give me your sun from yonder skies!”
They had answered, “And afterward, what else?”

III

Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun,
To give it my loving friends to keep.
Nought man could do have I left undone,
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.

IV

There’s nobody on the house-tops now— 
Just a palsied few at the windows set— 
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
At the Shambles’ Gate—or, better yet,
By the very scaffold’s foot, I trow.

V

I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
A rope cuts both my wrists behind,
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year’s misdeeds.

VI

Thus I entered Brescia, and thus I go!
In such triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
“Thou, paid by the World,—what dost thou owe
Me?” God might have questioned; but now instead
’Tis God shall requite! I am safer so.
Online text © 1998-2014 Poetry X. All rights reserved.

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