Soliloquy of the spanish cloister
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?
Oh, that rose has prior claims — Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
Soliloquy of the spanish cloister reading
Still the same chance! By taking on Brother Lawrence's voice, the speaker is able to justify his otherwise-ungrounded hatred, even while the more he rationalizes, the more we as readers are confronted with the dramatic irony that the speaker lacks any objective justification. So absent are they that the speaker is willing not only to damn Brother Lawrence to an eternity in hell, but also to damn himself. He chastises to himself Brother Lawrence for not placing his fork and knife in the shape of a cross or drinking his juice in three gulps to represent the Trinity, both actions the speaker believes pay glory to Christ and which Brother Lawrence refuses to do. But when you read this poem closely, the speaker's hypocrisy becomes more apparent. Presenting himself as the model of righteousness, the speaker condemns a fellow monk, Brother Lawrence, for his immorality; but we soon recognize that the faults he assigns to Lawrence are in fact his own. II For me, I touched a thought, I know, Has tantalized me many times, Like turns of thread the spiders throw Mocking across our path for rhymes To catch at and let go. Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled: They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it. If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence, God's blood, would not mine kill you! Oh, that rose has prior claims— Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
How is it under our control To love or not to love? With a fire-new spoon we're furnished, And a goblet for oneself, Rinsed like something sacrificial Ere 'tis fit to touch our chaps— Marked with L.
None double? Water your damned flower-pots, do!
The turn that the poem takes in the seventh stanza, when the speaker begins to consider hell as an option, moves the poem into a starker comment on hypocrisy. Water your damned flower-pots, do!
It's not simply jealousy. Browning was an experimental poet, writing during a period when readers preferred more traditional poetry.
Oh, that rose has prior claims— Needs its leaden vase filled brimming? 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?
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