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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Robert Browning 1812–89



DEAR, had the world in its caprice

Deign’d to proclaim “I know yon both,

Have recogniz’d your plighted troth,

Am sponsor for you: live in peace!”

How many precious months and years

Of youth had pass’d, that speed so fast,

Before we found it out at last,

The world, and what it fears?

How much of priceless life were spent

With men that every virtue decks,

And women models of their sex,

Society’s true ornament,—

Ere we dar’d wander, nights like this,

Thro’ wind and rain, and watch the Seine,

And feel the Boulevart break again

To warmth and light and bliss?

I know! the world proscribes not love;

Allows my fingers to caress

Your lips’ contour and downiness,

Provided it supply a glove.

The world’s good word!—the Institute!

Guizot receives Montalembert!

Eh? Down the court three lampions flare:

Put forward your best foot!