Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  The Burial of Robert Browning

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

Michael Field

The Burial of Robert Browning


UPON St. Michael’s Isle

They laid him for awhile

That he might feel the Ocean’s full embrace,

And wedded be

To that wide sea—

The subject and the passion of his race.

As Thetis, from some lovely under-ground

Springing, she girds him round

With lapping sound

And silent space:

Then, on more honor bent,

She sues the firmament,

And bids the hovering, western clouds combine

To spread their sabled amber on her lustrous brine.

It might not be

He should lie free

Forever in the soft light of the sea,

For lo! one came,

Of step more slow than fame,

Stooped over him—we heard her breathe his name—

And, as the light drew back,

Bore him across the track

Of the subservient waves that dare not foil

That veiled, maternal figure of its spoil.

Ah! where will she put by

Her journeying majesty?

She hath left the lands of the air and sun;

She will take no rest till her course be run.

Follow her far, follow her fast,

Until at last,

Within a narrow transept led,

Lo! she unwraps her face to pall her dead.

’T is England who has travelled far,

England who brings

Fresh splendor to her galaxy of Kings.

We kiss her feet, her hands,

Where eloquent she stands;

Nor dare to lead

A wailful choir about the poet dumb

Who is become

Part of the glory that her sons would bleed

To save from scar;

Yea, hers in very deed

As Runnymede,

Or Trafalgar.