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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Robert Browning (1812–1889)

WHAT is he buzzing in my ears?

“Now that I come to die

Do I view the world as a vale of tears?”

Ah, reverend sir, not I!

What I viewed there once,—what I viewed again

Where the physic bottles stand

On the table’s edge,—is a suburb lane,

With a wall to my bedside hand.

That lane sloped, much as the bottles do,

From a house you could descry

O’er the garden wall: is the curtain blue,

Or green to a healthy eye?

To mine, it serves for the old June weather

Blue above lane and wall;

And that farthest bottle labeled “Ether”

Is the house o’ertopping all.

At a terrace, somewhat near the stopper,

There watched for me, one June,

A girl: I know, sir, it’s improper,

My poor mind’s out of tune.

Only, there was a way—you crept

Close by the side, to dodge

Eyes in the house, two eyes except:

They styled their house “The Lodge.”

What right had a lounger up their lane?

But by creeping very close,

With the good wall’s help,—their eyes might strain

And stretch themselves to O’s,

Yet never catch her and me together,

As she left the attic there,

By the rim of the bottle labeled “Ether,”

And stole from stair to stair,

And stood by the rose-wreathed gate. Alas,

We loved, sir—used to meet:

How sad and bad and mad it was—

But then, how it was sweet!