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

In a Year

By Robert Browning (1812–1889)

NEVER any more,

While I live,

Need I hope to see his face

As before.

Once his love grown chill,

Mine may strive:

Bitterly we re-embrace,

Single still.

Was it something said,

Something done,

Vexed him? was it touch of hand,

Turn of head?

Strange! that very way

Love begun:

I as little understand

Love’s decay.

When I sewed or drew,

I recall

How he looked as if I sung,—

Sweetly too.

If I spoke a word,

First of all

Up his cheek the color sprung,

Then he heard.

Sitting by my side,

At my feet,

So he breathed but air I breathed,


I, too, at love’s brim

Touched the sweet:

I would die if death bequeathed

Sweet to him.

“Speak, I love thee best!”

He exclaimed:

“Let thy love my own foretell!”

I confessed:

“Clasp my heart on thine

Now unblamed,

Since upon thy soul as well

Hangeth mine!”

Was it wrong to own,

Being truth?

Why should all the giving prove

His alone?

I had wealth and ease,

Beauty, youth:

Since my lover gave me love,

I gave these.

That was all I meant,—

To be just,

And the passion I had raised

To content.

Since he chose to change

Gold for dust,

If I gave him what he praised

Was it strange?

Would he loved me yet,

On and on,

While I found some way undreamed—

Paid my debt!

Gave more life and more,

Till all gone,

He should smile—“She never seemed

Mine before.

“What, she felt the while,

Must I think?

Love’s so different with us men!”

He should smile:

“Dying for my sake—

White and pink!

Can’t we touch these bubbles then

But they break?”

Dear, the pang is brief,

Do thy part,

Have thy pleasure! How perplexed

Grows belief!

Well, this cold clay clod

Was man’s heart:

Crumble it, and what comes next?

Is it God?