Inna Shpitzberg's Reviews > The Ring and the Book

The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning
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Reading Progress

05/25/2013 page 10
1.0% "The Ring and the Book, the longest and most important of Browning’s poems, is the product of several years of creative activity during the period of his fullest maturity. The love romance which had enriched his life for fifteen years had come to an end, and his thought was searching more profoundly than ever before the problems of life and death."
05/26/2013 page 12
1.0% "Do you see this square old yellow Book, I toss
I’ the air, and catch again, and twirl about
By the crumpled vellum covers — pure crude fact
Secreted from man’s life when hearts beat hard,
And brains, high-blooded, ticked two centuries since?"
05/26/2013 page 12
1.0% "Here it is, this I toss and take again;
Small-quarto size, part print part manuscript:
A book in shape but, really, pure crude fact
Secreted from man’s life when hearts beat hard,
And brains, high-blooded, ticked two centuries since.
Give it me back! The thing’s restorative
I’ the touch and sight."
05/30/2013 page 12
1.0% "A delicacy there is, our gallants hold,
When you avenge your honour and only then,
That you disfigure the subject, fray the face,
Not just take life and end, in clownish guise."
05/30/2013 page 12
1.0% "Even the blind can see a providence here."
05/30/2013 page 12
1.0% "“Here the world’s wickedness seals up the sum:
“What with Molinos’ doctrine and this deed,
“Antichrist’s surely come and doomsday near.
“May I depart in peace, I have seen my see.”"
05/30/2013 page 12
1.0% "And, after all, we have the main o’ the fact:
Case could not well be simpler — mapped, as it were,
We follow the murder’s maze from source to sea,
By the red line, past mistake: one sees indeed
Not only how all was and must have been,
But cannot other than be to the end of time."
05/30/2013 page 12
1.0% "So, with an angler’s mercy for the bait,
Her minnow was set wriggling on its barb
And tossed to the mid-stream; that is, this grown girl
With the great eyes and bounty of black hair
And first crisp youth that tempts a jaded taste,
Was whisked i’ the way of a certain man, who snapped."
05/30/2013 page 12
1.0% "Why did a middle-aged not-silly man
Show himself thus besotted all at once?
Quoth Solomon, one black eye does it all."
05/30/2013 page 12
1.0% "While — how do accidents sometimes combine!"
05/30/2013 page 12
1.0% "But facts are facts and flinch not; stubborn things,"
05/30/2013 page 12
1.0% "“Those sinners saved, those Magdalens re-made,

“Accept their administration, well bestow
“Her body and patiently possess her soul,
“Until we see what better can be done."
06/02/2013 page 12
1.0% "Trust’s politic, suspicion does the harm,
There is but one way to brow-beat this world,
Dumbfounder doubt, and repay scorn in kind —
To go on trusting, namely, till faith move
And faith here made the mountains move."
06/02/2013 page 12
1.0% "What need of minute search into such springs
As start men, set o’ the move? — machinery
Old as earth, obvious as the noonday sun."
06/02/2013 page 12
1.0% "The guardian angel gave reluctant place,

Satan stepped forward with alacrity,"
06/02/2013 page 12
1.0% "Success did seem not so improbable,
But that already Satan’s laugh was heard,"
06/02/2013 page 12
1.0% "Repair all losses by a master-stroke,
Wipe out the past, all done and left undone,
Swell the good present to best evermore,
Die into new life, which let blood baptise!"
25.0% "Law’s a machine from which, to please the mob,
Truth the divinity must needs descend
And clear things at the play’s fifth act — aha!"
25.0% "Your Highness — healthy minds let bygones be,
Leave old crimes to grow young and virtuous-like
I’ the sun and air; so time treats ugly deeds:
They take the natural blessing of all change."
25.0% "Accordingly, one word on the other side
Tips over the piled-up fabric of a tale."
25.0% "What an elaborate theory have we here,
Ingeniously nursed up, pretentiously
Brought forth, pushed forward amid trumpet-blast,
To account for the thawing of an icicle,
Show us there needed Ætna vomit flame
Ere run the chrystal into dew-drops!"
25.0% "Bless the fools! And ’tis just this way they are blessed,
And the world wags still — because fools are sure"
25.0% "“The shattering beam that breaks above the bed
“And beats out brains, with nobody to blame
“Except the wormy age which eats even oak —"
25.0% "There’s a whistle, up again the actors pop
In t’other tatter with fresh-tinseled staves,
To re-engage in one last worst fight more
Shall show, what you thought tragedy was farce."
25.0% "First comes this thunderclap of a surprise:
Then follow all the signs and silences
Premonitory of earthquake."
25.0% "Wells dry up, while the sky is sunny and blue."
25.0% "He bellows
        “Mercy for heaven, not for earth!
“Leave to confess and save my sinful soul,
“Then do your pleasure on the body of me!”
—“Nay, father, soul with body must take its chance!”"
25.0% "I would have rummaged, ransacked at the word
Those old odd corners of an empty heart
For remnants of dim love the long disused,
And dusty crumblings of romance! But here,
We talk of just a marriage, if you please —
The every-day conditions and no more;"
25.0% "“She’s young,
“Pretty and rich: you’re noble, classic, choice.
“Is it to be a match?” “A match,” said I.
25.0% "But when they came to try their gain, my gift,
Quit Rome and qualify for Arezzo, take
The tone o’ the new sphere that absorbed the old,

Put away gossip Jack and goody Joan
And go become familiar with the Great,
Greatness to touch and taste and handled now —
Why, then — they found that all was vanity,
Vexation, and what Solomon describes!"
25.0% "And out we flung and on we ran or reeled
Romeward, I have no memory of our way,
Only that, when at intervals the cloud

Of horror about me opened to let in life,
I listened to some song in the ear, some snatch
Of a legend, relic of religion, stray
Fragment of record very strong and old
Of the first conscience, the anterior right,
The God’s-gift to mankind, impulse to quench
The antagonistic spark of hell an"
50.0% "Answer you, Sirs? Do I understand aright?
Have patience! In this sudden smoke from hell —
So things disguise themselves — I cannot see
My own hand held thus broad before my face
And know it again."
50.0% "“You know how weak the strongest women are."
50.0% "When I saw enter, stand, and seat herself
A lady, young, tall, beautiful, strange, and sad."
50.0% "That’s all we may expect of man, this side
The grave: his good is — knowing he is bad:
Thus will it be with us when the books ope
And we stand at the bar on judgment-day."
50.0% "Death was the heart of life,and all the harm
My folly had crouched to avoid,now proved a veil
Hiding all gain my wisdom strove to grasp:As if the intense centre of the flame
Should turn a heaven to that devoted fly
Which hitherto,sophist alike and sage,Saint Thomas with his sober grey goose-quill,
And sinner Plato by Cephisian reed,
Would fain, pretending just the insect’s good,Whisk off, drive back, consign t"
50.0% "“Rome is the port, you say: to Rome I go.

“I will live alone, one does so in a crowd,
“And look into my heart a little.”"
50.0% "I am held up, amid the nothingness,
By one or two truths only"
50.0% "why should ill keep echoing ill,
And never let our ears have done with noise?"
50.0% "From my experience of what hate calls love —
Much love might be in what their love called hate."
50.0% "All human plans and projects come to nought,
My life, and what I know of other lives,
Prove that: no plan nor project! God shall care!"
50.0% "If God yet have a servant, man a friend,
The weak a saviour and the vile a foe —"
70.0% "I did spring up, attempt to thrust aside

That ice-block ’twixt the sun and me, lay low

The neutraliser of all good and truth."
70.0% "Commend me to home-joy, the family board,
Altar and hearth! These, with a brisk career,
A source of honest profit and good fame,
Just so much work as keeps the brain from rust,
Just so much play as lets the heart expand,
Honouring God and serving man — I say,
These are reality, and all else — fluff,
Nutshell and naught — thank Flaccus for the phrase!"
70.0% "Well, I have modelled me by Agur’s wish,
“Remove far from me vanity and lies,
“Feed me with food convenient for me!” What
I’ the world should a wise man require beyond?"
70.0% "Off and away, first work then play, play, play!"
70.0% "I am near the end; but still not at the end;
All till the very end is trial in life:
At this stage is the trial of my soul
Danger to face, or danger to refuse?
Shall I dare try the doubt now, or not dare?"
70.0% "Work, be unhappy but bear life, my son!
And troop you, somewhere ’twixt the best and worst,"
70.0% "White shall not neutralise the black, nor good
Compensate bad in man, absolve him so:
Life’s business being just the terrible choice."
70.0% "“I live for greed, ambition, lust, revenge;
“Attain these ends by force, guile: hypocrite,
“To-day, perchance to-morrow recognised
“The rational man, the type of commonsense.”
There’s Loyola adapted to our time!"
70.0% "Still, I stand here, not off the stage though close
On the exit: and my last act, as my first,
I owe the scene, and Him who armed me thus
With Paul’s sword as with Peter’s key. I smite
With my whole strength once more, then end my part,
Ending, so far as man may, this offence.
And when I raise my arm, what plucks my sleeve?
Who stops me in the righteous function — foe
Or friend?"
70.0% "When destiny intends you cards like these,
What good of skill and preconcerted play?"
70.0% "Sick, not of life’s feast but of steps to climb
To the house where life prepares her feast — of means
To the end: for make the end attainable
Without the means — my relish were like yours.
A man may have an appetite enough
For a whole dish of robins ready cooked,
And yet lack courage to face sleet, pad snow,
And snare sufficiency for supper."
99.0% "So, British Public, who may like me yet,(Marry and amen!) learn one lesson hence
Of many which whatever lives should teach:This lesson, that our human speech is naught,Our human testimony false, our fame
And human estimation words and wind.
Why take the artistic why to prove so much?
Because, it is the glory and good of Art,
That Art remains the one way possible
Of speaking truth, to mouths like mine, at least"
99.0% "But Art — wherein man nowise speaks to men,
Only to mankind — Art may tell a truth
Obliquely, do the thing shall breed the thought,
Nor wrong the thought, missing the mediate word.
So may you paint your picture, twice show truth,
Beyond mere imagery on the wall —
So, note by note, bring music from your mind,
Deeper than ever the Andante dived —"
99.0% "So write a book shall mean, beyond the facts,
Suffice the eye and save the soul beside.
And save the soul! If this intent save mine —
If the rough ore be rounded to a ring,
Render all duty which good ring should do,
And, failing grace, succeed in guardianship —
Might mine but lie outside thine, Lyric Love,
Thy rare gold ring of verse (the poet praised)
Linking our England to his Italy!"
06/22/2013 marked as: read

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