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A Serenade At The Villa

Robert Browning 1812 (Camberwell) – 1889 (Venice)

I.

That was I, you heard last night,
  When there rose no moon at all,
Nor, to pierce the strained and tight
  Tent of heaven, a planet small:
Life was dead and so was light.

II.

Not a twinkle from the fly,
  Not a glimmer from the worm;
When the crickets stopped their cry,
  When the owls forbore a term,
You heard music; that was I.

III.

Earth turned in her sleep with pain,
  Sultrily suspired for proof:
In at heaven and out again,
  Lightning!---where it broke the roof,
Bloodlike, some few drops of rain.

IV.

What they could my words expressed,
  O my love, my all, my one!
Singing helped the verses best,
  And when singing's best was done,
To my lute I left the rest.

V.

So wore night; the East was gray,
  White the broad-faced hemlock-flowers:
There would be another day;
  Ere its first of heavy hours
Found me, I had passed away.

VI.

What became of all the hopes,
  Words and song and lute as well?
Say, this struck you---``When life gropes
  ``Feebly for the path where fell
``Light last on the evening slopes,

VII.

``One friend in that path shall be,
  ``To secure my step from wrong;
``One to count night day for me,
  ``Patient through the watches long,
``Serving most with none to see.''

VIII.

Never say---as something bodes---
  ``So, the worst has yet a worse!
``When life halts 'neath double loads,
  ``Better the taskmaster's curse
``Than such music on the roads!

IX.

``When no moon succeeds the sun,
  ``Nor can pierce the midnight's tent
``Any star, the smallest one,
  ``While some drops, where lightning rent,
``Show the final storm begun---

X.

``When the fire-fly hides its spot,
  ``When the garden-voices fail
``In the darkness thick and hot,---
  ``Shall another voice avail,
``That shape be where these are not?

XI.

``Has some plague a longer lease,
  ``Proffering its help uncouth?
``Can't one even die in peace?
  ``As one shuts one's eyes on youth,
``Is that face the last one sees?''

XII.

Oh how dark your villa was,
  Windows fast and obdurate!
How the garden grudged me grass
  Where I stood---the iron gate
Ground its teeth to let me pass!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert Browning

Robert Browning was the father of poet Robert Browning. more…

All Robert Browning poems | Robert Browning Books

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    "A Serenade At The Villa" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 13 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/30307/a-serenade-at-the-villa>.

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