Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman
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   English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
673. The Patriot
 
An Old Story
 
Robert Browning (1812–1889)
 
 
IT was roses, roses, all the way,
  With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
  The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.        5
 
The air broke into a mist with bells,
  The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.
Had I said, “Good folk, mere noise repels—
  But give me your sun from yonder skies!”
They had answered, “And afterward, what else?”        10
 
Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
  To give it my loving friends to keep!
Naught man could do, have I left undone:
  And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.        15
 
There’s nobody on the house-tops now—
  Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
  At the Shambles’ Gate—or, better yet,
By the very scaffold’s foot, I trow.        20
 
I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
  A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
  For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year’s misdeeds.        25
 
Thus I entered, and thus I go!
  In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
“Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
  Me?”—God might question; now instead,
’Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.        30
 

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