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My Last Duchess

That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will `t please you sit and look at her? I said
"Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, `twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps
Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat": such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart -- how shall I say? -- too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, `twas all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace -- all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men -- good! but thanked
Somehow -- I know not how -- as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech -- which I have not -- to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark" -- and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse
-- E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will `t please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innshruck cast in bronze for me!
-Robert Browning

The Tiger
 
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or yey,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
 
In what distant deeps or skies,
Burnt the firs of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
 
And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?
 
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dead grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
 
When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?
 
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
-William Blake
 
Disembarking at Quebec
 
Is it my clothes, my way of walking,
the things I carry in my hand
--a book, a bag with knitting--
the incongruous pink of my shawl
 
this space cannot hear
 
or is it my own lack
of conviction which makes
these vistas of desolation,
long hills, the swamps, the barren sand,
          the glare
of sun on the  bone-white
driftlogs, omens of winter,
the moon alien in day-
time a thin refusal
 
the others leap, shout
 
                        Freedom!
 
The moving water will not show me
my reflection.
 
The rocks ignore.
 
I am a word
         in a foreign language.

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