'Respectability' by Robert Browning
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Dear, had the world in its caprice
Deigned to proclaim ``I know you both,
``Have recognized your plighted troth,
Am sponsor for you: live in peace!''---
How many precious months and years
Of youth had passed, that speed so fast,
Before we found it out at last,
The world, and what it fears?
How much of priceless life were spent
With men that every virtue decks,
And women models of their sex,
Society's true ornament,---
Ere we dared wander, nights like this,
Thro' wind and rain, and watch the Seine,
And feel the Boulevart break again
To warmth and light and bliss?
I know! the world proscribes not love;
Allows my finger to caress
Your lips' contour and downiness,
Provided it supply a glove.
The world's good word!---the Institute!
Guizot receives Montalembert!
Eh? Down the court three lampions flare:
Put forward your best foot!
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Critical Analysis of "Respectability" by Robert Browning
As one of the most renowned poets of the Victorian era, Robert Browning had a distinct talent for exploring the complexities of human nature through his writings. His poem "Respectability" is a perfect example of his ability to capture the inner workings of the human psyche and the ways in which societal expectations can shape our behavior. In this essay, we will delve into the depths of this thought-provoking piece and explore its themes, structure, and overall impact on readers.
"Respectability" is a dramatic monologue that follows the musings of an unnamed speaker as he contemplates the nature of respectability and how it affects his life. The speaker presents himself as a respectable man who has followed all the rules of society, yet he still feels unfulfilled and dissatisfied. Throughout the poem, the speaker grapples with the idea that respectability may not be the key to happiness and fulfillment after all.
The poem begins with the speaker asserting his respectability, stating that he has always been an upstanding citizen who has never deviated from societal norms. He goes on to describe his well-mannered behavior and his strict adherence to social conventions. However, despite his best efforts to be respectable, the speaker feels as though something is missing from his life. He longs for excitement and adventure, but he feels trapped by his respectable image.
As the poem progresses, the speaker begins to question the very nature of respectability. He wonders if it is truly worth sacrificing one's desires and passions in order to conform to societal expectations. He considers the possibility that respectability is merely a façade, a way for individuals to hide their true selves from the world. In the end, the speaker concludes that respectability is not worth the cost of sacrificing one's individuality and that true happiness can only be found by embracing one's innermost desires.
One of the primary themes of "Respectability" is the tension between societal expectations and individual desires. The speaker is torn between his desire for adventure and his need to conform to societal norms. He feels as though he must suppress his true self in order to be respected by others, yet he longs for the freedom to pursue his passions. This tension is a common theme in Browning's works as he often explores the ways in which societal expectations can limit individuality.
Another theme that emerges in "Respectability" is the idea that respectability may not lead to happiness. The speaker has followed all the rules of society and has achieved the status of being a respectable man, yet he still feels unfulfilled. He questions whether respectability is truly worth the sacrifice of one's passions and desires. This theme speaks to the idea that true happiness can only be found by embracing one's individuality and pursuing one's passions.
A third theme that emerges in the poem is the idea that outward appearances can be deceiving. The speaker presents himself as a respectable man, yet he is plagued by feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. This theme speaks to the idea that individuals can often hide their true selves behind a façade of respectability, and that it is important to look beyond outward appearances in order to truly understand others.
"Respectability" is written in the form of a dramatic monologue, which allows the speaker to present his thoughts and feelings directly to the reader. The poem is comprised of sixteen stanzas, each containing four lines. The rhyming scheme of the poem is ABAB, which gives the poem a sense of structure and cohesion.
The poem is divided into two distinct sections. The first section establishes the speaker's respectability and his dissatisfaction with his life. The second section delves deeper into the speaker's thoughts and feelings, as he questions the nature of respectability and its worth.
Browning's use of language in "Respectability" is also noteworthy. The poem is written in a conversational tone, which makes the speaker's musings feel more personal and relatable. Browning's use of vivid imagery and metaphor adds depth to the poem and helps to convey the speaker's emotions more effectively.
"Respectability" has had a lasting impact on readers for over a century. The poem's themes of individuality, societal expectations, and the pursuit of happiness are as relevant today as they were when the poem was first published. The poem's message that true happiness can only be found by embracing one's individuality is a powerful one that resonates with readers of all ages.
Overall, "Respectability" is a thought-provoking and insightful poem that presents a complex exploration of human nature. Browning's use of language, structure, and imagery help to convey the speaker's emotions and ideas in a powerful and meaningful way. As a result, the poem has become a timeless classic that continues to captivate readers to this day.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Respectability: A Masterpiece by Robert Browning
Robert Browning, the renowned English poet, is known for his exceptional literary works that have left a lasting impact on the world of poetry. One of his most celebrated poems is "Poetry Respectability," a masterpiece that explores the relationship between poetry and society's perception of it. In this article, we will delve into the depths of this poem, analyzing its themes, literary devices, and overall significance.
The poem begins with the speaker addressing the reader, asking them if they have ever wondered why poetry is not considered respectable. The speaker then goes on to explain that poetry is often associated with "madness" and "folly," and that society views it as a frivolous pursuit. However, the speaker argues that poetry is not only respectable but also essential for the human experience.
One of the central themes of the poem is the idea that poetry is a form of expression that allows individuals to connect with their emotions and experiences. The speaker argues that poetry is not just a means of entertainment but also a way of understanding the world around us. Through poetry, we can explore our deepest thoughts and feelings, and connect with others on a deeper level.
Browning uses several literary devices to convey this theme, including metaphor and imagery. For example, in the second stanza, the speaker compares poetry to a "mirror," reflecting the world around us. This metaphor suggests that poetry allows us to see ourselves and our surroundings more clearly, and that it can help us make sense of the world.
Another important theme in the poem is the idea that society's perception of poetry is flawed. The speaker argues that society views poetry as a frivolous pursuit, and that it is not given the respect it deserves. This theme is particularly relevant today, as many people still view poetry as an outdated and irrelevant art form.
Browning uses irony to highlight this theme, as the speaker points out that society often celebrates poets after they have died, even though they were not respected during their lifetime. This irony suggests that society's perception of poetry is misguided, and that we should value poetry more highly while poets are still alive.
The poem also explores the idea that poetry is a form of rebellion against societal norms. The speaker argues that poetry allows individuals to express themselves in ways that are not accepted by society, and that it can challenge the status quo. This theme is particularly relevant in today's world, where many people feel that their voices are not being heard.
Browning uses repetition to emphasize this theme, as the speaker repeats the phrase "I am a poet" several times throughout the poem. This repetition suggests that being a poet is a powerful identity, and that it allows individuals to challenge societal norms and expectations.
Overall, "Poetry Respectability" is a powerful poem that explores the relationship between poetry and society's perception of it. Through its themes and literary devices, the poem argues that poetry is not only respectable but also essential for the human experience. It challenges us to rethink our perception of poetry and to value it more highly in our lives.
In conclusion, Robert Browning's "Poetry Respectability" is a masterpiece that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes and literary devices are as relevant now as they were when the poem was first written, and it serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of poetry in our lives. So the next time someone asks you why poetry is not respectable, remember the words of Robert Browning and proudly declare, "I am a poet."
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