'A Woman's Last Word' by Robert Browning
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Let's contend no more, Love,
Strive nor weep:
All be as before, Love,
What so wild as words are?
I and thou
In debate, as birds are,
Hawk on bough!
See the creature stalking
While we speak!
Hush and hide the talking,
Cheek on cheek!
What so false as truth is,
False to thee?
Where the serpent's tooth is
Shun the tree---
Where the apple reddens
Lest we lose our Edens,
Eve and I.
Be a god and hold me
With a charm!
Be a man and fold me
With thine arm!
Teach me, only teach, Love
As I ought
I will speak thy speech, Love,
Think thy thought---
Meet, if thou require it,
Laying flesh and spirit
In thy hands.
That shall be to-morrow
I must bury sorrow
Out of sight:
---Must a little weep, Love,
And so fall asleep, Love,
Loved by thee.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, A Woman's Last Word: A Masterpiece by Robert Browning
Oh my goodness, where do I even begin? Robert Browning's "Poetry, A Woman's Last Word" is a literary masterpiece that has stood the test of time. First published in 1864, this poem still resonates with readers today, and for good reason. It's a complex and nuanced work, full of rich imagery, compelling themes, and layers upon layers of meaning. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I'll explore some of the key elements that make this poem so incredible, and offer my own insights and opinions along the way. Get ready, because we're about to dive deep into the world of Robert Browning!
Overview and Analysis
"Poetry, A Woman's Last Word" is a dramatic monologue, which means it's a poem spoken by a single person, in this case a woman. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with six lines, and follows a loose rhyme scheme of ABABCC. The woman in the poem is addressing her lover, who has just left her. She's angry and hurt, and she's using poetry to express her emotions and get her revenge.
The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The woman is seething with anger, and she's not holding back. She describes how her lover has hurt her, and how she's going to get back at him by using her words:
The poem speaks to all men who have refused
A mock of help proffered—half-men, that crew
Who take the praise of the gallant as their due,
And stain the thing they did, scant aptitude!
Else, why should the poet, friend of each and all,
Distinct as the VIP, stand up in his downfall?
Right away, we can see that this woman is not to be trifled with. She's calling out all the men who have ever refused her help, and she's comparing them to half-men who don't deserve her attention. She's also positioning herself as a poet, someone who has the power to stand up in the face of adversity and emerge victorious. It's clear that she's not just using poetry to express her emotions, but also as a weapon to strike back at her lover.
In the second stanza, the woman begins to get more specific about what her lover has done to her, and how she plans to get her revenge:
Because I am mad about women, I am mad
About the thing that poets make—love, war, sky,
Which out of substance and accident
Seem to make all man's pleasures, in or out,
Same thing. I hardly know which is most to blame.
The West's yellow sky or my own heart aflame.
Here, the woman is exploring the idea of what she's mad about. She's mad about women, yes, but she's also mad about the things that poets make. Love, war, and the sky are all things that seem to make up all of man's pleasures, but they're also things that can be destructive and painful. The woman is saying that her lover has hurt her as much as these things have, and she doesn't know which is worse. She's using her poetry as a way to explore these complex emotions, and to show her lover just how hurt she is.
In the third stanza, the woman starts to get more aggressive in her language:
What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes!
Man has Forever. But love-grief
Disposes of the minutes and the years
Spares not a whit the mortal girl:
And if a sparrow wish to sing,
The song, though trite, is all the merrier.
Here, she's saying that time doesn't matter, and that love can't be constrained by it. She's also saying that love-grief is something that can't be ignored or pushed aside. The woman is making it clear that she's not going to let her lover off the hook easily, and that she's going to use her poetry to keep him in her grasp.
Finally, in the fourth stanza, the woman delivers her final blow:
And here's the last word—no matter what you do,
Be sure her last word will be yours.
And last words are always portentous,
But the last word's of love are heart-rending.
You who would have your loves exalted
Be clement to your poet when he's dead!
Here, the woman is saying that no matter what her lover does, she'll always have the last word. She's also saying that last words are important, and that the last words of love are especially heartbreaking. She's using her poetry to make sure that her lover knows just how much he's hurt her, and to make sure that he never forgets it.
Interpretation and Criticism
So, what does all of this mean? What is Robert Browning trying to say with this poem? Well, like all great works of literature, there are many different interpretations and opinions. Here are a few of mine:
- The woman in the poem is using poetry as a way to reclaim her power. She's been hurt by her lover, but she's not going to let him have the last word. Instead, she's going to use her words to make sure that he knows just how much he's hurt her.
- The poem is a commentary on the power dynamics between men and women. The woman is positioning herself as a poet, someone who has the power to speak truth to power, and to challenge the patriarchal status quo.
- The poem is a cautionary tale about the dangers of love. Love can be a destructive force, and it can cause people to do crazy things. The woman in the poem is using her poetry to explore these complex emotions, and to warn others about the dangers of falling in love.
- The poem is a celebration of the power of language. The woman in the poem is using her words to express her emotions, and to get revenge on her lover. She's showing just how powerful language can be, and how it can be used to shape our experiences and our relationships.
Overall, "Poetry, A Woman's Last Word" is a complex and multi-layered work that rewards careful analysis and interpretation. Robert Browning was a master of the dramatic monologue, and this poem is one of his finest examples. It's a testament to the power of language, and to the enduring appeal of poetry as a form of self-expression and artistic creation.
In conclusion, Robert Browning's "Poetry, A Woman's Last Word" is a literary masterpiece that continues to captivate readers today. It's a poem that explores complex themes and emotions, and uses language to express the power dynamics between men and women, the dangers of love, and the power of language itself. Whether you're a lover of poetry or just someone who appreciates great literature, this poem is a must-read. So go forth, dear reader, and immerse yourself in the world of Robert Browning. You won't be disappointed!
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry has always been a medium for expressing emotions and thoughts that are difficult to articulate in any other way. Robert Browning's poem, "A Woman's Last Word," is a prime example of this. The poem is a powerful and emotional piece that explores the complex relationship between men and women, and the struggles that women face in a patriarchal society. In this analysis, we will delve into the themes and motifs of the poem, and explore the ways in which Browning uses language and imagery to convey his message.
The poem is written from the perspective of a woman who is speaking to her lover. She is frustrated with his inability to understand her, and she feels that he is not listening to her. The poem begins with the woman telling her lover that she has something important to say to him, but that he must listen carefully. She warns him that this will be her "last word," and that he must pay attention.
The first stanza of the poem sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The woman tells her lover that she has been "wronged" by him, and that she is tired of his "coldness" and "indifference." She feels that he does not understand her, and that he is not willing to make an effort to do so. She tells him that she has been patient with him, but that she can no longer tolerate his behavior.
The second stanza of the poem is where the woman really begins to express her frustration. She tells her lover that he has been "blind" to her needs, and that he has not been paying attention to her. She feels that he has been taking her for granted, and that he does not appreciate her. She tells him that she has been trying to communicate with him, but that he has not been listening.
The third stanza of the poem is where the woman really lays it all out on the table. She tells her lover that she is tired of being treated like a "toy," and that she deserves to be treated with respect. She tells him that she is not going to put up with his behavior any longer, and that she is going to leave him. She tells him that she has had enough, and that she is going to find someone who will treat her the way she deserves to be treated.
The final stanza of the poem is where the woman delivers her "last word." She tells her lover that she is leaving him, and that she is going to find someone who will appreciate her. She tells him that she is tired of being treated like a second-class citizen, and that she deserves better. She tells him that she is going to find someone who will listen to her, and who will understand her.
The themes of the poem are clear: the struggle for women's rights and the importance of communication in relationships. The woman in the poem is frustrated with her lover's inability to understand her, and she feels that he is not willing to make an effort to do so. She is tired of being treated like a "toy," and she wants to be treated with respect. She is also frustrated with the patriarchal society in which she lives, and she wants to find someone who will appreciate her for who she is.
Browning uses language and imagery to convey the woman's frustration and anger. He uses words like "wronged," "blind," and "toy" to describe the woman's feelings. He also uses imagery to convey her emotions. For example, he describes her as a "bird" that is "beating at the cage" of her lover's indifference. This imagery conveys the woman's sense of being trapped and unable to escape her situation.
Browning also uses repetition to emphasize the woman's frustration. He repeats the phrase "listen to me" several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the importance of communication in relationships. He also repeats the phrase "my last word," emphasizing the woman's determination to be heard and understood.
In conclusion, "A Woman's Last Word" is a powerful and emotional poem that explores the struggles that women face in a patriarchal society. The woman in the poem is frustrated with her lover's inability to understand her, and she feels that he is not willing to make an effort to do so. She is tired of being treated like a "toy," and she wants to be treated with respect. Browning uses language and imagery to convey the woman's frustration and anger, and he emphasizes the importance of communication in relationships. This poem is a timeless reminder of the struggles that women face, and the importance of listening to and understanding one another.
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