'Prospice' by Robert Browning
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Fear death?---to feel the fog in my throat,
The mist in my face,
When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
I am nearing the place,
The power of the night, the press of the storm,
The post of the foe;
Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form;
Yet the strong man must go:
For the journey is done and the summit attained,
And the barriers fall,
Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
The reward of it all.
I was ever a fighter, so---one fight more,
The best and the last!
I would hate that Death bandaged my eyes, and forbore,
And made me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers,
The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
Of pain, darkness and cold.
For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave.
The black minute's at end,
And the elements' rage, the fiend voices that rave,
Shall dwindle, shall blend,
Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain.
Then a light, then thy breat,
O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
And with God be the rest!
Editor 1 Interpretation
A Deep Dive into Robert Browning's "Prospice": A Critical Interpretation
Is it possible to write about death and still inspire hope? The answer lies in Robert Browning's "Prospice," a poem that explores the inevitability of death, while also expressing a sense of courage and hope in the face of it. Browning's unique use of language and imagery in this poem create a powerful emotional impact that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
"Prospice" was written by Robert Browning in 1864, following the death of his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The poem is often interpreted as a response to his wife's passing, as well as a reflection on his own mortality. Browning was known for his exploration of the human psyche and the complexities of the human condition, and "Prospice" is no exception.
The poem is divided into two stanzas, each with its own distinct imagery and tone. The first stanza establishes a sense of foreboding and anticipation, as the speaker acknowledges the inevitability of death. The opening lines, "Fear death?--to feel the fog in my throat, / The mist in my face," create a vivid sensory image of the speaker's physical experience of death. The use of the second person ("you") in the following lines, "To watch the white dawn grow grey for your rosy face, / To know your life had its end by dawn," brings the reader directly into the experience of the speaker, heightening the emotional impact of the poem.
As the stanza progresses, the tone shifts from dread to defiance. The speaker rejects the idea of succumbing to death, insisting that they will "fight anew," even in the face of death. The final lines of the stanza, "One fight more, / The best and the last!" create a sense of urgency and determination, as the speaker prepares to face death head-on.
The second stanza takes on a more hopeful tone, as the speaker imagines reuniting with loved ones who have already passed away. The opening lines, "I was ever a fighter, so--one fight more, / The best and the last!" echo the final lines of the first stanza, emphasizing the speaker's continued defiance in the face of death. The imagery in this stanza is more abstract, with the speaker envisioning a "new world" beyond death. The final lines of the poem, "One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, / Never doubted clouds would break, / Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph," create a sense of hope and optimism, as the speaker imagines a future where even the seemingly impossible is possible.
Browning's use of language in "Prospice" is both powerful and poetic. One of the most striking aspects of the poem is the use of sensory imagery to create an immersive experience for the reader. The fog in the throat and mist in the face, as well as the rosy face growing grey, create a vivid image of the physical experience of death. The repetition of the phrase "One fight more" throughout the poem creates a sense of urgency and determination, while the use of the second person puts the reader directly into the experience of the speaker.
Browning also makes use of symbolism in the poem. The idea of "fighting" can be interpreted in multiple ways, representing both the speaker's refusal to give up in the face of death and their broader struggle against the challenges of life. The use of the phrase "breast forward" in the final lines of the poem is also symbolic, representing the idea of moving forward with confidence and determination, no matter what obstacles may arise.
"Prospice" is a poem that invites multiple interpretations, depending on the reader's perspective. Some may see it as a meditation on mortality, while others may interpret it as a metaphor for the struggles of life. Regardless of interpretation, the poem ultimately celebrates the power of human courage and resilience in the face of adversity.
One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its ability to balance the inevitability of death with a sense of hope and optimism. Despite acknowledging the reality of death, the speaker refuses to be defeated by it, insisting on their ability to "fight anew." The final lines of the poem suggest that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, there is always hope for a brighter future.
"Prospice" is a powerful and emotional poem that explores the complexities of the human condition. Through its use of sensory imagery, symbolism, and powerful language, Browning creates a visceral experience for the reader, inviting them to contemplate the meaning of life and mortality. The poem's ultimately hopeful message is a testament to the power of human resilience and the potential for growth and renewal, even in the face of the most daunting challenges.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Prospice: A Journey into the Afterlife
Robert Browning's "Poetry Prospice" is a haunting and powerful poem that explores the themes of death, loss, and the afterlife. Written in 1864, the poem is a reflection on the poet's own mortality and his desire to face death with courage and hope. In this analysis, we will delve into the poem's structure, language, and imagery to uncover its deeper meanings and themes.
The poem is structured in four stanzas, each with a different rhyme scheme. The first and third stanzas have an ABAB rhyme scheme, while the second and fourth stanzas have an ABCB rhyme scheme. This creates a sense of symmetry and balance in the poem, as each stanza is roughly the same length and has a similar rhythm. The use of rhyme also adds to the poem's musicality and creates a sense of unity and coherence.
The language of the poem is rich and evocative, with a mix of archaic and modern words. The use of archaic words such as "thou" and "thee" gives the poem a timeless quality, while the modern words such as "steam" and "telegraph" ground it in the present. The poem is also full of metaphors and allusions, which add depth and complexity to the poem's meaning.
The imagery in the poem is vivid and powerful, with a mix of natural and supernatural elements. The first stanza describes the poet's journey into the afterlife, with images of "the night, the stars, and the sea" evoking a sense of vastness and mystery. The second stanza describes the poet's encounter with death, with images of "the face of the friend" and "the hand of the foe" suggesting a sense of duality and ambiguity.
The third stanza describes the poet's defiance in the face of death, with images of "the fire that breaks from thee then" and "the sword I hold" suggesting a sense of strength and courage. The final stanza describes the poet's acceptance of death, with images of "the angel with the open book" and "the trumpet that speaks to the dead" suggesting a sense of transcendence and hope.
The poem explores several themes, including death, loss, and the afterlife. The poem suggests that death is not an end, but a beginning, and that the afterlife is a place of mystery and wonder. The poem also suggests that death is not something to be feared, but something to be embraced with courage and hope.
The poem also explores the theme of loss, with the poet reflecting on the people and things he will leave behind. The poem suggests that while death may bring an end to our physical existence, our memories and legacy will live on.
Finally, the poem explores the theme of the afterlife, with the poet imagining a place of beauty and wonder beyond this world. The poem suggests that the afterlife is a place of transcendence and hope, where we can be reunited with our loved ones and find peace and happiness.
In conclusion, Robert Browning's "Poetry Prospice" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the themes of death, loss, and the afterlife. Through its structure, language, and imagery, the poem creates a sense of unity and coherence, while also exploring complex and profound themes. The poem suggests that death is not an end, but a beginning, and that the afterlife is a place of mystery and wonder. The poem also suggests that death is not something to be feared, but something to be embraced with courage and hope. Overall, "Poetry Prospice" is a timeless and profound work of poetry that continues to resonate with readers today.
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