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About poems - Essay Example

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Summary
‘Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister’, by Robert Browning, written in 1842, is at first reading an extremely complex poem, with seemingly confused outbursts of various emotions, mainly deep-rooted hatred. But, on further analysis, it turns out an unusually entertaining metered…
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About poems

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Browning uses nine stanzas of eight lines, each serving a specific function, as well as providing a rich variety of images, comparisons, and intonations. He takes advantage of poetic license, using both bestial and reflective sounds, bordering on the onomatopoeia-like ‘Gr-r-r-‘ and ‘He-he!’ as well as unbridled invective, like ‘Water your damned flower-pots, do’ and ‘Hell dry you up with its flames!’ He explores morality, the grumbling monk presenting himself as the model of virtue. After revealing his bitter feelings, he lists his grievances against the despicable Brother Lawrence, who he judges against his own standards. He finds the way Lawrence speaks of his flowers repulsive; that he talks at the table is a cross he has to bear, slyly injecting sarcasm with references to ‘parsley’ and ‘swine’. He accuses him of moral turpitude and poor table manners, not knowing how to close his plate after a meal. All the while, he is seeking ways of luring the ‘model’ Brother Lawrence to perdition, in direct contravention to what his vocation and dress symbolize. He abhors Lawrence and rages against him for reasons that seem trivial, which is where the poem has its most ironic yet exhilarating stanzas. He would like to send Lawrence ‘off to hell, a Manichee’¹. He also portrays Lawrence as a pagan who is worse than an Arian² and would stoop to any level to indulge Belial³ - three not so flattering comparisons- that too in an Abbey, the last place a monk would consider communing with the Devil!
Few methods of expression are as powerful as the language of rage. This soliloquy is mainly an extended fit of rage brought on by his deeply rooted hatred of his alter ego, Brother Lawrence, giving an important clue to his seething mental state. To heighten the sarcasm, Browning makes ample use of punctuation marks rarely seen in poetry of that era. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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