Browning sits proudly and comfortably within the English literary canon, in amongst the household names of Shakespeare and Dickens. Today, the 7th May, marks his 200th birthday, and his poems are still going strong, taught in school syllabuses and admired by academics throughout the country.
Browning was the one literary figure that stayed by my side throughout my blind traipse through GCSE English, and onto my slightly more adventurous venture in A Level English Literature. He marks, for me, the beginning of my literary development: a master of dramatic monologue and a key Victorian poet.
In the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, Browning’s double centenary will be readily forgotten, however there are a few of us that still care and will admire the poet’s great work. Nothing could dampen my enthusiasm for Robert Browning.
I finish this post with the beginning of, perhaps, my favourite Browning poem, ‘Porphyria’s Lover’:
The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,