De Gustibus --

A poem by Robert Browning

Your ghost will walk, you lover of trees,
(If our loves remain)
In an English lane,
By a cornfield-side a-flutter with poppies.
Hark, those two in the hazel coppice
A boy and a girl, if the good fates please,
Making love, say,
The happier they!
Draw yourself up from the light of the moon,
And let them pass, as they will too soon,
With the bean-flowers’ boon,
And the blackbird’s tune,
And May, and June!


What I love best in all the world
Is a castle, precipice-encurled,
In a gash of the wind-grieved Apennine
Or look for me, old fellow of mine,
(If I get my head from out the mouth
O’ the grave, and loose my spirit’s bands,
And come again to the land of lands)
In a sea-side house to the farther South,
Where the baked cicala dies of drouth,
And one sharp tree ’tis a cypress stands,
By the many hundred years red-rusted,
Rough iron-spiked, ripe fruit-o’ercrusted,
My sentinel to guard the sands
To the water’s edge. For, what expands
Before the house, but the great opaque
Blue breadth of sea without a break?
While, in the house, for ever crumbles
Some fragment of the frescoed walls,
From blisters where a scorpion sprawls.
A girl bare-footed brings, and tumbles
Down on the pavement, green-flesh melons,
And says there’s news to-day the king
Was shot at, touched in the liver-wing,
Goes with his Bourbon arm in a sling:
She hopes they have not caught the felons.
Italy, my Italy!
Queen Mary’s saying serves for me
(When fortune’s malice
Lost her, Calais)
Open my heart and you will see
Graved inside of it, “Italy.”
Such lovers old are I and she:
So it always was, so it still shall be!

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