Rudel To The Lady Of Tripoli

A poem by Robert Browning

I.

I know a Mount, the gracious Sun perceives
First, when he visits, last, too, when he leaves
The world; and, vainly favoured, it repays
The day-long glory of his steadfast gaze
By no change of its large calm front of snow.
And underneath the Mount, a Flower I know,
He cannot have perceived, that changes ever
At his approach; and, in the lost endeavour
To live his life, has parted, one by one,
With all a flower’s true graces, for the grace
Of being but a foolish mimic sun,
With ray-like florets round a disk-like face.
Men nobly call by many a name the Mount
As over many a land of theirs its large
Calm front of snow like a triumphal targe
Is reared, and still with old names, fresh names vie,
Each to its proper praise and own account:
Men call the Flower, the Sunflower, sportively.

II.

Oh, Angel of the East, one, one gold look
Across the waters to this twilight nook,
The far sad waters, Angel, to this nook!

III.

Dear Pilgrim, are thou for the East indeed?
Go! Saying ever as thou dost proceed,
That I, French Rudel, choose for my device
A sunflower outspread like a sacrifice
Before its idol. See! These inexpert
And hurried fingers could not fail to hurt
The woven picture: ’tis a woman’s skill
Indeed; but nothing baffled me, so ill
Or well, the work is finished. Say, men feed
On songs I sing, and therefore bask the bees
On my flower’s breast as on a platform broad:
But, as the flower’s concern is not for these
But solely for the sun, so men applaud
In vain this Rudel, he not looking here
But to the East—that East! Go, say this, Pilgrim dear!

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