The Twins

A poem by Robert Browning

“Give” and “It-shall-be-given-unto-you.”


I.
Grand rough old Martin Luther
Bloomed fables, flowers on furze,
The better the uncouther:
Do roses stick like burrs?

II.
A beggar asked an alms
One day at an abbey-door,
Said Luther; but, seized with qualms,
The abbot replied, “We’re poor!

III.
“Poor, who had plenty once,
“When gifts fell thick as rain:
“But they give us nought, for the nonce,
“And how should we give again?”

IV.
Then the beggar, “See your sins!
“Of old, unless I err,
“Ye had brothers for inmates, twins,
“Date and Dabitur.

V.
“While Date was in good case
“Dabitur flourished too:
“For Dabitur’s lenten face
“No wonder if Date rue.

VI.
“Would ye retrieve the one?
“Try and make plump the other!
“When Date’s penance is done,
“Dabitur helps his brother.

VII.
“Only, beware relapse!”
The Abbot hung his head.
This beggar might be perhaps
An angel, Luther said.

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