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MY LAST DUCHESS

by Robert Browning

FERRARA -

THAT'S my last Duchess painted on the wall

Looking as if she were alive. I call

That piece a wondernow: Fra Pandolf's hands

Worked busily a dayand there she stands.

Will't please you sit and look at her? I said

"Fra Pandolf" by designfor never read

Strangers like you that pictured countenance

The depth and passion of its earnest glance

But to myself they turned (since none puts by

The curtain I have drawn for youbut I)

And seemed as they would ask meif they durst

How such a glance came there; sonot the first

Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir'twas not

Her husband's presence onlycalled that spot

Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps

Fra Pandolf chanced to say"Her mantle laps

Over my lady's wrist too much" or "Paint

Must never hope to reproduce the faint

Half-flush that dies along her throat:" such stuff

Was courtesyshe thoughtand cause enough

For calling up that spot of joy. She had

A heart- how shall I say?- too soon made glad.

Too easily impressed: she liked whate'er

She looked onand her looks went everywhere.

Sir'twas all one! My favor at her breast

The dropping of the daylight in the West

The bough of cherries some officious fool

Broke in the orchard for herthe white mule

She rode with round the terrace- all and each

Would draw from her alike the approving speech

Or blushat least. She thanked men- good; but thanked

Somehow- I know not how- as if she ranked

My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name

With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame

This sort of trifling? Even had you skill

In speech- (which I have not)- to make your will

Quite clear to such an oneand say"Just this

Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss

Or there exceed the mark"- and if she let

Herself be lessoned sonor plainly set

Her wits to yoursforsoothand made excuse

-E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose

Never to stoop. Oh sirshe smiledno doubt

Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without

Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;

Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands

As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet

The company belowthen. I repeat

The Count your master's known munificence

Is ample warrant that no just pretence

Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;

Though his fair daughter's selfas I avowed

At startingis my object. Naywe'll go

Together downsir! Notice Neptunethough

Taming a sea-horsethought a rarity

Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me! - -

THE END