Now

- 1812-1889

Out of your whole life give but a moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it,—so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present,—condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection’s endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense—
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me—
Me—sure that despite of time future, time past,—
This tick of our life-time’s one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet—
The moment eternal—just that and no more—
When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!

More by Robert Browning

Two in the Campagna

I

I wonder do you feel to-day
        As I have felt since, hand in hand,
We sat down on the grass, to stray
        In spirit better through the land,
This morn of Rome and May? 


II

For me, I touched a thought, I know,
        Has tantalized me many times,
(Like turns of thread the spiders throw
        Mocking across our path) for rhymes
To catch at and let go. 


III

Help me to hold it! First it left
        The yellowing fennel, run to seed
There, branching from the brickwork’s cleft,
        Some old tomb’s ruin: yonder weed
Took up the floating weft, 


IV

Where one small orange cup amassed
        Five beetles,—blind and green they grope
Among the honey-meal: and last,
        Everywhere on the grassy slope
I traced it. Hold it fast! 


V

The champaign with its endless fleece
        Of feathery grasses everywhere!
Silence and passion, joy and peace,
        An everlasting wash of air—
Rome’s ghost since her decease. 


VI

Such life here, through such lengths of hours,
        Such miracles performed in play,
Such primal naked forms of flowers,
        Such letting nature have her way
While heaven looks from its towers! 


VII

How say you? Let us, O my dove,
        Let us be unashamed of soul,
As earth lies bare to heaven above!
        How is it under our control
To love or not to love? 


VIII

I would that you were all to me,
        You that are just so much, no more.
Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free!
        Where does the fault lie? What the core
O’ the wound, since wound must be? 


IX

I would I could adopt your will,
        See with your eyes, and set my heart
Beating by yours, and drink my fill
        At your soul’s springs,—your part my part
In life, for good and ill. 


X

No. I yearn upward, touch you close,
        Then stand away. I kiss your cheek,
Catch your soul’s warmth,—I pluck the rose
        And love it more than tongue can speak—
Then the good minute goes. 


XI

Already how am I so far
        Out of that minute? Must I go
Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
        Onward, whenever light winds blow,
Fixed by no friendly star? 


XII

Just when I seemed about to learn!
        Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern—
        Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.

My Star

All, that I know
   Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
   (Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
   Now a dart of blue;
Till my friends have said
   They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
   They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
   Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.

Love in a Life

Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her,
Next time, herself!—not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch's perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew,— 
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.

Yet the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune— 
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,—who cares?
But 'tis twilight, you see,—with such suites to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!

Related Poems

To Night

                       I
Swiftly walk o'er the western wave,
            Spirit of the Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear,—
            Swift be thy flight!

                       II
Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
            Star-inwrought!
Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day;
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander o'er city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand—
            Come, long-sought!

                       III
When I arose and saw the dawn,
            I sighed for thee;
When light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary Day turned to his rest,
Lingering like an unloved guest,
            I sighed for thee.

                       IV
Thy brother Death came, and cried,
            Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmured like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle near thy side?
Wouldst thou me?—And I replied,
            No, not thee!

                       V
Death will come when thou art dead,
            Soon, too soon—
Sleep will come when thou art fled;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, belovèd Night—
Swift be thine approaching flight,
            Come soon, soon!