Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm sitting here in cold central Maine, feeling glum about Haiti, which never, ever seems to get a break.

And I have a semi-sick kid home today--one of those borderline gastrointestinal illnesses that I never quite know how to prosecute. Ah well. He's happy enough, sitting under the couch blanket with his mug of mint tea and his novel about teenage basketball heroes. So what if he's not studiously multiplying and dividing fractions?

Meanwhile, I'll be editing an art-history tome, copying out a Browning poem, and thinking about Iris Murdoch and Ivy Compton-Burnett. Ivy did not care for Iris's novels. She thought Murdoch would have been better off as a hospital nurse.

So far this Browning poem seems to be recommending that wives be forever inconsolable at the loss of their beloved husbands. I say "seems" because I'm not quite sure. Browning's verse is rather difficult to parse. This poem sounds quite learned and intelligent, but it's not very easy to picture. Here's stanza 1 as an example. So far, I'm up to stanza 7, and it hasn't become much more transparent.

from Any Wife to Any Husband

Robert Browning

My love, this is the bitterest, that thou--
Who art all truth, and who dost love me now
As thine eyes say, as thy voice breaks to say--
Shouldst love so truly, and couldst love me still
A whole long life through, had but love its will,
Would death that leads me from thee brook delay.

See what I mean? As soon as I start thinking, "Aha!" I lose track of what he's saying. Why is that?

Dinner tonight: leftover chicken paprikash, which is nothing to sneeze at.

1 comment:

charlotte gordon said...

because of the dashes. God forbid he write an uninterrupted sentence. But why does he do that? suspense, maybe. I kind of like it. I think he thinks he's being like your old friend, John.

sorry about the sick child