Robert Browning’s popular poems "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" and "How They Brought the Good News" are often anthologised, but it is in his dramatic lyrics such as "My Last Duchess" and the chilling "Porphyria’s Lover" that his poetic genius shines. Browning, with his unusual use of language, can be a challenging poet, but one who is always rewarding. This selection shows the many imaginative facets of this often neglected Victorian poet.
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Excellent, brief review
In the terms of classics, Robert Browning is one to cherish. This audiobook does his work service in terms of narration, quality of sound, and choices of material.
"My Last Duchess" is definitely memorable, but also featured some lesser known works:
-"Pippa's Song" from his verse drama, Pippa Passes
-"Home-Thoughts, From Abroad" a brief verse on his comparison of home (England) to overseas travel
-"Evelyn Hope", a poem on a young woman's passing
-“Porphyria’s Lover”, a poem on a man killing his young lover, Prophyria, after she rejects the conventions of the time (sexual morals) and he wishes to preserve the moment forever.
-"The Laboratory", a poem based on the real case of a woman poisoning her entire family
-"The Lost Leader", a poem which berates William Wordsworth, for what Browning considered his desertion of the liberal cause, and his lapse from his high idealism. More generally, it is an attack on any liberal leader who has deserted his cause
-The children's poem, "The Pied Piper of Hamlin"
-"A Grammarian's Funeral", a poem on the greatness of scholars
-"The Confessional", a poem on a young woman's grief after a priest betrays her trust and sacred confession, which dooms her politically rebellious lover
-“Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister", a poem that displays the hypocrisy of a priest who wishes to bargain with the devil in order to doom a fellow priest he views as unworthy
-"How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix", a poem on a horse race
-"Life In A Love", a sweet poem on love
-"A Light Woman", a poem on the dangers of being in a woman's grip who gleefully manipulates her lover
-"The Statue and the Bust", a poem that describes the starcrossed love affair of a woman whose husband keeps her in his house, and the Duke who waited and watched in her direction til inanimate objects were placed in their stead
They varied up the narration so it was surprising who would read which piece.
I wish there was a greater selection of Robert Browning's work compiled, and that this had some brief introduction or analysis to the materials chosen.