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By Robert Browning

At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time,

When you set your fancies free,

Will they pass to where—by death, fools think, imprisoned—

Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so,

—Pity me?


Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken!

What had I on earth to do

With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly?

Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did I drivel

—Being—who?


One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,

Never doubted clouds would break,

Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,

Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,

Sleep to wake.


No, at noonday in the bustle of man’s work-time

Greet the unseen with a cheer!

Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be,

“Strive and thrive!” cry “Speed,—fight on, fare ever

There as here!”


Poet Bio

Robert Browning was born in Camberwell, England, and his education mostly took place among his father’s 6,000-book library. As a writer, Browning was regarded as a failure for many years, living in the shadow of his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning. However, late in life Browning’s brilliant use of dramatic monologue made him a literary icon. Today, his most widely read work is Men and Women, a collection of dramatic monologues dedicated to his wife.

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