Robert Browning [More Titles by Browning
An old story
It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.
The air broke into a mist with bells,
The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.
Had I said, "Good folk, mere noise repels--
But give me your sun from yonder skies!"
They had answered, "And afterward, what else?" 10
Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
To give it my loving friends to keep!
Nought man could do, have I left undone:
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.
There's nobody on the house-tops now--
Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
At the Shambles' Gate--or, better yet,
By the very scaffold's foot, I trow. 20
I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year's misdeeds.
Thus I entered, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
"Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
Me?"--God might question; now instead,
'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so. 30
"The Patriot" is a hero's story of the reward and punishment dealt him for his services within one year. To act regardless of praise or blame, save God's, seems safer.
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Robert Browning's poem: The Patriot