Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 7 - Robert Browning

“A man's reach must exceed his grasp; / Or what's a Heaven for?” English poet Robert Browning was born on May 7, 1812, in London. His father had turned down a family fortune, then amassed a library of 6,000 books. A gifted child, Browning wrote a book of poems at age 12; learned Latin, Greek, French and Italian by age 14; and forsook university education to read at his own pace. His vast, idiosyncratic learning led to poetry far too obscure and allusive for most readers. He lived at home until age 34, when he married the semi-invalid Elizabeth Barrett, whose career partly eclipsed his own, then lived in Italy. His father financed the publication of his poems, the most accessible of which are his dramatic monologues that reveal not only setting but character, including “Porphyria's Lover” and “My Last Duchess” (from Dramatic Lyrics, 1842). Poems from his collection Men and Women (1855) included “Love Among the Ruins,” “Fra Lippo Lippi,” “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” and “Andrea del Sarto.”

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