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A Handbook to the Works of Browning (6th ed.)

A famous poet was singing to his lyre


"MAGICAL NATURE" is a tribute to the beauty of countenance which proceeds from the soul, and has therefore a charmed existence defying the hand of time.

The INTRODUCTION to the "TWO POETS OF CROISIC," (reprinted under the title of "Apparitions,") recalls the sentiment of "Natural Magic." The "TALE" with which it concludes is inspired by the same feeling. Its circumstance is ancient, and the reader is allowed to imagine that it exists in Latin or Greek; but it is simply a poetic and profound illustration of what love can do always and everywhere. A famous poet was singing to his lyre. One of its strings snapped. The melody would have been lost, had not a cricket (properly, cicada) flown on to the lyre and chirped the missing note. The note, thus sounded, was more beautiful than as produced by the instrument itself, and, to the song's end, the cricket remained to do the work of the broken string. The poet, in his gratitude, had a statue of himself made with the lyre in his hand, and the cricket perched on the point of it. They were thus immortalized together: she, whom he had enthroned, he, whom she had crowned.

Love is the cricket which repairs the broken harmonies of life.

The dramatic setting of the majority of the Love poems serves, as I have said, to bring out the vitality of Mr. Browning's conception of love; and though anything like labelling a poet's work brings with

it a sense of anomaly, we shall only carry out the spirit of this particular group by connecting each member of it with the condition of thought or feeling it is made to illustrate.

It will be seen that the dramatic Lyrics and Dramatic Romances, which supply so many of the poems of the following and other groups, had been largely recruited from the first collection of "Men and Women;" having first, in several instances, contributed to that work.

DRAMATIC LOVE POEMS.

"Cristina." (Love as the special gain of life.) "Dramatic Lyrics." 1842.

"Evelyn Hope." (Love as conquering Time.) "Dramatic Lyrics." Published in "Men and Women." 1855.

"Love among the Ruins." (Love as the one lasting reality.) "Dramatic Lyrics." Published in "Men and Women." 1855.

"A Lover's Quarrel." (Love as the great harmony which triumphs over smaller discords.) "Dramatic Lyrics." Published in "Men and Women." 1855.

"By the Fireside." (Love in its ideal maturity.) "Dramatic Lyrics." Published in "Men and Women." 1855.

"Any Wife to any Husband." (Love in its ideal of constancy.) "Dramatic Lyrics." Published in "Men and Women." 1855.

"Two in the Campagna." (Love as an unsatisfied yearning.) "Dramatic Lyrics." Published in "Men and Women." 1855.

"Love in a Life." (Love as indomitable purpose.) "Dramatic Lyrics." Published in "Men and Women." 1855.

"Life in a Love." (Love as indomitable purpose.) "Dramatic Lyrics." Published in "Men and Women." 1855.


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