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Women and Roses by Robert Browning
Transcript of Women and Roses by Robert Browning
BORN: 7th May 1812, Camberwell
DIED: 12th December 1889, Venice
EDUCATION: University College London
OCCUPATION: Author, Poet
SPOUSE: Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1846–1861) About the poem "Women and Roses" was part of Men and Women, a book of 51 poems written in Italy and published in 1855 after his marriage to Elizabeth Barrett
this book helped to repair his reputation with critics
8 stanza poem consisting of alternating stanzas of 3 lines and 9 lines
Rhyme scheme: AAA, AABBCCDDE
Stanza I: the beautiful women of the past are first evoked
Early Victorian Period (age of expansion) (1830-1848) Mid Victorian Period (age of improvement) (1848-1870) economic prosperity
improved working conditions in factories
growth of materialism
conflict between religion and science - publication of Darwin's "origin of species" which caused serious anxiety and conflict Background Information Robert Browning Form Women and Roses Round and round, like a dance of snow
In a dazzling drift, as its guardians, go
Floating the women faded for ages,
Sculptured in stone, on the poet's pages.
Then follow women fresh and gay,
Living and loving and loved to-day.
Last, in the rear, flee the multitude of maidens,
Beauties yet unborn. And all, to one cadence,
They circle their rose on my rose tree. Dear rose, thy term is reached,
Thy leaf hangs loose and bleached:
Bees pass it unimpeached. Stay then, stoop, since I cannot climb,
You, great shapes of the antique time!
How shall I fix you, fire you, freeze you,
Break my heart at your feet to please you?
Oh, to possess and be possessed!
Hearts that beat 'neath each pallid breast!
Once but of love, the poesy, the passion,
Drink but once and die!---In vain, the same fashion,
They circle their rose on my rose tree. Dear rose, thy joy's undimmed,
Thy cup is ruby-rimmed,
Thy cup's heart nectar-brimmed. I dream of a red-rose tree.
And which of its roses three
Is the dearest rose to me? Deep, as drops from a statue's plinth
The bee sucked in by the hyacinth,
So will I bury me while burning,
Quench like him at a plunge my yearning,
Eyes in your eyes, lips on your lips!
Fold me fast where the cincture slips,
Prison all my soul in eternities of pleasure,
Girdle me for once! But no---the old measure,
They circle their rose on my rose tree. Dear rose without a thorn,
Thy bud's the babe unborn:
First streak of a new morn. Wings, lend wings for the cold, the clear!
What is far conquers what is near.
Roses will bloom nor want beholders,
Sprung from the dust where our flesh moulders.
What shall arrive with the cycle's change?
A novel grace and a beauty strange.
I will make an Eve, be the artist that began her,
Shaped her to his mind!---Alas! in like manner
They circle their rose on my rose tree. Women and Roses is a Love Poem written by Robert Browning, talking about the perfection of women in the Victorian Era. His secret marriage was the perfect inspiration to write this poem in 1855. The poem reveals the differences and similarities between roses and women by using an extended metaphor. He uses time to describe one woman (presumably Elizabeth) as three; old and “bleached” in the 3rd and 4th stanzas , mature and “undimmed” in the 5th and 6th stanzas, and young and “without a thorn” in the 7th and 8th stanzas. Women are compared to roses due to their beauty and thorns, and he compares the elements of a rose as a young shoot, full of promise, a beautiful rose and finally an old and wilted flower; “bees pass it unimpeached”. More about the poem It explores the value of women to the speaker using the dramatic monologue, and reflects the Victorian view of women by valuing beauty and neglecting to reflect on any other elements of the woman in question.
A main focus of this poem is male control over the female; he asks “How shall I fix you, fire you, freeze you?” trying to use nature to reflect his desire, and cannot decide whether he wants to change her or keep her the same. Also the repeated line “they circle their rose on my rose tree” gives the poem a lyrical tone to it and gives the women a choreography of which he is the central role; the most important and the one telling them what to do. The speaker doesn't share the same views of Robert Browning, and that he is most likely channeling the views of male dominated Victorian society, exploring male fantasy through the extended metaphor as the woman as a rose, traveling back in time to essentially see what he's missed. Late Victorian Period (decay of values) (1870-1901) Victorian Literature:
highlighted Victorian attitudes of propriety, place in society, social controversies and issues with women
decades on education, leadership, role of science and religion
very didactic - moralising, rather than the effusive free flowing feeling of the Romantic period
very energetic The Time Period Victoria becomes Queen
technological and industrial change
poor working conditions especially for women and children Browning (1812-1889) formally educated by his father who was a bank clerk
primarily educated at home but had some boarding school experience
extremely well-read and esoteric
he admired the works of Percy Blythe Shelley from age 14 - became an atheist and liberal
Browning had a love affair with poet Elizabeth Barrett who was 6 years older, she was already renowned and her father hated Browning About his poetry (general ideas) reader is a silent listener - complete the dramatic scene by inference and imagination.
speaker is often argumentative in tone
dramatic monologue - speaker is separate from the poet (views presented by the speaker are not the poet's own thoughts)
the speaker's voice is not reliable
In Browning's poems, more is revealed about the speaker than intended to know
He was concerned with the hypocrisy of the church/government in the Victorian period
the reader works through the words of the speaker to discover the meaning of the poem the poem is about perfect love - finding a rose with no thorns
Browning makes use of the classic poetic link between womanhood and flowers. Thank You Stanza II: how they capture his love and devotion
Stanzas II, III, IV: those of the present
Stanzas VII, VIII: those of the future, all of which elude him Themes perfect love
what is far conquers what is near Imagery and Symbols descriptive language:nature imagery
figurative language: flowers/roses are women; similes to describe women the rose tree represents Browning's life Tone - dreamlike/reflective Biblical allusion - eve represents perfection