59th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 59th Virtual Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

We’re returning once again to the classic poets. Since I was talking with Jeanne from Necromancy Never Pays on Facebook, and she told me that Robert Browning is one of her favorites.  We’re going to highlight him today.  I haven’t read much of his work, but I have read that of his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister

Gr-r-r--there go, my heart's abhorrence!
   Water your damned flower-pots, do!
If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,
   God's blood, would not mine kill you!
What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming?
   Oh, that rose has prior claims--
Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
   Hell dry you up with its flames!

At the meal we sit together;
   Salve tibi! I must hear
Wise talk of the kind of weather,
   Sort of season, time of year:
Not a plenteous cork crop: scarcely
   Dare we hope oak-galls, I doubt;
What's the Latin name for "parsley"?
   What's the Greek name for "swine's snout"?

Whew! We'll have our platter burnished,
   Laid with care on our own shelf!
With a fire-new spoon we're furnished,
   And a goblet for ourself,
Rinsed like something sacrificial
   Ere 'tis fit to touch our chaps--
Marked with L. for our initial!
   (He-he! There his lily snaps!)

Saint, forsooth! While Brown Dolores
   Squats outside the Convent bank
With Sanchicha, telling stories,
   Steeping tresses in the tank,
Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs,
   --Can't I see his dead eye glow,
Bright as 'twere a Barbary corsair's?
   (That is, if he'd let it show!)

When he finishes refection,
   Knife and fork he never lays
Cross-wise, to my recollection,
   As do I, in Jesu's praise.
I the Trinity illustrate,
   Drinking watered orange pulp--
In three sips the Arian frustrate;
   While he drains his at one gulp!

Oh, those melons! if he's able
   We're to have a feast; so nice!
One goes to the Abbot's table,
   All of us get each a slice.
How go on your flowers? None double?
   Not one fruit-sort can you spy?
Strange!--And I, too, at such trouble,
   Keep them close-nipped on the sly!

There's a great text in Galatians,
   Once you trip on it, entails
Twenty-nine district damnations,
   One sure, if another fails;
If I trip him just a-dying,
   Sure of heaven as sure can be,
Spin him round and send him flying
   Off to hell, a Manichee?

Or, my scrofulous French novel
   On grey paper with blunt type!
Simply glance at it, you grovel
   Hand and foot in Belial's gripe;
If I double down its pages
   At the woeful sixteenth print,
When he gathers his greengages,
   Ope a sieve and slip it in't?

Or, there's Satan!--one might venture
   Pledge one's soul to him, yet leave
Such a flaw in the indenture
   As he'd miss till, past retrieve,
Blasted lay that rose-acacia
   We're so proud of! Hy, Zy, Hine...
'St, there's Vespers! Plena gratia
  Ave, Virgo! Gr-r-r--you swine!

Let me know your thoughts, ideas, feelings, impressions. Let’s have a great discussion…pick a line, pick an image, pick a sentence.

I’ve you missed the other Virtual Poetry Circles. It’s never too late to join the discussion.


  1. And if you think it’s funny that he’s going to try to damn the other guy by showing him pages from a book he’s already read, don’t you think it’s even funnier that he’s going to sell his soul to the devil (and try to renege) in order to blast the other guy’s ROSE BUSH?!!!!
    Jeanne´s last blog post ..The Juggernaut of the Apocalypse

  2. I was really surprised by the anger in this poem, and Jeanne makes a great point about the book open to pages that would damn the monk. I find that kind of funny!

  3. Glad to see I got out of it what the others did. I must admit that I got lost halfway through the poem; it’s definitely not one of my favorites!
    Anna´s last blog post ..Mailbox Monday — August 23

  4. Ah, my favorite! My favorite bit is that he’s going to condemn the other monk to hell by leaving his books open to a page that will damn the other guy. Like he hasn’t read those pages to know!

    Also, who can’t like a poem that begins and ends with growling?!!!
    Jeanne´s last blog post ..Selecting a Reader

  5. I’ve never read this one before. It sounds angry. I think he really dislikes Brother Lawrence and hopes he goes to hell, which he mentions alot.
    ‘If I trip him just a-dying,
    Sure of heaven as sure can be,
    Spin him round and send him flying
    Off to hell, a Manichee?’

    and these lines sound almost sexual:
    ‘What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming?
    Oh, that rose has prior claims–
    Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
    Hell dry you up with its flames!’
    bookworm´s last blog post ..Her Voice