Men and Women

The Patriot


Robert Browning

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?”

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.

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 Brescia, and thus I go!
    In such triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
“Paid by the World,—what dost thou owe
    Me?”—God might question: but now instead,
’Tis God shall requite! I am safer so.

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