Love Among the Ruins (poem)

Love Among the Ruins (poem)

"Love Among the Ruins" is an 1855 poem by Robert Browning. It was included in his collection "Men and Women", published that year. It is the first poem in the book.

Below is the first stanza:

"Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles,
"Miles and miles
"On the solitary pastures where our sheep
"Tinkle homeward thro' the twilight, stray or stop
"As they crop---
"Was the site once of a city great and gay,
"(So they say)
"Of our country's very capital, its prince
"Ages since
"Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
"Peace or war."

Browning here employs an unusual structure of rhyming couplets in which long iambic lines are paired with short lines of three syllables. This may be related to the theme of the poem, a comparison between love and material glory. The speaker, overlooking a pasture where sheep graze, recalls that once a great ancient city, his country's capital, stood there. After spending four stanzas describing the beauty and grandeur of the ancient city, the speaker says that "a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair/Waits me there", and that "she looks now, breathless, dumb/Till I come." The speaker, after musing further on the glory of the city and thinking of how he will greet his lover, closes by rejecting the majesty of the old capital and preferring instead his love:

"Oh heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
"Earth's returns
"For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
"Shut them in,
"With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
"Love is best.

In culture

Browning's poem inspired or gave its title to many subsequent works, including a painting by Edward Burne-Jones, a 1975 TV-movie with Katharine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier, and an album and song by the band 10,000 Maniacs.

The poem is also quoted by the character Rupert Birkin in Women in Love, a novel by D. H. Lawrence.

References and external links

* [ Original text] from an 1856 edition of "Men and Women"
* [ Text] of the poem, with analysis
* [ Analysis]

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