The poem was a response to the infamous proposal to annex Cuba as a slave state - by force if necessary. It was published in Boston in the edition of the radical Christmas annual, The Liberty Bell, and went on sale at the "anti-slavery bazaar" organised by Maria Weston Chapman, where it fetched up on a table selling 19th century Boston's equivalent of "fine knacks for ladies" - cloaks, cuffs, purses, inkstands, etc.
I found it exciting, when the poet was "rediscovered" by feminist academics in the early 70s, to read the verse novel Aurora Leigh for the first time and realise that Barrett Browning was a vastly more interesting and intellectually challenging poet than the "little Portugese" Robert's nickname of the love sonnets, From the Portugese. The political verse has been a more recent discovery for me.
Some of it tends to melodrama, but I rather admire the unembellished punchiness of "A Curse for a Nation". The insistently hammered-out refrain "This is the curse. The power of transformation doesn't reside in cursing. It lies in moral argument. The resonant imperative, write , addresses the poet's sister-campaigners, surely, rather than the slave-owners and the opponents of abolition.
And, of course, it's the political poet's necessary "memo to self". Read more about the poem's history here - including an additional stanza from the original text. I heard an angel speak last night And he said 'Write! Write a nation's curse for me And send it over the Western sea.
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I faltered, taking up the word: 'Not so, my lord! If curses must be, choose another To send thy curse against my brother. From the summits of love a curse is driven, As lightning is from the tops of heaven. For an oligarchic parliament, And bribes well-meant. What curse to another land assign, When heavy-souled for the sins of mine? James Joyce. A History of Pantomime. William Schwenck Gilbert. Francisco de Quevedo. Theodore Martin. The Land of Heart's Desire. William Butler Yeats. The Rape of Lucrece.
On melancholy. Songs and Sonnets. Paul Muldoon. Andromache, by Racine. Richard Wilbur. David Yates. Works of Arthur Hugh Clough. Arthur Hugh Clough. Collected Poems. Sujata Bhatt. The Poetry Of Thomas Hood. Thomas Hood. The Poems of Basil Bunting. Basil Bunting. David Bruce. William Letford. The Pilgrims Of The Rhine. Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Jabberfucky and other poems. Maude Spekes and Sybilia Grogan. All Round the Year Illustrated.
Rhymes a la Mode Annotated.
Andrew Lang. Byron: Poems. Lord G.
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In Darkest Capital. Drew Milne. Annie Roe Carr. My Last Duchess and Other Poems. The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The Collected Works of Robert Browning. Harvard Classics Volume Christmas Eve Mobi Classics. Complete Plays of Robert Browning. The Essential Robert Browning Collection. Dramatic Romances Mobi Classics. The Complete Poetry.
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Sort order. Start your review of Browning's Shorter Poems. This work is undoubtedly worth more than three stars, but my problem is with the e-book. I should have read a hard copy. That goes for any book with extensive endnotes. An e-book does not lend itself to flipping pages back and forth.
Frankly, I didn't even realize there were notes at the end until I got to them. I had been using the Internet as a source of insight for poems that I found hard to understand. I started reading this book in tandem with G. Chesterton's biography of Robert Browning, This work is undoubtedly worth more than three stars, but my problem is with the e-book. I gather that it was published as a textbook, perhaps for the high school level, since it included explanations of allusions that I would expect a literate adult to recognize unassisted. Nevertheless, most of the notes were very helpful, and I wish I had read them concurrently with the poems and not weeks later, after I had forgotten what was only hazy in my mind to begin with.
Another textbook feature was the list of questions about each poem in the Notes section for reflection or discussion, as well as imperative challenges that sounded like homework assignments. I'm glad I read this book and regret that I can't do it justice in a review.
Browning's Shorter Poems by Robert Browning, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
Irrespective of my limited ability to understand and retain the content, I enjoyed Browning's imaginative way with words, rhythms and rhyme. I will need to revisit. Elizabeth Larsen rated it really liked it May 24, Karla Christopher rated it it was amazing Feb 08, Marlise rated it liked it Sep 22, Todd rated it really liked it May 07, Brian rated it it was ok Aug 30, Dejana rated it really liked it Apr 18, MadAliceMe added it May 16, Bryce marked it as to-read Mar 30, Vinita Shalini added it May 21, Theo added it Oct 14, Courtney Mosier Warren marked it as to-read Sep 19,