by Robert Browning
An Old Story
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 crowds and cries.
Had I said, "Good folks, 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.
"Thou, paid by the World,—what dost thou owe
Me?" God might have questioned; but now instead
'Tis God shall requite! I am safer so.
Last updated March 16, 2008