Mid-West Quarterly, The (1913-1918)



Harry T. Baker

Date of this Version



Published in THE MID-WEST QUARTERLY 2:1 (October 1914), pp. 57-73. Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons & the University of Nebraska.


The opening lines of Pippa Passes pulse with the tremendous vitality which the reader of Browning has early learned to expect of his poetry:

Faster and more fast,
O'er night's brim day boils at last:
Boils, pure gold, o'er the cloud-cup's brim
Where spurting and suppressed it lay,
For not a froth-flake touched the rim
Of yonder gap in the solid gray
Of the eastern cloud, an hour away;
But forth one wavelet, then another, curled,
Till the whole sunrise, not to be suppressed,
Rose, reddened, and its seething breast
Flickered in bounds, grew gold, then overflowed the world."

Of this remarkable vital force the last poem from his pen, the Epilogue to Asolando, shows no diminution. Activity is the motto of his volume; few indeed are the lyrics of peace such as star the pages of his predecessor, Wordsworth. The only modem English poet with anything like an equal fund of vitality is Byron; but Byron has little of the intellectual eminence of Browning, who may not incorrectly be said to combine Byronic energy with Miltonic intellect.