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Pippa Passes - Epilogue Post by :scorpion Category :Plays Author :Robert Browning Date :May 2012 Read :3135

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Pippa Passes - Epilogue

(SCENE.--PIPPA'S chamber again. She enters it.)

The bee with his comb,
The mouse at her dray,
The grub in his tomb,
While winter away;
But the firefly and hedge-shrew and lobworm, I pray, 5
How fare they?
Ha, ha, thanks for your counsel, my Zanze! (1)
"Feast upon lampreys, quaff Breganze"--
The summer of life so easy to spend,
And care for tomorrow so soon put away! 10
But winter hastens at summer's end,
And firefly, hedge-shrew, lobworm, pray,
How fare they?
No bidding me then to--what did Zanze say?
"Pare your nails pearlwise, get your small feet shoes 15
More like"--what said she?--"and less like canoes!"
How pert that girl was!--would I be those pert,
Impudent, staring women! It had done me,
However, surely no such mighty hurt
To learn his name who passed that jest upon me: 20
No foreigner, that I can recollect,
Came, as she says, a month since, to inspect
Our silk-mills--none with blue eyes and thick rings
Of raw-silk-colored hair, at all events.
Well, if old Luca keep his good intents, 25
We shall do better, see what next year brings!
I may buy shoes, my Zanze, not appear
More destitute than you perhaps next year!
Bluph--something! I had caught the uncouth name
But for Monsignor's people's sudden clatter (2) 30
Above us--bound to spoil such idle chatter
As ours; it were indeed a serious matter
If silly talk like ours should put to shame
The pious man, the man devoid of blame,
The--ah, but--ah, but, all the same, 35
No mere mortal has a right
To carry that exalted air;
Best people are not angels quite:
While--not the worst of people's doings scare
The devil; so there's that proud look to spare! 40
Which is mere counsel to myself, mind! for
I have just been the holy Monsignor:
And I was you too, Luigi's gentle mother,
And you too, Luigi!--how that Luigi started
Out of the turret--doubtlessly departed 45
On some good errand or another,
For he passed just now in a traveler's trim,
And the sullen company that prowled
About his path, I noticed, scowled
As if they had lost a prey in him. 50
And I was Jules the sculptor's bride,
And I was Ottima beside,
And now what am I?--tired of fooling.
Day for folly, night for schooling!
New Year's day is over and spent, 55
Ill or well, I must be content.
Even my lily's asleep, I vow:
Wake up--here's a friend I've plucked you!
Call this flower a heart's-ease now!
Something rare, let me instruct you, 60
Is this, with petals triply swollen,
Three times spotted, thrice the pollen;
While the leaves and parts that witness
Old proportions and their fitness,
Here remain unchanged, unmoved now; 65
Call this pampered thing improved now!
Suppose there's a king of the flowers
And a girl-show held in his bowers--
"Look ye, buds, this growth of ours,"
Says he, "Zanze from the Brenta, 70
I have made her gorge polenta
Till both cheeks are near as bouncing
As her--name there's no pronouncing!
See this heightened color too,
For she swilled Breganze wine 75
Till her nose turned deep carmine;
'Twas but white when wild she grew.
And only by this Zanze's eyes
Of which we could not change the size,
The magnitude of all achieved 80
Otherwise, may be perceived."

Oh, what a drear, dark close to my poor day!
How could that red sun drop in that black cloud?
Ah, Pippa, morning's rule is moved away,
Dispensed with, never more to be allowed! 85
Day's turn is over, now arrives the night's.
O lark, be day's apostle
To mavis, merle, and throstle,
Bid them their betters jostle
From day and its delights! 90
But at night, brother owlet; over the woods,
Toll the world to thy chantry;
Sing to the bats' sleek sisterhoods
Full complines with gallantry:
Then, owls and bats, 95
Cowls and twats,
Monks and nuns, in a cloister's moods,
Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!

(After she has began to undress herself.)

Now, one thing I should like to really know:
How near I ever might approach all these 100
I only fancied being, this long day--
Approach, I mean, so as to touch them, so
As to--in some way ... move them--if you please,
Do good or evil to them some slight way.
For instance, if I wind 105
Silk tomorrow, my silk may bind

(Sitting on the bedside.)

And border Ottima's cloak's hem.
Ah me, and my important part with them,
This morning's hymn half promised when I rose!
True in some sense or other, I suppose. 110

(As she lies down.)

God bless me! I can pray no more tonight.
No doubt, some way or other, hymns say right.
_All service ranks the same with God--_
_With God, whose puppets, best and worst,_
_Are we; there is no last nor first. 115

(She sleeps.)

(1) Line 7. _My Zanze. Zanze was evidently the "third girl" who took Pippa in charge at the end of _Interlude III_.

(2) Line 30. _Monsignor's people. Zanze was apparently talking to Pippa under the Monsignor's window. Pippa broke off the unwelcome talk by her song, and Zanze had hardly time to begin again when there came the noise of the arrest of Maffeo.

Robert Browning's play: Pippa Passes

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