(Poem #352) My Star
All that I know Of a certain star Is, it can throw (Like the angled spar) Now a dart of red, Now a dart of blue; Till my friends have said They would fain see, too, My star that dartles the red and the blue! Then it stops like a bird; like a flower hangs furled: They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it. What matter to me if their star is a world? Mine has opened its soul to me, therefore I love it.
A highly uncharacteristic poem by Browning - so much so, in fact, that I would not have guessed it for one of his. Absent is the sheer energy that spills out from so many of his poems - 'My Star' is an altogether quieter, more reflective, almost mystical poem of the sort far more characteristic of Blake or possibly one of the Romantics in an abstract mood. There is also a rather charming naivete about it - the use of the diminutive 'dartle', the easy enthusiasm, the ingenuousness inherent in 'what matter to me if their star is a world?', the pathetic fallacy - that is, again, so uncharacteristic of Browning that I have to wonder if the poem was mainly a stylistic experiment. Experiment or not, though, it is a perfectly nice poem - the word 'pretty' springs to mind. It also displays, in full measure, Browning's almost uncanny ear for rhythm - the combination of irregularity and flawlessness, the seamless way in which the transitions between different metrical patterns are handled is truly amazing; and the last four lines are pure music.  indeed, the first time I read this poem I took it for one of his, though that probably bespeaks nothing more than my unfamiliarity with Blake's work Pathetic fallacy: A term used by John Ruskin to decry the ascription of human attributes, traits, feelings, and so forth to nonhuman objects. Such ascriptions, he argues, "produce in us a falseness in all our impressions of external things." The term is also used nonpejoratively to denote a common feature of descriptive poetry; it is related to but somewhat less formal than the rhetorical trope of prosopopoeia, or personification. -- http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Pathetic_fallacy.html Links: Never has Bierce's summation seemed apter: poem #148 We've had a number of Browning poems appear on Minstrels - [broken link] http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/index_poet.html And for the biography, see poem #65