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Prospice -- Robert Browning

Guest poem sent in by Suresh Ramasubramanian
(Poem #1103) Prospice
 Fear death? -- to feel the fog in my throat,
 The mist in my face,
 When the snows begin, and the blasts denote
 I am nearing the place,
 The power of the night, the press of the storm,
 The post of the foe;
 Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form,
 Yet the strong man must go:
 For the journey is done and the summit attained,
 And the barriers fall.
 Tho' a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
 The reward of it all.
 I was ever a fighter, so -- one fight more,
 The best and the last!
 I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forebore,
 And bade me creep past.
 No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers
 The heroes of old,
 Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
 Of pain, darkness and cold.
 For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave,
 The black minute's at end,
 And the elements' rage, the friend-voices that rave,
 Shall dwindle, shall blend,
 Shall change, shall become first a peace out of pain,
 Then a light, then thy breast,
 O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again,
 And with God be the rest.
-- Robert Browning
"Prospice" (pro~spik'e~) means "Look Forward".  Browning wrote this shortly
after Elizabeth Barrett Browning's death in 1861.   The "soul of my soul" in
the last two lines is Elizabeth Barrett Browning in fact ...

This poem ranks with William Ernest Henley's "Invictus" and Tennyson's
"Crossing the Bar" as one of my favorite poems about men facing death with
sheer courage.

    "I was ever a fighter, so -- one fight more,
        The best and the last! "

A fight he knows he cannot win, and doesn't care, eagerly looking forward to
death.

-suresh

52 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Anonymous said...

tomorrow is my report ...
and its all about robert browning
"prospice" owww... it's hard to
analyze the message of that poem..
`` itsss a big big problem..
heheheheheh :))

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DENNIS said...

this comment likely comes way too late but here are my thoughts in any case. I am 67 and my life's journey had been wonderful. However, I always liked to stay in places where I lived and did not like to move on. For most of my life that was not a problem as all our moves were to better places THAT I COULD SEE AND ASSESS BEFORE MOVING. Now with death AN ABSOLUTE NEAR REALITY and no vision of the "new place" I am most reluctant to move on. the poem strikes a strong cord with me. IT IS A FIGHT!! THE BEST AND THE LAST!! IT IS UNCOMPROMISINGLY AND UNFATHOMABLY FRIGHTFUL for me. And I am a strong and firm believer. Oh, I have a lot of thoughts on the subject. Seems to me that it a subject that ought to occupy all our minds all the time. A lot may depend on what we do here and how prepared we are to face death. I am amused at how little attention is paid to the subject by mankind when nothing stands as its equal in certainty, permanency and horrow IF THERE WAS NO HEREAFTER!! DENNIS

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My interpretation of this poem is that there are moments in life when we feel totally destroyed, so we wish it were a dream. Everything surrounds us conspires against us so we feel even worse.

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I read that at the age of sixteen, he attended University College London but left after his first year. His mother’s staunch evangelical faith prevented his studying at either Oxford University or Cambridge University, both then open only to members of the Church of England.

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Anonymous said...

can someone give or explain to me what must be the criticism for this poem???:-)

thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Prospice is a poem of love(for his wife,no more in his life) and hope. It stands for optimism in life.

Anonymous said...

optimism

Anonymous said...

I love this poem so much I had it tattooed on my back. I'm young but my body is failing me and this poem is my inspiration to keep fighting no matter the cost but when I know I've truly lost I will be the best and the last and walk into knowing I won and it will be ok.

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