ABOUT THE POET
Robert Browning is one of the most distinguished
poets of the Victorian Era. He was a great poet, playwright and known widely
for his mastery of dramatic monologue. Born on May 7, 1812, in Camberwell,
a middle-class suburb of London. He was the only son of Robert Browning,
who was a penman in the Bank of England and a devoutly spiritual German Scotch
mother, Sarah Anna W. Browning.
Much of his education took place at home by his
father. His father owned a huge archive with 600 volumes of language
which cast a distinct impact on his literary growth. He was inspired by the
works of Percy B. Shelley. In 1846, he married Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Robert has a wide variety of works under his name.
They include works like Pauline: A Fragment of a Confession, Dramatis
Personae(1864), Sordello (1840), My Last Duchess(1842), Fra Lippo
Lippi(1855) and et.al. Among his
other works, The Ring and the Book
(1868-69) was notable.
Ian Jack characterized Browning’s work as a quest for
an appropriate poetic form, and his first published endeavour was Pauline: A
Fragment of a Confession. His works included with a wide gamut of irony,
dark humour, characterization, syntax and historical settings.
He breathed last on 12th December 1889
Rezzonico, Venice, Italy and is buried in the Westminster Abbey.
The Patriot by Robert Browning is
a delightful dramatic monologue which throws light on the Politics,
Patriotism, Religious morality of the era. It talks about how the
true patriots face harsh realities who are true to their sense of patriotism.
The sacrifice of such people who were misunderstood by the people. The poet
uses a single speaker similar to his poems My Last Duchess and The
Last Ride Together. The poem is a monologue of this patriotic fervour of
the speaker who was sentenced to death at the Scaffold to be executed
publicly for his ‘ misdeeds’.
The poem begins with the Patriot describing the past conditions
as to how he was respected and held high. But as the poem progresses, we, at
last, find that he is being taken to be executed by the same multitude. This portrays
the theme that power and glory are impermanent and which never lasts eternally.
History has witnessed the surge and decline of many
such ‘ patriots’ through the course – a grim reminder that life is full of uncertainty.
Lastly, the Patriot had to surrender to the grim reality and has to leave
forever. Here, Browning enumerates the philosophy of Shakespeare mentioned in
his renowned play As You Like It where his ( Shakespeare’s ) sermon
brings out the truth of life in the following lines:
“ All the
world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely
They have their exits and their entrances…”
( Act II, Scene VII, As You Like It) .
Attaining no true respect in earthly life, the
dejected Patriot hopes to get the respect in God’s company.
STRUCTURE OF THE POEM
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 crowd and cries.
Had I said, Good folk, 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, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
Me?”—God might question; now instead,
‘Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.
The poem has a curious structure
of a total of 6 stanzas of five lines each. It does not adhere to a
strict metre. There are mostly nine syllables in each line. But the
musical quality is achieved by the careful placement of words. It contains a
clear rhyme scheme– ababa. The Patriot also contains a prodigal use of assonance
The rhymes used in the poem are
end rhymes like ( way, sway);( mad, had);(sun,
run) etc. The rhyme scheme is as follows for the whole poem: ABABA CDCDC
EFEFE GHGHG HIHIH JKJKJ pattern. This is a 30 lined poem which is
divided into sections.
First and Second
Stanza: Describes the conditions of the past of the Patriot.
The poet’s disclosure on how and why the conditions changed.
Fourth and Fifth
Stanza: Contrasts the past with the present.
And the Sixth Stanza is
about the Acceptance of fate and being optimistic about the fact
that he would get the respect from God which he was yearning for
throughout his journey of life.
DEVICES OF THE POEM
various literary devices in the poem The Patriot:
Alliteration: There are several examples of alliteration I.e close repetition of
consonant sounds. They include
· Roses, roses
· Myrtle, mixed
· Dropped down dead
Metaphor: The use of roses in the first stanza
is symbolic of the love and affection of the people towards him. The warmth of
the people is metamorphosed as the roses. Similarly, the ‘Sun’ in the poem is a
metaphor for power, glory and respect. Lastly, rain is a reference to despair
and trial. Other examples are “ Myrtle mixed in my path like mad”; “And you see
my harvest and what I reap”.
Personification: It is a figure of speech giving human-like
quality to an object. For instance, “The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway”.
Here, the house-roofs are personified.
“ It was roses, roses all the way”
Thus I entered, and thus I go!
THEME OF THE
Rise and Fall: The the poem begins with a joyful environment which is due to the arrival of the Patriot.
He is welcomed with feverish exhilaration and through paths of roses by the
townspeople in the first two stanzas. Then as the days passed by, all these
glorification and praises faded away and he was stoned and taken down for
execution at the Scaffold and humiliated. The act of stoning symbolises hurting
the honour which was once enshrined in him. This tells us that this world is
nothing but a dynamic, fickle and transient place of existence. Here, the
opinion of people changes in an instant, without lending much thought to truth
The Patriot who was once a ‘Hero’ in the eyes of his people. The church
“ spired flames” with flags and he was
greeted with ringing bells–“ The
air broke into a mist with bells”. But by the
turn of fate, within a year he was taken by the same multitude for execution.
Here, this whole situation of the poem can be referred to the Fall of
Icarus and his consequent demise. The hearty welcome received by Jesus
Christ on Palm Sunday and his subsequent crucifixion at Golgotha.
This ensuing Rise and Fall of the Patriot brings out the futility of
life and shows that Power and Glory are perishable and never lasts forever. But
there is an optimistic note at the end where he yearns for the long-awaited
respect and is assured that he would get the same in God’s company.