Saturday, January 09, 2016
Browning's Complete Poetical Works
My fabulous coworker Terri returned from an out-of-office excursion the other day, and dropped this book on my desk. She had been to one of our thrift stores, and as an avid reader, she always checks the books to see if there is anything she must have.
On this occasion, she did not so much want the book herself, as she wanted someone to want it. Maybe someone who likes poetry, and can appreciate a 120-year-old book, and the handwritten notes therein.
I know nothing about Browning, except that Elizabeth Barrett fell in love with him and wrote the heck out of sonnets because of it. My first comment after thumbing through the pages was, "There are a LOT of words." In order to pack all of the words into one volume, they used tiny print and two columns, so each page is crammed full of Victorian verse. What little I've read, I've found to be slow going, and not particularly engaging, although there were occasional moments of what appeared to be poetical smart mouth.
So, I consulted with the oracle, Wikipedia, which assured me, "His poems are known for their irony, characterization, dark humor, social commentary, historical settings, and challenging vocabulary and syntax." I should be able to get behind that. It also noted that even Browning's fans were sometimes vexed when his poems were too long or too dense.
Still, it's lovely having a bit of the 19th century sitting on my desk in a 21st century office.