by Robert Browning (1812 - 1889)

In a year
Language: English 
Never any more,
  While I live,
Need I hope to see his face
  As before.
Once his love grown chill,
  Mine may strive:
Bitterly we re-embrace,
  Single still.

Was it something said,
  Something done,
Vexed him? was it touch of hand,
  Turn of head?
Strange! that very way
  Love begun:
I as little understand
  Love's decay.

When I sewed or drew,
  I recall
How he looked as if I sung,
  ---Sweetly too.
If I spoke a word,
  First of all
Up his cheek the colour sprang,
  Then he heard.

Sitting by my side,
  At my feet,
So he breathed but air I breathed,
I, too, at love's brim
  Touched the sweet:
I would die if death bequeathed
  Sweet to him.

"Speak, I love thee best!"
   He exclaimed:
"Let thy love my own foretell!"
  I confessed:
"Clasp my heart on thine
  "Now unblamed,
"Since upon thy soul as well
  "Hangeth mine!"

Was it wrong to own,
  Being truth?
Why should all the giving prove
  His alone?
I had wealth and ease,
  Beauty, youth:
Since my lover gave me love,
  I gave these.

That was all I meant,
  ---To be just,
And the passion I had raised,
  To content.
Since he chose to change
  Gold for dust,
If I gave him what he praised
  Was it strange?

Would he loved me yet,
  On and on,
While I found some way undreamed
  ---Paid my debt!
Gave more life and more,
  Till, all gone,
He should smile "She never seemed
  "Mine before.

"What, she felt the while,
  "Must I think?
"Love's so different with us men!"
He should smile:
  "Dying for my sake---
"White and pink!
  "Can't we touch these bubbles then
"But they break?"

Dear, the pang is brief,
  Do thy part,
Have thy pleasure! How perplexed
  Grows belief!
Well, this cold clay clod
  Was man's heart:
Crumble it, and what comes next?
  Is it God?

C. Reinagle sets stanzas 1, 8, 10


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2009-02-26
Line count: 80
Word count: 314