The Ring and the Book Part 2
Robert Browning
Verse
8:21 h
Level 8
The Ring and the Book is a long dramatic narrative poem, and, more specifically, a verse novel, of 21,000 lines, written by Robert Browning. It was published in four volumes from 1868 to 1869. The book tells the story of a murder trial in Rome in 1698, whereby an impoverished nobleman, Count Guido Franceschini, is found guilty of the murders of his young wife Pompilia (Comparini) and her parents, having suspected his wife was having an affair with a young cleric, Giuseppe Caponsacchi. Having been found guilty despite his protests and sentenced to death, Guido then appeals—unsuccessfully—to Pope Innocent XII to overturn the conviction.

The Ring and the Book

Part 2

by
Robert Browning


Helen’s Tower

Written at the request of the Earl of Dufferin and Clandeboye, who had built a tower to the memory of his mother, Helen, Countess of Giffard, on a rock on his estate at Clandeboye, Ireland, and printed in the Pall Mall Gazette of December 28, 1883.

Who hears of Helen’s Tower, may dream perchance
How the Greek Beauty from the Scæan Gate
Gazed on old friends unanimous in hate,
Death-doom’d because of her fair countenance.

Hearts would leap otherwise, at thy advance,
Lady, to whom this Tower is consecrate!
Like hers, thy face once made all eyes elate,
Yet, unlike hers, was bless’d by every glance.

The Tower of Hate is outworn, far and strange:
A transitory shame of long ago,
It dies into the sand from which it sprang;
But thine, Love’s rock-built Tower, shall fear no change:
God’s self laid stable earth’s foundation so,
When all the morning-stars together sang.

April 26, 1870.


Balaustion’s Adventure
Including a Transcript from Euripides


“Our Euripides, the Human,
With his droppings of warm tears,
And his touches of things common
Till they rose to touch the spheres.”


TO THE COUNTESS COWPER

If I mention the simple truth, that this poem absolutely owes its existence to you, — who not only suggested, but imposed on me as a task, what has proved the most delightful of May-month amusements, — I shall seem honest, indeed, but hardly prudent; for, how good and beautiful ought such a poem to be!

Euripides might fear little; but I, also, have an interest in the performance; and what wonder if I beg you to suffer that it make, in another and far easier sense, its nearest possible approach to those Greek qualities of goodness and beauty, by laying itself gratefully at your feet?

R. B.