Jan 23, 2023
Welcome back to another season of the
Well-Read Poem! In this series we will be reading six poems about
writers, some of them well-known, some of them not as well known.
Our aim in this season is to give listeners some insight into the
lives, minds, and imaginations of authors long deceased, and some
understanding of what they have meant to their fellow scribes.
Today's poem is “The Lost Leader” by Robert
Browning, written as a criticism of William Wordsworth. Poem begins
at timestamp 6:16.
Just for a
handful of silver he left us,
Just for a
riband to stick in his coat—
Found the one
gift of which fortune bereft us,
Lost all the
others she lets us devote;
They, with the
gold to give, doled him out silver,
So much was
theirs who so little allowed:
How all our
copper had gone for his service!
purple, his heart had been proud!
We that had
loved him so, followed him, honoured him,
Lived in his
mild and magnificent eye,
great language, caught his clear accents,
Made him our
pattern to live and to die!
of us, Milton was for us,
were with us,—they watch from their graves!
He alone breaks
from the van and the freemen,
—He alone sinks
to the rear and the slaves!
We shall march
prospering,—not thro' his presence;
inspirit us,—not from his lyre;
Deeds will be
done,—while he boasts his quiescence,
crouch whom the rest bade aspire:
Blot out his
name, then, record one lost soul more,
One task more
declined, one more footpath untrod,
devils'-triumph and sorrow for angels,
One wrong more
to man, one more insult to God!
begins: let him never come back to us!
There would be
doubt, hesitation and pain,
Forced praise on
our part—the glimmer of twilight,
confident morning again!
Best fight on
well, for we taught him—strike gallantly,
Menace our heart
ere we master his own;
Then let him
receive the new knowledge and wait us,
heaven, the first by the throne!