Treasure Island

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

(6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861 / Durham / England)

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A Curse For A Nation

I heard an angel speak last night,
And he said 'Write!
Write a Nation's curse for me,
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  • Savita Tyagi (6/12/2013 5:26:00 PM)

    Ye shall watch while strong men draw the nets of feudal law to strangle the weak A happening of centuries- the curse that keeps on falling upon most prosperous! Wonderful poem! (Report) Reply

  • Deci Hernandez (6/12/2012 10:14:00 AM)

    you can see this poem still taking part in today's american society. not with slavery but with our gov't still. i wonder if she wrote this poem in a night. for how could such intellect be gathered plainly and with flawless structure unless it took many days to write or unless there was a God at hand. (Report) Reply

  • Emmanuel Solorzano (3/23/2012 12:42:00 AM)

    This poem was against american slavery. it was published in an abolitionist newspaper and then again in Poems Before Congress. I think she uses the 'curse' because of the old testament prophets who spoke up against Israel and also against foreign nations. she may mean to show the lack of Christian behavior our supposedly Christian nation (at the time) was showing in keeping slaves. anyway, the poem's interesting. I like the prologue particularly. just beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • Manonton Dalan (6/12/2010 7:37:00 AM)

    i believe this is address to slavery in america...but why she picks this his dad once owns slaves in jamaica. it might be at that time you must protest on something. it might be fad at that time. now i could imagine why women movements pick her as role model. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (6/12/2010 1:52:00 AM)

    Beggars and cry of women are great curse of a nation indeed! Nothing is perfect in any nation! Praises cannot last longer! Curses cannot be curtailed! (Report) Reply

  • James Walter Orr (9/8/2009 10:17:00 PM)

    This poem is addressed to the state of mind of the world which opposes justice for all, freedom from all kinds of oppression, and that foments the the idea that progress is being made by walking in the blood of the helpless.

    EB has written more melodious poems, but none with more social impact. The questions was asked as to whether this poem swayed any of the slaveholders, and others of their ilk. One will never know for sure, but the slaves are free from chains today, and in some tomorrow will be free from the foot on the neck.

    As long as concentrations of power exist that exceed the power of the government, such as the huge industries that we all know exceed the power of and and all national governments, this poem will still be current and spot-on.

    One might go back and re-read the part of the poem where the idiots shout at the walls (sic) , and make them own assessment of whom those idiots consist today.

    Great Poem, great poet, and fully equal to her great husband.

    James (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (6/12/2009 6:13:00 PM)

    For once I agree 100% with Kevin Straw! The poem? by EB Browning does not measure up to her usual standard! Think about the 19th century and the British empire and the barbarians of the Middle East in today's world! I admire her work and that of her spouse Robert Browning who wrote some of the best poetry of the 19th century, bar none! Forget the hysterics of Guy and her sisters! (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (6/12/2009 7:23:00 AM)

    I wonder what good cursing people does? Were the slavers altered in any way by this poem? Were the anti-slavers in America encouraged or rather put off by this poem. A passionate and excellent poet, but perhaps she should not have written this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Mary R Guy (6/12/2007 11:50:00 AM)

    How appropo This poem could be making a statment about events of today not the nineteenth century Amazing poem I love all of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's work (Report) Reply

  • Jae Centorino (6/12/2007 8:38:00 AM)

    Simply AMAZING....i't really makes me think..SANDY I ALSO AGREE..thank you for typing for me..I love it..what a nice poem to read first thing in the morning...MAKES ME WANT TO WRITE! (Report) Reply

  • Sandy Fulton (6/13/2005 11:19:00 AM)

    Now and then-O frabjous day! -you send me a poem I've never read before that really grabs me. This is the best yet. I love a poem I can't quite figure out rationally, and some of the language in this one is really oblique, especially the final 2 stanzas.

    What political incidents forced Elizabeth Barrett Browning to write something this embittered? Could it have been the scandalous English lack of interest in the Irish potato famine? Or does it pertain to America? Sometimes it reads as if she is writing of the slave-owning Confederate 'aristocrats, ' but the British in India, Africa and elsewhere were no better.

    Truly, it's universal. It pertains as much to our country today-an outcry against jingoists, hypocrites and timid liberals who whisper objections but do nothing-as it did in 19th century imperialist England! (Report) Reply

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