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Robert Browning

(1812-1889 / London / England)

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After


Take the cloak from his face, and at first
Let the corpse do its worst!

How he lies in his rights of a man!
Death has done all death can.
And, absorbed in the new life he leads,
He recks not, he heeds
Nor his wrong nor my vengeance; both strike
On his senses alike,
And are lost in the solemn and strange
Surprise of the change.
Ha, what avails death to erase
His offence, my disgrace?
I would we were boys as of old
In the field, by the fold:
His outrage, God's patience, man's scorn
Were so easily borne!

I stand here now, he lies in his place:
Cover the face!

Submitted: Sunday, May 13, 2001

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Comments about this poem (After by Robert Browning )

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  • Rookie Mirabellv Mirabel (7/10/2013 11:34:00 AM)

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    mirabel (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Carlos Echeverria (7/10/2012 10:01:00 AM)

    This poem has the intense drama of classic film noir. Browning may be describing the aftermath of a duel; its consummation vividly drawn (pun intended) . (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,956 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (7/10/2012 7:31:00 AM)

    Yes, the personality we do feel of the poet by his last command...Cover the face...As if done. As if we have come across the horizon of death. Yes, the poet, only the poet could cross the black-hole perhaps....Just in the beginning, when he writes...How he lies in his rights of a man! , surprise begins. Yes, we should have to acquire the right of man even to lie as final sleep. Just imagine reader, lying also needs the right of a man and the tragedy lies in the fact when we see even now large number of people on the surface living without any right to live..................Any way, significant smart writing indeed. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Paul Brookes (7/10/2012 6:03:00 AM)

    I love the rhythm of this piece and the description of how someone feels at the death of a once friend and how it changes everything. But I don't understand it. However sometimes maybe its good just to enjoy. I'm probably one of the people Mr Pruchnicki would drown himself over. Still we can't all be genius'. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,180 Points Hans Vr (7/10/2011 7:46:00 AM)

    I interpret this poem as Browning seeing the corpse (not too fresh a corpse) of one of his childhood friends with whom he had many differences of opinion. Now in death, none of these still seem to matter, nor for the deceased, not for Browning there standing by his side. Death brings us to another dimension where other things matter than here on earth. That was what Browning could feel while looking at the face of the dead man. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 125 Points Manonton Dalan (7/10/2010 3:07:00 PM)

    the author fancied himself to be a detective who is pursuing this
    man and called upon to identify the body... of course what good
    does corpse do... he express his frustration 'his offense my disgrace'
    ; death erase everything... hmmm... book 'em dano... oops! cover
    'em up dano. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ben Harper (7/10/2010 8:37:00 AM)

    wicked imagry, i felt like the poem was written careful not to offend. i dont get the bit about vengeance. is he trying to portray that he once hated this man and in death all these feelings fade? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (7/10/2009 4:43:00 PM)

    Sometimes I take a great notion to jump in the river and drown after reading the off-the-wall comments posted on this site! Robert Browning's 'After' is one of his signature poems written in a form he made famous. As usual, the speaker addresses the reader directly in a dramatic monologue. The speaker is viewing the corpse recently slain (as I read it) of someone he once knew as a boy in the fields and among the animals they tended, and what strikes him is the indifference of the dead man to any more abuse in this life. The dead man has already embarked on another voyage, albeit suddenly - 'the sudden surprise of the change' from life to death. A violent and sudden death at the speaker's hands? Perhaps. But the transition is not 'exquisite' by any means! The final couplet is a direct address to someone in the room to 'cover the face'! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Joseph Poewhit (7/10/2009 5:24:00 AM)

    How a face reflects the burdens of life. A last testimonial of man's mask of remembrance, against the forces of good and evil. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Katie Berry (7/10/2006 4:15:00 PM)

    I found this poem a bit creepy, but a morbid fascination drew me to it.

    Best wishes,

    Katie
    ~*~ (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ruby Root (7/10/2006 10:21:00 AM)

    Excellent really moving and created with so much imagery, and emotion. (Report) Reply

Read all 20 comments »

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