Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.


The Patriot

By Robert Browning (1812–1889)

IT was roses, roses, all the way,

With myrtle mixed in my path like mad.

The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,

The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,

A year ago on this very day!

The air broke into a mist with bells,

The old walls rooked with the crowds and cries.

Had I said, “Good folks, mere noise repels,

But give me your sun from yonder skies!”

They had answered, “And afterward, what else?”

Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun,

To give it my loving friends to keep.

Naught man could do have I left undone,

And you see my harvest, what I reap

This very day, now a year is run.

There ’s nobody on the house-tops now,—

Just a palsied few at the windows set,—

For the best of the sight is, all allow,

At the Shambles’ Gate,—or, better yet,

By the very scaffold’s foot, I trow.

I go in the rain, and, more than needs,

A rope cuts both my wrists behind,

And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,

For they fling, whoever has a mind,

Stones at me for my year’s misdeeds.

Thus I entered Brescia, and thus I go!

In such triumphs people have dropped down dead.

“Thou, paid by the world,—what dost thou owe

Me?” God might have questioned; but now instead

’T is God shall requite! I am safer so.