Pictor Ignotus Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


I could have painted pictures like that youth'sA
Ye praise so How my soul springs up No barB
Stayed me ah thought which saddens while it soothesC
Never did fate forbid me star by starB
To outburst on your night with all my giftD
Of fires from God nor would my flesh have shrunkE
From seconding my soul with eyes upliftD
And wide to heaven or straight like thunder sunkE
To the centre of an instant or aroundF
Turned calmly and inquisitive to scanG
The license and the limit space and boundF
Allowed to Truth made visible in manG
And like that youth ye praise so all I sawH
Over the canvas could my hand have flungI
Each face obedient to its passion's lawH
Each passion clear proclaimed without a tongueI
Whether Hope rose at once in all the bloodJ
A tip toe for the blessing of embraceK
Or Rapture drooped the eyes as when her broodL
Pull down the nesting dove's heart to its placeK
Or Confidence lit swift the forehead upM
And locked the mouth fast like a castle bravedN
O human faces hath it spilt my cupM
What did ye give me that I have not savedN
Nor will I say I have not dreamed how wellO
Of going I in each new picture forthP
As making new hearts beat and bosoms swellO
To Pope or Kaiser East West South or NorthP
Bound for the calmly satisfied great StateQ
Or glad aspiring little burgh it wentR
Flowers cast upon the car which bore the freightQ
Through old streets named afresh from the eventR
Till it reached home where learned Age should greetS
My face and Youth the star not yet distinctT
Above his hair lie learning at my feetS
Oh thus to live I and my picture linkedT
With love about and praise till life should endU
And then not go to Heaven but linger hereV
Here on my earth earth's every man my friendU
The thought grew frightful 'twas so wildly dearW
But a voice changed it Glimpses of such sightsX
Have scared me like the revels through a doorY
Of some strange house of idols at its ritesX
This world seemed not the world it was beforeY
Mixed with my loving trusting ones there troopedZ
Who summoned those cold faces that begunA2
To press on me and judge me Though I stoopedZ
Shrinking as from the soldiery a nunA2
They drew me forth and spite of me enoughB2
These buy and sell our pictures take and giveC2
Count them for garniture and household stuffB2
And where they live needs must our pictures liveD2
And see their faces listen to their prateZ
Partakers of their daily pettinessE2
Discussed of This I love or this I hateZ
This likes me more and this affects me lessF2
Wherefore I chose my portion If at whilesG2
My heart sinks as monotonous I paintZ
These endless cloisters and eternal aislesG2
With the same series Virgin Babe and SaintZ
With the same cold calm beautiful regardZ
At least no merchant traffics in my heartZ
The sanctuary's gloom at least shall wardZ
Vain tongues from where my pictures stand apartZ
Only prayer breaks the silence of the shrineH2
While blackening in the daily candle smokeI2
They moulder on the damp wall's travertineH2
'Mid echoes the light footstep never wokeI2
So die my pictures surely gently dieZ
O youth men praise so holds their praise its worthJ2
Blown harshly keeps the trump its golden cryZ
Tastes sweet the water with such specks of earthJ2

Robert Browning


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