A Woman's Last Word

by Robert Browning

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"What So Wild As Words Are?"

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Context: This poem is one of Browning's most perfect short lyrical dramatic monologues. It portrays, with keen perception, the delicate adjustments which must be made in married life. The reader's sympathy is claimed by the wife who is the speaker in the poem. It is evening; she and her husband have just had a serious quarrel for which she seeks peace and reconciliation. She points out that facts can lie: "What so false as truth is,/ False to thee?" The lady wishes only to be held to her husband, either by charms or by his own arms. She declares that to hold his love tomorrow she will "Meet, if thou require it,/ Both demands,/ Laying flesh and spirit/ In thy hands." Tonight, however, she will foolishly weep a little, bury her sorrow, and fall asleep, secure in his love. She begins her plea for their love by saying to him:

Let's contend no more, love,
Strive nor weep;
All be as before, Love,
–Only sleep!
What so wild as words are?
I and thou
In debate, as birds are,
Hawk on bough!

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