One Word More "Where My Heart Lies, Let My Brain Lie Also"

Robert Browning

"Where My Heart Lies, Let My Brain Lie Also"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Browning wrote this poem as an epilogue to dedicate a volume of poetry to Elizabeth Browning, his wife. In it he discusses the importance of a private existence for the artist apart from his public personage: "God be thanked, the meanest of his creatures/ Boasts two soul-sides, one to face the world with,/ One to show a woman when he loves her!" The poet wishes he could turn to a new medium to express his love as did Dante, who painted to honor Beatrice, or as did Rafael, who wrote a century of sonnets for his love. These evidences of love are more precious to other lovers than are all the masterpieces that the artists created in their own fields. An artist wishes, at least once, to be only a man and to be judged for the joy of his love and not by the critical standards applicable to his public performance. Heaven-sent gifts bring with them commitments and responsibilities that the poet would this once eschew. But the poet concludes that he will never paint pictures, carve statues, or compose music for his love. Therefore, this once, he will make "a strange art of the familiar" by writing this poem in unrhymed trochaic pentameter in order to make his tribute distinctive for the occasion. Putting aside the dramatic monologue, he says:

Let me speak, this once in my true person,
Not as Lippo, Roland, or Andrea,
Though the fruit of speech be just this sentence:
Pray you, look on these my men and women,
Take and keep my fifty poems finished;
Where my heart lies, let my brain lie also!
Poor the speech; be how I speak, for all things!