"God Is The Perfect Poet"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this long poetic drama, Browning's second publication, the poet turns to the German Renaissance in order to dramatize the aspirations and failures of the famous Paracelsus, alchemist, fraud, and last great practitioner of the occult sciences. In the beginning of this remarkable work, Paracelsus decides that he is tired of teaching, and he tells his friend Festus that he aspires to know all things. Believing that knowledge is the result of experience, and rejecting the soul, he hopes to know infinitely in order to overthrow God, but, as Festus warns, his search is doomed from the beginning because he ignores love that springs from the soul. At his lowest moment of failure, however, he meets the wildeyed Aprile, a poet who has attempted to love infinitely. While the poet has not the knowledge to discriminate between different kinds of beauty, the alchemist can see no beauty at all because he has become a monster that does not know love. Paracelsus realizes that they are 'halves of one dissevered world," but before he can learn Aprile's secret, the poet dies, leaving in the cold alchemist the desire to love. The quotation comes from Aprile's dying vision of the goal he had sought and his discovery that by not learning what the alchemist offers he has failed.

Ha! go you ever girt about
With phantoms, powers? I have created such,
But these seem real as I.
Whom can you see
Through the accursed darkness?
Stay; I know,
I know them: who should know them well as I?
White brows, lit up with glory; poets all!
Let him but live, and I have my reward!
Yes; I see now. God is the perfect poet,
Who in his person acts his own creations.
Had you but told me this at first! . . .