"Adventure Brave And New"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Rabbi Ben Ezra was a distinguished Jewish philosopher, physician, astronomer, and poet of the twelfth century. The ideas found in this poem are drawn largely from the Rabbi's own writings and correspond closely to Browning's own philosophy of life. The Rabbi's monologue opens on the optimistic, almost exultant, note as he declares: "Grow old along with me! / The best is yet to be, / The last of life, for which the first was made," He does not grieve for the past hopes and fears of youth. He finds hope in the philosophic doubt which assails him. This doubt he sees as evidence of the spark of God within each man. Man is exalted by what he aspires to be rather than by what he actually becomes. The Rabbi declares that the Maker's plan is perfect, and that we should be thankful to be men. "For pleasant is this flesh; / Our soul, in its rose-mesh / Pulled ever to the earth, still yearns for rest." All that is past is ever with us. Our experiences and our desires are God's potter's wheel on which our souls are shaped. The Rabbi expectantly approaches old age and the life after death:

Therefore I summon age
To grant youth's heritage,
Life's struggle having so far reached its term!
Thence shall I pass, approved
A man, for aye removed
From the developed brute–a God, though in the germ.
And I shall thereupon
Take rest, ere I be gone
Once more on my adventure brave and new;
Fearless and unperplexed,
When I wage battle next,
What weapons to select, what armor to indue.