Respectability "Put Your Best Foot Forward"
by Robert Browning

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"Put Your Best Foot Forward"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: A lover is talking to his love about the nature of the world. He says that had they belonged to "respectable" society, they would have wasted years before they dared to express their love freely. Then, "How much of priceless life were spent/ With men that every virtue decks,/ And women models of their sex,/ Society's true ornament,–/ Ere we dared wander, nights like this,/ Through wind and rain, and watch the Seine,/ And feel the Boulevard break again/ To warmth and light and bliss!" In his concluding stanza he comments bitterly on the symbols of conventional Society, from which they have been excluded.

I know! the world proscribes not love;Allows my fingers to caressYour lips' contour and downiness,Provided it supply a glove.The world's good word!–the Institute!Guizot receives Montalembert!Eh? Down the court three lampions flare:Put forward your best foot!