Robert Browning

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What is your critical appreciation of Robert Browning's "Two in the Campagna"?

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Robert Browning's poem "Two in the Campagna" is a formal English poem, which features great intensity of emotion from the narrator of this work. The poem is a fine example of the internal musings of the narrator as he sits during a May morning, in a field in Rome, surveying the beauty of nature and his relationship with nature, and his loved one.

The poem is an example of one considering life and questioning his role in the grand scheme of things. The use of rhyme and 5-line stanzas contributes to the flow and rhythm of this poem. In total, there are 12 stanzas to this literary work.

Browning employs metaphor in this poem and I especially like how he compares his giving in to a tantalizing thought as…

     (Like turns of thread the spiders throw
        Mocking across our path)

The narrator in the poem talks about the natural beauty that surrounds Rome, even though Rome is now a shadow of her former glory. The reader gets the impression that, although a mighty empire may have fallen, the natural beauty – not man-made – within that former empire still exists.

Of course, the regularity of rhyme and stanzas, and the somewhat dated style of the "voice' of the poem may be a turn off to contemporary readers who have been raised on "Free Verse". However, this is the appeal of the poem, its style brings one back to an earlier era through the use of formal structure and diction.

The narrator in "Two in the Campagna" loves the beauty of nature and its majesty, all while it is overseen from heaven…

     Such primal naked forms of flowers,
             Such letting nature have her way

The poem itself is powerful because as he muses, the narrator ponders his relationship with his lover…

     How is it under our control
    To love or not to love?

It is obvious that he and his lover have experienced the highs and lows that are part of relationships. The narrator yearns for a true love as fine as the pure, unadulterated beautiful creation that surrounds him.

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