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A Grammarian’s Funeral Robert Browning Lecture 22.

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1 A Grammarian’s Funeral Robert Browning Lecture 22

2 (Here's the town-gate reached: there's the market- place Gaping before us.) Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace (Hearten our chorus!) That before living he'd learn how to live No end to learning:

3 Earn the means first God surely will contrive Use for our earning. Others mistrust and say, "But time escapes: Live now or never!"

4 He said, "What's time? Leave Now for dogs and apes! Man has Forever." Back to his book then: deeper drooped his head: Calculus racked him: Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead: Tussis attacked him. Tussis: technical term for cough (medicine) Calculus: mathematical study of change.

5 "Now, master, take a little rest!" not he! (Caution redoubled Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly!) Not a whit troubled,

6 Back to his studies, fresher than at first, Fierce as a dragon He (soul-hydroptic with a sacred thirst) Sucked at the flagon. Hydroptic: thirsty flagon: a large vessel, a pitcher, for drink Ordinary drink water when thirsty but the grammarian drinks knowledge like a dragon.

7 Oh, if we draw a circle premature, Heedless of far gain, Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure Bad is our bargain! Ordinary people set cheap and petty ambitions, but the grammarian has higher ambition of pleasing God; he thinks about gains in life after death.

8 Was it not great? did not he throw on God, (He loves the burthen) God's task to make the heavenly period Perfect the earthen?

9 Did not he magnify the mind, show clear Just what it all meant? He would not discount life, as fools do here, Paid by instalment. He ventured at higher profits.

10 He ventured neck or nothing heaven's success Found, or earth's failure: "Wilt thou trust death or not?" He answered "Yes: Hence with life's pale lure!"

11 That low man seeks a little thing to do, Sees it and does it: This high man, with a great thing to pursue, Dies ere he knows it.

12 That low man goes on adding one to one, His hundred's soon hit: This high man, aiming at a million, Misses an unit.

13 That, has the world here should he need the next, Let the world mind him! This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed Seeking shall find him.

14 So, with the throttling hands of death at strife, Ground he at grammar; Still, thro' the rattle, parts of speech were rife: While he could stammer He settled Hoti's business let it be! Throttle: to suppress, to strangle Strife: Struggle, fight Rattle: to talk rapidly without much thought Hoti: greek (because)

15 Properly based Oun Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De, Dead from the waist down. Oun: new testament: then, therefore, consequently Enclitic: a word pronounced with so little emphasis that it is shortened e.g. can’t (appears after the host) De: an enclitic post-position joined to names of places in accusative to denote motion towards that place (prefix). Dead from waist down: paralyzed

16 Well, here's the platform, here's the proper place: Hail to your purlieus, All ye highfliers of the feathered race, Swallows and curlews! Purlieus: surroundings, outskirts Highfliers: ambitious Curlews: birds with long, slender, downcurved bills.

17 Here's the top-peak; the multitude below Live, for they can, there: This man decided not to Live but Know Bury this man there?

18 Here here's his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form, Lightnings are loosened, Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm, Peace let the dew send! Meteors: a shooting star A place of grandness that suits the grand man, like the grammarian.

19 Lofty designs must close in like effects: Loftily lying, Leave him still loftier than the world suspects, Living and dying.

20 Analysis A Grammarian’s Funeral is a dramatic monologue set in shortly after the renaissance in Europe. A mourning poem sung by a disciple of a noble grammarian, who passed away after spending whole of life in learning new things. The poem is about the life history of the grammarian as seen by the disciple. It is in the form of a movement from plains to the hilltop, where they plan to burry the grammarian.

21 They walk in darkness towards the mountain and during the walk the grammarian’s disciple sketches (says) the biography and the achievements of his master. The grammarian’s disciples wish their master should be buried in the mountain where there is culture and learning. The mountain here represents greatness and higher thoughts. It is a place where the sun shines first and later it passes down.

22 The grammarian spent all his young age reading and gaining knowledge. He was interested in knowing the mystery of world and human life. Even in his old age, he wanted to know the views of poets and other great scholars. He believed in enjoying life after death (the eternal life). He kept reading books, without a stop. After reading books, he wished to read the commentaries and criticism of some books. He wished to read until the last minute of his life.

23 The grammarian before beginning to live his life planned for his life. The grammarian fully believed in God and thereby he planned for his happy life, after death. Ordinary men would say that time keeps moving and they would start enjoying their life but the grammarian believed in life after death and in the concept that soul has no end. He was not narrow in his thoughts. He did not have small ambitions. He did not draw a small circle around him. Only ordinary men would believe in short gains and profits and they would lose the bargain during the Judgment day.

24 The poem is an example of Browning’s skill of describing characters through dramatic monologue.

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