The Patriot

AN OLD STORY.

I.

It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.

II.

The air broke into a mist with bells,
The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.
Had I said, ``Good folk, mere noise repels---
But give me your sun from yonder skies!''
They had answered, ``And afterward, what else?''

III.

Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
To give it my loving friends to keep!
Nought man could do, have I left undone:
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.

IV.

There's nobody on the house-tops now---
Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
At the Shambles' Gate---or, better yet,
By the very scaffold's foot, I trow.

V.

I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year's misdeeds.

VI.

Thus I entered, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
``Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
``Me?''---God might question; now instead,
'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.

by Robert Browning

Comments (5)

About 50 yrs ago I read poems by Ferlinghetti. What is the name of the poem in which he put words together as they rise in a semicircle? Almost like a pictograph?
i love ferlihnghetti and have ever since my first modern american poetry class in 1970- i think 'constantly risking absurdity' is one of the great anthems for poets... we surely do risk absurdity and flying above the heads of our audiences, only because they often won't just see what they see. 'i am waiting' is my favorite of his....but he has been an inspiration for my poetry for almost 40 years, thank you, lawrence
Ferlinghetti was one strange man this poem was the only one that didnt depress me, I aslo like the charliechaplin man I thought that that made the poem
While I'm not generally a fan of Ferlinghetti's poems, I've always loved this one. It's sad to see that it is not formatted here the way he arranged it. Using the original format is critical if readers/listeners are to truly capture the meanings and emotional content of this poem.
One of my favourite poems; sums up and illuminates like nothing else could the personal exposure and risk inherent in any creative act. The common farewell these days of Take Care is the very opposite. The final image of the charleychaplin man who may or may not catch beauty shows again the self-sacrificing risk in pursuit of success, satisfaction, or even audience acclaim. But how artistically and with what panache does Ferlinghetti express it!