"Italy" ["My Last Duchess"]
By Robert Browning

Transcription, correction, editorial commentary, and markup by Students and Staff at the University of Virginia, Tonya Howe


London : Edward Moxon, Dover Street, 1842"My Last Duchess" was first printed in the third volume ("Dramatic Lyrics") of Bells and Pomegranates, an 8-part self-published collection, under the title "I. Italy." This was the first part of a longer piece in two parts called "Italy and France." It was first printed under its more familiar title in the 1849 collection Dramatic Romances and Lyrics. The poem is frequently anthologized as an example of a dramatic monologue. "Ferrara" is the poetic speaker--this is most likely meant to represent Alfonso II (1533-1598), the fifth duke of Ferrara.

Editorial Statements

Research informing these annotations draws on publicly-accessible resources, with links provided where possible. Annotations have also included common knowledge, defined as information that can be found in multiple reliable sources. If you notice an error in these annotations, please contact lic.open.anthology@gmail.com.

Original spelling and capitalization is retained, though the long s has been silently modernized and ligatured forms are not encoded.

Hyphenation has not been retained, except where necessary for the sense of the word.

Page breaks have been retained. Catchwords, signatures, and running headers have not.

Materials have been transcribed from and checked against first editions, where possible. See the Sources section for more information.


Browning, Robert. "Italy" ["My Last Duchess"]. Bells and Pomegranates. No. III. Dramatic Lyrics, Edward Moxon, Dover Street, 1842 , No. 3 . Literature in Context: An Open Anthology. http://anthology.lib.virginia.edu/work/Browning/browning-last-duchess. Accessed: 2024-04-18T00:22:02.577Z

Linked Data: Places related to this work.





My Last Duchess
1That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,2Looking as if she were alive. I call3That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands4Worked busily a day, and there she stands.5Will 't please you sit and look at her? I said6"Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read7Strangers like you that pictured countenance,8The depth and passion of its earnest glance,9But to myself they turned (since none puts by10The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)11And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,12How such a glance came there; so, not the first13Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not14Her husband's presence only, called that spot15Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps16Frà Pandolf chanced to say, "Her mantle laps17Over my Lady's wrist too much," or "Paint18Must never hope to reproduce the faint19Half-flush that dies along her throat"; such stuff20Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough21For calling up that spot of joy. She had22A heart . . . how shall I say? . . . too soon made glad,23Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er24She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.25Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast,26The dropping of the daylight in the West,27The bough of cherries some officious fool28Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule29She rode with round the terrace--all and each30Would draw from her alike the approving speech,31Or blush, at least. She thanked men,--good; but thanked32Somehow . . . I know not how . . . as if she ranked33My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name34With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame35This sort of trifling? Even had you skill36In speech--(which I have not)--to make your will37Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this38Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,39Or there exceed the mark"--and if she let40Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set41Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,42--E'en then would be some stooping; and I chuse43Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,44Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without45Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;46Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands47As if alive. Will 't please you rise? We'll meet48The company below, then. I repeat,49The Count your Master's known munificence50Is ample warrant that no just pretence51Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;52Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed53At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go54Together down, Sir! Notice Neptune, though,55Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,56Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.