"Porphyria." ["Porphyria's Lover"]
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.

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

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


Browning, Robert. "Porphyria" ["Porphyria's Lover"]. 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-porphyria. Accessed: 2024-04-18T01:41:46.495Z

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Porphyria. [Porphyria's Lover] 1The rain set early in to-night, 2The sullen wind was soon awake, 3It tore the elm-tops down for spite, 4And did its worst to vex the lake: 5I listened with heart fit to break. 6When glided in Porphyria; straight 7She shut the cold out and the storm, 8And kneeled and made the cheerless grate 9Blaze up, and all the cottage warm; 10Which done, she rose, and from her form 11Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl, 12And laid her soiled gloves by, untied 13Her hat and let the damp hair fall, 14And, last, she sat down by my side 15And called me. When no voice replied, 16She put my arm about her waist, 17And made her smooth white shoulder bare, 18And all her yellow hair displaced, 19And, stooping, made my cheek lie there, 20And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair, 21Murmuring how she loved me — she 22Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour, 23To set its struggling passion free 24From pride, and vainer ties dissever, 25And give herself to me for ever. 26But passion sometimes would prevail, 27Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain 28A sudden thought of one so pale 29For love of her, and all in vain: 20So, she was come through wind and rain. 31Be sure I looked up at her eyes 32Happy and proud; at last I knew 33Porphyria worshipped me; surprise 34Made my heart swell, and still it grew 35While I debated what to do. 36That moment she was mine, mine, fair, 37Perfectly pure and good: I found 38A thing to do, and all her hair 39In one long yellow string I wound 40Three times her little throat around, 41And strangled her. No pain felt she; 42I am quite sure she felt no pain. 43As a shut bud that holds a bee, 44I warily oped her lids: again 45Laughed the blue eyes without a stain. 46And I untightened next the tress 47About her neck; her cheek once more 48Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss: 49I propped her head up as before, 50Only, this time my shoulder bore 51Her head, which droops upon it still: 52The smiling rosy little head, 53So glad it has its utmost will, 54That all it scorned at once is fled, 55And I, its love, am gained instead! 56Porphyria's love: she guessed not how 57Her darling one wish would be heard. 58And thus we sit together now, 59And all night long we have not stirred, 60And yet God has not said a word! Z.