Tuesday Poem – extract from Paraclesus by Robert Browning

TRUTH is within ourselves; it takes no rise
There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fullness; and around,
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
This perfect, clear perception—which is truth.
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW,
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.

by Michele Gordigiani,painting,1858 Robert Brwoning and his more famous wife Elizabeth Barret Browning
by Michele Gordigiani,painting,1858
Robert Browning and his more famous wife Elizabeth Barret Browning

I have chosen this poem because I decided it was time for some shorter poems…wise poems. Serendipitously, I found a reference to this one in a book I was reading and looked it up online. After a lot of looking I realised that the above is a small part of a very lengthy poem. (One edition is quoted as being 255 pages long.)

Paraclesus, a long poem by Robert Browning, first published in 1835
Paraclesus, a long poem by Robert Browning, first published in 1835

It occurs to me that many of our favourite quotes and verses are just that…extracts from a larger work. There’s a message of hope for writers there I feel, in that it obviously takes many hours of writing to reach the point of wisdom which then becomes the small story or poem as above. So if you spend many hours writing to perfect something small, rest assured the greats have done it before you.

For info about Robert Browning go here.

And do go to the Tuesday Poem Hub here and read this week’s editor Andrew Bell’s very moving choice…a poem by and in memory of Christchurch poet Helen Bascand.