Our Featured Poem this week may not be as spooky or eerie as one might expect for Halloween but Robert Browning’s Meeting at Night certainly has an air of mystery…
Robert Browning was born in May 1812. He was to become one of the foremost poets of the Victorian era, renowned for his dark humour, challenging vocabulary and irony in bold social commentaries and dramatic monologues.
There has been much speculation over Robert Browning’s Meeting at Night, not least because the original third verse was later removed by the poet and adapted into Parting at Morning. Together the poems described not just the secret meeting of two lovers at night, but their parting at dawn. It has often been interpreted that Browning was writing with his own romantic experience in mind.
After reading Elizabeth Barrett’s much-admired collection Poems, published in 1844, Browning so admired the poet’s work that he wrote to her, the pair becoming pen-pals of sorts and eventually, falling in love. However, Barrett’s father disapproved of the match and their early courtship was conducted in secret. They married in 1846 and moved to Italy for Elizabeth’s health.
At the time of their marriage Elizabeth was considerably more successful that her husband, but their time in Italy seemed to have a positive influence on his writing. By the time of his death in 1889, Browning was considered a revered sage and philosopher-poet who along with his wife, defined the literary era.