Love Among The Ruins

Love Among The Ruins

by Robert Browning

Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles,
Miles and miles
On the solitary pastures where our sheep
Half-asleep
Tinkle homeward thro’ the twilight, stray or stop
As they crop—
Was the site once of a city great and gay,
(So they say)
Of our country’s very capital, its prince
Ages since
Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
Peace or war.

Now the country does not even boast a tree,
As you see,
To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills
From the hills
Intersect and give a name to, (else they run
Into one)
Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires
Up like fires
O’er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall
Bounding all
Made of marble, men might march on nor be prest
Twelve abreast.

And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass
Never was!
Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o’er-spreads
And embeds
Every vestige of the city, guessed alone,
Stock or stone—
Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe
Long ago;
Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame
Struck them tame;
And that glory and that shame alike, the gold
Bought and sold.

Now—the single little turret that remains
On the plains,
By the caper overrooted, by the gourd
Overscored,
While the patching houseleek’s head of blossom winks
Through the chinks—
Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time
Sprang sublime,
And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced
As they raced,
And the monarch and his minions and his dames
Viewed the games.

And I know, while thus the quiet-coloured eve
Smiles to leave
To their folding, all our many-tinkling fleece
In such peace,
And the slopes and rills in undistinguished grey
Melt away—
That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair
Waits me there
In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul
For the goal,
When the king looked, where she looks now, breathless, dumb
Till I come.

But he looked upon the city, every side,
Far and wide,
All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades’
Colonnades,
All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts,—and then
All the men!
When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand,
Either hand
On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace
Of my face,
Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech
Each on each.

In one year they sent a million fighters forth
South and North,
And they built their gods a brazen pillar high
As the sky
Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force—
Gold, of course.
O heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
Earth’s returns
For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in,
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
Love is best.

Summary of the Poem “Love Among The Ruins”

  • Popularity of “Love Among the Ruins”: This poem is written by Robert Browning, a great English poet. ‘Love among the Ruins’ is a dramatic monologue about love. It was first published in 1855 in Men and Women. The poem presents the ruined and enchanted city of a prosperous empire. It also illustrates how everything in the universe comes to an end and becomes a part of history, but love is beyond destruction.
  • “Love among the Ruins” A Comment on the Destructive Nature of Time: The poem speaks about the speaker’s fascination with the ruins of a fallen empire. The poet describes beautiful pasture where sheep are half-asleep with bells jingling around their necks. The place reminds him of a great city that once stood there with all its riches and glory. It was a great empire where the prince of the state used to set up courts and gathered his council to decide the fate of his empire. It has also witnessed the days of terrible wars and peace with courage, strength, and bravery. Now, the land is not showing even the slightest hint of that rule.
    Later, the speaker compares the present state of that land with the past form and heartily admires the present one which is a true representative of nature. The true spirit of the city corroded due to negative human emotions like lust, jealousy, and cunningness. In the same ruined turret, a beautiful girl with yellow hair and lovely eyes is waiting for him where once the king used to look at his victorious army. In the past, the same city went through a war and millions of warriors took part in it, using their golden chariots. Those men were the epitome of pride, while the city was cloaked in sins and noise. Surprisingly, the same vibrant, powerful, and magnificent city has now totally transformed. It has become peaceful now.
  • Major Themes in “Love Among the Ruins”: Love, past prime, and nature are the major themes underlined in this poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker shows surprise in the dramatic transformation of a landscape where his beloved is waiting for him. After historical battles, the city became the center of trade. Unfortunately, all the glories and glitz and glamour are now gone and the turret is reserved for the sheep now. It is through this simple text, the speaker beautifully sheds light on the destructive nature of time. While talking about the magical power of love, he adds, even these ruins can become meaningful and beautiful with the presence of love.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Love Among the Ruins”

literary devices are modes that represent writers’ ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices the writers make their few words appealing to the readers. Robert Browning has also used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been listed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /a/ in “And that glory and that shame alike, the gold” and the sound of /o/ in “Tinkle homeward thro’ the twilight, stray or stop”.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. There are plenty of alliterations in this poem. For example, the sound of /m/ in “Made of marble, men might march on nor be prest” and the sound of /th/ in “And I know, while thus the quiet-coloured eve”.
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

“That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair
Waits me there
In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul
For the goal.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles”, “O heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns” and “All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades’.”
  2. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. The poet has used this device throughout the poem as the dramatic transformation of the land is ironic in itself.
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. Pasture symbolizes calmness and peace whereas the ruined turret is the symbol of lost glory.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Love Among the Ruins”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Dramatic Monologue: It is a type of poem in which a lonely speaker directly addresses someone or something. “Love among the Ruins” is a famous dramatic monologue.
  2. Heroic Couplet: There are two constructive lines in heroic couplet joined by end rhyme in iambic pentameter.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the AABBCCDD rhyme scheme and this pattern continues till the end.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are seven stanzas in this poem with each having an equal number of verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful to describe the enchanting beauty of nature or telling about sheep to little children.

“Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles,
Miles and miles
On the solitary pastures where our sheep
Half-asleep.”