Anecdote Robert Browning – British Poet (1812–1889)

Browning’s “Sordello” was published in 1840. It is a simple story about an obscure heir to a dukedom in thirteenth-century Italy. But Browning’s interest in and description of the development of the human soul complicates the tale considerably. Baffled readers resorted to the poet for an explanation. Members of the London Poetry Society asked Browning for an interpretation of a particularly difficult passage. Browning read it once, then twice, then frowned, and shrugged his shoulders. “When I wrote that, God and I knew what it meant, but now God alone knows.”

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