Friday, March 20, 2020

My Last TP


There’s a wonderful poem by the Victorian poet Robert Browning (1812-1889), “My Last Duchess.”

It begins

            That’s my last duchess painted on the wall
            Looking as if she were alive.

The speaker is the Duke of Ferrara who is showing a visitor a painting of his deceased wife.  The painting resides behind a curtain, which the Duke has swept aside.

It happens that the visitor is the courtier of a nobleman whose daughter the Duke hopes to marry next.  As the visitor gazes at the beautiful portrait, the Duke explains that the Duchess had an extraordinary smile.  But it angered him that his wife smiled indiscriminately because he wished her to share the smile – which appears in all its radiance in the painting – exclusively with him.

When the Duke commanded his wife to smile only at him, “Then all smiles stopped together,” he recalls.

In my silliness I have taken a photograph of my last duchess smiling at me.

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