A Search for a Soul

Robert Browning wrote beautiful poetry, especially his shorter poems. I frequently walk past the house in Wimpole Street where Browning visited to court Elizabeth Barratt, who was also a poet. Browning seems to have used Italy and things Italian in an allegorical way in his poetry.

Like all great poetry, Browning’s insights apply universally in space and in time. The following lines, from a Toccata of Galuppi’s are just as relevant today was they were more than a hundred and fifty years ago; as you read try substituting “Venice” with the name of any modern industrialised state (preferably one with two syllables) and you will see that Browning’s insight still applies to day, unfortunately.

Yes, you, like a ghostly cricket, creaking where a house was burned:
“Dust and ashes, dead and done with, Venice spent what Venice earned.
“The soul, doubtless, is immortal—where a soul can be discerned.
I am not a great lover of the work of the Romantic poets. I prefer the melancholy of Eliot or the fury of Shakespeare, and had not truly appreciated Browning, except as a story teller, until I realised his insight is as sharp and as important as the insights of other poets whose work I love better, but that is simply part of a search for a soul.