The Last Duchess

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Robert Browning's 19th century poem "My Last Duchess", told from another point of view

Submitted: October 25, 2016

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Submitted: October 25, 2016

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That's my new husband standing by his hall, Looking resplendent in his fine clothes. I call To my driver to slow and stop by the bridge Over the moat so I can take in the views of the mountain ridge And the trees and birds of the Po River valley But I must stop. Breathe. Control myself and Put on a face and a manner equally grand To the castle looming over me, surrounded by Vales and dales and wide open spaces. But my eye falls to the Duke, ever so gracious As he descends from the castle and strolls to the carriage This, the man my father gave me to in marriage. I smile to him as his eyes meet with mine But it isn't returned. No matter, I'm sure in time We will know each other better. But now He arrives, and with a small bow Greets me, kisses my hand and leads me Up through the great wooden doors, past a bronze statue, Halls of paintings, some gifts from the Moors And other such wonders he points out as we walk Toward the courtyard, adorned with flowers From far off lands, while in the sky above the towers The clouds begin to gather. So inside we walk And he shows me to our room, and while we talk His eye wanders, taking in my shape And figure, the way I stand and how my cape Flows from my neck down my back. His gaze is vacant Of thought, he cares not what I say and soon he can’t Help himself. Locked doors and long halls keep The staff away. Well, I am his wife now, so I sleep, Safe in knowledge that his will is just And true, for any man can be consumed by lust For a prize that has been kept from him for so long. The rain had cleared by the time I woke, and the song Of birds in the morning brought life anew To me. I wandered the halls of my new Home, down to the garden and in between The willow trees I danced, the valley was a green Haven, private, all my own, the next town So very far away. A few months’ time and in a gown I stand before the man, Frà Pandolf, as he reads My shape and figure. His eye speeds Over my body in order to take in every inch But not, I think, in the manner of my Duke, who at a pinch May gaze upon me, maybe once a week with The sole purpose of divining how best to conquer me next No, rather this man looks on me as a mother would A child, a caring glance as he paints me, and should He look with a purpose less than pure, oh well, I should be glad of his kind and gay company. And So I smile more, a blush fills my cheeks as his hand Captures my likeness and I think upon the times I could have. My husband looks upon these smiles as crimes And though I try my utmost to enjoy his company, Still I see the way he looks as me, Therefore for his absence I wait, Hoping for a turn of fate That will free me from this wretched place, The hills, the trees, all its splendour and grace Hide the evil of that man from the public view, And separate him from common folk. The birds flew South many weeks ago, and in place of songs Is silence, so I can better hear and see the wrongs That man, the so-called Duke hath laid upon me, No longer am I his wife, nor do I think I have ever really Been that to him. No better than an object in his possession. The young gentlemen of the house in his employ freshen My days when I take a turn around The palace or the castle ground On my mule. They bring me cherry blossoms or other Such pretty things and compare them to e, and I’d rather Sit a minute with them than eternity with Alfonso My lord and master. But I fear that the time to Do so is long gone. For days and weeks my body Which was so craved has been rebelling, and by His hand I have no doubt. The smiles and looks I dispensed So readily have not gone unheeded, and have been sensed By the monster of the castle, the vile, abhorrent Creature that reigns in tyranny over all Ferrara, the torrent Of hate that spills from his mouth even now as I look Down upon him from my perch, behind my curtain, on a hook, And silently I weep for the count and his poor sister.


© Copyright 2017 A.C.Herne. All rights reserved.

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