My Last Duchess

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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FERRARA 1 That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, 2 Looking as if she were alive. I call 3 That piece a wonder, now: FràPandolf's hands 4 Worked busily a day, and there she stands.

5 Will 't please you sit and look at her? I said 6 "FràPandolf" by design, for never read 7 Strangers like you that pictured countenance, 8 The depth and passion of its earnest glance, 9 But to myself they turned (since none puts by 10 The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) 11 And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, 12 How such a glance came there; so, not the first 13 Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not 14 Her husband's presence only, called that spot 15 Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps 16 FràPandolf chanced to say, "Her mantle laps 17 Over my Lady's wrist too much," or "Paint 18 Must never hope to reproduce the faint 19 Half-flush that dies along her throat"; such stuff 20 Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough 21 For calling up that spot of joy.

She had 22 A heart . . . how shall I say? . . . too soon made glad, 23 Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er 24 She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.

25 Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast, 26 The dropping of the daylight in the West, 27 The bough of cherries some officious fool 28 Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule 29 She rode with round the terrace--all and each 30 Would draw from her alike the approving speech, 31 Or blush, at least. She thanked men,--good; but thanked 32 Somehow . . . I know not how . . . as if she ranked 33 My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name 34 With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame 35 This sort of trifling? Even had you skill 36...

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