“The Patriot” Analysis by Robert Browning

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The poem, The Patriot by Robert Browning is a classic example of the technique that Browning is known for, that is, the dramatic monologue. Browning’s poems flourish on the drama of the expression of one’s psyche in turmoil. Thereby, at the onset of the poem, we find a dejected man, reminiscing his past glories, only to unfold before the reader his present state of misery.

The Patriot by Robert Browning Analysis

In the first and the second stanza, we find glory and grandeur in the display. The memory of which the speaker seems to have been extremely fond of – an elevated individual, recalling his past glories, the enigma of it is expressed in this section. The description of each notion of the bells ringing or the cries of the people, have been vividly dramatized with the phrases used for exaggeration and one really dwells in the exaggeration to understand the sentiment of the patriot. 

“The Patriot”, describes an event, which had occurred a year ago on that very same day as the poet is reminiscing. The event seems to have been a grand public welcoming of the patriot, as his walking path was covered with an unending number of roses. People were standing on the roofs to cheer for him but they were too many, which caused the patriot o think that the roofs were swaying. Even the spires of the church were covered with flaming flags. Thus, it must have been a celebration of great honor and dignity for the patriot, who must have done a deed, unfathomable. 

The Patriot continues to talk of the event that was clearly deep-seated in his memory. The people were ringing the bells so loudly that the atmosphere had grown thick with the noise. Since they seemed to have been standing in some old structure, the cries of the people seemed to have been rocking the walls. Such was the devotion of the people towards him, that even if he had wanted the sun of their skies, that is, the very thing that sustains them, they would have given it to him and would have still asked if he wanted anything more. The level of public devotion and the patriot‘s degree of popularity comes into the display, in the poem.

In the third stanza, the poet remembers the sacrifices committed for his country. With a sigh, the speaker admits that like the mythological Icarus, the speaker became more ambitious than his situation permitted him. Giving his “loving friends” to keep could suggest that some deaths may have taken place because of his actions. Though he stresses on the fact that he did everything he could to make things right. He further stresses on his much-undeserved end. And that is where his flashback comes to a closure, in this stanza. 


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The fourth stanza marks the speaker’s return to his present situation. As opposed to the setting in the first two stanzas, the situation, a year later, is that of misery and lonesomeness, as the speaker is being lead to the gallows of death after his conviction. Only the palsied old seems to be watching from their windows. Maybe because no one wants to see his death that no one show up when he is being lead to the ‘Shambles’ Gate’. People want to be where there is action and so the speaker further nostalgically strikes that the best sight would be at the gate of the slaughterhouse or the foot of the scaffold. 

The miseries of the speaker are revealed throughout The Patriot poem. It is raining and the tied rope seems to be cutting through his wrist. The speaker reaches the peak of humiliation when a stone is thrown at him for all that he has done since the last year, that is, for his misdeeds.

 The sixth and the last stanza reflect on the patriot’s death. It is entirely philosophical and religious as he goes on to say that his entry and exit from life has been but a witness for the petiole to see.  He says that in his triumphs, people dropped him dead, that is what he has done for his people is a triumph for him though they have persecuted him for the same. Though the speaker feels that God would be fair to him as he has been the witness of it all.  Here, we see Browning’s religious beliefs on the display.

The overjoyed ecstasies come to an end with one step of the speaker gone wrong, which may have claimed the lives of few but saved more. That is the statement that he tries to make, that he has but saved more lives than taken. However, he has now been convicted lead to the gallows. The helplessness of the patriot is strikingly unnerving when a stone that is thrown at him, makes him bleed.

Though it is then that we picture him bleeding in within, he has been bleeding since he gave himself up for his people.  There is sadness that surrounds him as his people nothing but failed him, by misunderstanding him and he gathers grace within himself and makes peace with the death of himself, as he believes God to be the ultimate judge, who will not misunderstand him. His extraordinary faith in god undoubtedly makes one want to believe in him. But whether or not God will take his side or fail him, we’ll never know. 

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