Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 28, 1895
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2. “Browning's ‘Vision of Life,’” by E. A. Mackechnie.


The author commenced by stating that, although the high excellence of Browning's poetry was beyond dispute, yet he could not be called popular, and his works were not widely read. This is in great measure due to the subject-matter of his poems, which is chiefly psychological. Few people take an absorbing interest in such studies; and it is this want of interest in the subject, rather than obscure phraseology, which is the true reason why Browning's writings are not more often read. The writer then proceeded to illustrate the views which Browning held of life, and of man's duty to himself and others, giving frequent quotations from his poems in support of his statements. He considered that Browning possessed in no ordinary degree the scientific spirit of patient research and minute analysis. He threw himself, as it were, into the very mind which he pourtrays, showing it from within, and laying bare its thoughts, passions, and secrets. It is this study which lent interest to his life, and to which we are indebted for those psychological pictures which give the workings of a man's soul. Tennyson has often been called “the poet of the age,” and, from the large circle of his readers, the claim is perhaps just. But the music of his verse, like much other bygone music, having supplied the requirements of the age, will probably cease to command attention. But the admirers of Browning claim for him a more enduring fame. He depicts our thoughts, our loves and hates; the aspirations of our spiritual nature; the trials and disappointments of this life,—all, in fact, that makes humanity; he has not inaptly been termed “the dramatist of the soul,” and as such his admirers anticipate that he will take a position in the world's estimation second only to Shakespeare.