Explore the Concepts of Success and Failure in a Grammarian’s Funeral and One Other Poem by Robert Browning.

Topics: Poetry, Robert Browning, Suicide Pages: 4 (1383 words) Published: May 2, 2013
Explore the concepts of success and failure in A Grammarian’s Funeral and one other poem by Robert Browning. In A Grammarian’s Funeral we get an ambiguous idea of whether the Grammarian’s life has been a success or a failure. Though there is much evidence that the poet believes he has served his life well, there is also a slight suggestion that the poet disagrees with the thoughts of the Grammarian’s students and instead believes that he has had a wasted life. A poem to compare to this, also dealing with accomplishment and disappointment, is Apparent Failure, which discusses the destruction of a celebrated morgue and imagines the lives of those who had tragically committed suicide and who had therefore found themselves displayed for all to see. Browning uses the philosophy of the imperfect as one of the main motifs throughout many of his poems, and A Grammarian’s Funeral is a good example. The poem implies that the students are very supportive of the grammarian’s choice of lifestyle and believe he has given his life to doing something worthwhile, although they realise he has sacrificed a lot in order to do so. They understand that, where as any normal man would be eager to live his life, perhaps even in an hedonistic manner, “This man said rather, "Actual life comes next, Patience a moment!” Showing that he wanted to dedicate his life to working, and then learn about living it. Although the use of ‘actual’ highlights the realisation that he is not living his life, he is perhaps wasting it by concentrating solely on grammar and litereature. In fact, he believed focusing on literature and grammar as he did was actually a way of learning about life - almost a paradox in itself. They were dedicated, as his students, to carry his coffin all the way up this mountain which could surely represent their view that he was “This high man, with a great thing to pursue”. So, it is difficult to decide just how Browning himself feels about the Grammarian. He...
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