Fra Lippo Lippi was written by Robert Browning in 1855. It is about a monk who called Lippi. When he sneaks out of the church he has been stopped by the watchmen’s in a drunken state also getting caught going into red district. As the watchmen’s tell him it was such a surprise finding him here, he drunkenly tells them his story to reassure him self that whatever he is doing is not as bad as the watchmen’s think it is. This poem by Robert Browning is an example of dramatic monologue which is written the Monk’s point of view, making him the dominant and the main character.
The readers know this as the monk say in line 5 “here you catch me at alleys end”. When a poem is written in dramatic monologue form, it involves the speaker who reveals his character unintentionally while describing particular event or situation in order to build up a true picture of the actual events that took place by studying their language, tone and structure, Browning informs the readers that this poem takes in a form of dramatic monologue as he says “I am poor brother Lippi”, the use of poor can suggest to the readers that he is portraying himself as innocent.
Browning’s use of title “Fra Lippo Lippi” tells the readers that this poem by Robert Browning is about a Florentine painter who has a lot of passion for art through reading the title only. All throughout this poem, Browning has used a dialogue between the monk and the watch men’s to engage the readers both in artistic and sexual sense of the monk. This poem falls in the form of black verse as the lines used are not in a rhyme scheme, which is known as the iambic pentameter. Browning has used blank verse in this poem to make this poem dramatic while using a dialogue between the two characters.
He has used a running motif throughout the poem as he talks about love and Italian painters such as when he mentions “… Saint Laurence” and “Lisa” referring to Mona Lisa. This poem is set in the present as the drunken monk says “You need not clap your torches to my face” however as the readers carry on, they are shown that when the monk explains his reasons for being seen in red light district, he takes the readers back in to the past as he says “I was a baby when my mother died” (line 81).
The poem starts off with the monk getting caught by the watchmen in the middle of the action known as in media res which is a Latin phrase. Browning shows the readers that although he was a monk, he was not committed to his religion as he got drunk and visited “where sportive ladies leave their doors ajar” referring to the prostitutes. The watchmen’s are lighting their torches on him while asking him what he is doing there. Although their speech is not written, Browning is showing us what the watchmen’s are saying as the monk replies to their questions “Zooks, what’s to blame?
You think you see a monk! ” this shows the readers that even the watchmen’s are confused as to why a monk would be in this area “past midnight” wanting some explanation from the monk who is trying to reassure himself that whatever he is doing is nothing wrong as he says to the watchmen’s “what’s to blame? “. Browning use of question marks shows the readers through monk’s point of view that the watchmen’s are accusing him of something wrong he has done as he thinks he has done nothing wrong so they shouldn’t be questioning him.
Browning has also used caesura to makes this poem dramatic by pausing the monks speech in the middle of the line to pause him using different form of punctuations such as comma or a dash such as when the monk says “Do- Harry out, if you must show your zeal,” use of commas and dash in this line makes this poem even more effective to read for the readers making them pause, as Lippo is changing the tone of the poem. Also in this poem the monk mentions rats as he is trying to mock the watchmen’s with the use of metaphor. Browning uses metaphor as a figure of speech in line (9-11) informing the readers that he resembled the watchmen’s as rats.
The monk’s speech used metaphor to explain his feelings towards them as he could not describe them in ordinary language. The use of onomatopoeia when the monk says “weke, weke” creates a harsh tone that the monk used to describe the watchmen’s voices. Onomatopoeia is often used in poems to create sound effects bringing the image to life. As he is referring them to rats, one of the watchmen grabs him by the throat as the monk informs the readers “Your hand away that’s fiddling on my throat” to show that they were very aggressive.
The monk tells them that before you take any action upon me, get to know me. He threatens the watchmen’s as he tells them he knows a “master – a … Cosimo of the Medici”. Cosimo of Medici was the rule of Florence, Italy, the monk uses his name so that the watchmen’s leave him alone as well as threatening them as he was well known in that area. As soon as the monk threatens the watchmen’s, he starts to show his power and authority over them making them look bad for being aggressive as he says “Remember and tell me, the day you’re hanged”.
Browning has also used archaic language in this poem to inform the readers about the period it what written in as he mentions “Zooks” throughout the poem which is not often used today. This poem is also written in conversation tone to capture the reader’s intention. Browning makes another use of metaphor as he says “Are we pilchards that they sweep the streets and count fair prize what comes into their net? ” referring himself to a fish and the watchmen who are with him as fishermen and how “they sweep the streets”.
A metaphor is used in this sentence to create a realistic image in the readers mind while describing his emotions and feelings that he has. Browning has also used enjambments in this poem to make the reader read the sentences in fast pace as well as creating a sense of motion as monk says “I’d like his face – His, elbowing on his comrade in the door With the pike and the lantern, – for the slaves that holds John Baptists head a-dangle by the hair With one hand… And his weapon in the other, yet unwiped!
” The monk here is saying to one of the watchmen’s that he would like to draw him as a slave of John Baptist who was a Christian leader. Browning in this entire poem has used a lot of alliteration, enjambments and the used of metaphors to create a deeper meaning of this poem. Throughout the poem the readers see that although the monk is meant to commit himself to God, he is walking in the streets at midnight drinking and visiting the “sportive ladies”. Many of Browning poems show his deep religiosity and strong optimistic feelings such as the Patriot as well as this poem when the monk says “Lord, I am not angry”.