Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Browse all available works of Robert Browning > Text of Fears And Scruples

A poem by Robert Browning

Fears And Scruples

Title:     Fears And Scruples
Author: Robert Browning [More Titles by Browning]

Here's my case. Of old I used to love him.
This same unseen friend, before I knew:
Dream there was none like him, none above him,--
Wake to hope and trust my dream was true.

Loved I not his letters deg. full of beauty? 5
Not his actions famous far and wide?
Absent, he would know I vowed him duty,
Present, he would find me at his side.

Pleasant fancy! for I had but letters,
Only knew of actions by hearsay: 10
He himself was busied with my betters;
What of that? My turn must come some day.

"Some day" proving--no day! Here's the puzzle.
Passed and passed my turn is. Why complain?
He's so busied! If I could but muzzle
People's foolish mouths that give me pain!

"Letters?" (hear them!) "You a judge of writing?
Ask the experts!--How they shake the head
O'er these characters, your friend's inditing--
Call them forgery from A to Z! 20

"Actions? Where's your certain proof" (they bother)
"He, of all you find so great and good,
He, he only, claims this, that, the other
Action--claimed by men, a multitude?"

I can simply wish I might refute you,
Wish my friend would,--by a word, a wink,--
Bid me stop that foolish mouth,--you brute you!
He keeps absent,--why, I cannot think.

Never mind! Tho' foolishness may flout me.
One thing's sure enough; 'tis neither frost,
No, nor fire, shall freeze or burn from out me
Thanks for truth--tho' falsehood, gained--tho' lost.

All my days, I'll go the softlier, sadlier,
For that dream's sake! How forget the thrill
Thro' and thro' me as I thought, "The gladlier
Lives my friend because I love him still!"

Ah, but there's a menace some one utters!
"What and if your friend at home play tricks?
Peep at hide-and-seek behind the shutters?
Mean your eyes should pierce thro' solid bricks?

'What and if he, frowning, wake you, dreamy?
Lay on you the blame that bricks--conceal?
Say '_At least I saw who did not see me,
Does see now, and presently shall feel_'?"

"Why, that makes your friend a monster!" say you;
"Had his house no window? At first nod,
Would you not have hailed him?" Hush, I pray you!
What if this friend happen to be--God?



The problem of the religions doubter is here set forth by an analogy.

5. =letters=. The reference is of course to the Scriptures.

17 ff. In reference to sceptical criticism.

[The end]
Robert Browning's poem: Fears And Scruples