Porphyria's Lover; Vastly Misunderstood Poetry

Comments and Criticisms

Porphyria's Lover - Essay
Porphyria's Lover on Trial
Comments and Criticisms
Comments and Criticisms2
Comments and Criticisms3
Comments and Criticisms4

I submit that what follows below typifies what can be expected when one tries to change a century and a half of settled, but erroneous opinion. These are actual replies from within a literary forum that follow a summary of my findings regarding Porphyria's Lover. I mean no offense to those who made the comments but they are here to point out how difficult it is to attempt change. In law we call it Stare Decisis and every lawyer knows the difficulity associated with changing the law that follows a case of long standing when that case was wrongly decided in the first instance.

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(09/29/06 email from Lizzie)    Hi,  reading the comments about the poem Porphyria's Lover made me realise that people be they teachers critics or laymen like myself can get stuck in a way of thinking. It is a clear cut case for a mercy killing as far as I can see. I am not a lawyer or a vast reader of poetry. But from beginning to end this poem makes sense to me only as an act of euthanasia nothing else. This guy loved this woman deeply and she him. I don't think that a pyschopath would sit with heart fit to break at all. Who knows?  cheers  Lizzy

By J. T. Best On 04.04.06 00:49 [Edit] [Reply] Next
For more than a century Robert Browning's classical poem Porphyria's Lover has been misinterpreted. It has been totally misread as representing wanton acts of depraved sexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Porphyria's Lover is about euthanasia, plain and simple. Again, as with my take on After Apple Picking by Robert Frost, which can be found at http://whendarknessfell.tripod.com/ the literary world has chosen to ignore what I have, via another carefully written essay, correctly argued; go to http://porphyriaslover.tripod.com/ In reference to the perceived feasibility of my argument I am herewith soliciting learned opinion by inviting comments, pro or con. Please contribute. Cheers, J.T. Best

N/- By M On 04.05.06 08:32 [Reply] Next Parent
Isn't is suffocating being so far up your own arse?  It must smell bad, at least.

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.05.06 17:19 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
Receiving comments like your comes with revolutionary thinking. Nobody likes to admit they are wrong and change literary history, and that applies especially, I am told, those of Scottish ancestry. Just curious, did R. Browning have any scottish blood?

N/- ByOn 04.06.06 06:24 [Reply] Next Parent
Well, that was a bit rude.

N/- By J On 04.06.06 06:40 [Reply] Next Parent
(Well, given that Bullet's comment was also rather rude, I figure he deserved what he got. Mind you, I'm a little annoyed by the Scottish comment... :-))

N/- By C On 04.06.06 06:49 [Reply] Next Parent
True...and general rudeness I have no issues with...but the Scottish dig, I just didn't feel all that was necessary. ;-)

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.06.06 16:09 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
And I suppose telling someone that they have their head up their ass is OK. It is "Ass" in the west and "Arse" east of the Greenwich line. In any event the Italians can sing opera, the Germans are good at making machinery, the Irish good drinkers, the Scottish are thrifty especially with their praise, the English are pompos, the Asians smart and the Russians are good at chess (don't play chess with anybody whose last name begins with 'K') Did I leave anybody out? JTB

N/- By B On 04.06.06 17:03 [Reply] Next Parent
Stereotype much?

N/- By t On 04.06.06 17:26 [Reply] Next Parent
No, it's don't play chess with "anyone" whos name ends with "Junior".

N/- By t On 04.06.06 17:37 [Reply] Next Parent
"It is "Ass" in the west and "Arse" east of the Greenwich line."

No you pleb, it is not that at all. In fact "Arse" occurs more north of the Greenwich line.

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.06.06 17:48 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
Well I'm way down under in New Zealand and it Arse. In fact it is the same in Australia and those two countries are not north of anything except the south pole. In fact they don't like it at all when I insert the word "ass" into my writing. Who's the pleb, pleb?

N/- ByOn 04.06.06 17:58 [Reply] Next Parent
"The meridian line at Greenwich in London, England. A meridian line is an imaginary line that runs from the North Pole to the South Pole. By international convention, the meridian line at Greenwich, which runs through the Royal Observatory telescope, marks 0 longitude and is the point from which all other lines of longitude are measured."

So, where is Austrailia on that line?

As for the "pleb", it is still you as you didn't know that i was British at the time.

N/- By P On 04.07.06 01:37 [Reply] Next Parent
What about the good old Americans?  :-)

N/- ByOn 04.07.06 07:44 [Reply] Next Parent
I'm just wondering how being thrifty especially with praise (which I wouldn't really dispute unless someone tried to apply it to all Scots, which is of course nonsensical) relates to being particularly resistant to changing ideas?

If I read your first response aright, you said Scots were *particularly* resistant to new ideas. Now, this is something I would strongly dispute. Scots as a race have one of the highest numbers of genius per head (the way I heard it, second only to the Jews). Scots have been responsible for a staggering number of innovations and discoveries, considering how few of us there actually are: penicillin, tarmac, the Bank of England, television... This to me implies a race who are actually open to new ideas rather than closed to them. It also fails to connect in any way to your second stereotype of "the Scottish are thrifty especially with their praise".

Magic Bullet was rude, but his reply to you was generally warranted by the tone of your post. We don't know you, and you come here and tell us how your views are the the bee's knees: more correct than all the rest of humankind together. That is arrogance. "You have your head up your arse" is a colloquialism meaning arrogance.

In your response to him, you insulted me and all the Scots who might happen on your thread (and there are a fair few about, Scots, friends of Scots and people of Scots-descent). Do you really think you were justified in that?

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.07.06 15:41 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
I love the Scottish, I even had a little fling with an immigrant from Scotland and you are correct, the Scottish are very talented, at least she was. I can't apologize for the Scots being thrifty by way of reputation, but I am sorry you took it personally as an affront to you national origin. I am one of those that would truly fight to the death to protect one from being discriminated against. I have indeed been engaged in many a courtroom battle over racial, sexual and religious freedoms which I believe ought to be protected at nearly any cost as it so states in the U.S. Constitution which I am sworn to uphold. But there is a little corner for free speech, you know.

N/- By J On 04.07.06 17:29 [Reply] Next Parent
To be honest, I think of thrifty as something of a compliment.

The problem was with the idea that we're resistant to new ideas, which is something like an antithesis of everything I hold dear.

N/- By t On 04.07.06 08:09 [Reply] Next Parent

I thought i'd wack this here.

I was slightly shocked at first, which was soon replaced by laughter.

No offence taken JTB...not from me anyway.

N/- By C On 04.07.06 08:13 [Reply] Next Parent
Someone must have a serious inferiority complex.

N/- By J On 04.07.06 09:48 [Reply] Next Parent
I thought the "what can be expected when one tries to change a century and a half of settled, but erroneous opinion." at the top was the funniest in that he has still yet to acknowlege that somebody has said that they were taught this outlook.

N/- By B On 04.07.06 09:49 [Reply] Next Parent
Wonder why he didn't post his original comment with the rest? Makes it look rather one sided.

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.07.06 16:16 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
Finally, someone with vision. I really do have a lot of fun stirring the shit.

N/- By t On 04.06.06 06:30 [Reply] Next Parent
His Mother was Sarah Anna Wiedemann, of German-Scottish origin.

Your being very selective, no mention of the German side from you.

N/- By M On 04.06.06 07:57 [Reply] Next Parent
No, being an arrogant arse brings comments like that oh Lord of literature.

I'm reeling from the pot shot at my nationality, I really am.

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.06.06 16:27 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
You Scottish tell someone they have their head up their ass and then get pissed off if the rudness is pointed out as being the nature of the beast. JTB

N/- By t On 04.06.06 16:41 [Reply] Next Parent
Considering you don't get sarcasm, i'm wondering what your "correctly worded" essays are like.

N/- By B On 04.06.06 17:07 [Reply] Next Parent
Some people should stay out of the kitchen if they can't take the heat(or take people disagreeing with them)

N/- By t On 04.06.06 17:16 [Reply] Next Parent
Was that to me, or him?

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.06.06 17:30 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
I disagree with the statement that I have my head up my ass. That is the only comment made thus far in reference to my post and therefored the only one I can disagree with. It would be nice if someone directed their invective toward my work and not toward the anatomical position of my head! So far not a single word about "Porphria's Lover." Is that omission a testament to the literary insight of my audience that is herein being displayed thus far?

N/- By T On 04.06.06 17:46 [Reply] Next Parent
"I disagree with the statement that I have my head up my ass."

That's funny!

"It would be nice if someone directed their invective toward my work and not toward the anatomical position of my head!"

Where your head's at has a lot to do with your work, believe it or not!

"Is that omission a testament to the literary insight of my audience that is herein being displayed thus far?"

Nope, if you look at my statements you'll find the word "research".

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.06.06 18:02 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
Are we on the same planet? I re-read all your comments and didn't find the word "research." You are disagreeing for the sake of disagreement and not for any constructive purpose, which is allright because we are who we are!

N/- By T On 04.06.06 18:06 [Reply] Next Parent
"His Mother was Sarah Anna Wiedemann, of German-Scottish origin."

That's research.

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.06.06 18:30 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
"Nope, if you look at my statements you'll find the word 'research'." Within the aforementioned phrase authored by yourself, you refer to the "word," 'research' and not the idea of "research" -- nope, you lose both the argument and your credibility goes along with it.

N/- By t On 04.07.06 07:31 [Reply] Next Parent
That was a figure of speech...just in case you didn't get that from my pervious reply.

N/- By B On 04.06.06 18:21 [Reply] Next Parent
This whole thing may have started because of your attitude in that the entire literary world is wrong, and you are right.  They disagreed with you, and, instead of relooking and re-evaluating your findings, you state that they are wrong. 

You join this site...don't comment on anyone, and it seems that your entire purpose to be here is to get others to read your 'paper', and agree with you.  If someone doesn't agree, then they're wrong. If someone posts something you don't want to read, then you reply with prejudice stereotypes..... and for that reason alone, I would never read a word written by you, claiming your rather common insights to a poem that was written long before you were born.

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.06.06 18:39 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
Well lets see, I ask for comments "pro and con" and you interpret that to mean I want agreement. Somehow that just doesn't jive with logic. And lets see I just joined and am really busy fending off attacks, just how many of those comments about other peoples work should I have gotton around to already. It is just 9:00 a.m. and was six o'clock a.m. when I got on line a little while ago, should I have not slept and been commenting all night last night. What a pocketfull of logic and handful of wizardry you are.

N/- By B On 04.06.06 19:24 [Reply] Next Parent
There are some comments on here that were left more than a few hours ago that you haven't replied to...and those are the ones that are not insulting in any way. One thing you'll find out about these boards is that peple don't sugar coat, kiss ass, or lick your(collective) toes while telling you how great you are.

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.06.06 19:49 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
Yeah, and newcomers shouldn't fight back, just sit around and get pissed on. Fine bunch of critics this website produced, all you know how to do is attack people. That can only happen where you haven't got the wherewithal to provide constructive criticism regarding someone's work. Remember this all started with someone telling me I have my head up my ass regarding a subject matter that I am quite versed in. Providing facts to disagree with my literary position is a far cry from telling me I have my head up my ass and those who join in that argument demonstrate a level of intellect that is easily grasped by anyone reading this diatribe.

N/- By C On 04.07.06 06:25 [Reply] Next Parent
Here's a bit of advice, if you don't want your threads to turn out like this...then posting prejudiced stereotypes on an international fora should be avoided. I don't care what is said to you...even if it's rude, there is NO rational or modern way of thinking that should condone prejudice and stereotyping in the way you have displayed here. If I am to respect (whether I agree or disagree) any of your viewpoints, they should be displayed in a professional manner. Professionalism doesn't resort to such replies. So, you can degrade anyone you want, but if you do, don't cry that you've been treated so unfairly. Personally, I choose to ignore rude retorts about my work or my person. Oh, and I'm part Italian, by the way...and I can't sing! I'm part Irish and rarely drink! I'm part French and I don't surrender...though I do enjoy cheese.

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.07.06 15:46 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
What exactly is it that you do do well? Are you kidding, this is wonderful stuff, go back and start at the top and read to the bottom, where else could you find spontaneous entertainment like that. No scriptwriter could write it!!!

N/- By W On 04.05.06 13:46 [Reply] Next Parent
I totally agree with you. And I think you'll be pleased to know that at my school in England that was actually one of the interpretations of the poem that we were taught/led to observe at GCSE level (if you're not familiar with British qualifications these are basic quals that you achieve at 16 yrs.) Although I haven't read Porphyria's Lover in some time, I remember enjoying studying it a great deal and wrote many an essay on it! In fact I'm gonna go find my poetry book and read it again :-) Thank you for reminding me of such a great poem!

N/- By M On 04.06.06 07:58 [Reply] Next Parent
You mean it's not revolutionary thinking?  You'll ruin his life.

The echelon of English literature that is GCSE level teaches his revolutionary reading...

Time to rethink the ego.

N/- By B On 04.06.06 07:50 [Reply] Next Parent
The only one who really knows what ANY poem is about is the original author.  Claiming to know what Browning actually meant is rather arrogant, as a stating that the literary world is refusing to accept your 'correctly argued essay'. 

You are absolutely correct in your interpretation of the poem.... everyone is correct in what they read into a poem.  It may not be what the author meant, or even close to what he wanted to portray, but it won't be wrong.  That's the wonderful thing about poetry....everyone walks away with something different from each and every piece.

N/- By P On 04.07.06 01:44 [Reply] Next Parent

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.07.06 17:30 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
"What you are stands above you and shouts so loudly that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary." That means to me that poetry can contain a true meaning other than that intended by the author. Thin surface words often need to be inspected for the intent behind a literal interpretation. That is to say the author may not know he/she is revealing a very personal secret in their writing such as Robert Frost in After Apple Picking. I would bet he did not set out to write a sex story about his life when he began to put words on paper but the sexual connotations are surely there.

N/- By J On 04.07.06 17:33 [Reply] Next Parent
But the question is, just because certain implications occur in someone's writing, do they mean that they actually happened? Or might the writer just have a fertile imagination and a clear graps of reality?

My concern is that someone might one day read something of mine and decide that I was a closet lesbian who liked to drink the blood of peacocks in the bath at midnight or somesuch.

N/- By J.T. Best On 04.07.06 17:52 [Edit] [Reply] Next Parent
The sad truth is that can actually happen, but when we publish we open ourselves up to such results. It then becomes a debate as to whether or not the posthumous assignment of labels is justified. Thus, we write extensive essays in support of our argument instead of simply pontificating a conclusion that another's opinion is ridiculous as the above forty some comments appear to do.

N/U ByOn 04.07.06 17:55 [Reply] Parent
I think the above forty comments were in response to your post, rather than your essay, and more about your tone than your ideas.

But that's just my opinion. Mind you, I've been here a while now and I know how the boards work.

Topic Poetry Related Discussion / Porphyria's Lover- A Misinterpreted Poem