Robert Browning (1812-1889)
Caliban upon Setebos
Or, Natural Theology in the Island
"Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself."
(David, Psalms 50.21)
['Will sprawl, now that the heat of day is best,
2Flat on his belly in the pit's much mire,
3With elbows wide, fists clenched to prop his chin.
4And, while he kicks both feet in the cool slush,
5And feels about his spine small eft-things course,
6Run in and out each arm, and make him laugh:
7And while above his head a pompion-plant,
8Coating the cave-top as a brow its eye,
9Creeps down to touch and tickle hair and beard,
10And now a flower drops with a bee inside,
11And now a fruit to snap at, catch and crunch,--
12He looks out o'er yon sea which sunbeams cross
13And recross till they weave a spider-web
14(Meshes of fire, some great fish breaks at times)
15And talks to his own self, howe'er he please,
16Touching that other, whom his dam called God.
17Because to talk about Him, vexes--ha,
18Could He but know! and time to vex is now,
19When talk is safer than in winter-time.
20Moreover Prosper and Miranda sleep
21In confidence he drudges at their task,
22And it is good to cheat the pair, and gibe,
23Letting the rank tongue blossom into speech.]
24Setebos, Setebos, and Setebos!
25'Thinketh, He dwelleth i' the cold o' the moon.
26'Thinketh He made it, with the sun to match,
27But not the stars; the stars came otherwise;
28Only made clouds, winds, meteors, such as that:
29Also this isle, what lives and grows thereon,
30And snaky sea which rounds and ends the same.
31'Thinketh, it came of being ill at ease:
32He hated that He cannot change His cold,
33Nor cure its ache. 'Hath spied an icy fish
34That longed to 'scape the rock-stream where she lived,