Analysis of Asolando by Robert Browning

Asolando is the last volume of poems by Robert Browning, published 1889. The title derives from a fanciful verb ‘asolare’, ‘to disport in the open air, to amuse oneself at random’, attributed to Bembo at the time of his residence in Asolo, in northern Italy (accent on the first syllable). Asolo had played an important part in Browning’s life and work. The volume contains five poems;

  • Prologue
  • Summum Bonum
  • Bad Dreams III
  • Flute-Music, with an Accompaniment
  • Epilogue

The poems fall into three main groups: an opening series of love lyrics; a group of narrative poems; and a concluding group of meditative or reminiscent dramatic monologues.

The ‘Epilogue’, containing the self-description ‘One who never turned his back but marched breast forward’, is a high-water mark of Browning’s optimism; ‘Beatrice Signorini’, returning to the subject of Italian painting, and ‘Inapprehensiveness’, on the decorum of affection, reveal that Browning’s sensitivity to the unspoken was undiminished. Other poems meditate on moral conundrums and ambiguous human actions.

Also read: Dramatic monologue: Definition, Characteristics, Examples