Module 4: Poetry

2. Robert Browning: “Porphyria’s Lover”

The following example is the poem “Porphyria’s Lover” by Robert Browning. Although no formal line groups are discerned, it has a systematic rhyme scheme repeating every 5 lines. This is indicated in the @rhyme attribute of the outermost <lg> element. Some of the lines break up syntactic sentences; those have been marked with the value "yes" for an @enjamb attribute.

<lg xmlns="" rhyme="ababb">
<l>T​HE rain set early in to​-night,</l>
<l>The sullen wind was soon awake,</l>
<l>It tore the elm​-tops down for spite,</l>
<l>And did its worst to vex the lake:</l>
<l>I listen​'d with heart fit to break.</l>
<l>When glided in Porphyria; straight</l>
<l>She shut the cold out and the storm,</l>
<l enjamb="yes">And kneel​'d and made the cheerless grate</l>
<l>Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;</l>
<l enjamb="yes">Which done, she rose, and from her form</l>
<l>Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,</l>
<l enjamb="yes">And laid her soil​'d gloves by, untied</l>
<l>Her hat and let the damp hair fall,</l>
<l>And, last, she sat down by my side</l>
<l>And call​'d me. When no voice replied,</l>
<l>She put my arm about her waist,</l>
<l>And made her smooth white shoulder bare,</l>
<l>And all her yellow hair displaced,</l>
<l>And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,</l>
<l>And spread, o​'er all, her yellow hair,</l>
<l enjamb="yes">Murmuring how she loved me​—she</l>
<l>Too weak, for all her heart​'s endeavour,</l>
<l>To set its struggling passion free</l>
<l>From pride, and vainer ties dissever,</l>
<l>And give herself to me for ever.</l>
<l>But passion sometimes would prevail,</l>
<l>Nor could to​-night​'s gay feast restrain</l>
<l>A sudden thought of one so pale</l>
<l>For love of her, and all in vain:</l>
<l>So, she was come through wind and rain.</l>
<l>Be sure I look​'d up at her eyes</l>
<l>Happy and proud; at last I knew</l>
<l enjamb="yes">Porphyria worshipp​'d me; surprise</l>
<l>Made my heart swell, and still it grew</l>
<l>While I debated what to do.</l>
<l>That moment she was mine, mine, fair,</l>
<l>Perfectly pure and good: I found</l>
<l enjamb="yes">A thing to do, and all her hair</l>
<l>In one long yellow string I wound</l>
<l>Three times her little throat around,</l>
<l>And strangled her. No pain felt she;</l>
<l>I am quite sure she felt no pain.</l>
<l>As a shut bud that holds a bee,</l>
<l enjamb="yes">I warily oped her lids: again</l>
<l>Laugh​'d the blue eyes without a stain.</l>
<l>And I untighten​'d next the tress</l>
<l enjamb="yes">About her neck; her cheek once more</l>
<l>Blush​'d bright beneath my burning kiss:</l>
<l>I propp​'d her head up as before,</l>
<l>Only, this time my shoulder bore</l>
<l>Her head, which droops upon it still:</l>
<l>The smiling rosy little head,</l>
<l>So glad it has its utmost will,</l>
<l>That all it scorn​'d at once is fled,</l>
<l>And I, its love, am gain​'d instead!</l>
<l enjamb="yes">Porphyria​'s love: she guess​'d not how</l>
<l>Her darling one wish would be heard.</l>
<l>And thus we sit together now,</l>
<l>And all night long we have not stirr​'d,</l>
<l>And yet God has not said a word!</l>
Example 2. TBE-crafted example encoding of Robert Browing’s poem “Porphyria’s Lover,” as it appeared in Dramatic Lyrics (Browning 1842).


  • Blake, William. 1789. Songs of Innocence and of Experience. London: W Blake. Encoded and made available by the University of Virginia Library, Text Collection at
  • Browning, Robert. 1842. Dramatic Lyrics. London: Moxon.
  • Carroll, Lewis. 1865. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. New York: D. Appleton and co. p. 37.
  • Islam, Mubina. 2004. “A Selection of Sonnets: electronic edition encoded in XML with a TEI DTD.” Unpublished Master’s Dissertation, London: University College London.
  • Shakespeare, William. 1978. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Edited by Alexander, Peter. London: Collins.
  • Swinburne, Algernon Charles. 1924. Swinburne’s Collected Poetical Works. London: William Heinemann. p. 330–31.