Two contrasting short characteristic pieces based on two of poet Robert Browning's most famous poems. In A Toccata of Galuppi's the speaker is listening to a toccata by the composer Galuppi and the music evokes life in 18th century Venice.
Oh Galuppi, Baldassaro, this is very sad to find!
I can hardly misconceive you; it would prove me deaf and blind;
But although I take your meaning, 'tis with such a heavy mind!
Here you come with your old music, and here's all the good it brings.
What, they lived once thus at Venice where the merchants were the kings,
Where Saint Mark's is, where the Doges used to wed the sea with rings?
By contrast in My Last Duchess the Duke of Ferrara is giving a tour to an emissary of his prospective 2nd wife and reveals a private portrait of the first, whose flirtatious nature caused the Duke to have her removed. Browning suggested that the poem could mean that the Duke had had her killed or put into a convent.
A heart - how shall I say too soon made glad.
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast,
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