A Source for Brownings Holy-Cross Day
In a letter of 21 October 1886, Robert Browning suggested that his poem ‘Holy-Cross Day’ was inspired in part by the sight of a Hebrew inscription on a church near the Ghetto in Rome. This note identifies the church in question as San Gregorio a Ponte Quattro Capi and assesses the evidence for the reliability of Browning’s claim. It then goes on to examine the significance of the inscription (Isaiah 65:2-3), a fierce criticism of the Jews as a ‘rebellious people’, for the poem as a whole, drawing attention to the role of the Book of Isaiah as a site of contention between Christians and Jews and to the poem’s affinities to proto-Zionist currents of thought in early nineteenth-century Britain. The note concludes by suggesting that recognition of the role of the inscription in the history of the poem adds weight to Browning’s rejection of a ‘conversionist’ reading of the poem in a letter to his friend and supporter F.J. Furnivall.
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Citation : Phelan, J.P. (2018) A Source for Browning's 'Holy-Cross Day', Notes and Queries, 65 (3), pp. 382-386
ISSN : 0029-3970
Research Group : Centre for Textual Studies (CTS)
Research Institute : Institute of English
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Humanities