“Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” by Robert Browning.
The narrator really has it in for Brother Lawrence. That much is clear.
Some of the lines are a bit puzzling, though.
“I the Trinity illustrate,
Drinking water-colored pulp
In three sips the Arian frustrate
While he drains his at one gulp.”
(OK, the narrator says that he is “holier” than Brother Lawrence because he drinks his juice in three sips–but what’s this about the “Arian frustrate?”)
“There’s a great text in Galatians,
Once you trip on it, entails
Twenty-nine distinct damnations,
One sure if another fails;
If I trip him just a-dying,
Sure of heavens as sure can be,
Spin him round and send him flying,
Off to Hell, a Manichee.”
(What in Galatians is he talking about? And is he talking about catching Brother Lawrence as he is dying, and using one of those to send him to Hell. And what’s the relevance of “a Manichee?”)
“Or my scrofulous French novel,
On grey paper with blunt type!
Simply glance at it, you grovel
Hand and foot in Belial’s gripe.
If I double down it’s pages
At the woeful sixteenth print,
When he gathers his greengages,
Ope a sieve and slip it in’t?”
(This sounds as though the narrator has an erotic book that he wants to stealthily slide over to Brother Lawrence, but is there any relevance to “grey paper,” “blunt type,” and “sixteenth print?”
“Or there’s Satan–one might venture
Pledge one’s soul to him, but leave
Such a flaw in the indenture
As he’d miss, till past retrieve,
Blasted lay that rose-acacia
We’re so proud of! Hy, Zy, Hine. . .
'St there’s Vespers. Plena Gratia
Ave, Virgo. Gr-r-r–you swine!”
(So wants to get Brother Lawrence to pledge his soul to the Devil.)
And as in the subject, what’s wrong with Brother Lawrence that the narrator is so upset about?