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Song From Pippa Passes
By Robert Browning (1812-1889)
A Study Guide
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Type of Work
Publication
Text of the Poem
Theme
Structure
Language
Questions, Writing Topics
Biography of Browning
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Study Guide Prepared by Michael J. Cummings... 2011
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Type of Work

.......The "Song From Pippa Passes" is a short lyric poem sung by a character in a verse play by Robert Browning. This play, or dramatic poem, is entitled Pippa Passes. Its story centers on a fourteen-year-old girl, Pippa, who works in a silk mill. On her only day off in the year, she wanders through the town of Asolo singing happy songs that change for the better the lives of those who hear them. 

Publication
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.......Edward Moxon of London published Pippa Passes (the dramatic poem in which "The Song From Pippa Passes" appears) in 1841 in pamphlet form.

Text of the Poem

The year’s at the spring, 
And day’s at the morn; 
Morning’s at seven; 
The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d; 
The lark’s on the wing; 
The snail’s on the thorn; 
God’s in His heaven— 
All’s right with the world.
Theme

.......Pippa's little song says that everything is as it should be in the world of man and nature and that everything is full of promise. Moreover, God is watching over His creation. Therefore, the song says in presenting the theme, all is right with the world. 
 

Structure

.......The eight-line poem has a neat little structure. First, all the lines contain five syllables. Second, the subject of each clause is a noun that unites with the verb is to form a contraction (year's, day's, Morning's, etc.). Third, a prepositional phrase ends each line except the fourth. Fourth, the first three lines center on time; the second three, on nature; and the last two, on God and His dominion. The balanced rhyme scheme is abcd, abcd. All the rhymes are masculine, consisting of a single syllable at the end of one line rhyming with a single syllable at the end of another line. (In feminine rhyme, two syllables rhyme, as in in singing and ringing, flower and power, and razzle and dazzle.)

Language

.......The language of the poem is simple and easy to understand. There are no wasted words, and the meaning is clear.

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Study Questions and Writing Topics
  • Write an eight-line poem that imitates the rhyme scheme of the "The Song From Pippa Passes." The subject is open.
  • What is the difference between a lyric poem, such as "The Song From Pippa Passes," and a ballad?
  • Why is it seven o'clock in the morning instead of six or five or eight?
  • What does a lark do that Pippa does as she walks along?
  • The poem remains highly popular today. What accounts for its popularity?. 
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