Porphyria's Lover  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
... I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her.

Porphyria's Lover is an early poem by Robert Browning that was first published as "Porphyria" in the January 1836 issue of Monthly Repository. Browning later republished it in Dramatic Lyrics (1842) paired with "Johannes Agricola in Meditation" under the title "Madhouse Cells."

"Porphyria's Lover" is Browning's first short dramatic monologue, and also the first of his poems to examine abnormal psychology. Although its initial publication passed nearly unnoticed and it received little critical attention in the nineteenth century, the poem is now heavily anthologised and much studied.

A possible inspiration for the poem is John Wilson's "Extracts from Gosschen's Diary", a lurid account of a murder published in Blackwood's Magazine in 1818.


The poem consists of one long stanza, written in a simple, conversational style, but with a strictly maintained rhyme and meter. The narrator is an apparent madman who sits embracing a woman he claims to have murdered the night before. Porphyria, he says, came to his cottage, kindled a fire, then sat beside him and told him she loved him. He then killed her by strangling her with her own hair; he did this, he explains, so that Porphyria could be his forever, in an eternal state of love.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Porphyria's Lover" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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