The Patriot Poem Summary & Line by Line Explanation in English ICSE 10th


In this article, we will discuss the summary and analysis of the poem “The Patriot” written by Robert Browning. The full name of the poem is The Patriot – An Old Story. It is a dramatic monologue in which the patriot who narrates his story rise and downfall.

The poem has been divided into six stanzas having five lines each. In the first two stanzas, the patriot memorises the days of his glory and in the remaining four stanzas, he discusses his downfall while going to place where he will be executed publicly.


Stanza 1

It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.

The patriot says that one year before this very day, there were roses, roses, all the way with myrtle mixed in his path. The line means that one year before the patriot was welcomed with roses on his way when he returned back after his grand victory.

Not only the roses but white fragrant myrtle flowers were also spread across his way. The people of his country or city were so much excited over seeing him that they were madly spreading these beautiful and fragrant flowers in his way in order to celebrate his victory.

There were so much people on the house roofs that it seemed that they are moving like oscillator because of overweight. Even the spires (top) of Church seemed to be burning as they were laden with the flags (that were raised to celebrate his victory).

Stanza 2

The air broke into a mist with bells,
The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.
Had I said, ``Good folk, mere noise repels---
But give me your sun from yonder skies!''
They had answered, ``And afterward, what else?''

According to the patriot, the air broke into a mist with bells meaning that the sound of the bells (which were ringing in the honour of his victory). The cries of joy were so loud that they shook the walls of the houses.

The people were so much happy that if the patriot would have asked them to bring him the sun from the skies, they would have replied And afterward, what else? In other words, they were willing to do whatever the patriot would have said.

Stanza 3

Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
To give it my loving friends to keep!
Nought man could do, have I left undone:
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.

The scene now shifts to one year later on the same day. The patriot sighs Alack in grief. According to him, he leaped at the sun to give it to his loving friends to keep. It was quite a difficult task which no one else could have done if he had left it undone.

The idea of leaping at the sun has been borrowed from the Greek Tale of Icarus. Icarus tried flying high by sticking wings to his arms using wax. He was successful in flying up. However, when he flew more and more up (closer to the sun), the wax began melting away and finally the wings got detached from his body. He fell down and died.

The moral of this Greek Tale is that one should never do something beyond limits or else it leads to his downfall. The patriot also repents for doing too much for his country and people. Having done too much, he now repents over his struggle as it has led him to face this day (on which he was executed).

Stanza 4

There's nobody on the house-tops now---
Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
At the Shambles' Gate---or, better yet,
By the very scaffold's foot, I trow.

The patriot says that now there’s nobody on the house-tops unlike the last year and just some people on the windows who seem to be palsied or paralysed i.e. they are without any pity or love for the patriot. They are the only ones who couldn’t go to the place where the patriot is going to be hanged publicly.

According to him, the people have gathered at the Shambles’ Gate; the place where people are hanged. The patriot is also being dragged towards scaffold (wooden platform for hanging people).

Stanza 5

I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year's misdeeds.

It is raining cats and dogs. His hands have been tied behind with a rope which is so tight that the patriot feels as if his wrists have been cut opened by it. As he is walking towards the scaffold, the people are throwing stones at him.

Having his head down because of humiliation he is just feeling the stones which have made his forehead bleed. He is not angry at all because he considers this pain, blood and humiliation as the punishment for some misdeed which he committed in the past (he doesn’t mention that deed).

Stanza 6

Thus I entered, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
``Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
``Me?''---God might question; now instead,
'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.

In the final stanza, the Patriot has reached the scaffold and executed. Even the people have dropped down dead in triumph (of punishing the traitor by throwing stones).

The Patriot thinks that God may ask him what else he needs as he has been punished by the world. He is now free from the hypocrisy of the world and thus quite safer in heaven. The poem hence ends in peace. Here is the analysis of the poem.

Read this document for detailed analysis of the poem.