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Porphyria's Lover

Porphyria's Lover


by Robert Browning

Cuddling by the Fire

Symbol Analysis

Porphyria and her lover spend most of the poem cuddling by the fire. Of course, she's dead for half of it, and their positions get reversed, but still: there's not a lot of movement in this poem. Let's take a look at how they're positioned…

  • Line 16: Porphyria is the active one here: she physically takes the speaker's arm and pulls it around her "waist." He just sits there like a lump and lets her rearrange him.
  • Line 19: Again, Porphyria is active, and the speaker is passive. She's the one to pull his head down against her shoulder.
  • Line 31: Here, exactly halfway through the 60-line poem, the speaker finally does something active. He turns and "looks up" at Porphyria's face.
  • Lines 49-50: Now the speaker is the active one – their positions are reversed. Porphyria's head now leans against his shoulder, and he's the one rearranging her limbs. 

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