Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister
by Robert Browning
Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister Sex Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line)
What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming?
Oh, that rose has prior claims –
Needs its leaden vase filled brimming? (lines 5-7)
The speaker is juxtaposing two different tasks that he sees Brother Lawrence carrying out in the garden: trimming a myrtle-bush and refilling a vase of roses. One of those tasks, the "trimming," is repressive – it involves cutting back, denying growth. But roses, on the other hand, often symbolize sex and beauty, and Brother Lawrence moves from the repressive task of "trimming" to refilling the sexy rose's vase so that it's "brimming" and overflowing. It's possible that the speaker wants us to read Brother Lawrence's seemingly innocent chores as a sign of his unspoken sexual desire.
While brown Dolores
Squats outside the Convent bank
With Sanchicha, telling stories,
Steeping tresses in the tank,
Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs (lines 25-29)
The speaker describes the women down by the river with a lot of physical detail – he clearly has been checking them out himself!
Can't I see his dead eye glow,
Bright as 'twere a Barbary corsair's? (lines 30-31)
The speaker says Brother Lawrence's eyes "glow" at the sight of the women outside of the monastery as brightly as a lustful pirate ("corsair"). Pirates had a reputation for being lusty, so the simile makes some sense, although it does seem strange to compare a religious monk in a monastery to a free, lusty pirate on the open sea.