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Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister
Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister
by Robert Browning

Stanza 5 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 33-40

When he finishes refection,
Knife and fork he never lays
Cross-wise, to my recollection,
As do I, in Jesu's praise.
I the Trinity illustrate,
Drinking watered orange pulp--
In three sips the Arian frustrate;
While he drains his at one gulp!

  • When Brother Lawrence finishes his "refection" (or meal) he just puts his knife and fork down, rather than setting them down in the shape of a cross.
  • The speaker announces that he, on the other hand, always remembers to put the knife and fork in the shape of a cross, in praise of "Jesu" (Jesus).
  • The speaker also finds fault with the way Brother Lawrence drinks his orange juice: the speaker drinks his O.J. in three sips to represent the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity in order to "frustrate" the "Arian."
  • OK, some explanation is clearly in order here. The Christian deity exists in three forms: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (or Ghost). The details about how this works vary between sects, but the general doctrine is accepted across almost all Christian denominations, with the notable exception of the Unitarians. The "Arian" mentioned in Line 39 means a follower of Arius, who was a Christian theologian in the 4th century C.E. who didn't believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.
  • But Brother Lawrence drinks his orange juice all in "one gulp"!
  • The speaker thinks that drinking in three sips makes him a better monk.
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