Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister
by Robert Browning
Stanza 6 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Oh, those melons! if he's able
We're to have a feast; so nice!
One goes to the Abbot's table,
All of us get each a slice.
How go on your flowers? None double?
Not one fruit-sort can you spy?
Strange!--And I, too, at such trouble,
Keep them close-nipped on the sly!
- The speaker then narrates his half of a conversation with Brother Lawrence.
- He asks how Brother Lawrence's melons are coming along in the garden.
- Brother Lawrence says that if the melons are good, they'll have a "feast." One of the melons will go entirely to the Abbot (the head of the monastery), and the other monks will each get a slice. (You should note that a sweet, juicy melon would be a big treat in a monastery where food was generally very simple and they didn't get a lot of sweets.)
- "So nice!" says the speaker, dripping with sarcasm.
- He imagines asking about Brother Lawrence's flowers – "none double?" – i.e., none of the flowers has a double head?
- Brother Lawrence apparently answers in the negative, because the speaker responds by saying that that's weird (…especially since he's been sneaking out to nip the buds off Brother Lawrence's flowers "on the sly").