by Robert Browning
Our speaker uses this word as an allusion to the whole glittering, fancy world of the royal court. It's a place for dancing and flirting and pleasure, everything the grimy laboratory is not. Our speaker is moving between worlds in this poem, ducking away from "The King's" just long enough to pick up something nasty to bring back.
- Line 12: The first time she brings up the King's, she mentions men and dancing. The association of those words tells us a lot about our speaker. For her, the court is all about pleasure and having men pay attention to her (or "wait me" as she puts it). She's a really vain lady, and the court's a good place for pretty, self-absorbed folks to hang out (kind of like those fancy dance clubs that we don't ever go to).
- Line 21: Now she starts to mix the world of the lab and the world of "the King's" together. She imagines carrying a poison "lozenge" into the court to give to one of the women there. For our speaker, poison is a way of getting power over others, so she loves to think about the advantage it would give her over the other women at court. Let's just say she's a little on the competitive side.
- Line 48: Then, just like that, she's off again, back to the beautiful world of the royal palace. Now, though, that glittering symbol of wealth and pleasure seems a little dirtier, a bit tainted by all of the plans we've heard about. We know now that bad things happen at court, just like they do in the laboratory. There's no place and nobody that's totally good in this poem. Sad.