Study Guide

The Laboratory Stanza 3

By Robert Browning

Stanza 3

Line 9

Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste, 

  • Now she describes what the poison-maker is doing. 
  • She urges him on, as he grinds and wets and mashes the evil "paste" he's making. 
  • We think it's too bad people don't talk this way any more. If you can work "mash up thy paste" into a conversation in the next week, let us know! You'll have the Shmoop crew's undying respect.

Line 10

Pound at thy powder,—I am not in haste!

  • She lets the guy she's talking to know that he can take all the time he wants pounding at his concoction. By this, she means how the guy is mashing up his ingredients into a powder. 
  • This woman's not in any hurry. After all, you can't rush a good evil plot, can you?
  • Now by this point we bet you've caught onto all the alliteration in the poem: "Pound and "powder" are great examples of that. We also want you to be sure to check out the assonance.
  • That's the repetition of vowel sounds inside the word, like the "o" sounds in those same words: Pound and powder."

Lines 11-12

Better sit thus and observe thy strange things,
Than go where men wait me and dance at the King's. 

  • She'd rather be here watching him make his weird potions than dancing with men at "the King's." 
  • That's an important little detail she drops in there. It lets us know she's used to being at the royal court, and to having men pay attention to her. 
  • She's either a young aristocrat or someone who hangs out with them. Either way, she spends a lot of time in the world of the wealthy and beautiful.