AD's English Literature : Analysing Deep and Profound Philosophy in Robert Browning’s "Rabi Ben Ezra"

Analysing Deep and Profound Philosophy in Robert Browning’s "Rabi Ben Ezra"

Robert Browning’s Rabi Ben Ezra is a poem for young and old alike. It gives inspiration and courage to youth, and consolation and peace to old men. It is indeed a priceless “jewel of Browning’s poetry”. Robert Browning’s Rabi Ben Ezra is meant for those persons who consider that the aim of life is merely to live for the gratification of bodily needs. Browning gives a jolt to such thoroughgoing worshipers of the body, and awakens them from their mistaken conception of life. Those who read this poem attentively will realize the wisdom of living life.

Rabi Ben Ezra is a philosophic poem and embodies some of the finest philosophic thoughts of the poet. The philosophic ideas of this poem are deep and profound, and colored the main stream of thought in the poem. Various ideas are developed and presented with penetrating insight and philosophic vision by Robert Browning, and the poem, as a whole, cap be taken to be the quintessence of the poet’s philosophic thoughts.


High Hopes and Aspirations:

 Browning believes that a man should have high hopes and aspirations in his life, is thoughts should have philosophic profundity about them. It is not a discredit if doubts and uncertainties rise in the mind about the values of life. Rabbi says:
“Rather I prize the doubt
Low kinds exist without
Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark”

Equipping the Soul: 

The primary aim of life is not to care for the body and sensual needs of human life. It would certainly be a poor life if man spent all his time in gratifying the needs of the body, and in pampering the body at the cost of the soul:
“Poor vaunt of life indeed,
Were man but formed to feed
On joy, to solely seek and find and feast.”
Man’s life ought to be spent properly in equipping the soul for its journey in its disembodied form after its exit from the body. Boyd and soul should be developed side by side:
“As the bird wings and sings
Let us cry, “All good things
Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul”

Trials and Tribulations: 

Man’s life is for struggle, and he should not scare of trials and tribulations that come in his life. Man should ever be ready to bear all the rebuffs and failures with stoic fortitude, unmindful of the pain, and suffering that may come in the course of his encounter with the difficulty of life:
“Then, welcome each rebuff
That turns earth’s smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pangi dare, never grudge the throe.”

Spiritual Advancement: 

Man is called to God. We should rejoice that we are allied to God ‘who doth provide, and not partake, effect and not receive.’ A divine spark permeates through our physical frame. We are all akin to God. Hence we must develop our own spirit and make the soul strong. For, it is the purified and strengthened soul that will attain salvation. Man should be benefited by his past experiences, and build the foundation of his future greatness on the strength of his acquisition in the past. Man should learn every day to strengthen and fortify his soul for its later life. Man has been given the power to bring about his spiritual advancement:
“For more is not reserved
To man, with soul just nerved
To act to-morrow what he leans today:
Hence, work to watch
The Master work, and each
Hints of the proper craft, tricks of the tools true play.”

Making Judgment: 

The worth of man’s life should not be judged by his actual achievement and tangible acquisitions. In making judgment on man’s worth we must take into account:
“All instincts immature
All purposes unsure
That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man’s amount.”
God takes into account all he thoughts, feelings, and aspirations of man while judging his worth. Men are also taken into account by god though the people of the world condemn a man who failed in his life:
“Thoughts hardly to be packed
Ina narrow act,
Fancies that broke through language and escaped!
Alllcould neverbe
All men ignoredin me,
This, I was worked to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped.”

Supreme Faith: 

This poem is for those who are theists and have faith in God and heavenly life. It confirms the faith of believers and makes them God-fearing and righteous in their lives. The poem teaches us to have supreme faith in the almighty God who has created us. God is Love and we should have faith in One who loves us, We must love him and worship him. All will be for the best for those who believe in God’s mercy and kindness. We must surrender to God’s mercy and believe in his dispensation. We must believe in God and His mercy. God is Love, and He loves all His creatures. Human beings must have full faith in God. They should trust in his dispensations and praise his magnanimity and love for all his creatures. His plan of the universe is perfect. Youth shows but half, and old age complete the whole:
“Perfect I call thy plan:
Thanks that I was man!
Maker, remake,complete, It trust what thou shalt do.”

The Potter and the Clay:

 Two eternal varieties of life are God and Soul. God is the potter and soul is the clay. The cup of human life is formed by God and this cup should be dedicated to God’s service. God will drink wine from the cup of human soul when it reaches heaven after its earthly journey is over, Perfect the cup is planned:
“Look not thou down but up!
To uses of a cup
The festal board, lamp’s flash and trumper’s peal
The new wine’s foaming flow,
The Master’s lips a-glow!
Thou, heaven’s consummate cup, what need’st thou with earth’s wheel?”
Man should not be bound dizzily to the wheel of life. He should not take the mundane realities of life as the supreme reality in the world. Heavenly life after death is more real than the earthly life. We must have full faith in the greatness of life in heaven and prepare ourselves for that life of beatitudes and bliss.

The Supreme Creator: 

Lastly, we must have full faith in God. He is the supreme creator. He will do the best for His creation. Man should spend the days of his life in accordance with the divine will, and then wait ultimately for His Judgment:
“To take and use thy work
Amend what flaws may tusk.
What strain of the stuff, what warping past the aim!
Mytime be in Thy hand!
Perfect the cup as planned!
Let age approve of youth, and death compete the same!”


Ardhendu De

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