Leddy-Jones Research Hall
Haskins Studio, Rochester, New York, 1924
Browning wrote to an American inquirer about this poem: "There is no sort of historical foundation for the poem .... I wrote it under the bulwark of a vessel, off the African coast, after I had been at sea long enough to appreciate even the fancy of a gallop on the back of a certain good horse 'York,' then in my stable at home. It was written in pencil on the fly-leaf of Bartoli's Simboli, I remember."
The poem, published in 1838, tells the story of three riders, the narrator among them, as they ride their horses at top speed from the town of Ghent on their way to Aix to deliver important news for the latter town's survival. The nature of the news is never revealed. The story details are far less important than the sense of movement and sacrifice that permeate the poem.
Excerpt from Robert Browning's
"'How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix'"
So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;
The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;
Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,
And "Gallop," gasped Joris, "for Aix is in sight!"
Gift of the Faculty and Students of
San Marcos Baptist Academy