“Patriot into Traitor” is a very interesting but a tragic poem, which focuses the rise and fall of leaders in the contemporary politics. It is a dramatic monologue. Dramatic monologue is a literary device in which a character freely gives vent to his feelings in front of the audience in order to reveal the inner working of his mind. He talks to the audience aloud and tells us how was acclaimed at one stage and put to a tragic end at another. It is a poem, which exposes the political changes in the third world countries in which patriots are branded as traitor in coups.
The poet says that just a year ago when he entered the city, people welcomed him warmly and decorated his paths with roses and myrtles. There were sounds of bells resounding in the air and people had flocked together to see the great leader who performed great deeds for his nation. The people were so happy and excited that if the leader had demanded the sun, they would have brought it down from the skies for him and said, “What else do you want?” This was such a favorable political situation for the leader a year ago.
After a year a run, the scene is totally different, the most favorite and popular leader of the nation is branded as traitor. There are no people on the housetops now. Just a palsied few are at the windows looking at the leader. All the people have gone to the Shambles’ Gate and are standing at the very foot of the scaffold to see him die. He is being taken there to be hanged. It is raining heavily and his hands are tied with rope. His forehead is bleeding because whoever has a mind throws stones at him. He undergoes physical as well as mental torture. After all this treatment, the leader, however, is optimistic and consoles himself with the remarks that his services to the nation will bring fruit in the heaven when he will ask God for reward and God will redeem him.
Robert Browning’s monologue is a superb example of current political upheaval and changed public opinion. The writer wants to suggest that nothing remains the same in the world politics. It is a world of self-interest and selfish people who, for individual benefits, may go against the common good of the country.