Reference: This is stanza has been taken from the poem Patriot into Traitor” written by Robert Browning.
Context: This poem is a criticism of politics and people’s opinion. When a leader comes into power, people call him a patriot. When he is dethroned, the same leader is considered a traitor. This is the tragedy of modern politics. The leader in this poem fell a victim to the same state of affairs. When he came into power, people showered flowers at him as a patriot. But after a year, they declared him a traitor, when he was no more in power. They took him to the gallows. But Browning has ended his poem not on a tragic, rather on a next world optimistic note.
In these lines the poet says through the mouth of a political leader, when for the first time, only one year ago, on that very day, he came to power, the people gave him a very warm welcome. There were roses mixed with myrtle flowers which people spread on his way through and through. The
house-tops were crowded with people and they were moving and swinging like mad people. Also they were so happy as if they were mad. The minarets and domes of churches were shining with light. These churches were decorated with colourful flags. All this was on that very day when the
politician came into power and it took place only one year ago.
When the people were given him a warm welcome they rang bells and raised slogans. These different voices mingled with one another and produced a sort of music. The air became misty and heavy because of the noisy slogans and the ringing bells. The slogans of the crowd were so heavy and loud that the adjacent walls of the road-side houses trembled
with various cries and noise of the crowd. These people were welcoming him so happily that if he had told them that mere noise and slogans did not please him. And that they should give him the sun, that is there in the sky far away from them , they would have replied, that was executed (done and what else they could do for him ‘the leader’).
In these lines the leader regretfully says that the people did not help him, instead, it was he who leaped at the sun and made impossible, possible for them. He brought the sun down and handed it over to his dear friends (country men). He made them realize that every impossible could be made
possible for sincere friends. As such he made every effort and did not leave any thing undone for them. Had he left anything undone, nobody else would have done that for them. But he further says with great sorrow that today when only one year has lapsed and that he is no more in chair, his reward can be seen. It can also be seen what he is reaping as a reward of his deeds. He has been branded as a traitor by the people of his nation.
In these lines the poet mourns that nobody can be seen on the housetops to welcome him now. It is quite opposite to the scene when he was received by them. Now there are only a few people, who are rather paralyzed and are standing at the windows. Now they are watching a different sight. This sight is a sort of ridicule and everybody agrees to it.
Obviously, the sight is horrible because the leader is now being taken to the slaughter-house, or it can be better said, the leader thinks, that he is being taken to the gallows to be hanged there. It is all the reward of his good deeds. His deeds have been converted into wicked deeds and people are now punishing him for his supposed misdeeds.
In these lines the poet also mopes over his sad condition. He says that the people are carrying him to the gallows in the rain. They unnecessarily, have tied his hands behind his back with a tight rope. When they are taking him to the slaughter-house, the rope cuts his both hands at wrists. The culprit (the leader) feels that his fore-head is bleeding. This is because everybody in his right sense is throwing stones at him. Everybody feels that he has done nothing for his countrymen. Every person has turned against him and the achievements of his past one year have been changed to misdeeds. This means they have forgotten his service to them and they are now punishing him for his good work for them.
In the given lines the poet, through the mouth of the deposed leader says that he was brought honourably to the chair and with great pomp and show but now he is being taken very insultingly to the gallows. He says sometimes great heroes fall from their climax and die. Such has not happened to him. Had he died in the peak of his power, he would have
been happy. Further the leader ridiculously says that heroes can not expect reward from God in the next world because they get their reward in this world. In his case people have not done him justice. They have killed him. He says after death he will go to his Lord Creator where God Might question him about his deeds he had done for the people. He would
reply that he had done his best for them but they rewarded him with shame. Now he will ask God for a reward because God is just and He would give him the best reward in the other world for his service to his people. He would be safe with God in the world here after.