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Protus

 Among these latter busts we count by scores,
Half-emperors and quarter-emperors,
Each with his bay-leaf fillet, loose-thonged vest,
Loricand low-browed Gorgon on the breast,---
One loves a baby face, with violets there,
Violets instead of laurel in the hair,
As those were all the little locks could bear.
Now read here.
``Protus ends a period ``Of empery beginning with a god; ``Born in the porphyry chamber at Byzant, ``Queens by his cradle, proud and ministrant: ``And if he quickened breath there, 'twould like fire ``Pantingly through the dim vast realm transpire.
``A fame that he was missing spread afar: ``The world from its four corners, rose in war, ``Till he was borne out on a balcony ``To pacify the world when it should see.
``The captains ranged before him, one, his hand ``Made baby points at, gained the chief command.
``And day by day more beautiful he grew ``In shape, all said, in feature and in hue, ``While young Greek sculptors, gazing on the child, ``Because with old Greek sculptore reconciled.
``Already sages laboured to condense ``In easy tomes a life's experience: ``And artists took grave counsel to impart ``In one breath and one hand-sweep, all their art--- ``To make his graces prompt as blossoming ``Of plentifully-watered palms in spring: ``Since well beseems it, whoso mounts the throne, ``For beauty, knowledge, strength, should stand alone, ``And mortals love the letters of his name.
'' ---Stop! Have you turned two pages? Still the same.
New reign, same date.
The scribe goes on to say How that same year, on such a month and day, ``John the Pannonian, groundedly believed ``A Blacksmith's bastard, whose hard hand reprieved ``The Empire from its fate the year before,--- ``Came, had a mind to take the crown, and wore ``The same for six years (during which the Huns ``Kept off their fingers from us), till his sons ``Put something in his liquor''---and so forth.
Then a new reign.
Stay---``Take at its just worth'' (Subjoins an annotator) ``what I give ``As hearsay.
Some think, John let Protus live ``And slip away.
'Tis said, he reached man's age ``At some blind northern court; made, first a page, ``Then tutor to the children; last, of use ``About the hunting-stables.
I deduce ``He wrote the little tract `On worming dogs,' ``Whereof the name in sundry catalogues ``Is extant yet.
A Protus of the race ``Is rumoured to have died a monk in Thrace,--- ``And if the same, he reached senility.
'' Here's John the Smith's rough-hammered head.
Great eye, Gross jaw and griped lips do what granite can To give you the crown-grasper.
What a man!

by Robert Browning
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