Balaustion’s Adventure


Balaustion’s Adventure is a long poem (2705 lines) written by Robert Browning in 1871.

It set just after the defeat of the Athenian expedition against Sicily in 413 BC.
A group of people from Rhodes flee on a ship bound for Athens, but are intercepted by pirates and forced to seek shelter in the harbour of Syracuse, ally of Sparta.
The Syracusans, to grant the Rhodians entry into the port, ask them if they know the verses of Euripides: therefore a girl called Balaustion recites Euripides’ Alcestis, mingling with the text her own comments and descriptions.
When a malevolent critic challenges her performance, Balaustion speaks about poetry that is able to feed all the senses and have therapeutic properties similar to music.

What’s poetry except a power that makes?
And, speaking to one sense, inspires the rest,
Pressing them all into its service; so ⁠
That who sees painting, seems to hear as well
The speech that ‘s proper for the painted mouth;
And who hears music, feels his solitude
Peopled at once — for how count heart-beats plain
Unless a company, with hearts which beat,
Come close to the musician, seen or no?

The name of the Rhodian girl derives from the Latin word balaustium and the Greek balaustion meaning “flower of the wild pomegranate”

Pomegranates have many symbolic implications, not only as symbols of life and fertility owing to their many seeds, but also as symbols of power, beauty and eternal life.
Balaustion blends within herself these metaphorical dimensions; through her identification with poetry she is able to grant both salvation and immortality.


Che cos’è la poesia se non un potere che crea?
E, rivolgendosi a uno dei sensi, ispira tutti gli altri,
spronandoli al suo servizio; così,
a chi vede un dipinto, sembra anche di sentire
il discorso che si addice a quella bocca dipinta;
e chi sente la musica, sente la sua solitudine
popolarsi improvvisamente – perché come è possibile contare i battiti del cuore,
se un insieme di cuori che battono
non si avvicina al musicista, visibile o no?

33 thoughts on “Balaustion’s Adventure

  1. Ciao Luisa! 🙋 Mi rivedo tantissimo nelle tue parole,confesso di essermi commossa, l’arte sono emozioni che prendono vita e arrivano al cuore 😍
    Grazie mille per questo meraviglioso post!!! 🥰♥️🤗😘


  2. Beautiful.
    When teaching creative writing I always told my students, “Don’t just tell me, SHOW me. Take me there – what did it sound like? What did it feel like? What did it smell like?”
    I love art that reaches all the senses. Thanks for sharing this.


  3. Bonjour mon Ami, Amie LUISA

    Ce matin je passe sur ton blog avec
    Des paroles de douceur, qui en fera pour moi et toi des moments de bonheur

    Ce sont de simples écris et des mots trouvés, qui te mettra des étoiles dans les yeux
    Prenons ensemble le temps et la joie d avoir des matins heureux

    Qu’ils fait bon se réveiller au petit matin de suivre en joie son chemin
    D’avoir eu des rêves plein le cœur

    Ce matin pense à aimer et oublier , les blessures du passé
    Pense juste la magie de la beauté du jour d’avoir une belle vie pour toujours

    Je viens juste te souhaiter une bonne journée par ces quelques lignes

    Bisous avec toute mon amitié

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s