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Spanish Cloister

             The first stanza is built on the soliloquist's insane counterbalance of motifs: against Brother Lawrence's loving care and watering of his garden is poised the soliloquist's wish for hell-flames to dry up the gardener. "Soliloquy" is carefully wrought to give the impression of violent and disordered hatred. The poem is framed by bestial growls at first word and closing line. The first growl opens the soliloquist's confession of malice, sworn on God's own blood, for Brother Lawrence and is an example of how the technique of onomatopoeia is used reinforces the idea of hatred. The ironies within the poem are that the speaker should be a pious, loving, peaceful man but is in fact is revealed to be a frustrated and confused "Man of God" .
             The diction, structure, and tone of the entire poem communicates the speaker's motives, perceptions, emotions, and behavior. The narrator in Browning's poem proves that the speaker is not always a reliable guide because his thoughts reflect anger and hatred instead of giving the reader an unbiased view of Brother Lawrence. His speech is motivated by hatred so intense that it could kill his "heart's abhorrence" and in line 8, he wishes that "hell would dry [Brother Lawrence] up with its flames." The speaker is overcome with emotion, wishing death upon his fellow monk. While the speaker attempts to negatively influence the reader's perception of Brother Lawrence, the author's diction portrays his ironic tone which in turn exposes the speaker's own hypocrisy. The speaker cannot stand his "heart's abhorrence" whose mouth he refers to as a "swine's snout." The speaker has no tolerance for Brother Lawrence, only hate. Ironically, a man who is supposed to be holy and good loathes another human being. In line 57, the reader learns that the speaker possesses a "scrofulous French novel" that would make one "grovel" by simply catching a glance. If the speaker were a holy and upright monk, he would not possess such a piece of literature.

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