4

From Aurora Leigh:

The book has some truth in it, I believe:
And truth outlives pain, as the soul does life.
I know we talk our Phædons to the end
Through all the dismal faces that we make,
O'er-wrinkled with dishonouring agony
From any mortal drug. I have written truth,
And I a woman; feebly, partially,
Inaptly in presentation, Romney'll add,
Because a woman. For the truth itself,
That's neither man's nor woman's, but just God's;
None else has reason to be proud of truth:
Himself will see it sifted, disenthralled,
And kept upon the height and in the light,
As far as, and no farther, than 'tis truth;
For, – now He has left off calling firmaments
And strata, flowers and creatures, very good,–
He says it still of truth, which is His own.

What is the meaning of this last sentence?

God has named all the things in the world ("left off calling ..."). This work of his is done. Now God "says it". What is "it" here? I can't even begin to untangle this sentence..

4

The lines:

[…] now He has left off calling firmaments
And strata, flowers and creatures, very good

do not mean, as suggested in the question, that God has ceased to name things, but rather, that he has ceased to call them very good. This is an allusion to Genesis chapter 1 verse 31, in the Authorized Version:

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.

The ‘firmament of Heaven’ appears in Genesis 1:6–8; flowers in 11–12; creatures in 20–25. I am not entirely sure what Browning means by ‘strata’, but its position in the list suggests that it refers to the division of the waters from the dry land in verses 9–10. After each of these passages the phrase “and God saw that it was good” is repeated.

So “He says it still of truth” means that God still says that truth is very good. The association of God with truth comes from John chapter 14 verse 6:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life

  • 1
    This is clearly correct in light of the earlier lines "For the truth itself, That's neither man's nor woman's, but just God's; None else has reason to be proud of truth", with the lines under discussion being added as explanation of this ("For, ...") – Rand al'Thor Jan 31 '19 at 12:16
  • Gareth, thank you! I've managed to completely forget of this question, and it took me some time to refresh my memory. – CopperKettle Jan 31 '19 at 12:28

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