Giotto's Tower: 1847-1851
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Giotto's Tower: 1847-1851 book
In 1847, for the first time since they had left London, the Brownings found a permanent home in Florence, although they did not at first realize it. In July, they rented an apartment in Casa Guidi, a converted palace across from the Pitti. The rooms in which the Brownings spent most of their time were huge and airy, with high vaulted ceilings and two tiny balconies. For Elizabeth, especially, these lodgings represented an ideal marriage of space and containment, freedom and safety: it was a perfect environment for the profound changes which would occur in her poetry. There, she wrote Casa Guidi Windows, the first poem in which she made full use of the psychic and artistic freedom which followed her marriage. It is not a perfect poem, but writing it enabled the poet to re-integrate the political once more into her poetry, from which it had been absent, at least overtly, since she wrote the unpublished "Essay on Woman."1 And far more than in that remarkable piece of juvenilia, Barrett Browning was able in Casa Guidi Windows to articulate the connections between politics, poetry, and emotion. Robert Browning was the enabler of Casa Guidi Windows, and he is the audience within it.