Robert Browning Poem Patriot Into Traitor Main Idea Explanation and Questions

Robert Browning Poem Patriot Into Traitor

Patriot into Traitor by Robert Browning

About the Poet

Robert Browning was born in 1812, in London, England. He was a brilliant child creating masterpieces of jam and pencil when he was two years old and attending day school as an infant. Browning was well-renowned as a master of dramatic monologues.
He is most well known for his long-form blank poem, The Ring and the Book, the story of a Roman murder trial in 12 books. He penned down many lyrics, including the Pied Piper of Hamelin and Porphyria’s Lover.
Browning developed significant friendships with the famous authors William Wordsworth and Thomas Carlyle and with the actor William C. Macready. These friendships earned him a solid place in the London Literary Society He died of physical fatigue due to intensive work.

Main idea | Theme of Patriot Into Traitor

The poem Patriot into Traitor is a graphic picture of the downfall of a political leader. When he entered a political career, he was welcomed by the people with great love and honor. He was a selfless patriot and devoted leader. His path was decorated with roses and myrtle.
The people were eager to see him. If he had asked them to bring for him the sun from the sky( to do difficult work), they would have done so. But now one year has passed. He is out of power now. The same people are calling him a traitor.
The people are throwing stones at him. His forehead is bleeding but he is hopeful that God will give him a reward. In this way, he consoles himself.
Robert Browning is a well-known Victorian poet. In the Victorian age people were superstitious. They were scattered-minded. They were torn between faith and doubt. So through this poem, Browning has tried to re-establish man’s faith in God and eternal reward. 
He has given a message of hope and optimism to all the selfless, devoted, and sincere leaders. Although the political hero of this poem suffers many hardships yet he does not lose his faith in God. The last two lines of the poem explain his strong faith in God and eternal reward.


God might question, now instead 

The God shall repay; I am safer so


The poem Patriot into Traitor is a criticism of the people who worship power and authority. The poem is a realistic picture of the condition and behavior of uneducated and immature passionate people. They are partial in their thinking.

Their actions are different from their ideas. They are mere power worshippers. They only worship those leaders and people who remain in power. But when a man is out of power, they dishonor him and leave him alone.

The basic subject matter of the poem is related to the past and present life of a politician. The tone of the poem the poet presents is sad, mournful, serious, and remorseful. Through his mocking style, he has revealed a real fact of the masses of Third-World countries.

They demand sudden change. In this poem, the deposed political leader advises all the political leaders that if the masses of a country can make them, the same people can become the cause of their downfall. 

On the other hand, this poem is a satire on the temperament of the common people of a society. They may raise a person on a pedestal of fame for some time but they may also bring his disgrace very soon.

Stanzas Of Patriot Into Traitor

Stanza 1

It was roses, roses, all the way

With myrtle mixed in my path like mad

The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,

The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,

A year ago on this very day.

Reference and Context

These lines have been taken from the poem Patriot into Traitor by Rober Browning.
In this poem, the poet throws light on the frustration of a political leader. He was considered a patriot one year ago but now has been branded a traitor. When he came into power, all welcomed him. He was served by the people fully. Now he is out of power, and people are taking him to the gallows. He expects honor and reward from God.


In these lines, the deposed is being taken to the gallows. Nobody is around to see his miserable end. Now he recalls the glorious days of his past when he was a very popular leader among the people. 

One year ago when he was the ruler, people welcomed him warmly. Like mad lovers, people scattered roses mixed with myrtle in his path. They gathered in large numbers on the housetops to have a glimpse of him. 

The towers of the churches were also decorated with red flags to welcome him. He was such a favorite leader that people loved and followed him blindly. In short, he enjoyed the full support of both public and religious sections.

Stanza 2

The air broke into a mist with bens,

The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.

Had I said, ‘Good folk mer& noise repels-

But give me your sun from yonder skies?

They had answered: And afterward, what else?

Reference and Context

Same as for the above passage.



In these lines, the deposed ruler recalls that one year before he was very popular among the people. They greeted him by ringing bells and raising slogans in his favor. Their noise made the air heavy like mist. Their loud noise

jolted the old walls of the city. 


They were at his beck and call. They were always ready to offer the greatest sacrifice for his sake. If he asked them to bring down the sun, they would have certainly done it. Even after that, they would ask about the next order. In short, he enjoyed all this fame (9k) only a year ago.


Stanza 3


Alack it was I who leaped at the sun


To give it to my loving friends to keep


Naught man could do, have I felt undone.


And you see my harvest what I reap


This very day, now a year is run.

Reference and Context


Same as for the above passage




In these lines, the deposed ruler claims that during the past year he served the people devotedly and selflessly. He tried to work wonders for them. He met all his promises. But the people proved ungrateful to him. Instead of rewarding him, they turned against him. 

They branded him a traitor and ordered him to hang. Now a year has passed. In this time, he feels completely ruined because all his supporters have left him alone. He has lost everything only in the short period of a year.


Stanza 4

There’s nobody on the house-tops now—

Just a palsied few at the windows set;

For the best of the sight is, all allow

At the Shambles Gate-or, bettor yet,

By the very scaffold’s foot, I trow.

Reference and Context

Same as for the above passage.


In these lines, the deposed ruler is being taken to the gallows to be hanged. He notices that people have deserted him. Nobody is around to show sympathy for him. Nobody is seen on the roofs to share his misery. 

Only a few sick persons, who are killing their time by sitting in the windows of their houses, looking at him. Similarly, there are a few more persons who are present to hang him. 

The scene looks like a slaughter where an animal is to be killed at a scaffold, where criminal is to be hanged. All the people have come close to the stage and stood at the foot of the scaffold to see him. They want to hang him as soon as possible.

Stanza 5

I go in the rain, and more than needs,

A rope cuts both my wrists behind

And think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds

For they fling, whoever has a mind,

Stones at me for my year’s misdeeds

Reference and Context

Same as for the above passage.



In these lines, the deposed ruler complains that people are maltreating him. He is taken to the scaffold in rain. His body is wet. His hands have been tied behind his back so tightly that the string is cutting his wrists. People are stoning him. 

His forehead is bleeding His deeds have been branded misdeeds. All the people have turned against him. They consider him a traitor. They want to punish him without any judgment.

Stanza 6

Thus I entered, and thus I go

In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.

‘Paid by the world, what does thou owe

Me? -God might question; now instead

Reference and Context

Same as for the above passage.


In these lines, the deposed ruler concludes the story of his rise and fall in this world. He entered politics with honor but he is leaving it with dishonor. He came with claps but is going out with slaps. 

He calls the selfish and ungrateful people. They are demanding his death. He is not afraid of death. He consoles himself with the thought that he is better than those people who get a worldly reward only. 

The people, who get rewards from the worldly people, God will never give them the reward. He counts himself among those people who die after achieving their mission in life. He hopes to get his real reward from God. Hence, the poem ends on an optimistic.




Question 1


Does the poem Patriot into Traitor reflect the mood of frustration and disillusionment?




The poem reflects the mood of frustration and disillusionment but that does not lead to pessimism in the end. It starts with apparent pessimism and concludes in optimism and the reward by God in the next life. 


The poet is justified to show the mood of frustration and disillusionment because he describes the attitude of the people and the peak of the glory being enjoyed by the ruler just a year ago. 


The ruler in the poem was thought a patriot just a year ago and the people were welcoming him enthusiastically. They were throwing rose petals at him and the streets were filled with the people to see the popular leader. 


So in this way that even the churches(sacred places) were adorned which, we know, are not adorned except at the time of religious celebrations and events. He had great care for the people and wanted to do everything for them. 


He tried to do whatever he could to help his people; even he could bring the sun and the moon, i-e, he tried to do even impossible things for his people when he was in authority but when he was dethroned people drove him toward gallows for punishing him and he was called a traitor.


It was just disillusionment because that kind of treatment could not have been expected, the least, by that ruler who was so famous. It was quite unbelievable. A year ago, the very people were crying with joy. There was a jingle of bells and they had spread flowers on his way. 


How could they change themselves so suddenly just like a weathercock after the coupe d’état. That was a sudden disillusionment for the leader when the very people were throwing stones at him and there was nobody to greet him. 

The few palsied ones because people had gone to see the real show that was near shambles where the past patriot had to be hanged. So, the tone of frustration, dissatisfaction, and disillusionment is found there all the time the narrator of the story is telling the story of his bad luck and the behavior of the world with him.


Question 2

Discuss Patriot into Traitor as a dramatic monologue?

Is the poem Patriot into Traitor a dramatic monologue. Discuss

What is a monologue?



A monologue is a speech delivered by a character when he is alone on the stage. It is either an address to the audience or talking to oneself. It can be called dramatic because it is replete with dramatic irony. In a dramatic monologue also called a soliloquy the character reveals his inner self.

The poem, Patriot into Traitor is a dramatic monologue because the deposed ruler is talking to himself. He tells about his political rise and fall.


When he was in power, people honored and cheered him. But when he was out of his power; they maltreated him, stoned him and considered him a traitor, and ordered to hang him. His plans were sincere, bold, and true. He did not hide anything. He criticized and condemned selfish people.


Now he expresses his full faith in God. He yearns for the final decision of God on the day of judgment and hopes to be rewarded for his good actions. The poem is an explicit example of a dramatic monologue.


Question 3

Explain the contrast in the fate of the hero is shown in the poem, Patriot into Traitor.

Why did the followers of the Patriot, when he was in power, say: And afterward, what else?



In this poem, the poet describes the tragic downfall of a political leader. Two pictures of the same person have been shown. The first picture is one year old and the second picture is the present one. The patriot is presented there in both of them. people have to have a look at him.
One year ago, the political leader entered the city as a victorious fellow. People welcomed him wholeheartedly. He was their hero. They loved him. They honored him. They obeyed him. The paths were decorated with flowers and the bells were being rung to welcomé him. If he would have ordered the people to bring sun for him, they would bring.
Today, people have gathered at the shamble’s gate where he is going to be hanged on the charge of being a traitor. He is bleeding due to the stones thrown by the public. He will be killed for his so-called crime but he hopes to get his reward in Heaven by the hands of God. And that reward will be better than the reward of people.


Question 4

Patriot into Traitor ends at a note of optimism. Elaborate.

The patriot is a great Explain.


In this poem, the poet describes a political leader. Actually, Robert Browning belongs to Victorian society. In the Victorian age, people were selfish and greedy. They rejected the call of God. Even for their worldly achievements they rejected the religious restrictions. 

They did not believe in God and the eternal reward of God. The poet tries to establish man’s faith in God. Through this poem, the poet advises the people that they should only depend on God and His blessings. 

The world cannot give anything to its fellow beings. As the political hero of this poem, he faces many people of his own country who disgrace him. But he is hopeful that God will give him a reward for his good deeds. He never decreases his faith in God.

Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.


This line shows the strong belief of political hero in God and His merciful nature. He thinks that reward of God is more valuable than that of worldly people.

About the Author

Anila Ibrahim

An educationist, web content writer, equipped with an LLB and a Master’s degree in English Literature, as well as a Master of Philosophy in Entrepreneurship. I have a comprehensive understanding of both the English language and the educational landscape. This academic background empowers Anila to deliver content that is not only informative but also thoroughly researched.

18 thoughts on “Robert Browning Poem Patriot Into Traitor Main Idea Explanation and Questions

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