If the magnate who orders a nautical tomb is a dying Bishop's fellow-materialist, his counterpart, McAndrew, a "dour" Presbyterian bachelor, is a latter-day Rabbi Ben Ezra who yearns to be united with his God.
If ineradicable memories of universal "anguish" are needed for any relation with God, the benign bond that Browning had Rabbi Ben Ezra articulate has been utterly erased:
Through many years Rabbi ben Ezra had pondered the meaning of this Tree, never imagining that perched at its top would be a shop of sweets, much less one run by such a dog as this one.
It was Rabbi ben Ezra, younger by a few seasons, who had the strength to call out, "Open up, dear Abu Simsim, or we'll break into your shop and steal your halawa.
He published another collected edition in 1863, and with his next book of poems, Dramatis Personae(1864)--including "Abt Vogler," Rabbi Ben Ezra
, Caliban Upon Setebos, and "Mr.
Harold Bloom in a dust-jacket blurb credits Richard Howard with being the Robert Browning of our century, a poet who speaks through various personae, historical or imaginary; but the difference is even greater than the similarity, for Browning transformed Rabbi Ben Ezra
and Andrea del Sarto into masks of himself, whereas Howard erects papier-mache figures that are neither themselves nor himself, a parade of hollow men and women who seem like bloodless ghosts speaking, not believable characters.
In the collection Dramatis Personae (1864) were included Rabbi Ben Ezra
Through the personage of Rabbi Ben Ezra
, a scholarly and learned Jew, the poem sets forth Browning's religious philosophy.