The Twins
by Robert Browning
5841The TwinsRobert Browning

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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"Give" and "It-shall-be-given-unto-you"


Grand rough old Martin Luther
     Bloomed fables-flowers on furze,
The better the uncouther:
     Do roses stick like burrs?


A beggar asked an alms
     One day at an abbey-door,
Said Luther; but, seized with qualms,
     The abbot replied, "We're poor!"


"Poor, who had plenty once,
     When gifts fell thick as rain:
But they give us nought, for the nonce,
     And now should we give again?"


Then the beggar, "See your sins!
     Of old, unless I err,
Ye had brothers for inmates, twins,
     Date and Dabitur.


"While Date was in good case
     Dabitur flourished too:
For Dabitur's lenten face
     No wonder if Date rue.


"Would ye retrieve the one?
     Try and make plump the other!
When Date's penance is done,
     Dabitur helps his brother.


"Only, beware relapse!"
     The Abbot hung his head.
This beggar might be perhaps
     An angel, Luther said.


"The Twins" versifies a story told by Martin Luther in his "Table Talk," in which the saying, "Give and it shall be given unto you," is quaintly personified by the Latin words equivalent in meaning: Date, "Give," and Dabitur, "It-shall-be-given-unto-you."

I. Martin Luther: (1483-1546), the leader of the Reformation.