I've just been reading a book on Victorian prudery, as applied to Roman artefacts ("Pan and the she-goat" from Herculaneum, et al.). An aside in there mentioned Robert Browning's poem "Pippa Passes" as containing some vague unintentional obscenity that Browning was simply too innocent and pure to have noticed.
My scatological curiosity aroused, I then tried to find it.

I don't know Browning. My poetical tastes are for the between-the-wars Modernists, not this florid mind-numbing drudgery. I once studied "The Eve of St Agnes" at school, because of dire threats of being flung to The School Leopard if I didn't. I'm sorry, I tried to read this, I really did. But I just couldn't . Browning can go and die in some mosquito-ridden foreign garret for all I care.
The full text is at
http://www.sm.rim.or.jp/~osawa/AGG/poetry/pippa-passes.html

So, anyone happen to know the possible Victorian outrage ? I'm guessing it's the placename "Asolo" - but isn't that an awfully modern and American usage ? I don't think I'd have recognised that as a filthy-minded, but English, schoolboy.
I did try to read the full poem, honestly I did.
Incidentally, the poem Pippa Passes, or at least the phrase "God's in his heaven All's right with the world!" seems to have passed into the collective unconsciousness as this little fragment alone.

(From without is heard the voice of PIPPA, singing

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his heaven
All's right with the world!
(PIPPA passes.
Web searching showed many quotes of this fragment, and a few plaintive requests for the entire text. Having tracked it down, I can see why so few people bothered to post its entirety.
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I've just been reading a book on Victorian prudery, as applied to Roman artefacts ("Pan and the she-goat" from Herculaneum, ... for the entire text. Having tracked it down, I can see why so few people bothered to post its entirety.

I sympathise - the exciting bit is nearly at the end. Browning was apparently under the impression that a twat was an item of nuns' clothing.

Don Aitken
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I've just been reading a book on Victorian prudery, as applied to Roman artefacts ("Pan and the she-goat" from Herculaneum, ... Browning was simply too innocent and pure to have noticed. My scatological curiosity aroused, I then tried to find it.

Then, owls and bats, cowls and twats, <
Monks and nuns, in a cloister's moods,
Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!

Reinhold (Rey) Aman
AUEer Emeritus & Eremitus
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I've just been reading a book on Victorian prudery, as ... see why so few people bothered to post its entirety.

I sympathise - the exciting bit is nearly at the end. Browning was apparently under the impression that a twat was an item of nuns' clothing.

What does OED say?
I sympathise - the exciting bit is nearly at the end. Browning was apparently under the impression that a twat was an item of nuns' clothing.

Thankyou !
I sympathise - the exciting bit is nearly at the ... impression that a twat was an item of nuns' clothing.

What does OED say?

Browning's use of "twat" is in the OED2:
From
http://web.archive.org/web/20030717152138/omega.cohums.ohio-state.edu/hyper-lists/classics-l/99-0...

or
http://tinyurl.com/5dxuc
"Erroneously used (after quot. 1660) by Browning Pippa Passes iv. ii. 96 under the impression that it denoted some part of a nun's attire."

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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Browning was apparently under the impression that a twat was an item of nuns' clothing.

If Browning was so innocent, where did he hear it, and what was he doing hanging around in nun's clothing ?
aside in there mentioned Robert Browning's poem "Pippa Passes" as ... My scatological curiosity aroused, I then tried to find it.

Then, owls and bats, cowls and twats, Is there any record of Browning's having been told about it, and his reaction?
Or might he have said, "Elizabeth, my precious! I've just had a cheque from the publisher: let's go to the shops and buy you a new twat"?
Mike.
Browning was apparently under the impression that a twat was an item of nuns' clothing.

If Browning was so innocent, where did he hear it, and what was he doing hanging around in nun's clothing ?

I'm not sure anyone suggested Browning was 'innocent', just that he didn't know what 'twat' meant.
OED suggests Browning got it from reading 'Vanity of Vanities' (1660) where a piece of doggerel runs:
"They talk't of his having a Cardinalls Hat, They'd send him as soon an Old Nuns Twat."
I hope you're not suggesting Browning had an interest in dirty habits?
John Dean
Oxford
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