At the risk of obsessing about John Crowe Ransom’s “Janet Waking” (11/20/11), I still wonder if I'm hearing the poem accurately. While I sense some compassion in the speaker, his dismissiveness overrides it, at least for me. The poem seems to have gotten away from Ransom; I don't think he hears himself as well as he needs to.
My Last Duchess
Browning’s speaker is probably Italy’s fifth Duke of Ferrara (1533–1598), and he has had his last wife (My Last Duchess) murdered: “This grew. I gave commands./And all smiles stopped together.”
In addition to what you like or hate about the poem, it might be fun to hear about the dukes and duchesses from your own experience (maybe with the roles reversed?).