Algernon Charles Swinburne

 

 

 

The Poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

 

Text
Editionsbericht
Werkverzeichnis
Literatur

»   »   »
Texte zur Baudelaire-Rezeption
Texte zur Theorie und Rezeption des Symbolismus
Texte zur George-Rezeption

 

WHEN fate has allowed to any man more than one great gift, accident or necessity seems usually to contrive that one shall encumber and impede the other. It has been thought, rightly or wrongly, that even the work done by such supreme men as Michel Angelo and Leonardo was impaired on this hand or on that by the various and eager impatience of genius which impelled them alternately along diverging lines of life and labour. Be that as it may, there is no room to doubt that such a double-natured genius as was theirs lies open to a double kind of attack firom the rancorous tribe of weaklings and dullards. The haters of either light or of any may say that there cannot be sunlight and moonlight in the same sky; that a double-gifted nature must be powerless to beget as to bear, sterile by excess of organs as by defect, "like that sweet marble monster of both sexes" beloved of Shelley as of Gautier: that the time and ardour of spirit and of hand spent on this way of work must be so much lost to that other way; that on neither course can the runner of a double race attain the goal, but must needs in both races alike be caught up and resign his torch to a runner with a single aim. Candid envy and judicious ignorance will mutually concede something; the one, that he might have won the foot-race had he let the horse-race be; the other, that he might have ridden in first had he never tried his luck afoot. That assurance refreshes with the restorative of a false consolation the runners who fell impotent at starting or dropped lame at the turning-point. Hateful as the winner of a single prize must be to them, how can they bear — if shutting their eyes will save them the sight — to behold the coronation of the conqueror in all five heats? Nevertheless they have now and then to bear it as they may: though some take side with them who should know better, having won each a single crown in his own field, and being loth to admit that in that field at least they can be distanced by the best man in another.

In every generation that takes any heed of the art, the phrase of "greatest living poet," or (with a difference of reservation) "first of his age and country," is flung about freely and foolishly enough: but if more than mere caprice — be it caprice of culture or caprice of ignorance — is to go to the making up of the definition, we must decide what qualities are of first necessity for the best poet, and proceed to try how far the claimant can be surely said to possess them. Variety is a rare and high quality, but poets of the first order have had little or none of it; witness Keats and Coleridge; men otherwise [552] greater than these have had much, and yet have fallen far short of the final place among poets held by these; witness Byron and Scott. But in all great poets there must be an ardent harmony, a heat of spiritual life, guiding without constraining the bodily grace of motion, which shall give charm and power to their least work; sweetness that cannot be weak and force that will not be rough. There must be an instinct and a resolution of excellence which will allow no shortcoming or malformation of thought or word: there must also be so natural a sense of right as to make any such deformity or defect impossible, and leave upon the work done no trace of any eflfort to avoid or to achieve. It must be serious, simple, perfect; and it must be thus by evident and native impulse. The mark of painstaking as surely lowers the level of style as any sign of negligence; in the best work there must be no trace of a laborious or a languid hand.

In all these points the style of Mr. Rossetti excels that of any English poet of our day. It has the fullest fervour and fluency of impulse, and the impulse is always towards harmony and perfection. It has the inimitable note of instinct, and the instinct is always high and right. It carries weight enough to overbear the style of a weaker man, but no weight of thought can break it, no subtlety of emotion attenuate, no ardour of passion deface. It can breathe unvexed in the finest air and pass unsinged through the keenest fire; it has all the grace of perfect force and all the force of perfect grace. It is sinuous as water or as light; flexible and penetrative, delicate and rapid; it works on its way without halt or jar or collapse. And in plain strength and weight of sense and sound these faultless verses exceed those of faultier workmen who cover their effects by their defects; who attain at times and by fits to some memorable impression of thought upon speech, and speech upon memory, at the cost generally of inharmonious and insufficient work. No such coarse or cheap stuff is here used as a ground to set off the rich surprises of casual ornament and intermittent embroidery. The woof of each poem is perfect, and the flowers that flash out from it seem not so much interwoven with the thread of it or set in the soil, as grown and sprung by mere nature from the ground, under the inevitable rains and sunbeams of the atmosphere which bred them.

It is said sometimes that a man may have a strong and perfect style who has nothing to convey worth conveyance under cover of it. This is indeed a favourite saying of men who have no words in which to convey the thoughts which they have not; of men born dumb, who express by grunts and chokes the inexpressible eloquence which is not in them, and would fain seem to labour in miscarriage of ideas which they have never conceived. But it remains for them to prove as well as assert that beauty and power of expression can accord with emptiness or sterility of matter, or that impotence of [553] articulation must imply depth and wealth of thought. This flattering unction the very foolishest of malignants will hardly in this case be able to lay upon the corrosive sore which he calls his soul: the ulcer of ill-will must rot unrelieved by the rancid ointment of such fiction. Hardly could a fool here or a knave there fail to see or hope to deny the fullness of living thought and subtle strength of nature underlying this veil of radiant and harmonious words.

It is on the other side that attack might be looked for from the more ingenious enemies of good work: and of these there was never any lack. Much of Mr. Rossetti's work is so intense in aim, so delicate and deep in significance, so exuberant in offshoot and undergrowth of sentiment and thought, that even the sweet lucidity and steady current of his style may not suffice to save it from the charges of darkness and difficulty. He is too great a master of speech to incur the blame of hard or tortuous expression; and his thought is too sound and pure to be otherwise dark than as a deep well-spring at noon may be, even where the sun is strongest and the water brightest. In its furthest depth there is nothing of weed or of mud; whatever of haze may seem to quiver there is a weft of the sun's spinning, a web not of woven darkness but of molten light. But such work as this can be neither unwoven nor recast by any process of analysis. The infinite depth and wealth of life which breathes and plays among these songs and sonnets cannot be parcelled and portioned out for praise or comment. This "House of Life" has in it so many mansions, so many halls of state and bowers of music, chapels for worship and chambers for festival, that no guest can declare on a first entrance the secret of its scheme. Spirit and sense together, eyesight and hearing and thought, are absorbed in splendour of sounds and glory of colours distinguishable only by delight. But the scheme is solid and harmonious; there is no waste in this luxury of genius: the whole is lovelier than its loveliest part. Again and again may one turn the leaves in search of some one poem or some two which may be chosen for sample and thanksgiving; but there is no choice to be made. Sonnet is poured upon sonnet, and song hands on the torch to song; and each in turn (as another poet has said of the lark's note falling from the height of dawn)

"Rings like a golden jewel down a golden stair."

There are no poems of the class in English — I doubt if there be any even in Dante's Italian — so rich at once and pure. Their golden affluence of images and jewel-coloured words never once disguises the firm outline, the justice and chastity of form. No nakedness could be more harmonious, more consummate in its fleshly sculpture, than the imperial array and ornament of this august poetry. Mailed in gold as of the morning and girdled with gems of strange water, the [554] beautiful body as of a carven goddess gleams through them tangible and taintless, without spot or default. There is not a jewel here but it fits, not a beauty but it subserves an end. There seems no story in this sequence of sonnets yet they hold in them all the action and passion of a spiritual history with tragic stages and elegiac pauses and lyric motions of the living souL Their earnest subtleties and exquisite ardours recall to mind the sonnets of Shakespeare; poems in their way unapproachable, and here in no wise imitated. Shakespeare's have at times a far more passionate and instant force, a sharper note of delight or agony or mystery, fear or desire or remorse — a keener truth and more pungent simpleness of sudden phrase, with touches of sound and flashes of light beyond all reach; Mr. Rossetti's have a nobler fullness of form, a more stately and shapely beauty of build: they are of a purer and less turbid water than the others are at times, and not less fervent when more serene than they; the subject-matter of them is sweet throughout, natural always and dear, however intense and fine in remote and delicate intricacy of spiritual stuff. There is nothing here which may not be felt by any student who can grasp the subtle sense of it in full, as a just thing and admirable, fit for the fellowship of men's feelings; if men, indeed, have in them enough of noble fervour and loving delicacy, enough of truth and warmth in the blood and breath of their souls, enough of brain and heart for such fellow-feeling. For something of these they must have to bring with them who would follow the radiant track of this verse through brakes of flowers and solitudes of sunlight, past fountains hidden under green bloom of leaves, beneath roof-work of moving boughs where song and silence are one music. All passion and regret and strenuous hope and fiery contemplation, all beauty and glory of thought and vision, are built into this golden house where the life that reigns is love; the very face of sorrow is not cold or withered, but has the breath of heaven between its fresh live lips and the light of pure sweet blood in its cheeks; there is a glow of summer on the red leaves of its regrets and the starry frost-flakes of its tears. Resignation and fruition, forethought and afterthought, have one voice to sing with in many keys of spirit. A more bitter sweetness of sincerity was never pressed into verse than beats and bums here under the veil and girdle of glorious words; there are no poems anywhere of more passionate meditation or vision more intense than those on "Lost Days," "Vain Virtues," "The Sun's Shame;" none of more godlike grace and sovereign charm than those headed "Newborn Death," "A Superscription," "A Dark Day," "Known in Vain," "The One Hope;" and of all splendid and profound love-poetry, what is there more luminous or more deep in sense and spirit than the marvellous opening cycle of twenty-six sonnets, whioh embrace and express all sorrow and all joy of passion in union, of outer love and inner, triumphant or dejected or piteous or at peace? [555] No one, till he has read these, knows all of majesty and melody, all of energy and emotion, all of supple and significant loveliness, all of tender cunning and exquisite strength, which our language can show at need in proof of its powers and uses. The birth of love, his eucharistic presence, his supreme vision, his utter union in flesh and spirit, the secret of the sanctuary of his heart, his louder music and his lower, his graver and his lighter seasons; all work of love and all play, all dreams and devices of his memory and his belief, all fuller and emptier hours from the first which longs for him to the last which loses, all change of lights from his mid-day to his moonrise, all his foreknowledge of evil things and good, all glad and sad hours of his night-watches, all the fear and ardour which feels and fights against the advent of his difference and dawn of his division, all agonies and consolations that embitter and allay the wounds of his mortal hour; the pains of breach and death, the songs and visions of the wilderness of his penance, the wood of desolation made beautiful and bitter by the same remembrance, haunted by shadows of the same hours for sorrow and for solace, and, beyond all, the light of the unaccomplished hour which missed its chance in one life to meet it in another, where the sundered spirits revive into reunion; all these things are here done into words and sung into hearing of men as they never were till now. With a most noble and tender power all forms and colours of the world without are touched and drawn into service of the spirit; and this with no ingenious abuse of imagery or misuse of figures, but with such gracious force of imagination that they seem to offer voluntary service. What interlude more radiant than that of the "Portrait," more gracious and joyous than the "Love-Letter," more tender than the remembered "Birth-Bond," more fervent than the memorial "Day of Love," more delicate than the significance of "Love's Baubles," more deep and full than the bitter-sweet "Life-in-Love," more soft in spiritual shade of changeful colour than "The Love-Moon," more subtly solemn in tragic and triumphant foresight than "The Morrow's Message," more ardent with finer fires and more tremulous with keener senses than the sonnets of parting, than "Broken Music," or "Death-in-Love," ever varied the high delight of verse, the sublime sustention of choral poetry through the length of an imperial work? In the sonnet called "Love-Sweetness" there is the very honey of pure passion, the expression and essence of its highest thought and wisdom; and in that called "He and I," the whole pain and mystery of growing change. Even Shelley never expressed the inmost sense and mighty heart of music as this poet has done in "The Monochord." There are no lyrics in our lyrical English tongue of sweeter power than the least of these which follow the sonnets. The "Song of the Bower" is sublime by sheer force of mere beauty; the sonorous fluctuation of its measure, [556] a full tide under a full moon, of passion lit and led by memory to and fro beneath fiery and showery skies of past and future, has such depth and weight in its moving music that the echo of it is as a seashell in the mind's ear for ever. Observe the glorious change of note from the delicate colour of the second stanza to the passionate colour of the third; the passage from soft bright symbols to the actual fire of vision and burning remembrance; from the shelter of soul under soul and mirror of tears wherein heart sees heart, to the grasp and glow of

"Large lovely arms and a neck like a tower"

growing incarnate upon the sight of memory: and again to the deep dim witness and warning, the foresight and regret which lighten and darken the ways of coming life. This is perhaps, for style at once ample and simple, the noblest song of all; yet it is but one of many noble. Among these others I find none which clings by itself so long and close to the mind as one outside their circle — the song of the sea-beach, called "Even So;" it dies out with a suppressed sigh like the last breath or heartbeat of a yearning weak-winged wind. "A Little While" is heavy with all the honey of foretasted sorrow, sweeter in its aftertaste than the joy resigned, with a murmur beyond music in its speech. The perfect pity of the two last lines has the touch on it of plain truth and patience;

"I'll tell thee when the end is come
How we may best forget."

In "Plighted Promise" and "Love-Lily" the white flame of delight breathes and trembles in a subtler air, with a sure and faultless charm of motion. I like the first stanza of "Sudden Light" better than the second and third, admirably as they are fashioned and set to the music of the thought: they have less seeming effusion of an insuppressible sense; and the touches of colour and odour and sound in it are almost too fine in their harmony to be matched with any later. There is not a more delicate note of magic nature in these poems. The tremulous ardour of "Penumbra" is another witness to the artist's mastery of hand; the finest nerves of life are finely touched; the quiver and ache of soul and senses to which all things are kindled and discoloured by half morbid lights of emotion give a burning pulse of melody to the verses. The same fear or doubt which here is attired in fancies of feverish beauty finds gentler utterance, again outside this circle, in "A New Year's Burden;" the tone and colour have always a fresh and sure harmony. Four poems in a different key from such songs are "The Sea-Limits," "A Young Fir-Wood," "The Honeysuckle," "The Woodspurge;" not songs, but studies of spirit and thought, concrete and perfect. The first of these has the solemn weight and depth in it of living water, and a sound like the speech of [557] the sea when the wind is silent. The very note of that world-old harmony is caught and cast into words.

"Consider the sea's listless chime:
    Time's self it is, made audible:
    The murmur of the earth's own shelL'*

This little verse also has the

"Secret continuance sublime "

which "is the sea's end;" it too is a living thing with an echo beyond reach of the sense, its chord of sound one part of the multiform unity of mutual inclusion in which all things rest and mix; like the sigh of the shaken shell, it utters "the same desire and mystery" as earth through its woods, and water through its waves, and man through his multitudes: it too has in it a breath of the life immeasurable and imperishable. The other three of these studies have something of the same air and flavour: their keen truthfulness and subtle sincerity touch the same springs and kindle the same pulses of thought. The passionate accuracy of sense half blunted and half whetted by obsession and possession of pain is given in "The Woodspurge" with a bitterly beautiful exactitude.

In all the glorious poem built up of all these poems there is no great quality more notable than the sweet and sovereign unity of perfect spirit and sense, of fleshly form and intellectual fire. This Muse is as the woman praised in the divine words of the poet himself,

"Whose speech Truth knows not from her thought,
Nor Love her body from her soul."

And if not love, how then should judgment? for love and judgment must be one in those who would look into such high and lovely things. No scrutiny can distinguish nor sentence divorce the solid spiritual truth from the bodily beauty of the poem, the very and visible soul from the dazzling veil and vesture of fair limbs and features. There has been no work of the same pitch attempted since Dante sealed up his youth in the sacred leaves of the "Vita Nuova;" and this poem of his namechild and translator is a more various and mature work of kindred genius and spirit.

Other parts of his work done here have upon them the more instant sign of that sponsor and master of his mind; there is a special and delicate savour of personal interest in the sonnet on the "darkness" of Dante, sacred to the fame of a father made again illustrious in his children, which will be cherished with a warm reverence by all heedful students. The poem of "Dante at Verona" stands apart among the rest with a crown on it of the like consecration, as perhaps the loftiest monument of all raised by the devotion of a race of genius for two generations of [558] noble work and love. All incidents and traditions of the great poet's exile are welded together in fusion of ardent verse to forge a memorial as of carven gold. The pure plain ease and force of narrative style melt now and then into the fire of a sad rapture, a glory of tragedy lighting the whole vision as with a funereal and triumphal torch. Even the words of that letter in which Dante put away from him the base conditions of return — words matchless amoDg all that ever a poet found to speak for himself, except only by those few supreme words in which Milton replied to the mockers of his blindness — even these are worthily recast in the mould of English verse by the might and cunning of this workman's hand. Witness the original set against his version.

"Non est hæc via redeundi ad patriam, Pater mi; sed si alia per vos aut deinde per alios invenietur, quæ famæ Dantis atque honori non deroget, illam non lentis passibus acceptabo. Quod si per nullam talem Florentia introitur, nunquam Florentiam introibo. Quidni? nonne solis astrorumque specula ubique conspiciam? Nonne dulcissimas veritates potero speculari ubique sub cœlo, ni prius inglorium, immo ignominiosum, populo Florentinæque civitati me reddam? — Quippe nec panis deficiet."

So wrote Dante in 1316; now partly rendered into English to this effect: —

"That since no gate led, by God's will,
    To Florence, but the one whereat
    The priests and money-changers sat,
He still would wander: for that still.
    Even through the body's prison bars,
    His soul possessed the sun and stars."

These and the majestic lines which follow them as comment have the heart of that letter in them; the letter which we living now cannot read without the sense of a double bitterness and sweetness in its sacred speech, so lamentably and so gloriously applicable to the loftiest heir of Dante's faith and place; of his faith as patriot, of his place as exile. It seems that the same price is still fixed for them to pay who have to buy with it the inheritance of son and stars and the sweetest truths, and all generations of time, and the love and thanks and passionate remembrance of all faithful men for ever.

This poem is sustained throughout at the fit height with the dignity; nothing feeble or jarring disturbs its equality of exultation. The few verses of bitter ardour which brand as a prostitute the commonweal which has become a common wrong — the common goddess deformed into a common harlot — show a force of indignant imagination worthy of a great poetic satirist, of Byron and Hugo in their worst wrath. The brief pictures of the courtly life at Verona between women and rhymesters, jester and priests, have a living outline and colour; and the last words have the weight in them of time's own sentence: —

[559] "Eat and wash hands, Can Grande; scarce
    We know their names now; hands which fed
    Our Dante with that bitter bread,
And thou the watch-dog of those stairs
    Which, of all paths his feet knew well,
    Were steeper found than heaven or hell."

No words could more fitly wind up the perfect weft of the poem in which throughout the golden thread of Dante's own thought, the hidden light of his solitude at intervals between court-play and justice-work, gleams now and again at each turn of the warp till we feel as though a new remnant of that great spirit's leaving had been vouchsafed us.

Another poem bearing the national mark upon it may be properly named with this, the "Last Confession." Its tragic hold of truth and grasp of passion make it worthy to bear witness to the writer's inheritance of patriotic blood and spirit. Its literal dramatic power of detail and composition is a distinctive test of his various wealth and energy of genius. This great gift of positive reality, here above all things requisite, was less requisite elsewhere, and could not have been shown to exist by any proof derivable from his other poems; thougli to any student of his designs and pictures the admirable union of this inventive fidelity to whatever of fact is serviceable to the truth of art, with the infinite affluence and gracious abundance of imagination, must be familiar enough; the subtle simplicity of perception which keeps sight always of ideal likelihood and poetical reason is as evident in his most lyrical and fanciful paintings as in Giorgione's or Carpaccio's. Without the high instinct and fine culture of this quality such a poem as we now have in sight could not have been attempted. The plain heroism of noble naked nature and coherent life is manifest from the first delicate detail to the last. The simple agony of memory inflames every line with native colour. A boyish patriot in hiding from the government finds a child forsaken in time of famine by her parents, saves and supports her sets his heart towards hers more and more with the growth of years, to find at last the taint upon her of a dawning shame, of indifference and impurity — the hard laugh of a harlot on her lips, and in her bearing the dull contempt of a harlot for love and memory. Stabbed and stung through by this sudden show of the snake's fang as it turns upon the hand which cherished it, he slays her; and even in his hour of martyrdom, dying of wounds taken in a last fight for Italy, is haunted by the lovely face and unlovely laugh of the girl he had put out of reach of shame. But the tender truth and grace, the living heat and movement of the tragedy through every detail, the noble choice and use of incident, make out of this plain story a poem beyond price. Upon each line of drawing there has been laid the strong and loving hand of a great artist, and specially a supreme [560] painter of fair women. In the study of the growing girl the glories of sculpture and painting are melted into one, and every touch does divine service;

                        "The underlip
Sucked in as if it strove to kiss itself;"

the pale face "as when one stoops over wan water;" the "deep-serried locks," the rounded clinging finger-tips, and great eyes faint with passion or quivering with hidden springs of mirth,

                "As when a hird flies low
Between the water and the willow-leaves,
And the shade quivers till he wins the light."

In what poet's work shall we find a touch of more heavenly beauty, and nobler union of truth and charm? and in what painter's a statelier and sweeter mastery of nature than here?

"Her body bore her neck as the tree's stem
Bears the top branch: and as the branch sustains
The flower of the year's pride, her high neck bore
Her face made wonderful with night and day."

The purest pathos of all is in the little episode of the broken figure of Love, given to the child by her preserver, and the wound of its dart on her hand; nothing in conception or in application could be tenderer or truer; nothing more glorious in its horror than the fancy of heaven changing at its height before the very face of a spirit in paradise, with no reflection of him left on it:

          "Like a pool that once gave back
Your image, but now drowns it, and is clear
Again; or like a sun bewitched, that burns
Your shadow from you, and still shines in sight."

Admirable as it is throughout for natural and moral colour, the poem is completed and crowned for eternity by the song set on the front of it as a wreath on a bride's hair, of which I can hardly say whether the Italian or the English form be the more divine. The miraculous faculty of transfusion which enables the cupbearer to pour this wine of verse from the golden into the silver cup without spilling was never before given to man. All Mr. Rossetti's translations bear the same evidence of a power not merely beyond reach but beyond attempt of other artists in language. Wonderful as is the proof of it shown by his versions of Dante and his fellows, of Villon's and other ballad-songs of old France, the capacity of recasting in English an Italian poem of his own seems to me more wonderful; and what a rare and subtle piece of work has been done here, they only can appreciate who have tried carefully and failed utterly to refashion in one language a song thrown off in another. This is the kind of test which stamps the supremacy of an artist, [561] answering in poetry to the subtlest successes of the same hand in painting. Whether or not there be now living a master in colours who can match the peculiar triumphs of its touch, there is assuredly no master in words. The melodies of these in their Italian form can never die out of the ear and heart they have once pierced with their keen and sovereign sweetness. This song would suffice to redeem the whole story from the province of pain, even though the poet had not left upon us the natural charm of that hope which comes in with death, that the woman grown hard and bad was indeed no less a lie, an error, a spectral show, than the laughing ghost of her forged by bodily pain and recollection.

By this poem we may set for contrast, in witness of the artist's dear wide scope of work and power, the "Burden of Nineveh;" a study of pure thought and high meditation, perhaps for sovereignty of language and strong grasp of spirit the greatest of his poems. The contemplation that brings forth such fruit should be a cherub indeed, having wings and eyes as an eagle's. The solemn and splendid metre, if I mistake not, is a new instrument of music for English hands. In those of its fashioner it makes harmonies majestic as any note of the heights or depths of natural sound. No highest verse can excel the mighty flow and chiming force of its continuous modulation, bearing on foamless waves of profound song its flock of winged thoughts and embodied visions. We hear in it as it were for once the sound of time's soundless feet, feel for once the beat of his unfelt wings in their passage through unknown places, and centuries without form and void. Echoes and gleams come with it from "the dark backward and abysm" of dateless days; a sighing sound from the graves of gods, a wind through the doors of death which opened on the early world. The surviving shadow of the Bull-God is as the shadow of death on past and passing ages, visible and recognisable by the afterlight of thought. Of the harmonious might and majesty of imagination which sustains the "speculative and active instrument" of song, we might take as separate samples the verses on its old days of worship from kings and queens, of light from lamps of prayer or fires of ruin; on the elder and later gods confused with its confusion, "all relics here together;" on the cities that rose and fell before the city of its worshippers; of their desolation and its own in the days of Christ. The stanza on the vision of the temptation has a glory on it as of Milton's work: —

"The day when he, Pride's lord and man's.
Shewed all earth's kingdoms at a glance
To Him before whose countenance
The years recede, the years advance,
    And said, 'Fall down and worship me:' —
'Mid all the pomp beneath his look
Then stirred there, haply, some rebuke
[562] Where to the wind the salt pools shook,
And in those tracts, of life forsook,
    That know thee not, O Nineveh!"

And what more august and strenuous passion of thought was ever clothed in purple of more imperial speech than consummates and concludes the poem? as, dreaming of a chance by which in the far future this God, found again a relic in a long-ruined city, might be taken for the God of its inhabitants, the thinker comes to find in it indeed "the God of this world" and no dead idol, but a living deity and very present strength; having wings, but not to fly with; and eyes, but not to look up with; bearing a written witness and a message engraved of which he knows not, and cannot read it; crowned, but not for honour; brow-bound with a royal sign, of oppression only and contraction; firm of foot, but resting the weight of its trust on clay: —

"O Nineveh, was this thy God,
Thine also, mighty Nineveh?"

A certain section of Mr. Rossetti's work as poet and as painter may be classed under the head of sacred art: and this section comprises much of his most exquisite and especial work. Its religious quality is singular and personal in kind; we cannot properly bracket it with any other workman's. The fire of feeling and imagination which feeds it is essentially Christian, and is therefore formally and spiritually Catholic. It has nothing of rebellious Protestant personality, nothing of the popular compromise of sentiment which, in the hybrid jargon of a school of hybrids, we may call liberalized Christianism. The influence which plainly has passed over the writer's mind, attracting it as by charm of sound or vision, by spell of colour or of dream, towards the Christian forms and images, is in the main an influence from the mythologic side of the creed. It is from the sandbanks of tradition and poetry that the sacred sirens have sung to this seafarer. This divides him at once from the passionate evangelists of positive belief and from the artists upon whom no such influence has fallen in any comparable degree. There are two living and leading writers of high and diverse genius whom any student of their work — utterly apart as their ways of work lie — may and must, without prejudice or presumption, assume to hold fast, with a force of personal passion, the radical tenet of Christian faith It is as difficult for a reasonable reader to doubt the actual and positive adherence to Christian doctrine of the Protestant thinker as of the Catholic priest; to doubt that faith in Christ as God — a tough, hard, vital faith which can bear at need hard stress of weather and hard thought — dictated "A Death in the Desert" or "Christmas Eve and Easter Day," as to doubt that it dictated the "Apologia" or "Dream of Gerontius:" though neither in the personal creed set forth by Mr. Browning, nor in the clerical [563] creed delivered by Dr. Newman, do we find apparent or flagrant — however they may lurk, tacit and latent, in the last logical expression of either man's theories — the viler forms and more hideous outcomes of Christianity, its more brutal aspects and deadlier consequences; a happy default due rather to nobility of instinct than to ingenuity of evasion. Now the sacred art of Mr. Rossetti, for all its Christian colouring, has actually no more in common with the spirit of either than it has with the semi-Christianity of "In Memoriam" or the demi-semi-Christianity of "Dipsychus." It has no trace, on the other hand, of the fretful and fruitless prurience of soul which would fain grasp and embrace and enjoy a creed beyond its power of possession; no letch after Gods dead or unborn, such as vexes the weaker nerves of barren brains, and makes pathetic the vocal lips of sorrowing scepticism and "doubt that deserves to believe." As little can it be likened to another form of bastard belief, another crossbreed between faith and unfaith, which has been fostered in ages of doubt; a ghost raised rather by fear than love; by fear of a dead God as judge, than by love of a dead God as comforter. The hankering and restless habit of half fearful retrospect towards the imburied corpses of old creeds which, as we need not Shelley's evidence to know, infected the spiritual life and disturbed the intellectual force of Byron, is a mirage without attraction for this traveller; that spiritual calenture of Christianity is a sickness unknown to his soul; nor has he ever suffered from the distemper of minds fretted and worried by gnatstings and fleabites of belief and unbelief till the whole lifeblood of the intellect is enfeebled and inflamed. In a later poet, whose name as yet is far enough from inscription on the canonical roll of converts, there was some trace of a seeming recrudescence of faith not unlike yet not like Byron's. The intermittent Christian reaction apparently perceptible in Baudelaire was more than half of it mere repulsion from the philanthropic optimism of sciolists in whose eyes the whole aim or mission of things is to make the human spirit finally comfortable. Contempt of such facile free-thinking, still more easy than free, took in him at times the form of apparent reversion to cast creeds; as though the spirit should seek a fiery refuge in the good old hell of the faithfull from the watery new paradise of liberal theosophy and ultimate amiability of all things. 1 Alone among the higher artists of his age, Mr. Rossetti has felt and given the mere physical charm of Christianity, with no admixture of doctrine or of doubt. Here as in other things he belongs, [564] If to any school at all, to that of the great Venetians. He takes the matter in hand with the thorough comprehension of Tintoretto or Veronese, with their thorough subjection of creed and history to the primary purpose of art and proper bearing of a picture. He works after the manner of Titian painting his Assumption with an equal hand whether the girl exalted into goddess be Mary or Ariadne: but his instinct is too masterly for any confusion or discord of colours; and hence comes the spiritual charm and satisfaction of his sacred art. In this class of his poems the first place and the fairest palm belong to the "Blessed Damozel." This paradisal poem, "sweeter than honey or the honeycomb," has found a somewhat further echo than any of its early fellows, and is perhaps known where little else is known of its author's. The sweet intense impression of it must rest for life upon all spirits that ever once received it into their depths, and hold it yet as a thing too dear and fair for praise or price. Itself the flower of a splendid youth, it has the special charm for youth of fresh first work and opening love; "the dew of its birth is of the womb of the morning;" it has the odour and colour of cloudless air, the splendour of an hour without spot. The divine admixtures of earth which humanize its heavenly passion have the flavour and bloom upon them of a maiden beauty, the fine force of a pure first sunrise. No poem shows more plainly the strength and wealth of the workman's lavish yet studious hand. One sample in witness of this wealth, and in evidence of the power of choice and persistent search after perfection which enhance its price, may be cited; though no petal should be plucked out of this mystic rose for proof of its fragrance. The two final lines of the stanza describing the secret shrine of God have been reformed; and the form first given to the world is too fair to be wholly forgotten: —

"Whose lamps tremble continually
    With prayer sent up to God,
And where each need, revealed, expects
    Its patient period
."

Wonderful though the beauty may be of the new imagination, that the spirits standing there at length will see their "old prayers, granted, melt each like a little cloud," there is so sweet a force in the cancelled phrase that some students might grudge the loss, and feel that, though a diamond may have supplanted it, a ruby has been plucked out of the golden ring. Nevertheless, the complete circlet shines now with a more solid and flawless excellence of jewels and of setting. The sweetness and pathos and gracious radiance of the poem have been praised by those who have not known or noted all the noble care spent on it in rejection and re-arrangement of whatever was crude or lax in the first cast; but the breadth and sublimity which ennoble its brightness and beauty of fancies are yet worthier [565] of note than these. What higher imagination can be found in modem verse than this?

"From the fixed place of heaven she saw
    Time like a pulse shake fierce
Through all the worlds
."

This grandeur of scale and sweep of spirit give greatness of style to poetry, as well as sweetness and brightness. These qualities, together with the charm of fluent force and facile power, are apparent in all Mr. Rossetti's work; but its height of pitch and width of scope give them weight and price beyond their own.

Another poem, based like this on the Christian sentiment of woman-worship, is worthy of a place next it. In the hymn headed "Ave," the finest passage is that on the life of the Virgin after the death of Christ; a subject handled by the painter as well as by the poet. Indeed, of the two versions, that in colour is even the lovelier and more memorable to all who may have seen it for gentle glory of treatment — for the divine worn face of the Mother, seen piteously sacred in the light struck by the beloved disciple, as the thick purple twilight steeping the city roofs and the bare hill-side which saw the stations of the cross fills with pale coloured shadows the still small chamber where she sits at work for her Son's poor. The soft fervour and faultless keeping of the poem give it that final grace of a complete unity of spirit and style which is the seal of sacred art at its highest.

No choicer sample of Mr. Rossetti's delicate mastery of language — of his exquisite manner of speech, subtle and powerful and pliant to all necessities of thought — can be found than the verses invoking Love as the god of sleep to guide the shadow of the lover who invokes him to the dreams of the woman beloved. The grace of symbol and type in the poem have something of the passionate refinement of Shelley's. There are many several lines and turns of phrase in this brief space of which any least one would suffice to decide the rank of a poet: and the fine purity of its passion gives just colour enough to the clouds and music enough to the murmurs of the deep dreamland in which it moves.

With this poem we may class one sadder and as sweet, "The Stream's Secret;" the thread of thought is so fine, yet woven into so full a web of golden fancies and glowing dreams, that few will follow it at first sight; but when once unwound and rewoven by the reader's study of it, he will see the whole force and beauty of all its many by-way beauties and forces.

The highest form of ballad requires from a poet at once narrative power, lyrical, and dramatic; it must hold in fusion these three faculties at once, or fail of its mark: it must condense the large loose fluency of romantic tale-telling into tight and intense brevity; it [566] must give as in summary the result and extract of events and emotions, without the exhibition of their gradual change and growth which a romance of the older type or the newer must lay open to us in order; it must be swifter of step and sharper of stroke than any form of poetry. The writer of a first-rate tragic ballad must be yet more select in his matter and terse in his treatment of what he selects from the heap of possible incident, than Chaucer in the compilation of his "Knight's Tale" from the epic romance of Boccaccio, or Morris in the sculpture of his noble master-poem, "The Lovers of Gudrun," from the unhewn rock of a half-formed history or a half-grown legend. Ballads have been cut out of such poems as these, even as they were carven out of shapeless chronicles. There can be no pause in a ballad, and no excess; nothing that flags, nothing that overflows; there must be no waste of a word or a minute in the course of its rapid and fiery motion. Even in our aflluent ballad literature there is no more triumphant sample of the greatness that may be won by a poem on these conditions than we find in the ballad of "Sister Helen." The tragic music of its measure, the swift yet solemn harmonies of dialogue and burden, hold in extract the very heart of a tragedy, the burning essence distilled from "Hate bom of Love, and blind as he." Higher effect was never wrought out of the old traditions of witchcraft; though the manner of sorcery here treated be one so well known as the form of destroying a man by melting a waxen effigy of him before a continuous flame for the space of three days and nights, after which the dissolution of the fleshly body keeps time to a minute with that of the waxen. A girl forsaken by her high-bom lover turns to sorcery for help in her revenge on him; and with the end of the third day come three suppliants, the father and the brothers of the betrayer, to whom he has shown the secret of his wasting agony, if haply they may bring him back, not life, but forgiveness at her hands. Dying herself of anguish with him and with the molten figure of her making, she will remit nothing of her great revenge; body and soul of both shall perish in one fourfold death: and her answers pass, ever more and more bitter and ardent, through the harmless mouthpiece of a child. How the tragic effect is enforced and thrown out into fiery relief by this intervention of the boy-brother it needs no words, where none would be adequate, to say. I aocount this one of the artist's very highest reaches of triumphant poetry; he has but once in this book matched it for pathos, and but once for passion: for pathos in "Jenny," for passion in "Eden Bower." It is out of all sight or thought of comparison the greatest ballad in modem English; next to it, among the attempts in that way of living Englishmen, I should class Mr. George Meredith's pathetic and splendid poem of "Margaret's Bridal-Eve."

[567] There is exquisite grace of colour and sweetness in "The Staff and Scrip," with passages that search and sound pure depths of sentiment, and with interludes of perfect drawing; witness the sweet short study of the Queen sitting by her loom: but the air of the poem is too remote and refined for any passionate interest.

The landscape of "Stratton Water" is as vivid and thorough as any ballad can show; but some may wish it had been more or less of a compromise in style between old and new: it is now a study after the old manner too close to be no closer. It is not meant for a perfect and absolute piece of work in the old Border fashion, such as were those glorious rescripts, full of the fiery ease which is the life of such poetry, which Surtees of Mainsforth passed off even upon Scott as genuine; and yet it is so far a copy that it seems hardly well to have gone so far and no further. On this ground Mr. Morris has a firmer tread than the great artist by the light of whose genius and kindly guidance he put forth the firstfruits of his work, as I did afterwards. In his first book the ballad of "Welland River," the Christmas carol in "The Land East of the Sun and West of the Moon," and that other, his most beautiful carol, printed with music in a volume of sacred verse, are examples of flawless work in the pure early manner. Any less absolute and decisive revival of mediæval form by inspiration of returning lifeblood and measured breath of life into the exact type and mould of ancient art rouses some sense of failure by excess or default of resemblance. This positive note of the past is not quite caught here, and the note struck is too like it to take its place without discord.

There is a singular force and weight of impression in the "Card Dealer" which give it a distinct and eminent place among these lesser poems. The sharpness of symbol and solidity of incarnation with which the idea is invested bring it so close to us that the mere type itself assumes, as it were, a bodily interest over and above its spirit and significance; and the tragic colour and mystic movement of the poem are fitted to the dim splendour and vague ardour of life in it: whether the dealer be fortune or passion or ambition, pleasure or fame or any desire of man's, we see her mistress of the game in that world of shadows and echoes which is hers if ours. Without the date appended, we might have guessed that the little cabinet poem called "My Sister's Sleep" was an early study. It has the freshness and clearness of first youth, with something of the hardness of growing outlines; the bodily form of verse has not yet learnt to melt and flow by instinct into the right way; yet with this slight sharpness and crudity there is a grace of keen sincerity and direct force, which gives proof of no student's hand, but a workman's recognisable as bom into the guild of masters. The fourth and three following stanzas have a brightness and intensity of truth, a fine and tender [568] vigour of sentiment, admirable at any age; and the last have an instant weight of pathos and clear accuracy of beauty, full of prophecy and promises. In the same short-lived magazine into which the first flowerage of many eminent men's work was cast with such liberal and fruitful hands, there was another early poem of this their leader's and best man, which he might as well have gathered into his harvest; a delicate and subtle study of religious passion, with the colour and perfume in it of the choral air of a cathedral, lit with latticed glories of saints, and tremulous with low music of burning prayers; the mystery of sense and ardour of soul in an hour made drunken with the wine of worship were wrought into expression of bright and sensitive words, full of the fiery peace of prayer and sightless vision of faith. This little sacred picture of the Father Hilary should have been here reframed, if only for the fine touches of outer things passing by as a wind upon the fervent spirit in its dream. Besides, it has its place and significance among the author's studies in the Christian style, near some of these earlier works, so full of his special grace and spiritual charm, which belong to the same period, if not beside the highest of his sacred designs, such as the Passover and Magdalene here as it were engraved and put forth in print among the sonnets for pictures. All these are most noble, and give once more a magnificent proof of his power to bend and mould, to inflame and invigorate, to carve and colour the dead forms of words with a shaping and animating life. Among them all, the most utterly delightful to me is that on Giorgione's divine and transcendant pastoral in the Louvre: which actually attains to the transfusion of a spirit that seemed incommunicable from one master's hand even to another's. In the verse, as on the canvas, there is the breathless breath of overmuch delight, the passion of overrunning pleasure which quivers and aches on the very edge of heavenly tears — "tears of perfect moan" for excess of unfathomable pleasure and burden of inexpressible things only to be borne by Gods in heaven; the sweet and sovereign oppression of absolute beauty and the nakedness of burning life: the supreme pause of soul and sense at the climax of their consummate noon and high tide of being; glad and sad and sacred, unsearchable and natural and strange. Of the sonnets on the writer's own pictures and designs, I think that on Pandora to be the most perfect and exalted, as the design is among his mightiest in its godlike terror and imperial trouble of beauty, shadowed by the smoke and fiery vapour of winged and flcshless passions crowding from the casket in spires of flame-lit and curling cloud round her fatal face and mourning veil of hair. The sonnets on Cassandra translate with apt and passionate choice of words the scheme of his greatest tragic design, his fullest and most various in vital incident and high truth of heroic life. The grand sonnet "on refusal of aid [569] between nations" shows yet a fresh side and a most noble aspect of his great and manifold genius; its severe emotion and grave loveliness of ardent anger set a mark on it as of Dante's justice and judgment. "Autumn Idleness" is a splendid study of landscape, for breadth of colour and solemn brightness of vision worthy to stand by those great symbolic landscapes seen in the "House of Life," such as "Barren Spring" and "The Hill Summit;" and in "Beauty and the Bird" we have a sample of the painter's gladdest colour and sweetest tone of light. His full command of that lyric sentiment and power which give to mediæval poetry its clear particular charm is plain alike from the ending given to the "old song" of Ophelia and from the marvellous versions of Villon's and other French songs. The three sweetest of that great poet's who was the third singer of the Middle Ages and first vocal tongue of the dumb painful people in its agony and mirth and shame and strength of heart, are here recast in English gold of equal weight. The very cadence of Villon's matchless ballad of the ladies of old time is caught and returned. The same exquisite exactitude of translation is notable in "John of Tours," — the old provincial song long passed from mouth to mouth and at last preserved with all its breaks and lapses of sweet rough metre by Gιrard de Nerval. His version of Dante's divinest episode, that of Francesca, I take to be the supreme triumph of translation possible; for what, after so many failures — Byron's the dismallest failure of all, and worst imaginable instance of perversion — could be hoped of any new attempt? But here the divine verse seems actually to fall of itself into a new mould, the exact ahsape and size of the first — to be poured from one cup into another without spilling one drop of nectar. Nay, so far beyond other men's is this poet's power of transfusion, that, as though to confute the Italian proverb against the treasons of translators, he has well-nigh achieved the glory of reproducing a few lines even of Sappho, by welding two fragments into one song, melting two notes into one chord of verse. But though the sweet life and colour be saved and renewed, no man can give again in full that ineffable glory and grace as of present godhead, that subtle breath and bloom of very heaven itself, that dignity of divinity which informs the most passionate and piteous notes of the unapproachable poetess with such grandeur as would seem impossible to such passion. Here is a delicious and living music, but here is not — what can nowhere be — the echo of that unimaginable song, with its pauses and redoubled notes and returns and falls of sound, as of honey dropping from heaven — as of tears, and fire, and seed of life — which, though but run over and repeated in thought, pervades the spirit with "a sweet possessive pang." That apple "atop on the topmost twig" of the tree of life and song remains unreachable by any second hand, untastable by any later lip for ever; [570] never out of sight of men's memory, never within grasp of man's desire; the apple which not Paris but Apollo gave to her whose glory has outlived her goddess and whose name has been set above hers: —

      "La mβle Sapho, l'amante et le poλte,
Plus belle que Vιnus par ses mornes pβleurs, —
Plus belle que Vιnus se dressant sur le monde!"

Among the lesser poems of this volume "The Portrait" holds a place of honour in right of its earnest beauty of thought and rich simplicity of noble images. Above them all in reach and scope of power stands the poem of "Jenny," great among the few greatest works of the artist. Its plain truth and masculine tenderness are invested with a natural array of thought and imagination which doubles their worth and force. Without a taint on it of anything coarse or trivial, without shadow or suspicion of any facile or vulgar aim at pathetic effect of a tragical or moral kind, it cleaves to absolute fact and reality closer than any common preacher or realist could come; no side of the study is thrown out or thrown back into false light or furtive shadow; but the purity and nobility of its high and ardent pathos are qualities of a moral weight and beauty beyond reach of any rivalry. A divine pity fills it, or a pity something better than divine; the more just and deeper compassion of human fellowship and fleshly brotherhood. Here is nothing of sickly fiction or theatrical viol«ice of tone. No spiritual station of command is assumed, no vantage-ground of outlook from hills of holiness, or heights of moral indifference, or barriers of hard contempt; no unction of facile tears is poured out upon this fallen golden head of a common woman; no loose-tongued effusion of slippery sympathy, to wash out shame with sentiment. And therefore is "the pity of it" a noble pity, and worth the paying; a genuine sin-offering for intercession, pleading with fate for mercy without thought or purpose of pleading. The man whose thought is thus gloriously done into words is as other men are, only with a better brain and heart than the common, with more of mind and compassion, with better eye to see and quicker pulse to beat, with a more generous intellect and a finer taste of things; and his chance companion of a night is no ruined angel or self-immolated sacrifice, but a girl who plies her trade like any other trade, without show or sense of reluctance or repulsion; there is no hint that she was first made to fit better into a smoother groove of life, to run more easily on a higher line of being; that anything seen in prospect or retrospect rebukes or recalls her fancy into any fairer field than she may reach by her present road. All the open sources of pathetic effusion to which a common shepherd of souls would have led the flock of his readers to drink and weep and be refreshed, and leave the medicinal well-spring of sentiment warmer and fuller from their easy tears, are here dried up. This poor hireling of the streets and casinos is professionally [571] pitiable; the world's contempt of her fellow tradeswomen is not in itself groundless or unrighteous; there is no need to raise any mirage about her as of a fallen star, a glorious wreck; but not in that bitterest cry of Othello's own agony — "a sufferance panging as soul and body's severing" — was there a more divine heat of burning compassion than the high heart of a man may naturally lavish, as in this poem, upon such an one as she is. lago indeed could not share it, nor Roderigo; the naked understanding cannot feel this, nor the mere fool of flesh apprehend it; but only in one or the other of these can all sense be dead of "the pity of it."

Every touch of real detail and minute colour in the study serves to heighten and complete the finished picture which remains burnt in upon the eyes of our memory when the work is done. The clock ticking, the bird waking, the scratched pier-glass, the shaded lamp, give new relief as of very light and present soimd to the spiritual side of the poem. How great and profound is the scope and power of the work on that side, I can offer no better proof than a reference to the whole; for no sample of this can be torn off or cut out. Of the might of handiwork and simple sovereignty of manner which make it so triumphant a witness of what English speech can do, this one excerpt may stand in evidence: —

"Except when there may rise unsought
Haply at times a passiag thought
Of the old days, which seem to be
Much older than any history
That is written in any book;
When she would lie in fields and look
Along the ground through the blown grass,
And wonder where the city was,
Far out of sight, whose broil and bale
They told her then for a child^s tale.

      "Jenny, you know the city now.
A child can tell the tale there, how
Some things, which are not yet enrolled
In market-lists, are bought and sold
Even till the early Sunday light,
When Saturday night is market-night
Everywhere, be it dry or wet,
And market-night in the Haymarket."

The simple sudden sound of that plain line is as great and rare a thing in the way of verse, as final and superb a proof of absolute poetic power upon words, as any man's work can show. As an imaginative instance of positive and perfect nature, the whole train of thought evolved in the man's mind, as he watches the head asleep on his knee, is equal and incomparable; the thought of a pure honest girl, in whom the same natural loves and likings shall run straight and bear fruit to honour, that in this girl have all run to seed of [572] shame; the possible changes of chance that in their time shall bring fresh proof of the sad equality of nature and tragic identity of birthmark as of birthright in all souls born, the remote conceivable justice and restitution that may some day strike the balance between varying lots and lives; the delicately beautiful and pitiful fancy of the rose pressed in between the pages of an impure book; and the mightier fancy, so grandly cast in words, of lust, alone, aloof, immortal, immovable outside of death, in the dark of things everlasting; selfsecluded in absorption of its own desire, and walled up from love or light, as a toad in its stone wrapping; and last, with the grey penetration of London dawn, the awakening of mind into live daylight of work, and farewell taken of the night and its follies, not without pity or thought of them.

The whole work is worthy to fill its place for ever as one of the most perfect and memorable poems of an age or generation. It deals with deep and common things; with the present hour, and with all time; with that which is of the instant among us, and that which has a message for all souls of men; with the outward and immediate matter of the day, and with the inner and immutable ground of human nature. Its plainness of speech and subject gives it power to touch the heights and sound the depths of tragic thought without losing the force of its hold and grasp upon the palpable truths which men often seek and cry out for in poetry, without knowing that these are only good when greatly treated, and that to artists who can treat them greatly all times and all truths are equal, and the present, though assuredly no worse, yet assuredly no better topic than the past. All the ineffably foolish jargon and jangle of criticasters about classic subjects and romantic, remote or immediate interests, duties of the poet to face and handle this thing instead of that or his own age instead of another, can only serve to darken counsel by words without knowledge: a poet of the first order raises all subjects to the first rank, and puts the life-blood of an equal interest into Hebrew forms or Greek, mediæval or modem, yesterday or yesterage. Thus there is here just the same life-blood and breath of poetic interest in this episode of a London street and lodging as in the song of "Troy Town" and the song of "Eden Bower;" just as much, and no jot more. These two songs are the masterpieces of Mr. Rossetti's magnificent lyric faculty. Full of fire and music and movement, delicate as moonlight and passionate as sunlight, fresh as dawn and fine as air, sonorous as the motion of deep waters, the infallible verse bears up the spirit safe and joyous on its wide clear way. There is a strength and breadth of style about these poems also which ennobles their sweetness and brightness, giving them a perfume that savours of no hotbed, but of hill-flowers that face the sea and the sunrise; a colour that grows in no greenhouse, but such as comes with morning upon the mountains. They are good oertainly, but [573] they are also great; great as no other man's work of the same age and country. Out of the beautiful old tradition of Helen, which tells of her offering on a shrine at Sparta a cup modelled upon the mould of her own breast, the poet has carved a graven image of song as tangible and lovely as the oblation itself; and this cup he has filled with the wine of love and fire of destruction, so that in the Spartan temple we feel a forecast of light and heat from the future Trojan flame. These two poems have the fiery concentration and condensation of the ballad; but they have a higher rapture of imagination, a more ardent affluence of colour and strenuous dilation of spirit, than a ballad can properly contain; their wings of words heat and bum at fuller expansion through a keener air. The song of Lilith has all the beauty and glory and force in it of the splendid creature so long worshipped of men as god or dreaded as devil; the voluptuous swiftness and strength, the supreme luxury of liberty in its measured grace and lithe melodious motion of rapid and revolving harmony; the subtle action and majestic recoil, the mysterious charm as of soundless music that hangs about a serpent as it stirs or springs. Never was nobler blood infused into the veins of an old legend than into this of the first wife of Adam, changing shapes with the snake her lover, that in his likeness she may tempt the mother of men. The passion of the cast-off temptress, in whose nets of woven hair all the souls are entangled of her rival's sons through all their generations, has such actual and instant flame of wrath and brilliance of blood and fragrance of breath in it, that we feel face to face the very vision of the old tale, and no symbol or shadow, but a bodily shape and a fleshly charm, dominant in ear and eye. The tragic might of the myth, its fierce and keen significance, strikes through us sharpest at the end, as with the supreme sting of triumph and final fang of the transfigured serpent.

Had I time and room and skill, to whom all these are wanting, I would here at length try to say some passing word illustrative of the more obvious and the more intimate relations of this artist's work in verse and his work in painting; between the poem of "Jenny" and the design called "Found," where at early dawn the driver of a country cart finds crouching in London streets the figure of a girl once his betrothed, and stoops to lift with tender strength of love, and surprise of simple pity startled into freshness of pain, the shuddering abased head with the golden ruin of its rich soiled hair, which cowers against a graveyard wall away from the light that rises beyond the paling lamps on bridge and river; between the song of "Troy Town" and the picture of Helen, with Parian face and mouth of ardent blossom, a keen fed flower-bud of fire, framed in broad gold of wide-spread locks, the sweet sharp smile of power set fast on her clear curved lips, and far behind her the dull flame of burning towers and light from reddened heaven on dark [574] sails of lurid ships; between the early sacred poems and the early sacred designs of the author's Christian era, as for instance the "Ave" and the "Girlhood of the Virgin," with its young grace and sincere splendour of spirit, the "Staff and Scrip" and the design of "Fra Pace," the "Blessed Damozel" and the "Dream of Dante," all clothed in colours of heaven, with raiment dyed and spun in the paradise of trust and thought; between the romantic poems and the romantic designs, as for example "Sister Helen" and the "Tune of 'Seven Towers,'" which have the same tone and type of tragic romance in their mediæval touches and notes of passionate fancy; between the poems of richer thought and the designs of riper form, works of larger insight and more strong decision, fruits of the mind at its fullest and the hand at its mightiest, as the "Burden of Nineveh" and the "Sybil" or "Pandora." The passage from a heaven of mere angels and virgins to the stronger vision of Venus Verticordia, of Helen ἑλέπτολις of Lilith and Cassandra, is a type of the growth of mind and hand to the perfect power of mastery over the truth and depth of nature, the large laws of spirit and body, the mysteries and the majesties of very life; whither the soul that has attained perceives, though it need reject no first faith and forsake no first love, though rather it include in a larger comprehension of embrace those old with these new graces, those creeds with this belief, that any garden of paradise on earth or above earth is but a little part of a great world, as every fancy of man's faith is a segment of the truth of his nature, a splintered fragment of universal life and spirit of thought everlasting; since what can he conceive or believe but it must have this of truth in it, that it is a veritable product of his own brain and outcome for the time of his actual being, with a place and a reason of its own for root and support to it through its due periods of life and change and death? But to trace the passage from light into light and strength into strength, the march from work on to work and triumph on to triumph, of a genios so full of life and growth and harmonious exuberance of expansion, so loyal to rule of instinct and that natural order of art and thought whose service is perfect freedom; to lay out a chart of its progress and mark down the lines of its advance; this, high as the office would be and worthy the ambition, is not a possible task for criticism; though what manner of rank a man may hold and what manner of work he may have to do in that rank, it is the business of criticism to see and say.

In every age there is some question raised as to its wants and powers, its strength and weakness, its great or small worth and work; and in every age that question is waste of time and speech — of thought usually there is no waste, for the questioners have none to expend. There has never been an age that was not degenerate in the eyes of its own fools; the yelp of curtailed foxes in every genera[575]tion is the same. To a small soul the age which has borne it can appear only as an age of small souls; the pigmy brain and emasculate spirit can perceive in its own time nothing but dwarfishness and emasculation. That the world has ever seen spirits of another sort, the poor heart of such creatures would fain deny and dares not; but to allow that the world does now is insufferable; at least they can "swagger themselves out of their own eyes" into the fond belief that they are but samples of their puny time, overtopped in spiritual stature by the spirits of times past alone. But not by blustering denial or blustering assertion of an age's greatness will the question be decided whether the age be great or not. Each century has seemed to some of its children an epoch of decadence and decline in national life and spiritual, in moral or material glory; each alike has heard the cry of degeneracy raised against it, the wail of emulous impotence set up against the weakness of the age; Dante's generation and Shakespeare's, Milton's and Shelley's, have all been ages of poetic decay in their turn, as the age of Hugo is now; there, as here, no great man was to be seen, no great work was to be done, no great cry was to be heard, no great impulse was to be felt, by those who could feel nothing, hear nothing, do nothing, and see nothing. To them the poor present has always been pitiable or damnable, the past which bore it divine. And other men than these have swelled the common cry of curs: Byron, himself in his better moments a witness against his own words, helped the fools of his hour to decry their betters and his own, by a pretence of wailing over the Augustan age of Anne, when "it was all Horace with us; it is all Claudian now." His now has become our then, and the same whine is raised in its honour; for the cant of irritation and insincerity, hungry vanity and starving spite, can always be caught up and inherited by those who can inherit nothing of a strong man's but his weakness, of a wise man's but his folly; who can gather at a great man's board no sustenance from the meats and wines, but are proud to pilfer the soiled napkins and cracked platters from under his side-table. Whether there be any great work doing in our time, or any great man living, it is not worth while to debate; but if there be not, it is certain that no man living can know it; for to pass judgment worth heeding on any age, and give sentence that shall last on any generation, a man must himself be great; and if no man on earth be great in our day, who on earth can be great enough to know and let us know it on better authority than a pigmy's? Such champions as please may fight out on either side their battle of the sandbags and windbags between this hour and the next; I am content to assume, and am not careful to dispute in defence of the assumption, that the qualities which make men great and the work of men famous are now what they were, and will be what they are: that there is no progress and no degeneracy traceable from Æschylus to Shakespeare, [576] from Athenian sculptors to Venetian painters; that the gifts of genius are diverse, but the quality is one; and — though this be a paradox — that this quality does not wait till a man be dead to descend on him and belong to him; that his special working power does not of necessity begin with the cessation of it, and that the dawn of his faculty cannot reasonably be dated from the hour of its extinction. If this paradox be not utterly untenable, it follows that dead men of genius had genius even when yet alive, and did not begin to be great men by ceasing to be men at all; and that so far we have no cause to distrust the evidence of reason which proves us the greatness of men past when it proves to us by the same process of testimony the greatness of men present.

Here, for example, in the work of Mr. Rossetti, besides that particular colour and flavour which distinguishes each master's work from that of all other masters, and by want of which you may tell merely good work from wholly great work, the general qualities of all great poetry are separately visible and divisible — strength, sweetness, affluence, simplicity, depth, light, harmony, variety, bodily grace and range of mind and force of soul and ease of flight, the scope and sweep of wing to impel the might and weight of thought through the air and light of speech with a motion as of mere musical impulse; and not less the live bloom of perfect words, warm as breath and fine as flower-dust, which lies light as air upon the parting of lyric leaves that open into song; the rare and ineflable mark of a supreme singing power, an element too subtle for solution in any crucible of analysis, though its presence or absence be patent at a first trial to all who have a sense of taste. All these this poet has, and the mastery over all these which melts and fuses all into form and use; the cunning to turn his own gifts to service which is the last great appanage of great workmen. Colour and sound are servants of his thought, and his thought is servant of his will; in him the will and the instinct are not two forces, but one strength; are not two leaders, but one guide; there is no shortcoming, no pain or compulsion in the homage of hand to soul. The subject-matter of his work is always great and fit; nothing trivial, nothing illicit, nothing unworthy the workmanship of a master-hand is to be swept up from any comer of the floor; there is no misuse or waste of good work on stuff too light or hard to take the impression of his noble style. He builds up no statues of snow at the bidding of any fool, with the hand that can carve itself a godlike model in ivory or gold; not though all the fools of the place and hour should recommend snow as the best material, for its softness and purity. Time and work and art are too precious to him and too serious to be spent on anything less than the best. An artist worthy of the highest [577] work will make his least work worthy of himself. In each line of labour which his spirit may strike into he will make his mark, and set his stamp on any metal he may take in hand to forge; for he can strike into no wrong line, and take in hand no base metal. So equal a balance of two great gifts, as we find in the genius of this artist is perhaps the greatest gift of all, as it is certainly the most singular. We cannot tell what jewels were lost to the treasure-house of time in that century of sonnets which held "the bosom-beats of Raffael;" we can but guess that they had somewhat, and doubt how nearly they had all, of his perfect grace and godhead of heavenly humanity. Even of the giant-god his rival we cannot be sure that his divine faculties never clashed or crossed each other to their mutual hindrance.

But here, where both the sister powers serve in the temple of one mind and impel the work of one hand, their manner of service is smooth, harmonious, perfect; the splendid quality of painting and the subtle faculty of verse gain glory from each other without taking, reign side by side with no division of empire, yet with no confusion of claims, with no invasion of rights. No tongueless painter or handless poet could be safer from the perils of mixed art; his poems are not over pictorial, or his pictures over poetical; his poetry has not the less depth and reach and force and height of spirit proper to poetry, his painting has not the less might and skill, the less excellence of form and colour or masterdom of design and handiwork proper to painting, for the double glory of his genius. Which of the two great men in him, the painter or the poet, be the greater, only another artist equal to him on either hand and taintless of jealousy or misconceit could say with authority worth a hearing; and such a judge he is not likely to find. But what is his relative rank among other men it needs no such rare union of faculties to perceive. His place among the painters of his century may be elsewhere debated and determined; but here and now the materials lie before us for decision as to his place among its poets. Of these there is but one alive whose name is already unamenable to any judgment of the hour's; whose supremacy, whether it be or be not a matter of question between insular and provincial circles of parasites or sectarians, is no more debateable before any graver tribunal than the motion of the earth round the sun. Upon him, as upon two or three other of the leaders of men in time past, the verdict of time has been given before his death. In our comparison of men with men for worse or better we do not now take into reckoning the name of Victor Hugo. The small gatherings or swollen assemblies of important ephemerals who met to dispute the respective claims and merits of Shakespeare and Jonson, Milton and Waller, Shelley and Byron, have on the whole fallen duly dumb: the one supreme figure of each time is as generally and openly acknowledged by all capable articulate [578] creatures as need be desired. To sit in the seat of such disputants can be no present man's ambition. It ought to be, if it be not, superfluous to set down in words the assurance that we claim for no living poet a place beside the Master; that we know there is no lyrist alive but one who could have sung for us the cradle-song of death, the love-song of madness, the sea-song of exile, the hunting-song of revolution; that since the songs of Gretchen in "Faust" and Beatrice in the "Cenci," there have been no such songs heard among men as the least of these first four among all his lyrics that rise to recollection at the moment. Fantine's song or Gastibelza's, the "Adieu, patrie!" or the "Chasseur Noir," any one of these by itself would suffice to establish, beyond debate and beyond acclamation, the absolute sovereignty of the great poet whose glory could dispense even with any of these.

The claims to precedence of other men who stand in the vanguard of their time are open matters for the discussion of judgments to adjust or readjust. Among English-speaking poets of his age I know of none who can reasonably be said to have given higher proof of the highest qualities than Mr. Rossetti — if the qualities we rate highest in poetry be imagination, passion, thought, harmony and variety of singing power. Each man who has anything has his own circle of work and realm of rule, his own field to till and to reign in; no rival can overmatch, for firm completion of lyric line, for pathos made perfect, and careful melody of high or of intimate emotion, "New-Year's Eve" or "The Grandmother," "Œnone" or "Boadicea," the majestic hymn or the rich lament for love won and lost in "Maud;" none can emulate the fiery subtlety and sinuous ardour of spirit which penetrates and lights up all secret gulfs and glimmering heights of human evil and good in "The Ring and the Book," making the work done live because "the soul of man is precious to man:" none can "blow in power" again through the notched reed of Pan by the river, to detain the sun on the hills with music; none can outrun that smooth speed of gracious strength which touched its Grecian goal in "Thyrsis" and the "Harp-player;" none can light as with fires or lull as with flutes of magic the reaches of so full a stream of story as flows round the "Earthly Paradise" with ships of heroes afloat on it. But for height and range and depth, for diversity and perfection of powers, Mr. Rossetti is abreast of elder poets not less surely than of younger. Again I take to witness four singled poems; "The Burden of Nineveh," "Sister Helen," "Jenny," and "Eden Bower." Though there were not others as great as these to cite at need, we might be content to pass judgment on the strength of these only; but others as great there are. If he have not the full effluence of romance, or the keen passion of human science, that give power on this hand to Morris and on that to Browning, his work has [579] form and voice, shapeliness and sweetness, unknown to the great analyst; it has weight and heat, gravity and intensity, wanting to the less serious and ardent work of the latest master of romance. Neither by any defect of form, nor by any default of force, does he ever fall short of either mark, or fight with either hand "as one that beateth the air." In sureness of choice and scope of interest, in solidity of subject and sublimity of object, the general worth of his work excels the rate of other men's; he wastes no breath and mistakes no distance, sets his genius to no tasks unfit for it, and spends his strength in the culture of no fruitless fields. What he would do is always what a poet should, and what he would do is always done. Born a light-bearer and leader of men, he has always fulfilled his office with readiness and done his work with might. Help and strength and delight and fresh life have long been gifts of his giving, and freely given as only great gifts can be. And now that at length we receive from hands yet young and strong this treasure of many years, the gathered flower of youth and ripe firstlings of manhood, a fruit of the topmost branch "more golden than gold," all men may witness and assure themselves what manner of harvest the life of this man was to bear; all may see that although, in the perfect phrase of his own sonnet, the last birth of life be death, as her three first-born were love and art and song, yet two of these which she has borne to him, art, namely, and song, cannot now be made subject to that last; that life and love with it may pass away, but very surely no death that ever may be born shall have power upon these for ever.

 

 

[Fußnote, S. 563]

(1) It is remarkable that Baudelaire always kept in mind that Christianity, like other religions which have a broad principle of popular life in them, was not and could not be a creature of philanthropy or philotheism, but of church and creed; and this gives its peculiar savour and significance to the Christian infusion in some of his poems; for such recollection is too rare in an age and country where semi-Christian sentiment runs loose and babbles aloud.   zurück

 

 

 

 

Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 7, New Series, 1870, 1. Mai, S. 551-579.

Gezeichnet: Algernon Charles Swinburne.

URL: https://archive.org/details/fortnightlyrevi01bygoog
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006056638

Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).


The Fortnightly Review   online
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008882609
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006056638
URL: http://opacplus.bsb-muenchen.de/title/715786-1
URL: https://archive.org/advancedsearch.php

 

 

Aufgenommen in

 

Zeitschriften-Repertorium

 

 

 

Werkverzeichnis

Verzeichnisse

Shepherd, Richard Herne: The Bibliography of Swinburne.
A Bibliographical List, Arranged in Chronological Order, of the Published Writings in Verse and Prose of Algernon Charles Swinburne (1857-1887).
New Edition. London: Redway 1887.
URL: https://archive.org/details/cu31924029651092

Wise, Thomas J.: A Bibliography of the Writings in Prose and Verse of Algernon Charles Swinburne.
Vol. 1. London: Clay 1919.
URL: https://archive.org/details/cu31924087913202

Wise, Thomas J.: A Bibliography of the Writings in Prose and Verse of Algernon Charles Swinburne.
Vol. 2. London: Clay 1920.
URL: https://archive.org/details/cu31924087913210

Wise, Thomas J.: A Bibliography of the Writings in Prose and Verse of Algernon Charles Swinburne.
London: Heinemann; New York: Wells 1927 (= The Complete Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, Bd. 20).



Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Mr. George Meredith's "Modern Love:" –
(Letter to the Editor).
In: The Spectator.
Nr. 1771, 1862, 7. Juni, S. 998-632-633.
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000639061

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Baudelaire. Les Fleurs du mal.
In: The Spectator.
Nr. 1784, 1862, 6. September, S. 998-1000 (Ungezeichnet). [PDF]
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000639061

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Poems and Ballads.
London: Hotten 1866.
S. 65-76: Anactoria.
URL: https://archive.org/details/poemsballads0000swin
URL: https://archive.org/details/b29012685
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100629227
URL: https://books.google.de/books?id=H-hOAAAAcAAJ

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Notes on Poems and Reviews.
London: Hotten 1866.
URL: https://archive.org/details/notesonpoemsand01swingoog
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001024616
URL: https://books.google.fr/books?id=7K0OtUcnQlYC   [New York u. London 1866]

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Mr. Arnold's New Poems.
In: The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 2, New Series, 1867, 1. Oktober, S. 414-445.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008882609
URL: http://opacplus.bsb-muenchen.de/title/715786-1

Notes on the Royal Academy exhibition, 1868.
Part I. by Wm. Michael Rossetti.
Part II. by Algernon C. Swinburne.
London: Hotten o.J. [1868].
URL: https://archive.org/details/gri_33125011175656
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011606313

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: William Blake. A Critical Essay.
London: Hotten 1868.
URL: https://archive.org/details/williamblakecrit00swinrich
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000475323
URL: https://books.google.fr/books?id=mJ1RAAAAcAAJ

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: AVE ATQUE VALE.
In Memory of Charles Baudelaire.
In: The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 3, New Series, 1868, 1. Januar, S. 71-76.
URL: https://archive.org/details/fortnightlyrevi01morlgoog

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: The Poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
In: The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 7, New Series, 1870, 1. Mai, S. 551-579.
URL: https://archive.org/details/fortnightlyrevi01bygoog
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/006056638

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Under the Microscope.
London: White 1872.
URL: https://archive.org/details/undermicroscope00buchgoog   [Portland, Maine 1899].

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Victor Hugo: L'Année Terrible.
In: The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 12, New Series, 1872, 1. September, S. 243-267.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008882609
URL: http://opacplus.bsb-muenchen.de/title/715786-1

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Essays and Studies.
London: Chatto u. Windus 1875.
PURL: http://mdz-nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb11168133-5
URL: https://archive.org/details/essaysandstudie04swingoog
URL: http://reader.digitale-sammlungen.de/resolve/display/bsb11168133.html

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Songs of the Springtides.
London: Chatto u. Windus 1880.
S. 37-64: On the Cliffs.
URL: https://archive.org/details/songsspringtide00goog
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000122982

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: A Century of English Poetry.
In: The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 28, New Series, 1880, 1. Oktober, S. 422-437.
Aufgenommen
Algernon Charles Swinburne: Miscellanies.
London: Chatto u. Windus 1886, S. 25-49.
URL: https://archive.org/details/miscellanies01swingoog
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001112402

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Short Notes on English Poets:
Chaucer; Spenser; the Sonnets of Shakespeare; Milton.
In: The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 28, New Series, 1880, 1. Dezember, S. 708-721.
Aufgenommen
Algernon Charles Swinburne: Miscellanies.
London: Chatto u. Windus 1886, S. 1-24.
URL: https://archive.org/details/miscellanies01swingoog
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001112402

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Tennyson and Musset.
In: The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 136, New Series, 1881, 1. Februar, S. 129-153.

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Wordsworth and Byron.
In: The Nineteenth Century.
Bd. 15, 1884: April, S. 583-609; Mai, S. 764-790.
URL: https://archive.org/details/nineteenthcentu05unkngoog

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: A Study of Victor Hugo.
London: Chatto u. Windus 1886.
URL: https://archive.org/details/astudyvictorhug01swingoog
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001796984

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Miscellanies.
London: Chatto u. Windus 1886.
URL: https://archive.org/details/miscellanies01swingoog
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001112402

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Whitmania.
In: The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 42, New Series, 1887, 1. August, S. 170-176.

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Mr. Whistler's Lecture on Art.
In: The Fortnightly Review.
Bd. 43, New Series, 1888, 1. Juni, S. 745-751. [PDF]

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Studies in Prose and Poetry.
London: Chatto u. Windus 1894.
URL: https://archive.org/details/studiesinprosea01swingoog
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001426660


Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Les Fleurs Du Mal and Other Studies.
Hrsg. von Edmund Gosse.
London: Printed for Private Circulation 1913.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002781737

Lang, Cecil Y. (Hrsg.): The Swinburne Letters.
6 Bde. New Haven: Yale University Press 1959/62.

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: New Writings by Swinburne or Miscellanea Nova et Curiosa.
Being a Medley of Poems, Critical Essays, Hoaxes and Burlesques.
Hrsg. von Cecil Y. Lang.
Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press 1964.

Hyder, Clyde K. (Hrsg.): Swinburne Replies.
Notes on Poems and Reviews. Under the Microscope. Dedicatory Epistle.
Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press. 1966.

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Major Poems and Selected Prose.
Hrsg. von Jerome McGann u. Charles L. Sligh.
New Haven u. London: Yale University Press 2004.

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Uncollected Letters.
Hrsg. von Terry L. Meyers.
3 Bde. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2005.

Swinburne, Algernon Charles: Selected Writings.
Hrsg. von Francis O'Gorman.
Oxford: Oxford University Press 2020.

 

 

 

Literatur

Apel, Friedmar: Konkurrenz im Traumland. Algernon Charles Swinburne bei Stefan George, Hugo von Hofmannsthal und Rudolf Borchardt. In: George-Jahrbuch 11 (2016/17), S. 13-26.

Bevis, Matthew (Hrsg.): The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry. Oxford u.a. 2013.

Bonnecase, Denis u.a. (Hrsg.): Tombeau pour Swinburne. Croissy-Beaubourg 2010.

Connolly, Thomas E.: Swinburne's Theory of Poetry. Albany, N.Y. 1964.

Christ, Carol T.: Victorian Poetics. In: A Companion to Victorian Poetry. Hrsg. von Richard Cronin u.a. Malden, MA 2002, S. 1-21.

Cunningham, Valentine: Victorian Poetry Now. Poets, Poems and Poetics. Chichester u.a. 2011.

Cunningham, Valentine (Hrsg.): Victorian Poets. A Critical Reader. Chichester 2014.

Hopkins, David (Hrsg.): The Routledge Anthology of Poets on Poets. Poetic Responses to English Poetry from Chaucer to Yeats. London 1994.

Kay, Andrew: Swinburne, Impressionistic Formalism, and the Afterlife of Victorian Poetic Theory. In: Victorian Poetry (51) 2013, S. 271-295.

Lyons, Sara: Algernon Swinburne and Walter Pater. Victorian Aestheticism, Doubt and Secularisation. Leeds 2015.

Martus, Steffen u.a. (Hrsg.): Lyrik im 19. Jahrhundert. Gattungspoetik als Reflexionsmedium der Kultur. Bern u.a. 2005 (= Publikationen zur Zeitschrift für Germanistik, 11).

Maxwell, Catherine u.a. (Hrsg.): Algernon Charles Swinburne. Unofficial Laureate. Manchester 2013.

McGann, Jerome J.: Swinburne. An Experiment in Criticism. Chicago u.a. 1972.

Méry, Marie-Claire: L'art et la vie. Swinburne selon Hugo von Hofmannsthal et Rudolf Kassner. In: Le texte et l'idée 11 (1996), S. 65-89.

Neumann, Markus: Der deutsche Swinburne. In: Rudolf Borchardt. Hrsg. von Heinz Ludwig Arnold u.a. München 2007 (= Text + Kritik; Sonderband), S. 47-60.

Nicholls, Peter: Swinburne and the Modern Poem. In: Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies 26 (2017), S. 81-101.

Pascolini-Campbell, Claire: Problematic Genealogies: Algernon Swinburne, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Discovery of Franηois Villon. In: Victorian Poetry; 52 (2014), S. 661-678.

Raymond, Meredith B.: Swinburne's Poetics. The Hague u.a. 1971.

Rooksby, Rikky: A Century of Swinburne. In: The Whole Music of Passion. New Essays on Swinburne. Hrsg. von Rikky Rooksby u. Nicholas Shrimpton. Aldershot u.a. 1993, S. 1-21.

Scarpa, Sébastien u.a. (Hrsg.): Swinburne and France. Paris 2012.

Warner, Eric / Hough, Graham (Hrsg.): Strangeness and Beauty. An Anthology of Aesthetic Criticism 1840–1910. 2 Bde. Cambridge u.a. 2009.

 

 

Edition
Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer