“Hope thou not much, and fear thou not at all.”

A poet of some notoriety, Algernon Charles Swinburne kept society and his critics inflamed. “An unclean fiery imp from the pit” said one of Swinburne’s Poems and Ballads (1865) - a book considered to be "unclean for the sake of uncleaness." Thought of as bawdy and anti-Christian, the book was viciously attacked in the press. Swinburne came close to criminal prosecution.

Many critics could still recognize his lyrical ability and mastery of many different forms of poetry.

The “libidinous laureate of a pack of satyrs” was a son of the English aristocracy. A small man, he made up for his lack of height with a mane of ill controlled red hair.

As a poet and critic, he became enmeshed in the Pre-Raphaelite movement via his association with the Rossettis (Swinburne dines with Lizzie Siddal and Rossetti on the evening before she died), William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones in the late 1850s(whom he met at Eton and Oxford) .

His beatings with a birch branch would lead to an obsessive love of erotic spanking and a group of poems known as the “birching poems.”

Oscar Wilde said of him: “It has been said of him, and with truth, that he is a master of language, but with still greater truth it may be said that language is his master…. Words seem to dominate him. Alliteration tyrannizes over him. Mere sound often becomes his lord. He is so eloquent that whatever he touches becomes unreal.”


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Anonymous said...

The portrait You added belowe does not show Algernon Charles Swinburne
But is a portrait of Ignacy Jan Paderewski. He looked very much like Swinburne.
Best regards Pia Ranslet