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Thread: Who here likes Swinburne?

  1. #1
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Who here likes Swinburne?

    i think he's great

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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    I dislike him - too geeky with the metrics.

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    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    I really love Swinburne.

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    The only one of Wilde's influences that I have never really taken to, I wouldn't dismiss him outright though.

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    i think he's great
    I haven't read him in years. I thought he was a novelty and somewhat fun to read.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I haven't read him in a while myself. My edition had an introduction essay by T.S. Eliot (of all people) who suggested that Swinburne was an essential poet but one that should be read selectively. Unfortunately, according to Eliot, unlike Wordsworth perhaps, it really didn't matter which poems one read. I do remember liking some of Swinburne's verse... but not being overly blown away.
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    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I haven't read him in a while myself. My edition had an introduction essay by T.S. Eliot (of all people) who suggested that Swinburne was an essential poet but one that should be read selectively. Unfortunately, according to Eliot, unlike Wordsworth perhaps, it really didn't matter which poems one read. I do remember liking some of Swinburne's verse... but not being overly blown away.
    Same. As I recall, Eliot claimed Swinburne missed his calling as a musician. His poetry has a very pretty sound, but it makes little sense.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
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    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    Some of his poems are a little obscure and a little abstract, but others are brilliant. Some of my favourites are, A Ballad of Life, A Ballad of Death, Itylus, The Garden of Proserpine, Hymn to Proserpine, Hertha, Hesperia, and In the Orchard, but I haven't read nearly all of his works. Actually there is an amazing, truly amazing depth of feeling and understanding in his work - expressed in beauty. Reading his poetry when I was young opened up worlds to me.

    What are some of your favourites, anyone?
    Last edited by NikolaiI; 07-02-2009 at 01:27 AM.

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    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    In a world where Lucan and Statius aren't considered essential reading, I can't see how Swinburne would be.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
    "This ain't over."- Charles Bronson
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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    In a world where Lucan and Statius aren't considered essential reading, I can't see how Swinburne would be.
    Neither are, that is correct, though Swinburne perhaps benefits from accessibility, in terms of language - though quite simply I don't see much room for either of the three in a "Quintessential" list of must read books. By sure length, the Western aspect of the must-read list ultimately would be reduced to a mere few thousand works, and quite simply, English poetry can only support around 1000 poems in a canon, without losing its coherency. Swinburne, though of his generation perhaps the greatest metric innovator, ultimately will never be read the same way as, for instance, Tennyson, Browning, the Rossettis, or even Arnold will - perhaps a few lyrics may remain, but in truth, the canon kills off most minor players every now and then, and I can't help but feel Swinburne, though perhaps brilliant in his own right, somewhat lacking in importance to the contemporary audiences of anything outside an extremely narrow fixated specialization on Victorian verse.

    That being said, perhaps he isn't a bad poet, but I find his strength lies in metrics, which, unfortunately for him perhaps, do not really inspire me much - I am, for instance, more interested in Pound or Eliot's metrics than Swinburne's, yet at the same time there was a lot of innovation there - perhaps the dominance of Whitman and Modernist forms really sidetracked him, in terms of importance, but I can't help but think of his poems as eccentric works, in the sense that I think of Christopher Smart as one of those eccentric characters, who show up every now and then and seem to not really belong to anything, and to not have any real influence on the verse after their time. Of course, Emily Dickinson would be similar - but I think her eccentricities have shaped much of what came after, whereas Swinburne's seem idiosyncratic to him.

  11. #11
    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Neither are, that is correct, though Swinburne perhaps benefits from accessibility, in terms of language - though quite simply I don't see much room for either of the three in a "Quintessential" list of must read books. By sure length, the Western aspect of the must-read list ultimately would be reduced to a mere few thousand works, and quite simply, English poetry can only support around 1000 poems in a canon, without losing its coherency. Swinburne, though of his generation perhaps the greatest metric innovator, ultimately will never be read the same way as, for instance, Tennyson, Browning, the Rossettis, or even Arnold will - perhaps a few lyrics may remain, but in truth, the canon kills off most minor players every now and then, and I can't help but feel Swinburne, though perhaps brilliant in his own right, somewhat lacking in importance to the contemporary audiences of anything outside an extremely narrow fixated specialization on Victorian verse.

    That being said, perhaps he isn't a bad poet, but I find his strength lies in metrics, which, unfortunately for him perhaps, do not really inspire me much - I am, for instance, more interested in Pound or Eliot's metrics than Swinburne's, yet at the same time there was a lot of innovation there - perhaps the dominance of Whitman and Modernist forms really sidetracked him, in terms of importance, but I can't help but think of his poems as eccentric works, in the sense that I think of Christopher Smart as one of those eccentric characters, who show up every now and then and seem to not really belong to anything, and to not have any real influence on the verse after their time. Of course, Emily Dickinson would be similar - but I think her eccentricities have shaped much of what came after, whereas Swinburne's seem idiosyncratic to him.
    Are you sure you've read enough of him to know this? I mean, that he is only important to a narrow fixated specialization on Victorian verse? And why should there be a 'right' answer to that anyway?

    I'm not sure Victorian applies to him at all, really. By that I just mean, I wouldn't refer to him as, "a Victorian Era poet," but rather just, "a poet."

    What is really the point of discussing importance anyway? Those interested in poetry are few, and those who know about and like Swinburne are fewer. Very few in today's society, at least in this country. That's established. There's not much left but to read his poems and like them or not, and discuss them if one does like them.
    Last edited by NikolaiI; 07-02-2009 at 02:27 AM.

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    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    I love the end of the Foresaken Garden:
    Till the slow sea rise and the sheer cliff crumble,
    Till terrace and meadow the deep gulfs drink,
    Till the strength of the waves of the high tides humble
    The fields that lessen, the rocks that shrink,
    Here now in his triumph where all things falter,
    Stretched out on the spoils that his own hand spread,
    As a god self-slain on his own strange altar,
    Death lies dead.

  14. #14
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NikolaiI View Post
    Are you sure you've read enough of him to know this? I mean, that he is only important to a narrow fixated specialization on Victorian verse? And why should there be a 'right' answer to that anyway?

    I'm not sure Victorian applies to him at all, really. By that I just mean, I wouldn't refer to him as, "a Victorian Era poet," but rather just, "a poet."

    What is really the point of discussing importance anyway? Those interested in poetry are few, and those who know about and like Swinburne are fewer. Very few in today's society, at least in this country. That's established. There's not much left but to read his poems and like them or not, and discuss them if one does like them.
    I've read the major poems of Swinburne (I couldn't find in my library a copy of the collected poems, for I suspect he penned too many doggerels to put into one volume) - and yes, he is a Victorian poet, because ultimately, chronology of birth is essential to understanding poetry, especially one such as Swinburne, who was heavily influenced by the discourse of his time. The question of this thread, was who likes Swinburne - I find my comments then, are not out of place - as you said, the people who do read poetry are few, and those that read Swinburne even fewer, so clearly, what I said seems to have a little bit of weight, considering it corresponds to the trends you yourself have observed.

  15. #15
    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    I've read the major poems of Swinburne (I couldn't find in my library a copy of the collected poems, for I suspect he penned too many doggerels to put into one volume) - and yes, he is a Victorian poet, because ultimately, chronology of birth is essential to understanding poetry, especially one such as Swinburne, who was heavily influenced by the discourse of his time. The question of this thread, was who likes Swinburne - I find my comments then, are not out of place - as you said, the people who do read poetry are few, and those that read Swinburne even fewer, so clearly, what I said seems to have a little bit of weight, considering it corresponds to the trends you yourself have observed.
    I have two different books of his poems, with some of the same poems and some different in each one.

    But what I said about Swinburne is equally true of Byron, Shelley, Keats, I am talking about our today's society (American for me though Canadian is not far removed), and percentages of the population. In this light you'll agree with me I'm sure. How many people, in percentage, in the population, read these things? Therefore, there's no point to try to fall back on what others think. It doesn't matter what others think, especially since there are so few of them. It's a personal endeavor and it is personal appreciation that matters. What I mean about Swinburne's poetry - there are some poems, like Anactoria, which I do not understand well, though others I think are surpassingly great. It doesn't matter when or where or who wrote them, those are all meaningless limitations. His poetry transcends all that, with great ease.

    As for importance, it's not a "this or that" question; that should be clear. You say he has little importance, but he has importance to me and others if not to you and others. It would be ridiculously pointless for me to argue and say that he does have importance, because it's not one or the other.

    Looking in the book I have by him, Ilicit is another poem I love. And An Interlude... hauntingly beautiful
    Last edited by NikolaiI; 07-02-2009 at 02:47 PM.

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