Algernon Charles Swinburne

Biography of Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837 – 1909)

Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

Swinburne attended Eton and then Balliol College, Oxford, where he met William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Gabriel Rossetti. He left Oxford without a degree and travelled on the Continent for a while, an allowance from his father enabling him to pursue his interests without the necessity of earning a living.

His first book, The Queen Mother; Rosamund (1860) went unnoticed, but he scored a considerable success five years later with Atalanta in Calydon. Both Tennyson and Browning wrote to express their admiration for this play, which displays the rhythmic inventiveness and energy characteristic of Swinburne’s best work. This triumph was eclipsed the following year by the first book of his Poems and Ballads series, which met with outrage and admiration in about equal proportions. The poems’ emphasis on masochism and flagellation can be traced back to the poet’s experiences at Eton, and the response from many Victorian reviewers was predictable. His rejection of Christianity also incensed his critics and delighted many of his young admirers, who included Thomas Hardy.

Swinburne’s lifestyle was as energetic and extravagant as his poetry, and his excesses led to a serious breakdown in 1879. He was placed in the care of his friend Theodore Watts-Duncan, who persuaded him to moderate his habits. Swinburne’s health improved and he became a more respectable figure. He was still writing prolifically, but his late poetry shows evidence of a talent in decline.

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Poems By Algernon Charles Swinburne


A Baby’s Death (No Comments »)
A Ballad of Burdens (No Comments »)
A Ballad of Death (No Comments »)
A Ballad of Dreamland (No Comments »)
A Channel Crossing (No Comments »)
A Child’s Laughter (No Comments »)
A Clasp Of Hands (No Comments »)
A Dead Friend (No Comments »)
A Dialog (No Comments »)
A Dialogue (No Comments »)
A Flower-Piece By Fantin (No Comments »)
A Forsaken Garden (No Comments »)
A Landscape By Courbet (No Comments »)
A Marching Song (No Comments »)
A Match (No Comments »)
A New Year’s Message To Joseph Mazzini (No Comments »)
A Night-Piece By Millet (No Comments »)
A Ninth Birthday (No Comments »)
A Sequence of Sonnets on the Death of Robert Browning (No Comments »)
A Singing Lesson (No Comments »)
A Swimmer’s Dream (No Comments »)
A Watch In The Night (No Comments »)
A Year’s Burden — 1870 (No Comments »)
A Year’s Carols (No Comments »)
An Appeal (No Comments »)
Aperotos Eros (No Comments »)
Armand Barbes (No Comments »)
At Sea (No Comments »)
Autumn And Winter (No Comments »)
Ave atque Vale (In memory of Charles Baudelaire) (No Comments »)
Babyhood (No Comments »)
Before A Crucifix (No Comments »)
Before Sunset (No Comments »)
Benediction (No Comments »)
Birth And Death (No Comments »)
Blessed Among Women –To The Signora Cairoli (No Comments »)
Change (No Comments »)
Chorus (No Comments »)
Christmas Antiphones (No Comments »)
Cleopatra (No Comments »)
Comparisons (No Comments »)
Concord (No Comments »)
Cor Cordium (No Comments »)
Dead Love (No Comments »)
Death And Birth (No Comments »)
Dedication To Christina G. Rossetti (No Comments »)
Dedication To Joseph Mazzini (No Comments »)
Dickens (No Comments »)
Discord (No Comments »)
Envoi (No Comments »)
Epilogue (No Comments »)
Eros (No Comments »)
Etude Realiste (No Comments »)
Étude Réaliste (excerpts) (No Comments »)
Eurydice – To Victor Hugo (No Comments »)
First Footsteps (No Comments »)
Four Songs Of Four Seasons (No Comments »)
Genesis (No Comments »)
Had I Wist (No Comments »)
Hertha (No Comments »)
Hope and Fear (No Comments »)
Hymn Of Man (No Comments »)
Hymn to Proserpine (After the Proclamation of the Christian (No Comments »)
In Guernsey – To Theodore Watts (No Comments »)
In Harbour (No Comments »)
In Memory of Walter Savage Landor (No Comments »)
In San Lorenzo (No Comments »)
In Sark (No Comments »)
In the Bay (No Comments »)
Insularum Ocelle (No Comments »)
Itylus (No Comments »)
Leave-Taking (No Comments »)
Love and Sleep (No Comments »)
Love In A Mist (No Comments »)
Love Lies Bleeding (No Comments »)
Marzo Pazzo (No Comments »)
Mater Dolorosa (No Comments »)
Mater Triumphalis (No Comments »)
Mentana : First Anniversary (No Comments »)
Messidor (No Comments »)
Monotones (No Comments »)
Mourning (No Comments »)
Music: An Ode (No Comments »)
Nephelidia (No Comments »)
Non Dolet (No Comments »)
Not A Child (No Comments »)
Ode On The Insurrection In Candia (No Comments »)
On An Old Roundel (No Comments »)
On the Death of Robert Browning (No Comments »)
On the Deaths of Thomas Carlyle and George Eliot (No Comments »)
One Of Twain (No Comments »)
Past Days (No Comments »)
Perinde AC Cadaver (No Comments »)
Plus Intra (No Comments »)
Plus Ultra (No Comments »)
Prelude (No Comments »)
Prelude – Lohengrin (No Comments »)
Prelude – Tristan And Isolde (No Comments »)
Quia Multum Amavit (No Comments »)
Recollections (No Comments »)
Siena (No Comments »)
Sleep (No Comments »)
Sorrow (No Comments »)
Super Flumina Babylonis (No Comments »)
Tenebrae (No Comments »)
The Complaint of Lisa (No Comments »)
The Death Of Richard Wagner (No Comments »)
The Eve Of Revolution (No Comments »)
The Garden of Proserpine (No Comments »)
The Halt Before Rome–September 1867 (No Comments »)
The Higher Pantheism in a Nutshell (No Comments »)
The Last Oracle (No Comments »)
The Litany Of Nations (No Comments »)
The Lute And The Lyre (No Comments »)
The Oblation (No Comments »)
The Pilgrims (No Comments »)
The Roundel (No Comments »)
The Song Of The Standard (No Comments »)
The Way Of The Wind (No Comments »)
The Year of the Rose (No Comments »)
Three Faces (No Comments »)
Time And Life (No Comments »)
Tiresias (No Comments »)
To A Cat (No Comments »)
To Catullus (No Comments »)
To Dora Dorian (No Comments »)
To Walt Whitman In America (No Comments »)
Wasted Love (No Comments »)

Sonnets of English Dramatic Poets (1590-1650)

1. Christopher Marlowe (No Comments »)
2. William Shakespeare (No Comments »)
3. Ben Jonson (No Comments »)
4. Beaumont and Fletcher (No Comments »)
19. The Many (No Comments »)

Swinburne's Collected Poetical Works, 2 vols. (London: William Heinemann, 1924): I, 52-53

A Leave-Taking (No Comments »)