Swinburne: A Literary Biography

By Georges Lafourcade | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE COMING OF WATTS (1872-1879)

WITHIN the dates which limit this chapter the life and works of Swinburne have in common certain marked features: the strong lyrical and emotional impulse which had since 1860 been so conspicuous is for a while at least distinctly checked. One would expect that this continuous flow of inspiration, at first versatile and disorderly, then, under Mazzini's influence, more powerful and concentrated, should in the long run exhaust itself; this, to a certain extent was the case, ill-health, money, and other worries concurring to the same effect. But it seems chiefly that Swinburne the poet was utterly puzzled and disconcerted for want of any practical goal to which he might direct his inspiration. He could not, as had been the case in 1867, find a new outlet for his lyrical faculties; Italian unity and the Universal Republic had been an impasse. He could not now return to Art for Art's Sake. Swinburne did not repudiate these phases of his career, but he had outgrown them. It was all very well for Mazzini to die in 1872 when his work was done, but what was his poet to do? For this, the Chief had not provided. As a consequence we shall see Swinburne endeavouring to shift for himself in the fields of art and politics, but without much confidence. After following up some lines of inspiration, which were soon exhausted, we

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Swinburne: A Literary Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • By the Same Author ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • Foreword ix
  • Chapter I Semel Et Semper 1
  • Chapter II Childhood 15
  • Chapter III Eton 31
  • Chapter IV Oxford 51
  • Chapter V Ballads and Poems (1860-1866) 84
  • Chapter VI Songs After Sunset (1866-1872) 145
  • Chapter VII the Coming of Watts (1872-1879) 207
  • Chapter VIII 'Where the Wet Hill-Winds Weep' (1879-1909) 263
  • Bibliographical Note 304
  • Index 309
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