On the Language of Swinburne's Lyrics and Epics

On the Language of Swinburne's Lyrics and Epics

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Excerpt from On the Language of Swinburne's Lyrics and Epics: A Study

An investigation of the language of Swinburne hardly needs any special justification.

In the first place he was the last of the great Victorian poets; the chain of famous names beginning with Tennyson and Browning finds its last link in him: and there is hardly any difference of opinion as to his lasting place in the literature of his country.

The following pages should, in my opinion, give another reason for this study. The fact is that when I began to collect my notes and to make my conclusions I did not yet realise what they really meant. I did not then know Franz' careful and methodical survey of Shakespeare's language. When I later began to study this part of English more thoroughly, and especially the work of Franz just quoted, I was instantly struck, on the one point after the other, by the minute resemblance with my own notes of Swinburne's language. In a word, this is perhaps the most complete attempt at a revival of a dead stage of a language by means of artificial respiration ever made.

Swinburne's work is as well-known for its bulk as for its beauty. The whole sum of his poetry amounts to some 5000 closely printed pages, in the collected edition divided by himself into two sections - one lyrical and epic and one dramatic.

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