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Swinburne in difficulty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-840
JournalSEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2017


This article proposes a fresh way of understanding Swinburne’s mind at work on complicated political topics that he would prefer not to be complicated. I consider, as an example of a congested and unclear poem on a public topic, the fiery sonnet on the assassination of Marie François Sadi Carnot, fourth president of the Third Republic of France, on 25 June 1894, and suggest that it is indicative of a general truth: that Swinburne’s poetry is troubled when he is. I conclude by evaluating what more generally can be said, in the light of my argument, about ambiguity in poetry that is the opposite of an Empsonian type because it is not an indicator of value but of bother.

ID: 28546659