Friday, April 5, 2013

Opening the gate

Today is the birthday of poet 
Algernon Charles Swinburne.

This was the first sentence I read this morning. Algernon Charles Swinburne... did I know of him? I searched my brain for his poetry, for any idea of him that maybe stuck with me after all my college poetry classes. 

The Writer's Almanac tells me:
"He had wild red hair, drank to excess, and screamed his poetry and blasphemies aloud while wandering around Oxford at night. He wrote poems about sex, and sadomasochism and vampires, which shocked the Victorians and which nobody reads anymore."

I still couldn't place Algernon Charles Swinburne. More research tells me he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, and 1909. 
As a young man, he was friends with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris. 

Oh Algernon, you escape me. I still can't place you, but I know of your friends...

 I walked through the open gate to knowledge. I needed to know more about Algernon, the poet no one reads anymore.

I read on. Algernon was a "an alcoholic and algolagniac". 
He was a decadent poet. Decadent??? Decadent... a group of writers and poets who were influenced by Gothic novels and by Edgar Allen Poe. Oscar Wilde was labeled a Decadent writer. So was HG Wells. 

But Algernon gave us more. He gave us the 'roundel' style of poetry. Christina Rossetti wrote in roundel verse, thanks to Algernon. 

The gate to knowledge opened wider...

Roundel: verse in the rhyme scheme of 
"A B A R 
 B A B 
 A B A R "  
Which interprets to "A poetic form of 11 to 14 lines consisting of two rhymes and the repetition of the first two lines in the middle of the poem and at its end" (source: The Poetry Foundation).

I have more reading to do this morning.

I am fascinated by gates to knowledge. 
Where will yours lead today?



altadenahiker said...

“And the best and the worst of this is/ That neither is most to blame/ If you have forgotten my kisses/ And I have forgotten your name.”

I kind of like him.

Elaine said...

Love your gates to knowledge! I often get sidetracked by odd bits of information. Before the Internet that whim of curiosity would have died quickly and I would have forgotten all about it, but now it's easy to pursue and most of the time satisfy the curiosity that led me on the search.

Banjo52 said...

Aesthetes and Decadents of the Late Nineteenth Century. I think that was a course title once, and I think its premise was: If one devotes oneself to beauty--the pursuit and obsessive love of beauty, without moral constraints--it will lead to moral decadence. I don't recall where Swinburne was on this scale; the obvious prince of decadence (and literary achievement) would seem to have been Oscar Wilde.

So my gate has opened onto my past and will probably cause me to start looking up stuff I've forgotten or never knew. Thanks???

Banjo52 said...

Instead of "will lead to," maybe I should have said that that obsessive love and pursuit of beauty IS moral decay . . .