Republican, pagan, a sensualist alive to pleasure and to pain, Swinburne flouted the rules of Victorian decorum and morality in his life and work He created a unique means of expression through what Tennyson called his 'wonderful rhythmic invention', and yet his verse was influenced by poets from numerous periods and countries. Many of his poems are opulent hymns to sensual love, in all its aspects, and to death and to the loss of love. Swinburne's verse is immensely diverse in form: together these two works demonstrate its rich complexity and variety. As T. S. Eliot remarked, there is no reason to call his power over words anything but genius.
This volume brings together Swinburne's major poetic works, Atalanta in Calydon (1865) and Poems and Ballads (1866). Atalanta in Calydon is a drama in classical Greek form, which revealed Swinburne's metrical skills and brought him celebrity. Poems and Ballads brought him notoriety and demonstrates his preoccupation with de Sade, masochism, and femmes fatales. Also reproduced here is 'Notes on Poems and Reviews', a pamphlet Swinburne published in 1866 in response to hostile reviews of Poems and Ballads. In addition, this Penguin edition contains a preface, a table of dates, a commentary on the poems and two appendices, one of which is a map of the places mentioned in Atalanta in Calydon.
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