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The story of Tristram had been Swinburne’s ‘delight (as far as a child could understand it) before I was ten years old,’86 and his earlier version, Queen Yseult, had been begun while he was a student at Oxford. Although Tristram of Lyonesse is clearly one of his finer achievements, the xxxiii Saturday Review pronounced the story barbarous and unsuited for modern treatment; while conceding that Swinburne had written many magnificent lines, the reviewer charged that some are rhetorical, some obscure, and some ‘effusively erotic’.

Peters’ The Crowns of Apollo: Swinburne’s Principles of Literature and Art (1965). Swinburne (1962). Academy, 13 July 1878, xiv, 25–6. Nation, 18 July 1878, xxvii, 45–6; North American Review, September– October 1878, cxxvii, 342–4. Lang, iv, 106. Spectator, 5 March 1881, liv, 316–17. Lang, iii, 332. Spectator, 12 August 1882, lv, 1055–7. Idler, 1895, vii, 400–19. Knaplund, ‘Swinburne and the Poet-Laureateship’, University of Toronto Quarterly, January 1937, vi, 236–41. ‘The Ethics of Mr. Swinburne’s Poetry’, Saturday Review, 25 January 1896, lxxxi, 95– 7; ‘Mr.

Now this is not a question of relative poetic power, but of a certain diversity of qualities, and I don’t mean to be egotistic in saying that I might perform somewhat of the same service for him as Byron for Shelley. I feel that (if it is not already too late) I could help him to some degree of poise, of system, of law—in short, art. In this sense he moves my deepest sympathy, for I see now the matter that might be moulded into a splendid poet relapsing into formless conditions. It is sad, it is tragic—and if this fancy of mine be foolish, there it is nevertheless.

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