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11:45 pm: Poets who should be more widely known.
(This has no justification other than my liking their poems, and their being ignored in quite a lot of poetry anthologies).

First and foremost, of course, Algernon Charles Swinburne. The Swinburne Project. Beautiful, lots of tricks with wordplay, difficult ideas, and poems about the psychology of sex. What more do you want?

From "The Leper," which combines leprosy, adultery, voyeurism, and necrophilia:

Six months, and I sit still and hold
In two cold palms her cold two feet.
Her hair, half grey half ruined gold,
Thrills me and burns me in kissing it.

Love bites and stings me through, to see
Her keen face made of sunken bones.
Her worn-off eyelids madden me,
That were shot through with purple once.

George Darley is a minor Romantic poet who didn't become widely known partially because of his stammer. He died fairly young, and his major work, a long poem called "Nepenthe," is dense and fantastic and hard to get into. A small sample:

"O BLEST unfabled Incense Tree,
That burns in glorious Araby,
With red scent chalicing the air,
Till earth-life grow Elysian there!"

Thomas Lovell Beddoes is a "dark Romantic" poet; most of his poems are violent, grotesque, disturbing, or all three at once. He had a strange and wandering life, and eventually wound up killing himself. A sample of one of his poems:


If there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?
Some cost a passing bell;
Some a light sigh,
That shakes from Life's fresh crown
Only a rose-leaf down.
If there were dreams to sell.
Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rang the bell,
What would you buy?

William Sharp/Fiona Macleod is one of a very few male poets who used a female psuedonym. His work under the William Sharp name is mostly descriptive. The Fiona Macleod poems are mostly Celtic-based, dreamy and misty and with a flavor I haven't seen anywhere else.

This is "From the Hills of Dream"; the poems are typically very short:

"Across the silent stream
Where the slumber-shadows go,
From the dim blue Hills of Dream
I have heard the west wind blow.

Who hath seen that fragrant land,
Who hath seen that unscanned west ?
Only the listless hand
And the unpulsing breast.

But when the west wind blows
I see moon-lances gleam
Where the Host of Faerie flows
Athwart the Hills of Dream.

And a strange song I have heard
By a shadowy stream,
And the singing of a snow-white bird
On the Hills of Dream.

Ernest Dowson is a poet fascinated by Roman Catholicism and exile who published only a small amount of poetry and wound up drinking himself to death. A stanza of his best-known poem, "Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae," was the source of a well-known book title:

"I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long;
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion."

George Russell (A.E.) is better-known, but I still haven't seen a lot of his poetry anywhere outside the Internet. My favorite poem of his, "A Call of the Sidhe," begins this way:

"TARRY thou yet, late lingerer in the twilight’s glory:
Gay are the hills with song: earth’s faery children leave
More dim abodes to roam the primrose-hearted eve,
Opening their glimmering lips to breathe some wondrous story."

George Meredith is a more major poet than most of the others (except Swinburne), but only a few poems of his are widely-known. Of what I've read of his, my favorite is "Love in the Valley," which has a unique rhythm, and my favorite stanza of it goes:

"Lovely are the curves of the white owl sweeping
Wavy in the dusk lit by one large star.
Lone on the fir-branch, his rattle-note unvaried,
Brooding o'er the gloom, spins the brown eve-jar.
Darker grows the valley, more and more forgetting:
So were it with me if forgetting could be willed.
Tell the grassy hollow that holds the bubbling well-spring,
Tell it to forget the source that keeps it filled."

Yes, Tennyson and the Brownings were major poets, but not the only ones. And I like all these poets more than anything I've read by Robert Browning, who irritates me for some reason.

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