Swinburne

Swinburne's Style: An Experiment in Verse History (Legenda) by Laura McCormick Kilbride

19 December 2018

Swinburne’s Style: An Experiment in Verse History establishes Swinburne’s significance in the historical development of English poetry from 1865 to the present. Situating Swinburne on the cusp of modernism, it argues that Swinburne had no personal style because he possessed all styles. His mastery of traditional verse forms promoted a level of stylistic self-awareness which the next generation of poets could not sustain. If criticism to date has found Swinburne challenging, this is because his poetry challenges criticism.

Rather than making or remaking arguments for or against Swinburne’s style, Kilbride begins from a forensic investigation of ‘the period ear’. Close analysis of primary works, manuscripts, reviews, obituaries, letters, manuals of prosody and other documents of Swinburne’s own times attempt to reconstruct a context largely lost after the break with traditional verse-forms in the early twentieth century. From the powerful choral rhythms of Atalanta in Calydon, to the daring development of a unique form of ode in Erechtheus, the reader will encounter a Swinburne previously lost to us, but whose stylistic achievements are once again brought before our ears.

Laura McCormick Kilbride is Research Fellow in English at Peterhouse. Her book is available to purchase at Amazon.