Archive for the 'Victorian' Category

Christina Rossetti

October 24, 2006


Youngest child in the Rossetti family: all four children became writers
Father was an exiled Italian patriot who wrote poetry and commentaries on Dante, believing his poems were ancient conspiracies: her mother was an Anglo-Italian who worked as a governess
Household was a gather place for Italian exiles, full of conversation of politics and culture
Life changed after her father became blind: family’s economic situation worsened, Rossetti’s health deteriorated, she and her mother and her sister became intensely involved with the Anglo-Catholic movement within the Church of England
For the rest of her life she governed herself by strict religious principles
Fiance reverted to Roman Catholicism and Rossetti broke off the marriage- refused to marry her second suitor because he seemed insufficiently concerned with religion
Lived a quiet life, occupying herself with charitable work
Poetry is a complex representation of the religious themes of temptation and sin, and redemption by vicarious suffering
Demonstrates her affinity with the early aims of the Pre-Raphaelite group
Consciousness of gender in poetry
Wrote poetry of deferral, of deflection. of negation, whose very denials and constraints give her a powerful way to articulate a poetic self in critical relationship to the little that the world offers
Uses a coy playfulness and sardonic wit to reduce the self and preserve for it a secret inner space
Virginia Woolf described the distinctive combination of sensuousness and religious severity in Rossettie’s work:

“Your poems are full of gold dust and ‘sweet geraniums’ varied with brightness; your eye noted incessantly how rushes are ‘velvet headed,’ and lizards have a ‘strange metallic mail’ -your eye, indeed, observed with a sensual pre-Raphaelite intensity that must have surprised Christina the Anglo-Catholic. But to her you owed perhaps the fixity and sadness of your must… No sooner have you feasted on beauty with your eyes than your mind tells you that beauty is vain and beauty passes. Death, oblivion, and rest lap around your songs with their dark wave.”

Jerome McGann calls Rossetti

“one of nineteenth-century England’s greatest ‘Odd Women.'”


‘Dear, you should not stay so late, / Twilight is not good for maidens; / Should not loiter in the glen / In the haunts of goblin men. / Do you not remember Jeanie, / How she met them in the moonlight, / Took their gifts both choice and many, / Ate their fruits and wore their flowers / Plucked from bowers / Where summer ripens at all hours? / But ever in the noonlight / She pined and pined away; / Sought them  by night and day, / Found them no more but dwindled and grew grey; / Then fell with the first snow, / White to this day no grass will grow / Where she lies low: / I planted daisies there a year ago / That never blow. / You should not loiter so.’ 

Golden head by golden head, / Like two pigeons in one nest / Folded in each other’s wings, / they lay down in their curtained bed: / Like two blossoms on one stem, / Like two flakes of new-fall’n snow, / Like two wands of ivory / Tipped with gold for awful kings. / Moon and stars gazed in at them, / wind sang to them lullaby, / Lumbering owls forbore to fly, / Not a bat flapped to and fro / Round their rest: / Cheek to cheek and breast to breast / Locked together in one nest.

She gorged on bitterness without a name: / Ah! fool, to choose such part / Of soul-consuming care! / Sense failed in the mortal strife: / Like the watch-tower of a town / Which an earthquake shatters down, / Like a lightning-stricken mast, / Like a wind-uprooted tree / Spun about, / Like a foam-topped tree / Spun about, / Like a foam-topped watersoup / Cast down headlong in the sea, / she fell at last; / Pleasure past and anguish past, / Is it death or is it life?
Life out of death.

Laura would call the little ones / And tell them of her early prime, / Those pleasant days long gone/ Of not-returning time: / Would talk about the haunted glen, / The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men, / Their fruits like honey to the throat / But poison in the blood; / (Men sell not such in any town:) / Would tell them how her sister stood / In deadly peril to do her good, / And win the fiery antidote: / Then joining hands to little hands / Would boid them cling together, / ‘For there is no friend like a sister / In calm or stormy weather; / To cheer one on the tedious way, / To fetch one if one goes astray, / To life one if one totters down, / To strengthen whilst one stands.’

-Goblin Market


Gerard Manley Hopkins

October 24, 2006


First publication of his poems was made accessible to readers 29 years after his death
Most poems celebrate the wonders of God’s creation
Were known only to a small circle of friends during his lifetime
Praised for his striking experiments with meter and diction
Widely hailed as a pioneering figure of ‘modern’ literature and unconnected with fellow Victorian poets
Often grouped with twentieth-century poets
Born near London into a cultivated family in comfortable circumstances
Attended Oxford and was exposed to the Broad Church theology of one of his tutors
White at Oxford Hopkins wrote poems in the vein of John Keats but burned most of these writings after his conversion: drafts survive
Entered the Roman Catholic Church: suffered estrangement from his family
Because a Jesuit priest
Appointed professor of classics at University College in Dublin
Felt everything in the universe was characterized by what he called ‘inscape’: the distinctive design that constitutes individual dynamic identity: Each being in the universe enacts its identity and the human recognizes the inscape of other beings in an act he terms instress: the apprehension of an object in an intense thrust of energy toward it that enables one to realize its specific distinctiveness- all of this leads on to Christ, for the individual identity of any object is the stamp of divine creation
Poetry enacts this celebration of identity
Hopkins seeks to give each poem a unique design that captures the initial inspiration when he is caught by his subject
Creates compounds to represent the unique interlocking fo the characteristics of an object
Disrupts conventional syntax, coins and compounds words, and uses ellipsis and repetition to represent the stress and action of the brain in moments of inspiration
Uses new rhythm to give each poem a distinctive design
Believed that sprung rhythm was the natural rhythm of common speech, written prose and music
In early poems, beauty of individual objects brings him close to God but in late poems the distinctive individuality comes to isolate him from God
In the ‘terrible sonnets’ he cannot escape a world solely of his own imagining
Yeats calls Hopkins’s poetry

“a last development of poetical diction.”


I caught this morning morning’s minion, king- / dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding / Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding / High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing / In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, / As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding / Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding / Stirred for a bird, -the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here / Buckle! And the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion / Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion / Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, / Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

-The Windhover – To Christ our Lord (in whole)

Glory be to God for dappled things- / For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; / For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; / Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches’ wings; / Landscape plotted and pieced- fold, fallow, and plough; / And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange; / Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) / With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; / He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: / Praise him.

-Pied Beauty (in whole)

Pied means of two or more colors in blotches, variegated

Margaret, are you grieving/ Over Goldengrove unleaving?/ Leaves, like the things of man, you/ With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?/ Ah! as the heart grows older/ It will come to such sights colder/ By and by, nor spare a sigh/ Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;/ And yet you will weep and know why./ Now no matter, child, the name:/ Sorrow’s springs are the same./ Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed/ What heart heard of, ghost guessed:/ It is the blight man was born for,/ It is Margaret you mourn for.

-Spring and Fall (in whole)

To a Young Child

George Eliot

October 21, 2006


Marian Evans
Spent her childhood at Arbury Farm on the Warwickshire countryside
Strongly affected by Evangelicism
Associated with a group of freethinking intellectuals in the town of Coventry: reluctantly denounced her belief in Christianity
Translated for leading figures of Higher Criticism in Germany
Appointed assistant editor of the Westminster Review, a learned journal formerly edited by John Stuart Mill, ,after her father died
Fell in love with George Henry Lewes, brilliant critic of literature and philosophy, married and father of 3, and moved in with him as a common-law wife: was not invited to dinner, those who wanted to see her had to seek her company as a visitor on Sunday afternoons which became legendary occasions: decision to live with Lewes cost her a number of social and family ties, including her brother Isaac
Fiction owes much to Austen’s with concern with provincial society, satire of human motives and focus on courtship
Combines expansive philosophic meditation with acute dissection of characters’ motives and feelings
Likened herself a historian and scientist
Perhaps the greatest English realist, often compared with Leo Tolstoy: the most important Victorian intellectual
Sympathetic to a feminist point of view, stresses values of loyalty to one’s past
A novest of characters (like Austen)
Called the first ‘great godless writer’

"My function is that of the aesthetic not othe doctrinal teacher."

Silas Marner 1861

Silas Marner : The Weaver of Raveloe
Story of redemption through love
Combines humour and rich symbolism with a historically precise setting to create a tale of love and hope
explores the issues of redemptive love, the notion of community, the role of religion, and the status of the gentry and family

“A child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts.”
—William Wordsworth


“…how was a man to be explained unless you at least knew somebody who knew his father and mother? To the peasants of old times, the world outside their own direct experience was a region of vagueness and mystery.”

“To people accustomed to reason about the forms in which their religious feeling has incorporated itself, it is difficult to enter into that simple, untaught state of mind in which the form and the feeling have never been severed by an act of reflection.”

“Have not men, shut up in solitary imprisonment, found an interest in marking the moments by straight strokes of a certain length on the wall, until the growth of the sum of straight strokes, arranged in triangles, has become a mastering purpose? Do we not while away moments of inanity or fatigued waiting by repeating some trivial moment or sound, until the repetition has bred a want, which is incipient habit?”

“The yoke a man creates for himself by wrongdoing will breed hate in the kindliest nature…”

“The sense of security more frequently springs from habit than from conviction, and for this reason it often subsists after such a change in the conditions as might have been expected to suggest alarm. The lapse of time during which a given event has not happened is, in this logic of habit, constantly alleged as a reason why the event should never happen, even when the lapse of time is precisely the added condition which makes the event imminent. A man will tell you that he has worked in a mine for forty years unhurt by an accident, as a reason why he should apprehend no danger, though the roof is beginning to sink; and it is often observable that the older a man gets, the more difficult it is to him to retain a believing conception of his own death.”

“‘Did ever a ghost give a man a black eye? That’s what I should like to know. If ghos’es want me to believe in ’em, let ’em leave off skulking i’ the dark and i’ lone places- let ’em come where there’s company and candles.'”

“Our consciousness rarely registers the beginning of a growth within us any more than without us: there have been many circulations of the sap before we detect the smallest sign of the bud.”

“Favorable Chance, I fancy, is the god of all men who follow their own devices instead of obeying a law they believe in. … The evil principle deprecated in that religion is the orderly sequence by which the seed brings forth a crop after its kind.”

“I suppose one reason why we are seldom able to comfort our neighbours with our words is that our good will gets adulterated, in spite of ourselves, before it can pass our lips. We can send black puddings and pettitoes without giving them a flavour of our own egoism; but language is a stream that is almost sure to smack of a mingled soil. There was a fair proportion of kindness in Raveloe; but it was often of a beery and bungling sort, and took the shape least allied to the complimentary and hypocritical.”

“Nobody in this world but himself knew that he was the same Silas Marner who had once loved his fellow with tender love, and trusted in an unseen goodness. Even to himself that past experience had become dim.
And then the red faces made their way through the black, biting frost to their own hoes, feeling themselves free for the rest of the day to eat, drink, and be merry, and using that Christian freedom with out diffidence.”

“She was perfectly quiet now, but not asleep- only soothed by sweet porridge and warmth into that wide-gazing calm which makes us older human beings, with our inward turmoil, feel a certain awe in the presence of a little child, such as we feel before some quiet majesty or beauty in the earth or sky -before a steady glowing planet, or a full-flowered eglantine, or the bending trees over a silent pathway.”

“The prevarication and white lies which a mind that keeps itself ambitiously pure is as uneasy under as a great artist under the false touches that no eye detects but his own, are worn lightly as mere trimmings when once the actions have become a lie.”

“When we are treated well, we naturally begin to think that we are not altogether unmeritorious, and that it is only just we should treat ourselves well, and not mar our own good fortune”

“In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction; a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child’s.”

“‘…there’s nothing kills a man so soon ashaving nobody to find fault with him but himself. It’s a deal the best way o’ being master, to let somebody else do the ordering, and keep the blaming in your own hands. It ‘ud save many a man a stroke, I believe.'”

“This excessive rumination and self-questioning is perhaps a morbid habit inevitable to a mind of much moral sensibility when shut out from its due share of outward activity and of practical claims on its affections- inevitable to a noblehearted, childless woman, when her lot is narrow. ‘I can do so little- have I done it all well?’ is the perpetually recurring thought; and there are no voices calling her away from that soliloquy, no peremptory demands to divert energy from vain regret or superfluous scruple.”

“‘Eh, my precious child, the blessing was mine. If you hadn’t been sent to save me, I should h’ gone to the grave in my misery. The money was taken from me in time; and you see it’s been kept- kept till it was wanted for you. It’s wonderful -our life is wonderful.'”

“‘Well, yes, Master Marner,’ said Dolly, who sat with a placid, listening face, now ordered by grey hairs; ‘I doubt it may. It’s the will o’ Them above as a many things should be dark to us; bu there’s some things as I’ve never felt i’ the dark about, and they’re mostly what comes i’ the day’s work. You were hard done by that once, Master Marner, and it seems as you’ll never know the rights of it; but that doesn’t hinder there being a rights, Master Marner for all it’s dark to you and me.’
‘No,’ said Silas., ‘no; that doesn’t hinder. Since the time the child was sent to me and I’ve come to love her as myself, I’ve had light enough to trusten by; and, now she says seh’ll never leave me, I think I shall trusten till I die.’"

“‘Oh, Father,’ said Eppie, ‘what a pretty home ours is! I think nobody could be happier than we are.'”

Robert Browning

October 11, 2006


During his lifetime, was often referred to as “Mrs. Browning’s husband”: was a relatively unknown experimenter whose poems were greeted with indifference
gained a public and was recognized as the rival of Alfred, Lord Tennyson in the 1860’s
Poetry was admired by two groups of readers widely different in tastes: Browning was seen as a wise philosopher and religious teacher resolving doubts seen in Tennyson’s poetry, and also as a poet interested in solving the problems of how poetry should be written (Ezra Pound and Robert Lowell recognized that Browning became the main road of twentieth-century poetry)
Uses dramatic monologue to separate the speaker from the poet
Born in Camberwell, a London suburb
Until marriage at age of 34, Browning was rarely absent from his parents’ home
Preferred to pursue his education at home
Overwhelmed with embarrassment, avoided confessional writings and exposing himself too explicitly before his readers
Wrote plays instead of narratives, but stage productions remained failures
Carried dramatic monologue to poetry and enabled him through imaginary speakers to avoid explicit autobiography
Became an atheist, vegetarian and liberal at 14 after discovering Percy Bysshe Shelley’s works, retained Shelley’s influence in poetry, but grew away for atheism
The random nature of his education later surfaced in his writing, leading to criticism of his poems’ obscurities
After reading Elizabeth Barrett’s Poems (1844) and corresponding with her for a few months, Browning met her in 1845 and they were married in 1846,


That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, / Looking as if she were alive, I call / That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands / Worked busily a day, and there she stands. / Will ‘t please you to sit and look at her? I said / ‘Fra Pandolf’ by design, for never read / Strangers like you that pictured countenance, / The depth and passion of its earnest glance, / But to myself they turned (since none puts by / The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) / And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, / How such a glance came there; so, not the first / Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not / Her hustand’s presence only, called that spot / Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps / Fra Pandolf chanced to say ‘Her mantel laps / Over my lady’s wrist too much,’ or ‘Paint / Must never hope to reproduce the faint / Half-flush that dies along her throat’: such stuff / Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough / For calling up that spot of joy. She had / A heart- how shall I sa? -too soon made glad, / Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er / She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. / Sir, ’twas all one! My favor at her breast, / The dropping of the daylight in the West, / The bough of cherries some officious fool / Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule / She rode with round the terrace -all and each / Would draw from her alike the approving speech, / Or blush, at least. She thanked men- good! but thanked / Somehow- I know not how- as if she ranked / My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name / With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame / This sort of trifling? Even had you skill / In speech – (which I have not)- to make your will / Quite clear to such an one, and say, ‘Just this / Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, / Or there exceed the mark’ -and if she let / Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set / Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse / -E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose / Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, / Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without / Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; / Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands / As if alive. Will ‘t please you to rise? We’ll meet / The company below, then. I repeat, / The Count your master’s known munificence / Is ample warrant that no just pretense / Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; / Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed / At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go / Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, / Taming a sea horse, thought a rarity, / Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

-My Last Duchess (in whole)

A duke speaks of his dead wife in a one-sided conversation
Reader must piece together the past and present situation and infer what sort of woman the duchess really was and what sort of man the duke really is

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

October 8, 2006


One of England’s most famous poets during her lifetime
Admired by contemporaries for her moral and emotional ardor and her energetic engagement with the issues of her day
Better know than her husband, Robert Browning, at the time of her death
Interested in what it means to be a woman poet and the female response to social and political events
Received an unusual education
First volume of poetry was published when she was 13
Personal life was burdened by ill health and her tyrannically protective father, who forbid any of his 11 children to be married
Secretly eloped with Robert Browning in 1846 in Italy: her father never forgave her
Poetry is characterized by a fervent moral sensibility: uses poetry as a tool of social protest and reform
In later poems, she took up the cause of the Risorgimento, the movement to unify Italy as a nation-state
Works are full of tender and delicate, but also of strong and deep, thought

Aurora Leigh 1857

Verse novel
Poem depicts the growth of a woman poet and is the first work in English by a woman writer in which the heroine herself is the author
Portrait of the artist as a young woman committed to a socially inclusive realist art
Daring work both in its presentation of social issues concerning women and in its claims for Aurora’s poetic vocation
Immensely popular in its own day: had extravagant admirers and critics
Unlike Matthew Arnold and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Browning felt that the present age contained the materials for an epic poetry
Virginia Woolf said in regards to Aurora Leigh: it gives us…

“a sense of life in general, of people who are unmistakably Victorian, wrestling with the problems of their own time, all brightened, intensified, and compacted by the fire of poetry… Aurora Leigh, with her passionate interest in social questions, her conflict as artist and woman, her longing for knowledge and freedom, is the true daughter of her age.”

Barrett Browning on Aurora Leigh in beginning to write:

“My chief intention just now is the writing of a sort of novel-poem… running into the midst of our conventions, and rushing into drawing-rooms and the like ‘where angels fear to tread’; and so, meeting face to face and without mask the Humanity of the age, and speaking the truth as I conceive of it out plainly.”


Was this my father’s England? the great isle? / The ground seemed cut up from the fellowship / Of verdure, field from field, as man from man; / The skies themselves looked low and positive, / As almost you could touch them with a hand, / And dared to do it they were so far off / From God’s celestial crystals; all things blurred / And dull and vague. Did Shakespeare and his mates / Absorb the light here? -not a hill or stone / With heart to strike a radiant colour up / Or active outline on the indifferent air.

She had lived, we’ll say, / A harmless life, she called a virtuous life, / A quiet life, which was not life at all / (But that, she had not lived enough to know),

She had lived / A sort of cage-bird life, born in a cage, / Accounting that to leap from perch to perch / Was act and joy enough for any bird. / Dear heaven, how silly are the things that live / In thickets, and eat berries!
I, alas, / A wild bird scarcely fledged, was brought to her cage, / And she was there to meet me. Very kind. / Bring the clean water, give out the fresh seed.

There seemed more true life in my father’s grave / Than in all England. Since that threw me oof / Who fain would cleave (his latest will, they say, / Consigned me to his land), I only thought / Of lying quiet there where I was thrown / Like sea-weed on the rocks, and suffering her / To prick me to a pattern with her pin, / Fibre from fibre, delicate leaf from leaf, / And dry out from my drowned anatomy / The last sea-salt left in me.

By the way, / The works of women are symbolical. / We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull our sight, / Producing what? A pair of slippers, sir, / To put on when you’re weary- or a stool / To stumble over and vex you… ‘curse that stool!’ / Or else at best, a cushion, where you lean / And sleep, and dream of something we are not / But would be for your sake. Alas, alas! / This hurts most, this- that, after all, we are paid / The worth of our work, perhaps.

‘I perceive. / The headache is too noble for my sex. / You think the heartache would sound decenter, / Since that’s the woman’s special, proper ache, / And altogether tolerable, except / To a woman.’

‘Now,’ I said, ‘may God / Be witness ‘twixt us two!’ and with the word, / Meseemed I floated into a sudden light / Above his stature,- ‘am I proved too weak / To stand alone, yet strong enough to bear / Such leaners on my shoulder? poor to think, / Yet rich enough to sympathise with thought? / Incompetent to sing, as blackbirds can, / Yet competent to love, like him?’

‘What you love / is not a woman, Romney, but a cause: / You want a helpmate, not a mistress, sir, / A wife to help your ends, -in her no end. / Your cause is noble, your ends excellent, / But I, being most unworthy of these and that, / Do otherwise conceive of love. Farewell.’

‘It takes a soul, / To move a body: it takes a high-souled man, / To move the masses, even to a cleaner stye: / It takes the ideal, to blow a hair’s-breadth off / The dust of the actual. -Ah, your Fouriers failed, / Because not poets enough to understand / That life develops from within. -For me, / Perhaps I am not worthy, as you say, / Of work like this: perhaps a woman’s soul / Aspires, and not creates: yet we aspire, / And yet I’ll try out your perhapses, sir, / And if I fail… why, burn me up my straw / Like other false works- I’ll not ask for grace; / Your scorn is better, cousin Romney. I / Who love my art, would never wish it lower / To suit my stature. I may love my art. / You’ll grant that even a woman may love art, / Seeing that to waste true love on anything / Is womanly, past question.’

Nay, if there’s room for poets in this world / A little overgrown (I think there is), / Their sole work is to represent the age, / Their age, not Charlemagne’s, -this live, throbbing age, / That brawls, cheats, maddens, calculates, aspires, / And spends more passion, more heroic heat, / Betwixt the mirrors of its drawing-rooms, / Than Roland with his knights at Roncesvalles. / To flinch from modern varnish, coat or flounce, / Cry out for togas and the picturesque, / Is fatal, -foolish too. King Arthur’s self / Was commonplace to Lady Guenever; / And Camelot to minstrels seemed as flat / As Fleet Street to our poets.
Never flinch, / But still, uncrupulously epic, catch / Upon the burning lava of a song / The full-veined, heaving, ,double-breasted Age: / That, when the next shall come, the men of that / May touch the impress with reverent hand, and say / ‘Behold, -behold the paps we all have sucked! / This bosom seems to beat still, or at least / It sets ours beating: this is living art, / Which thus presents and thus records true life.’

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

October 3, 2006


Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom after William Wordsworth
Verse was based on classical or mythological themes
Fourth son in a family of twelve children
Poet often regarded as the chief representative of the Victorian age in poetry
Began to write poetry at an early age in the style of Lord Byron
Studied at Trinity College, Cambridge: joined the literary club ‘The Apostles’ and met Arthur Hallam who became his closest friend
His book ‘Poems’ received unfavorable reviews and Tennyson ceased to publish for nearly ten years until Hallam suddenly died and Tennyson began to write ‘In Memoriam’
Wrote several plays in the 1870’s
Is buried in the Poets’ Corner in Westmister Abbey


Part I

On either side the river lie / Long fields of barley and of rye, / That clothe the wold and meet the sky; / And through the field the road runs by / To many-towered Camelot; / And up and down the people go, / Gazing where the lilies blow / Round an island there below, / The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver, / Little breezes dusk and shiver / Through the wave that runs for ever / By the island in the river / Flowing down to Camelot. / Four grey walls, and four grey towers, / Overlook a space of flowers, / And the silent isle imbowers / The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow-veiled, / Slide the heavy barges trailed / By slow horses; and unhailed / The shallop flitteth silken-sailed / Skimming down to camelot: / But who hath seen her wave her hand? / Or at the casement seen her stand? / Or is she known in all the land, / The Lady of Shalott?
Only reapers, reaping early / In among the bearded barley / Hear a song that echoes cheerly / From the river winding clearly, / Down to towered Camelot: / And by the moon the reaper weary, / Piling sheaves in uplands air, / Listening, whispers ”Tis the fairy / Lady of Shalott.’

Part II

There she weaves by night and day / A magic web with colours gay. / She has heard a whisper say, / A curse is on her if she stay / To look down to Camelot. / She knows not what the curse may be, / And so she weaveth steadily, / And little other care hath she, / The Lady of Shalott.
And moving through a mirror clear / That hangs before her all the year, / Shadows of the world appear. / There she sees the highway near / Winding down to Camelot: / There the river eddy whirls, / And there the surly village-churls, / And the red cloaks of market girls, / Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad, / An abbot on an ambling pad, / Sometimes a curly sheperd-lad, / Or long-haired page in crimson clad, / Goes by to towered Camelot; / And sometimes through the mirror blue / The knights come riding two and two: / She hath no loyal knight and true, / The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights / To weave the mirror’s magic sights, / For often through the silent nights / A funeral, with plumes and lights / And music, went to Camelot: / Or when the moon was overhead, / Came two young lovers lately wed; / ‘I am half sick of shadows,’ said / The Lady of Shalott.

Part III

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves, / He rode between the barley-sheaves, / The sun came dazzling through the leaves, / And flamed upon the brazen greaves / Of bold Sir Lancelot. / A red-cross knight for ever kneeled / To a lady in his shield, / That sparkled on the yellow field, / Beside remote Shalott.
The gemmy bridle glittered free, / Like to some branch of stars we see / Hung in the golden Galaxy. / The bridle bells rang merrily / As he rode down to Camelot: / And from his blazoned baldric slung / A mighty silver bugle hung, / And as he rode his armour rung, / Beside remote Shalott.
All in the blue unclouded weather / Thick-jewelled shone the saddle-leather. / The helmet and the helmet-feather / Burned like one burning flame together, / As he rode down to Camelot. / As often through the purple night, / Below the starry clusters bright, / Some bearded meteor, trailing light, / Moves over still Shalott.
His broad clear brow in sunlight glowed; / On burnished hooves his war-horse trode; / From underneath his helmet flowed / His coal-black curls as on he rode, / As he rode down to Camelot. / From the bank and from the river / He flashed into the crystal mirror, / ‘Tirra lirra,’ by the river / Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom, / She made three paces through the room, / She saw the water-lily bloom, / She saw the helmet and the plume, / She looked down to Camelot. / Out flew the web and floated wide; / The mirror cracked from side to side; / ‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried / The Lady of Shalott.

Part IV

In the stormy east-wind straining, / The pale yellow woods were waning, / The broad stream in his banks complaining, / Heavily the low sky raining / Over towered Camelot; / Down she came and found a boat / Beneath a willow left afloat, / And round about the prow she wrote / The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river’s dim expanse, / Like some bold seer in a trance / Seeing all his own mischance, / With a glassy countenance / Did she look to Camelot. / And at the closing of the day / She loosed the chain, and down she lay; / The broad stream bore her far away, / The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white / That loosely flew to left and right- / The leaves upon her falling light- / Through the noises of the night / She floated down to Camelot: / And as the boat-head wound along / The willowy hills and fields among, / They heard her singing her last song, / The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy, / Chanted loudly, chanted lowly, / Till her blood was frozen slowly, / And her eyes were darkened wholly, / Turned to towered Camelot. / For ere she reached upon the tide / The first house by the water-side, / Singing in her song she died, / The Lady of Shalott.
Under tower and balcony, / By garden-wall and gallery, / A gleaming shape she floated by, / Dead-pale between the houses high, / Silent into Camelot. / Out upon the wharfs they came, / Knight and burgher, lord and dame, / And round the prow they read her name, / The Lady of Shalott.
Who is this? and what is here? / And in the lighted palace near / Died the sound of royal cheer; / And they crossed themselves for fear, / All the knights at Camelot: / But Lancelot mused a little space; / He said, ‘She has a lovely face; / God in his mercy lend her grace, / The Lady of Shalott.’

-The Lady of Shalott (in whole)

In Memoriam A. H. H.  (1850) 

Tennyson met Arthur Hallam at Cambridge university where they were both members of ‘The Apostles’ and the two became very close
Hallam was Tennyson’s closest friend, his sister’s fiance, and a critic and champion of his poetry
Hallam died in Vienna suddenly: Tennyson felt his life had been shattered
The lyrics Tennyson wrote to express the variety of his feelings and reflections were done over a period of 17 years and composed into one long elegy of 131 sections of 3-30 stanzas each (stanzas of 4 lines each with rhyme ABBA): it traces the poet through the 3 years following Hallam’s death
Portrays a linear development from crisis to hope, loss of faith to new beliefs
Considered one of the greatest love poems of all time, along with Shakespeare’s sonnets: both of which are men addressing men
Tennyson uses romantic imagery and speech to discuss the friendly intimacy he shared with Hallam: could be read as slightly homoerotic
The poem is unified by the Christmas sections in Parts 28-30, 78, and 104-105
The Prologue was added at the end of Tennyson’s writing
Poem compares Tennyson’s loss of Hallam to the age’s loss of faith: the Victorian period was named the “Age of Doubt”
According to T.S. Eliot:

“It is unique: it is a long poem made by putting together lyrics, which have only the unity and continuity of a diary, the concentrated diary of a man confessing himself.”


Strong Son of God, immortal Love, / Whom we, that have not seen thy face, / By faith, and faith alone, embrace, / Believing where we cannot prove,
Thine are these orbs of light and shade; / Though madest Life in man and brute; / Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot / Is on the skull which thou hast made.
Thou wilt not leave us in the dust: / Thou madest man, he knows not why, / He thinks he was not made to die; / And thou hast made him: thou art just.

We have but faith: we cannot know, / For knowledge is of things we see; / And yet we trust it comes from thee, / A beam in darkness: let it grow.
Let knowledge grow from more to more, / But more of reverence in us dwell; / That mind and soul, according well, / May make one music as before

Forgive my grief for one removed, / Thy creature, whom I found so fair. / I trust he lives in thee, and there / I find him worthier to be loved.
Forgive these wild and wandering cries, / Confusions of a wasted youth; / Forgive them where they fail in truth / And in thy wisdom make me wise.


Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drowned, / Let darkness keep her raven gloss. / Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss, / To dance with Death, to beat the ground,
Than that the victor Hours should scorn / The long result of love, and boast, / ‘Behold the man that loved and lost, / But all he was is overworn.’

-Part 1

Old yew, which graspest at the stones / That name the underlying dead, / Thy fibres net the dreamless head, / Thy roots are wrapped about the bones.
The seasons bring the flower again, / And bring the firstling to the flock; / And in the dusk of thee the clock / Beats out the little lives of men.

-Part 2

I sometimes hold it half a sin / To put in words the grief I feel; / For words, like Nature, half reveal / And half conceal the Soul within.
But, for the unquiet heart and brain, / A use measured language lies; / The sad mechanic exercise, / Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

-Part 5

One writes, that ‘Other friends remain,’ / That ‘Loss is common to the race’- / And common is the commonplace, / And vacant chaff well meant for grain.
That loss is common would not make / My own less bitter, rather more:  / Too common! Never morning wore / To evening, but some heart did break.

-Part 6

He is not here; but far away / The noise of life begins again, / And ghastly through the drizzling rain / On the bald street breaks the blank day.

-Part 7

Fair ship, that from the Italian shore / Sailest the placid ocean-plains / With my lost Arthur’s loved remains, / Spread thy full wings, and waft him o’er.

-Part 9

Another answers: ‘Let him be, / He loves to make parade of pain, / That with his piping he may gain / The praise that comes to constancy.’

Behold, ye speak an idle thing; / Ye never knew the sacred dust. / I do but sing because I must, / And pipe but as the linnets sing:

-Part 21

Each voice four changes on the wind, / That now dilate, and now decrease, / Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace, / Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.
This year I slept and woke with pain, / I almost wished no more to wake, / And that my hold on life would break / Before I heard those bells again;

-Part 28

With such compelling cause to grieve / As daily vexes household peace, / And chains regret to his decease, / How dare we keep our Christmas eve;

Old sisters of a day gone by, / Gray nurses, loving nothing new; / Why should they miss their yearly due / Before their time? They too will die.

-Part 29

Rise, happy morn, rise, holy morn, / Draw forth the cheerful day from night: / O Father, touch the east, and light / The light that shone when Hope was born.

-Part 30

O, yet we trust that somehow good / Will be the final goal of ill, / To pangs of nature, sins of will, / Defects of doubt, and taints of blood; 

So runs my dream ; but what am I? / An infant crying in the night; / An infant crying for the light, / And with no language but a cry.

-Part 54

I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope, / And gather dust and chaff, and call / To what I feel is Lord of all, / And faintly trust the larger hope.

-Part 55

Man, her last work, who seemed so fair, / Such splendid purpose in his eyes, / Who rolled the psalm to wintry skies, / Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,
Who trusted God was love indeed / And love Creation’s final law- / Though Nature, red in tooth and claw / With ravine, shrieked against his creed-

O life as futile, then, as frail! / O for thy voice to soothe and bless! / What hope of answer, or redress? / Behind the veil, behind the veil.

-Part 56

Again at Christmas did we weave / The holly round the Christmas hearth; / The silent snow possessed the earth, / And calmly fell our Christmas eve.

Who showed a token of distress? / No single tear, no mark of pain- / O sorrow, then can sorrow wane? / O grief, can grief be changed to less?
O last regret, regret can die! / No-mixed with all this mysic frame, / Her deep relations are the same, / But with long use her tears are dry.

-Part 78

The time draws near the birth of Christ; / The moon is hid, the night is still; / A single church below the hill / Is pealing, folded in the mist.

-Part 104

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, / The flying cloud, the frosty light: / The year is dying in the night; / Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new, / Ring, happy bells, across the snow: / The year is going, let him go; / Ring out the false, ring in the true.

-Part 106

Whereof the man that with me trod / This planet was a noble type / Appearing ere the times were ripe, / That friend of mine who lives in God,
That God, which ever lives and loves, / One God, one law, one element, / And one far-off divine event, / To which the whole creation moves.


Oscar Wilde

June 9, 2006


Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde 
Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, short story writer and Freemason
One of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London
Sometimes called ‘the apostle of beauty’
Among the last of the Victorians: he posed as an exponent of new ideas but was also of an old school of thought
Major celebrity of his day, known for his barbed and clever wit
Suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned after being convicted for gross indecency (homosexual acts)
Known for his role in the aesthetic and decadent movements
Gravestone is covered in lipstick marks


Tread lightly, she is near / Under the snow, / Speak gently, she can hear / The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair / Tarnished with rust, / She that was young and fair / Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow, / She hardly knew / She was a woman, so / Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone, / Lie on her breast; / I vex my heart alone, / She is at rest.
Peace, peace; she cannot hear / Lyre or sonnet; / All my life’s buried here, / Heap earth upon it.

-Requiescat (in whole)

Written after the death of Wilde’s younger sister

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

A portrait made of the eponymous Dorian Gray is marred because of his many sins, becoming old and disfigured, while he himself remains young and perfect
Themes of aestheticism and the morality of art, homosexuality, beauty, youth, Hedonism, Romanticism/Realism


“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.”

“All art is quite useless.”

“‘Harry,’ said Basil Hallward, looking him straight in the face, ‘every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.  The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion.  It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself.  The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul.'”

“‘I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling , expression to every thought, reality to every dream- I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal- to something finer, richer, than the Hellenic ideal, it may be.  But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives.  We are punished for our refusals.  Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind, and poisons us.  the body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification.  Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret.  The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.  Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.'”

“‘…You have a wonderfully beautiful face, Mr. Gray.  Don’t frown.  You have.  And Beauty is a form of Genius- is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation…To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders.  It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.  The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible…'”

“Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed.  The scarlet would pass away from his lips, and the gold steal from his hair.  The life that was to make his soul would mar his body.  He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.”

“‘How said it is!’ murmured Dorian Gray, with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait.  ‘How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful.  But this picture will remain always young.  It will never be older than this particular day of June…. If it were only the other way!  If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old!  For that-for that- I would give everything!  Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give!  I would give my soul for that!'”

“‘She behaves as if she was beautiful.  Most American women do.  It is the secret of their charm.'”

“‘Never marry at all, Dorian.  Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.'”

“‘When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others.  That is what the world calls a romance.'”

“‘A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures.  But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating.  The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look.  The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible.  He lives the poetry that he cannot write.  The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.'”

“The expression looked different.  One would have said that there was a touch of cruelty in the mouth.  It was certainly strange… There were no signs of any change when he looked into the actual painting, and yet there was no doubt that the whole expression had altered.”

“But the picture?  What was he to say of that?  It held the secret of his life, and told his story.  It had taught him to love his own beauty.  Would it teach him to loathe his own soul?  Would he ever look at it again?”

“There is a luxury in self-reproach.  When we blame ourselves we feel that no one else has a right to blame us.  It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.”

“‘So I have murdered Sibyl Vane,’ said Dorian Gray, half to himself-‘murdered her as surely as if I had cut her little throat with a knife.  Yet the roses are not less lovely for all that.  The birds sing just as happily in my garden.  And tonight I am to dine with you, and then go on to the Opera, and sup somewhere, I suppose, afterwards.  How extraordinarily dramatic life is!'”

“‘The girl never really lived, and so she has never really died…She was less real than they are.'”

“Yes: there was to be, as Lord Henry had prophesied, a new Hedonism that was to recreate life, and to save it from that harsh, uncomely puritanism that is having, in our own day, its curious revival.  It was to have its service of the intellect, certainly; yet, it was never to accept any theory or system that would involve the sacrifice of any mode of passionate experience.  Its aim, indeed, was to be experience itself, and not the fruits of experience, sweet or bitter as they might be.  Of the asceticism that deadens the senses, as of the vulgar profligacy that dulls them, it was to know nothing.  But it was to teach man to concentrate himself upon the moments of a life that its itself but a moment.”

“…no theory of life seemed to him to be of any importance compared with life itself.”

“On his return he would sit in front of the picture, sometimes loathing it and himself, but filled, at other times with the pride of individualism that is half the fascination of sin, and smiling, with secret pleasure, at the misshapen shadow that had to bear the burden that should have been his own.”

“Society, civilized society at least, is never very ready to believe anything to the detriment of those who are both rich and fascinating.  It feels instinctively that manners are of more importance than morals…”

“For the canons of good society are, or should be, the same as the canons of art.  Form is absolutely essential to it.  It should have the dignity of a ceremony, as well as its unreality, and should combine the insincere character of a romantic play with the wit and beauty that make such plays delightful to us.  Is insincerity such a terrible thing?  I think not.  It is merely a method by which we can multiply our personalities.”

“To him, man was a being with myriad lives and myriad sensations, a complex multiform creature that bor within itself strange legacies of thought and passion, and whose very flesh was tainted with the monstrous maladies of the dead.”

“Dorian Gray had been poisoned by a book.”

“Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face.  It cannot be concealed.  People talk sometimes of secret vices.  There are no such things.  If a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even.”

“The dead man was still sitting there, too, and in the sunlight now.  How horrible that was!  Such hideous thins were for the darkness, not the day.”

“Time stopped for him.  Yes: that blind, slow-breathing thing crawled no more, and horrible thoughts, Time being dead, raced nimbly on in front, and dragged a hideous future from its grave, and showed it to him.  He stared at it.  Its very horror made him stone.”

“‘Don’t speak about those days, Dorian: they are dead.’
‘The dead linger sometimes.  The man upstairs will not go away.'”

“Ugliness that had once been hateful to him because it made things real, became clear to him now for that very reason.  Ugliness was the one reality.  The coarse brawl, the loathsome den, the crude violence of disordered life, the very vileness of thief and outcast, were more vivid, in their intense actuality of impression, than all the gracious shapes of Art, the dreamy shadows of Song.  They were what he needed for forgetfulness.”

“Each man lived his own life, and paid his own price for living it.  The only pity was one had to pay so often for a single fault.  One had to pay over and over again, indeed.  In her dealings with man Destiny never closed her accounts.”

“…we have lost the faculty of giving lovely names to things.  Names are everything.  I never quarrel with actions.  My one quarrel is with words.  That is the reason I hate vulgar realism in literature.”

“‘Life has been your art.  You have set yourself to music.  Your days are your sonnets.'”

“‘The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.'”

“Ah! in what a monstrous moment of pride ad passion he had prayed that the portrait should bear the burden of his days, and he keep the unsullied splendour of eternal youth!  All his failure had been due to that.  Better for him that each sin of his life had brought its sure, swift penalty along with it.  There was purification in punishment.  Not ‘Forgive us our sins,’ but ‘Smite us for our iniquities,’ should be the prayer of man to a most just God.”

“It was his beauty that had ruined him, his beauty and the youth that he had prayed for.  But for those two things, his life might have been free from stain.  His beauty had been to him but a mask, his youth but a mockery.  What was youth at best?  A green, and unripe time, a time of shallow moods, and sickly thoughts.”

“When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a plendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty.  Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart.  He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage.  It was not till they examined the rings that they recognized who it was.”

The Critic as Artist (1890/1891)

Argues that criticism is a creation within a creation: criticism is just as respectable of an art as the object it is interpreting
Set up as a conversation between Gilbert and Ernest 


Gilbert: …When man acts he is a puppet. When he describes he is a poet.

Gilbert:…Those who live in marble or on painted panel know of life but a single exquisite instant, eternal indeed in its beauty, but limited to one note of passion or one mood of calm. Those whom the poet makes live have their myriad emotions of joy and terror, of courage and despair, of pleasure and of suffering.

The statue is concentrated to one moment of perfection. The image stained upon the canvas possesses no spiritual element of growth or change. If they know nothing of death, it is because they know little of life, for the secrets of life and death belong to those, and those only, whom the sequence of time affects, and who possess not merely the present but the future, and can rise or fall from a past of glory or of shame. Movement, that problem of the visible arts, can be truly realized by Literature alone. It is Literature that shows us the body in its swiftness and the soul in its unrest.

Gilbert: But, surely, Criticism is itself an art. And just as artistic creation implies the working of the critical faculty, and, indeed, without it cannot be said to exist at all, so Criticism is really creative in the highest sense of the word. Criticism is, in fact, both creative and independent.

Gilbert: …Dullness is always an irresistible temptation for brilliancy, and stupidity is the permanent Bestia Trionfans that calls wisdom from its cave. To an artist so creative as the critic, hat does subject matter signify? No more and no less than it does to the novelist and the painter. Like them, he can find his motives everywhere. Treatment is the test. There is nothing that has not in it suggestion or challenge.

Gilbert:…Indeed, I would call criticism a creation within a creation.

Nay, more, I would say that the highest Criticism, being the purest form of personal impression, is in its way more creative than creation, as it has least reference to any standard external to itself, and is, in fact, its own reason for existing, and as the Greeks would put it, in itself, and to itself, an end.

Gilbert: …For the highest Criticism deals with art not as expressive but as impressive purely.

Gilbert: …Who cares whether Mr. Rsukin’s views on Turner are sound or not? What does it matter? That mighty and majestic prose of his, so fervid and so fiery-colored in its noble eloquence, so rich in its elaborate symphonic music, so sure and certain, at its best, in subtle choice word and epithet, is at least as great a work of art as any of those wonderful sunsets that bleach or rot on their corrupted canvases in England’s Gallery; greater indeed, one is apt to think at times, not merely because its equal beauty is more enduring, but on account of the fuller variety of its appeal, soul speaking to soul in those long-candenced lines, not through form and colour alone, though through these, indeed, completely and without loss, but with intellectual and emotional utterance, with lofty passion and with loftier thought, with imaginative insight, and with poetic aim; greater, I always think, even as Literature is the greater art.

And so the picture becomes more wonderful to us than it really is, and reveals to us a secret of which, in truth, it knows nothing, and the music of the mystical prose is as sweet in our ears as was that flute-player’s music that lent to the lips of La Gioconda those subtle and poisonous curves. Do you ask me what Leonardo would have said had any one told him of this picture that ‘all the thoughts and experience of the world had etched and moulded therein that which they had of power to refine and make expressive the outward form, the animalism of Greece, the lust of Rome, the reverie of the Middle Age with its spiritual ambition and imaginative loves, the return of the Pagan world, the sins of the Borgias?’ He would probably have answered that he contemplated none of these things, but had concerned himself simply with certain arrangement of lines and masses, and with new and curious colour-harmonies of blue and green. And i is for this very reason that the criticism which I have quoted is criticism of the highest kind. It treats the work of art simply as a starting point for a new creation. It does not confine itself – let us at least suppose so for the moment – to discovering the real intention of the artist and accepting that as final. And in this it is right, for the meaning of any beautiful created thing is, at least, as much in the soul of him who looks at it, as it was in his soul who wrought it. Nay, it is rather the beholder who lends to the beautiful created thing its myraid meanings, and akes it marvelous for us, and sets it in some new relation to the age, so that it becomes a vital portion of our lives, and symbol of what we pray for, or perhaps of what, having prayed for, we fear that we may receive.

Beauty has as many meanings as man has moods. Beauty is the symbol of symbols. Beauty reveals everything, because it expresses nothing. When it shows us itself, it shows us the whole fiery-coloured world.

Gilbert: …For a painter is limited, not to what he sees in nature, but to what upon canvas may be seen.

For, when the ideal is realized, it is robbed of its wonder and its mystery, and becomes simply a new starting point for an ideal that is other than itself.

Gilbert: …But I see it is time for supper. After we have discussed some Chambertin and a few ortolans, we will pass on to the question of the critic considered in the light of the interpreter.
Ernest: Ah! you admit, then, that the critic may occasionally be allowed to see the object as in itself it really is.
Gilbert: I am not quite sure. Perhaps I may admit it after supper. There is a subtle influence in supper.