Page 2, 4th November 1960

4th November 1960
Page 2
Page 2, 4th November 1960 — Swinburne's poetry

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Swinburne's poetry


SIR,-I do not, as a rule, answer reviewers now. But I must take grave exception to Fr. Brocard Sewell's review. in your issue of the 21st instant, of my anthology of Swinburne's poems.

It bears no relation whatsoever to my book, and is highly offensive to me although perhaps it was not meant to be.

I am, of course, a notorious pornographer. (I am also a Christian and a Catholic).

Fr. Sewell is evidently more widely read than am 1, though, alas, he is less instructed in the art of poetry. I have not read, and shall not read "Lesbia Brandon," which is in prose, and has nothing lo do with my book. I had never heard of "The Whippingham Papers", and must leave the reading of this work, also, to Fr. Sewell

I made it abundantly clear in my Preface, that de Sack had a deplorable effect, and that I hold in detestation and horror the vice of flagellation: also that I lament large part of "Anactoria." But the excerpts from this work given in my book are very great poetry-it is useless to say that they are notand could offend nobody.

I quoted Professor Maritain, in my Preface, as saying: "Beauty has not come to the end of its submission to the shameful ascendancy of the god Aesthetics taken as the ultimate end of human life. The interminable. incoercible, appalling laugh of Oscar Wilde consigning a man to sin . . . still passes like a voluble cry over our arts. It is this that freezes them in their frenzy."

T added: "Dolores" is frozen.

There is no "disordered sexuality" to be found in my anthology. and the "blasphemy" ;n "Atalanta in Calydon"' of which Fr. Sewell speaks, refers not to the God whom both Fr. Sewell and I worship, but to the gods of ancient Greece.

Edith Sitwell. D.R.R.

Sesame Imperial and Pioneer Club 49 Grosvenor Street, W.I.

Our reviewer writes:

In my brief notice of Dr. Sitwell's Swinburne anthology accepted her judgement that Swinburne wrote some great poetry. but

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