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Shvoong Home>Books>Poetry>Review on “Chorus From ‘Atlanta in Calydon’” by a.C Swinburne Review

Review on “Chorus From ‘Atlanta in Calydon’” by a.C Swinburne

Book Review   by:akso6o175     Original Author: Andy Kester Sawian
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Swinburne’s poems are characterized by their melodiousness and suggestive sensuality. ‘Atlanta in Calydon’ is A.C Swinburne’s best known work and is a poetic drama modeled on the classics and based on the ancient legend of the Caledonian’s boar-hunt. The song was sung by the chorus after Althea’s departure to prepare her son for the hunt. It is a closet verse drama on the model of classical Hellenic tragedy. Its choruses contain some of Swinburne’s best known lyrics. In the beginning of time when man was first created, time was measured by the shedding of tears, grief with the glass that ran, pleasure with pain for leaven; literally it means the ferment that makes dough rise. Hence it is used in a figurative sense implying that pain is the leavening that heightens our pleasure; summer with flowers that fell, sweet memories that fell from heaven and madness that rose from hell. Strength, without hands to smite; to hit out; love that endures for a breath, night which is the shadow of light and life which is the shadow of death.
The high gods took the fire in their hands with the fallen tears and a measure of sliding sand; a reference to the constant and ineluctable passage of time; from under their feet they kept the years of froth and drift of the sea, the dust of the laboring earth and bodies of things to be in the house of birth and death. They worked it throughout the ages with weeping and laughter yet fashioned it with loathing and love. To contemplate on life that is before and after, and death that is beneath and above. For the present and the future man’s strength might endure for a span, with travail; suffering; and sorrow that shapes the holy spirit of man. The winds from the north and the south gathered as unto strife breathe into man’s mouth and fill his body with life. They worked hard for the eyesight and speech that lie hidden in the veils of the soul therein, a time to work hard and ponder, to serve faithfully and yet at times be inclined to sin.
The gods gave man light in his ways, love and space for his delight, beauty and length of days and deep sleep in the night. Man’s speech is a burning fire with the lips that he travailed. There is a blind desire in his heart and with his eyes he foresaw the shadows of death. He weaves and is clothed with derision; contemptuous ridicule or mockery; he may sow but he shall not reap; His life is a watch with a vision between the periods of sleeps; Man has to struggle to survive, remain ever watchful to evade danger and possible death. He has the ability to foresee, to some extent, what may happen to him, and his life is but a brief interlude between a sleep that is his existence before being born and the sleep that is death.

Published: October 05, 2010   
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