Étude Réaliste

By Algernon Charles Swinburne 1837–1909

(excerpt)

I
A baby's feet, like sea-shells pink,
      Might tempt, should heaven see meet,
An angel's lips to kiss, we think,
      A baby's feet.

Like rose-hued sea-flowers toward the heat
      They stretch and spread and wink
Their ten soft buds that part and meet.

No flower-bells that expand and shrink
      Gleam half so heavenly sweet
As shine on life's untrodden brink
      A Baby's feet.

II
A baby's hands, like rosebuds furled
      Whence yet no leaf expands,
Ope if you touch, though close upcurled,
      A baby's hands.

Then, fast as warriors grip their brands
      When battle's bolt is hurled,
They close, clenched hard like tightening bands.

No rosebuds yet by dawn impearled
      Match, even in loveliest lands,
The sweetest flowers in all the world—
      A baby's hands.

III
A baby's eyes, ere speech begin,
      Ere lips learn words or sighs,
Bless all things bright enough to win
      A baby's eyes.

Love, while the sweet thing laughs and lies,
      And sleep flows out and in,
Sees perfect in them Paradise.

Their glance might cast out pain and sin,
      Their speech make dumb the wise,
By mute glad godhead felt within
      A baby's eyes.

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Poet Algernon Charles Swinburne 1837–1909

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Living, Infancy

Occasions Birth

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Algernon Charles Swinburne

Biography

Swinburne was one of the most accomplished lyric poets of the Victorian era and was a preeminent symbol of rebellion against the conservative values of his time. The explicit and often pathological sexual themes of his most important collection of poetry, Poems and Ballads (1866), delighted some, shocked many, and became the dominant feature of Swinburne's image as both an artist and an individual. Nevertheless, critics have . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Infancy

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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