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Lot #6108
Victor Hugo: Algernon Swinburne (2) Handwritten Poems Honoring Hugo

Swimburne honors Victor Hugo

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Estimate: $5000+
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Description

Swimburne honors Victor Hugo

Important Victorian British poet (1837–1909) whose ‘decadent’ subject matter (including sadomasochism and lesbianism) made him one of the most controversial literary figures of his day. Significant handwritten manuscripts by Algernon Charles Swinburne, including his 'Sonnet to Victor Hugo' and 'Birthday Ode for the Anniversary Festival of Victor Hugo,' evidently prepared as the printer's copy for their first publication in Songs of the Springtides (1880), with a few textual revisions, deletions, and annotations on typography and layout. The poems total 24 pages and have been custom-bound into a handsome full morocco volume, 8.75 x 13.5, titled in gilt on the front board and spine.

The sonnet begins: "Between two seas the sea-bird’s wing makes halt / Wind-weary; while with lifting head he waits / For what may come of glory thro’ the gates." The lengthy ode, broken into classical sections marked "Strophe," "Antistrophe," and "Epode," begins: "Spring, born in heaven ere many a springtime flown, / Dead spring that sawest on earth / A babe of deathless birth, / A flower of rosier flowerage than thine own, / A glory of goodlier godhead; even this day, / That floods the mist of February with May, / And strikes death dead with sunlight, and the breath / Whereby the deadly doers are done to death, / They that in day's despite / Would crown the imperial night, / And in deep hate of insubmissive spring / Rethrone the royal winter for a king, / This day that casts the days of darkness down / Low as a broken crown, / We call thee from the gulf of deeds and days, / Deathless and dead, to hear us whom we praise." In fine condition, with the ex-libris bookplate of socialite Mary Landon Baker affixed inside the cover.

These two celebratory writings are among a number of poems and essays which Swinburne wrote on Hugo, who remained throughout his life one of his literary idols. Edmund Gosse, in his Life of Swinburne (1917) described the 'Birthday Ode' as 'a sort of critical puzzle' in which the author contrived 'to allude in succession to every one of Victor Hugo's writings, without naming any.'

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Art, Literature, and Classical Music
  • Dates: #682 - Ended June 20, 2024





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