Love and Worship of Nature in the
poetry from 1830 to 1950
A FORSAKEN GARDEN BY ALGERNON CHARLES
In a coign of the cliff between lowland and
At the sea-down’s edge between wind-ward and lee,
round with rocks as an inland island,
The ghost of a garden fronts
A girdle of brushwood and thorn
The steep, square slope of the blossom-less bed
Where the weeds
that grew green from the graves of its roses
Now lie dead.
The fields fall southward, abrupt and broken,
the low last edge of the long lone
a step should sound or a word be spoken,
Would a ghost not rise at
the strange guest’s hand?
So long have the gray, bare walks lain
Through branches and briers if a man make way,
find no life but the sea-wind’s, restless
Night and day.
The dense, hard passage is blind and stifled
That crawls by
a track none turn to climb
To the strait waste place that the years have rifled
Of all but
the thorns that are touch’d not of
The thorns he spares when the rose is taken;
The rocks are left
when he wastes the plain.
The wind that wanders, the weeds
Not a flower to be press’d of the foot that falls not
As the heart
of a dead man the seed-plots are dry;
From the thicket of thorns
whence the nightingale calls not,
Could she call, there were never a
rose to reply.
Over the meadows that blossom and
Rings but the note of a sea-bird's
Only the sun and the rain come hither
All year long.
The sun burns sere and the rain dishevels
One gaunt bleak blossom
of scentless breath.
Only the wind here hovers and revels
round where life seems barren as death.
Here there was laughing of
old, there was weeping,
Haply, of lovers none ever will
Whose eyes went seaward a hundred sleeping
Heart handfast in heart as they stood, "Look thither,"
whisper? "Look forth from the flowers to the sea;
foam-flowers endure when the rose-blossoms wither,
And men that love
lightly may die—but we?"
And the same wind sang and the same waves
And or ever the garden’s last petals were shed,
lips that had whisper’d, the eyes that had lighten’d,
Or they lov’d their life through, and then went whither?
one to the end—but what end who
Love deep as the sea as a rose must wither,
As the rose-red
seaweed that mocks the rose.
Shall the dead take thought for the dead
to love them?
What love was ever as deep as a grave?
loveless now as the grass above them
Or the wave.
All are at one now, roses and lovers,
Not known of the cliffs and
the fields and the sea.
Not a breath of the time that has been
In the air now soft with a summer to
a breath shall there sweeten the seasons hereafter
of the flowers or
the lovers that laugh now or weep,
When, as they that are free now of
weeping and laughter,
We shall sleep.
Here death may deal not again forever;
Here change may come not
till all change end.
From the graves they have made they shall rise
Who have left nought living to ravage and rend.
stones, and thorns of the wild ground growing,
While the sun and the
rain live, these shall
Till a last wind’s breath upon all these blowing
Till the slow sea rise and the sheer cliff crumble,
and meadow the deep gulfs drink,
Till the strength of the waves of
the high tides humble
The fields that lessen, the rocks that
Here now in his triumph where all things falter,
out on the spoils that his own hand spread,
As a god self-slain on
his own strange altar,
Death lies dead.
This poem, of Algernon Charles Swinburne, belongs to "Poems and
Ballads, second series" 1878. It is composed of 10 stanzas of 8 lines
each one. The main theme is the bleakness of nature, a desolate and
dispeopled landscape, where the sea, the wind and the sun are the only
"inhabitants".In the first stanza, the poet places and presents the
garden, he begins from a big perspective to arrive at the "ghost of a
garden"; that is to say, this garden there was, but now it is only the
imagination of the poet that can reconstruct what was there, because now
everything is dead.
The garden is surrounded by rocks, thorns and weed, and these nouns
only suggest a desolate and ghostly landscape. It seems a small garden
towards the majesty of the sea, that encloses it. But in the second
stanza we can read "fields" and "long lone land" that can suggest a
Human being appears in the second stanza, presenting by words like
"step" or "word, but the use of an hypothetical sentence suggests that
anyone has gone in this garden, because " Would a ghost not
rise at the strange guest’s hand?", so it is impossible a human presence
in this lifeless place, there are only the wind and the sea.
In the third stanza, the poet seems to reveal the reason of this
desolation, it was the Time that devastated everything, except the
thorns, the rocks, the wind and the weeds which live through the
destroying effect of the time.
In the fourth stanza life is impossible; the comparison of the heart
of a dead man with the dried seed plots also explains why neither the
nightingale can sing, because like a dead man is the garden, so any kind
of life is possible, just the sun and the rain populate this bleak
landscape "all the year long".
Following the reading of the poem, I have noticed, how the poet
increases the kind of negative adjectives like gaunt, barren and bleak,
in order to stress the bleakness of this garden and finally he affirms
that "life seems barren as death", and he tries to imagine how could be
this place if there was life, lovers, men who laughed and wept but now
there is only the wind.
In the sixth stanza, there is a dialogue, maybe "he" is the wind, and
"we" is the wind and the Sea, so the dialogue is between the sea and the
wind, the only inhabitants of this landscape. They talk about how
everything dies, and consequently love that enlightened everything,
In the following stanza, the death of flowers erases love and the
death doesn’t care of the other dead, and although love is deep as the
sea, it has to die. In my opinion, the natural forces that populate this
landscape are separated from nature and men, so they could be
interpreted as divine forces in the view of a pantheistic vision of
In the last three stanzas, there is a change, like a rebirth, a
breath of summer arrives and wakes up everything, men and flowers and
now they laugh, live and weep, and the wind and the sea can sleep, death
disappears, "from the graves they have made they shall rise up never",
the sun and the rain take the place of the wind and the sea, and
everything lives, the sea erases the death as a "god self-slain" and
death can only die.
This poem is about the cyclical time, of the seasons and nature, all
this dead is unavoidable, anyway a negative vision is predominant
through the poem, and I agree with a religious interpretation of the
sea, the sun and wind that are responsible of life and death in the
earth, I think it is a pantheistic vision of nature, and in this case,
Swinburne follows the same ideas of the romantic poets.
(cf. < http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/swinburne/johnson8.html>
and personal opinion)
-Swinburne’s A forsaken garden under
Swinburne's "The Forsaken Garden" by Adrienne Johnson
1. Conclusion by
Mora Vives Maria Carmen http://mural.uv.es/mamovi3/collective3
The Thirties by Lozano Arago Sara http://mural.uv.es/saloa/collective3.html
Poem in October by Mármol Rodríguez
M. Elena http://mural.uv.es/memaro2/thirdpapercol.html
The Victorian Poetry-Alfred, Lord Tennyson by Sanchis Garcia-Astilleros
Introduction by Sarrio Chaques Maria Aranzazu http://mural.uv.es/masacha/collective3.html
Georgian Poets- Rupert Brooke (The Soldier) by Sendra Ferragud Tania
William Butler Yeats by Tadevosyan Ani http://mural.uv.es/tadevosy/thirdcoll.html