Assigned: "Hymn to Proserpine" (1625-28).
"Hymn to Proserpine"
1. Why do you suppose Swinburne employs such an unusual verse form and rhythm — what psychological effects does he seem to be aiming at? What state of mind does such verse convey?
2. Characterize Swinburne's language in terms of the opposition spirit/matter, or symbolic/literal.
3. Who is Proserpine, and why does the speaker pray to her?
4. What is the speaker's attitude towards Christianity? Is the new Christian faith the real enemy in this poem, or is something else responsible for the defeat of the pagan world view and religion?
5. What consolation does the speaker draw from the formerly powerful pagan gods, or from some other source?
Edition: Abrams, M. H. et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vols. 2A-C. 7th ed. New York: Norton, 2000. ISBN 2A = 0393975681, 2B = 039397569X, 2C = 0393975703.