The Garden of Proserpine: A Poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne (Includes video)

LD: The poet Swinburne was born in 1837, the same year in which a young 18-year-old girl was to ascend the throne of England, becoming Queen Victoria. He died in 1909 at the age of 72, eight years after the Queen’s death. So most of Swinburne’s life was spent in the long shadow of Queen Victoria’s reign, which was to last 63 years and seven months.
A member of the aristocracy, Swinburne attended Eton and Oxford and is possibly one of the most underrated poets in the English language. For sheer musicality and technical genius, if not for depth of feeling, he is possibly the equal of Tennyson, England’s greatest 19th century poet.


Here, where the world is quiet;
Here, where all trouble seems
Dead winds’ and spent waves’ riot
In doubtful dreams of dreams;
I watch the green field growing
For reaping folk and sowing,
For harvest-time and mowing,
A sleepy world of streams.

I am tired of tears and laughter,
And men that laugh and weep;
Of what may come hereafter
For men that sow to reap:
I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
And everything but sleep.

Here life has death for neighbour,
And far from eye or ear
Wan waves and wet winds labour,
Weak ships and spirits steer;
They drive adrift, and whither
They wot not who make thither;
But no such winds blow hither,
And no such things grow here.

No growth of moor or coppice,
No heather-flower or vine,
But bloomless buds of poppies,
Green grapes of Proserpine,
Pale beds of blowing rushes
Where no leaf blooms or blushes
Save this whereout she crushes
For dead men deadly wine.

Pale, without name or number,
In fruitless fields of corn,
They bow themselves and slumber
All night till light is born;
And like a soul belated,
In hell and heaven unmated,
By cloud and mist abated
Comes out of darkness morn.

Though one were strong as seven,
He too with death shall dwell,
Nor wake with wings in heaven,
Nor weep for pains in hell;
Though one were fair as roses,
His beauty clouds and closes;
And well though love reposes,
In the end it is not well.

Pale, beyond porch and portal,
Crowned with calm leaves, she stands
Who gathers all things mortal
With cold immortal hands;
Her languid lips are sweeter
Than love’s who fears to greet her
To men that mix and meet her
From many times and lands.

She waits for each and other,
She waits for all men born;
Forgets the earth her mother,
The life of fruits and corn;
And spring and seed and swallow
Take wing for her and follow
Where summer song rings hollow
And flowers are put to scorn.

There go the loves that wither,
The old loves with wearier wings;
And all dead years draw thither,
And all disastrous things;
Dead dreams of days forsaken,
Blind buds that snows have shaken,
Wild leaves that winds have taken,
Red strays of ruined springs.

We are not sure of sorrow,
And joy was never sure;
To-day will die to-morrow;
Time stoops to no man’s lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
Weeps that no loves endure.

From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Then star nor sun shall waken,
Nor any change of light:
Nor sound of waters shaken,
Nor any sound or sight:
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
Nor days nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night.

Note. It’s impossible to find a single YouTube video which does justice to his brilliant poem. The only version that comes near to conveying the magic of the original is this short excerpt done 10 years ago.

VIDEO : 1.35 mins  

53 thoughts to “The Garden of Proserpine: A Poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne (Includes video)”

  1. @lasha, seems you like the poems
    which the jews are happy to propagate.
    Split personality or just being jewish?

    1. The poem speaks to the barrenness of the soul obsessed with “Jewry”, and other trifles, Mark. It is a melancholy piece from a dis-spirited poet – but poetically masterful.

    2. More likely to be split personality:
      (a) assuming only Jews can like a beautifully written atheist poem
      (b) assuming all goyim are against atheism in all its forms.

      1. LD is a believer in God who thinks there is such a thing as “responsible atheism”. In an ideal world, she feels, atheists and believers would tolerate each others’ viewpoints and argue the God Question amicably. Unfortunately, many atheists tend to be extremely belligerent (e.g. Richard Dawkins) and are always on the attack, putting believers on the defensive.

      2. Dawkins is a confused, deluded fascist. Firstly, he pontificates as if he knows God does not exist; which is an impossibility. Secondly, he propounds a universe devoid of morality but then goes on to condemn Holocaust denial. Leaving aside the question of whether the Holocaust happened at all, why should Dawkins care how many Jews died? Sure there’s no good nor evil in Dawkins Cosmology.

        See how deluded is this man: morality only applies to fictional events. Either he’s a dupe or a knowing agent in Project Judaic.

      3. @ Flopot

        Excellent point, Flopot. As usual you take the words out of my mouth. It’s absolutely clear to me that Dawkins’ bleak worldview is not compatible with morality in the slightest way.

        And yet all these virulent atheists insist that “humanism” — a code word for atheistical nihilism — has its moral principles and that people who believe that life is essentially meaningless and absurd can be paragons of moral rectitude and pontificate on the difference between good and evil.

        Dawkins, who believes life is meaningless and that morality is at best a human construct, nevertheless waxes indignant over the Holocaust and fulminates at the “evil” of the event, totally oblivious of the fact that at no time in his work has he acknowledged the existence of evil but rather denied its existence. This he did by writing:

        “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

        If there is no evil, how can Dawkins insist that “Holocaust denial” is evil?

        Dawkins, elsewhere, sees fit to denounce the alleged Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for 9/11 as evil. It’s hard to see how he can suggest that the alleged Arab perpetrators of 9/11 are evil if there is “no evil and no good” in the universe.

      4. @Sard

        Yes, but I did not put it so eloquently as yourself.

        Anyway, you’re exactly right. In Dawkins universe there is no weight to be given to his constructed humanism. Someone could make-up a completely destructive “inhumanism” movement and it would be just as valid. The members of Inhumanism could slaughter Dawkins’ family in front of his very eyes and he would have no right to complain — for there is no right nor wrong in his universe.

        He might argue on the basis that an artificial altruism, or an evolved predilection for co-operation, provides the greatest happiness for the greatest number. However this is just a slippery slope to admitting that Man learned or was granted the knowledge of Logos. Besides, a totalitarian dictatorship can also dish out an equal amount of happiness to the greatest number of slaves.

        The really sad fact is that Dawkins and his ilk are attempting to build an illusion of their coveted universe on this little blue planet. They worship an Unholy Hologram. They truly are mad in that they cannot see it and believe in the Lie.

      5. Like his religious counterparts, Richard Dawkins is yet another example of the numerous individuals pontificating for the masses. Like scum, those willing to espouse various aspects glorifying the Jew’s malignant agenda invariably rise to the top of Warhol’s “fifteen minutes of fame” list. By default, all others fall under the governance of the Ministry of Obscurity and Invisibility. (MOI)


    by The Real Original Joe

    O! Happiness and Bliss
    doesn’t exist
    Not for us, Us sensitive ones.
    Happiness and bliss
    so far removed, so distantly removed
    from what WE experience
    WE, The Intelligentsia!

    O! to be of The Upper Cognescenti class
    to be cognizant of Life’s futility!
    every second of every day
    one’s name in the paper
    Recognition, Fame, Success
    the hoi-polloi call this “Happiness”
    but those of Us in-the-know
    know how much WE suffer
    to be born into a world
    and surrounded by the ignorant.

    WE must band together
    Those of Us who are Better than
    Superior to the blue-collars and rednecks,
    the nurses and secretaries,
    and Angst-Ridden as WE are!
    The Best Thing In Life, surely
    are The Bouncers
    who separate Us
    and in doing so, protect Us
    from the unwashed bridge-and-tunnel hordes
    who insist on swarming into
    Our watering holes,
    Our restaurants, and Our Discos, *grin*

    O! I could use a martini right now
    Bartender! Hurry Up!
    olive or no olive, I don’t care
    just make sure it’s Strong!

    Oh what a bore
    it’s Friday, I’m out of coke
    and my dealer is in The Hamptons.

    Yes, Swinburne
    was one of Our Best poets, wasn’t he?
    If he were here with Us today
    I’m sure he’d be a Lisa-With-A-Z Queen
    and Life is a Cabaret, isn’t it, *grin*
    and how WE suffer, Us Cognoscenti!
    this martini is excellent
    but it’s not quite as Inspiring as Coke. 🙂

    1. This is genius.

      Oh we who can afford not to despair, despair of those crying down there.

  3. I like this poem because of its facing the stark reality of things unknown. It would not provoke melancholy in all cultures. When the dead return…. they can refute this poet’s claims. 🙂

    I am not an atheist. I believe in a creator of the universe… but not resembling man at all…. nor any being I can see or touch.

    I am too lazy to be an atheist. As an atheists, I would be driven to find the practicality of the universe and the exact reason for entropy and chaos. As it is – with a creator in mind – I can relax and blame that non-entity….. since I cannot change it. I am ‘off the hook’ there. I grant myself the serenity of accepting most things I cannot change.

    I DO believe ‘when I’m dead, I’m done’… and no next life. I leave those ideas, which cause enormous conflicts and battles, to the ones who can’t let go….. and would control others through fear of death. I am not running scared, nor do I scare others with things unknown.

    I enjoy reducing fear in others….. so I can feel more relaxed around them. I learned to do that while serving aboard submarines being confined with 139 other very smart guys for over two months. Only a couple ever needed straight-jackets and had to be sedated until we got back in port. Those two slipped through the numerous and tortuous psychological testings. We all faced our mortality every minute while out there in the deep. Under the deep…. and…. I shall call it the ‘POND OF PROSERPINA’ from that vantage point. (As others enjoyed the beaches and blue water.) 🙂

    A statue of Persephone sits atop the US Capitol Building. How appropriate..!! That building is the origin of much darkness and death. Persephone represents the underworld and darkness.

    1. Atop the US Capitol… they do not light her black statue up at night. The light dispels the darkness, and its secrets.

      The statue is of Persephone, Proserpine, Proserpina, Prosepine (you know how the fools named them 🙂 )…. She is the GODDESS OF DARKNESS and… is SATAN’S WIFE. Married Hades.

      From where she stands, she is looking directly at the pentagram or pentagon.

    2. Pat

      From one old coot to another, if there’s one thing that ain’t no guess it’s this – HAVING consciousness means you’ll ALWAYS have it, brother

      And you can take that to the bank (just not one owned by the pharisees of course)


  4. @ sister monica, i thought this was a ‘ christian’ site and Lasha a ‘ catholic’.
    Darkmoon could also into Wiccan/witchcraft or simply jewish or both
    Jewish and Wiccan. Remember Lasha : ‘ nobody comes to the father than through Christ’, the ‘ christians’ say.

    1. This is a “Christian” site, but not in the sense of a narrow, orthodox, deeply dysfunctioal Christianity.

      If Christ were alive today, he would not be happy with the Christianity on offer.

      If Christ were to return, he would be crucified again.

      1. Christ is always alive, lasha, and he knows all about the sacrilege in his name. In a sense he never really left.

        Think of him as a seed that was planted 2,000 years ago among evil weeds. The plant which sprouted has been growing all along, and has been slowly but surely “beaugarding” the nutrients from the weeds on the verge of burgeoning into full bloom

        P.S. That crucifixion thing? Been there done that. No need for it anymore.

      2. “…but not in the sense of a narrow, orthodox, deeply dysfunctional Christianity.”

        So, you prefer the more Judaized, Vatican II type of Christianity, as opposed to the Orthodoxy… which you label “deeply dysfunctional”? O’, the irony and dissonance is molasses-thick here.

        I have to side with Mark, and a couple other detractors, regarding the tone of this article. I also find it disheartening, if not suspicious, when I see those who have described themselves as the “clergy class” regularly utilizing the term “goyim” in contexts where “gentile” would seem to be preferable, and certainly more appropriate. Such self-deprecation seems very misplaced in this venue. (Well… provided those who operate it *are* who the claim to be, that is.)

        I recently had someone, quite close to me, say, “I think you just expect too much from people.” To this I responded, “No… we have just come to expect too little from each other.”

        The West’s track record over the last couple centuries is certainly nothing to crow about. Now we are on the verge of disappearing. Am I wrong in believing that we must aspire to do better? At this point — at least to me — this almost seems instinctive. Yet this will seems almost entirely absent in those I observe. Even in those whom I think would know better.


      3. @ Shadowcaster

        LD: “…but not in the sense of a narrow, orthodox, deeply dysfunctional Christianity.”

        So, you prefer the more Judaized, Vatican II type of Christianity, as opposed to the Orthodoxy… which you label “deeply dysfunctional”? O’, the irony and dissonance is molasses-thick here.

        I have to side with Mark, and a couple other detractors, regarding the tone of this article.

        You are a badly behaved smart-ass who thinks he has all the answers. If you had done your homework, instead of shooting your stupid mouth of, you would have realized that Lasha is opposed to Vatican II Christianity which you accuse her of preferring.

        But then you couldn’t attack her, could you, except by misrepresenting her ideas completely.

        I repeat, lunkhead, Lasha is AGAINST Vatican II, not FOR it!

      4. Shadowcaster,

        You pompous prat, don’t think you are doing this site any favors by posting on it. Your haughty tone of intellectual superiority wears a bit thin since there’s nothing you’ve said so far that is of the slightest relevance. All you’ve done so far is stomp onto the stage and show us your ugly sneer.

        Get this, creep. This site is doing you a favor by letting you post here. It has attracted many high-quality posters — and you, Shadowcaster, I regret to say, are NOT one of them! 😉

        Why don’t you skedaddle, you tedious bore?

      5. Like all pedants, this bore prefers to lecture us on how much more “appropriate” it might be to use the word “gentile” than the word “goyim”. What a yawn-inducing ass. Who is he to offer this advice? A lexicographer? A Professor of English Literature?

        Ah, he is the important poster known as “Shadowcaster” whose fame has spread all over the alternative media and whom Mossad are hunting for right now because he is sooooooo incredibly dangerous! 🙂

        In your dreams, bitch.

  5. Here Lasha, I think that this picture oops, painting would do the poem justice as accompaniment.
    Hitler loved that one, Die Toteninsel, his favorite, “No Jews allowed on premises“.

  6. The suffering English brahman, another sad son of perfidious Albion.
    Where might your masters be? They’re stomped and stifled and ever tricked three.

    Yes, this is no place for a gentleman.
    I wonder what Algernon Charles Swinburne ponders now.
    I think I’ll believe it’s something, someone, some place lovely..

  7. It doesn’t appear that the video matched the words, did it? At least I couldn’t follow.

    1. Flo –

      It started at:

      “We are not sure of sorrow,
      And joy was never sure;”

      Get some coffee… before sleuthing.. investigating..!! 🙂

      1. Flopot of War.

        Is that my new Moniker? With coffee shall ye make war on the lies! Methinks tis you, Pat, that must imbibe the deep dark stimulant this day 😉

    2. @ Follyofwar

      It doesn’t appear that the video matched the words, did it? At least I couldn’t follow.

      As LD explained in her brief introduction, she couldn’t find a single YouTube video which did justice to the beautiful poem, i.e., they were all so badly recited, that she end up choosing a video which only gave an EXCERPT of the poem.

      The excerpt consists only of the two last verses.

      1. ENNUI

        By The Real Original Joe

        O! Ennui!
        Smile on me
        Visit me some more
        lead me to a deeper world-weariness
        where Everything’s a bore!

        To my dismay
        I must say
        The world still holds some allure
        Springtime gardens
        and in the sky
        flocks of birds
        after a rain, a rainbow in the distance
        And O! I don’t get it,
        I don’t understand
        what is wrong with me!
        I still love Classical music
        Bach and Vivaldi
        O! it makes me happy
        to hear a Symphony
        the sound of the bass cello and the violin
        sends me to Heaven
        and please Ennui
        please don’t shun me
        Oh My God, NO!
        I still like Gregorian Chant
        the Music of The Angels
        is Sublime to me
        Oh go away!

        Albéniz , Palestrina,
        and you too, Dufay, Go Away!
        I’m trying my best
        to be a devout god is dead Existentialist
        but I still See and Feel His Hand in Creation
        And The Heavenly Gift of Christ’s Salvation
        His Mercy and His Grace
        His Light
        still eases my Heart’s torment.

        Forsake me not, Sophisticates
        I’m trying my best
        to Realize the meaningless of Life
        O! Ennui!
        do not shun me
        Come visit me some more
        and eliminate from Our Culture,if you will
        any recognition of Sacredness:
        what little remains of Catholicism
        and what a crashing bore
        to imbue things mundane with Spiritual meaning
        when Life as We all know
        is meant to be all about Angst, Anxiety and Kierkegaard
        Over and over again
        I watch the movie Metropolis [1927]
        and still I find the world holds some allure.

        O! I don’t know what to do
        O! the suffering I must endure!
        O! Ennui!
        I need you more than ever, I beg
        come visit me some more!

      2. TROJ –

        Perhaps they’ll declare you “cured” when you totally succumb to Mr. Ennui. Enjoy your respite while it lasts! 🙂
        (Your poem is quite appropriate for this venue – and WELL DONE!) (The glimmer of genius still sparkles!)

  8. “..Obsessed with sadomasochism, lesbianism, cannibalism and other bizarre topics of this nature,,” This pitiful man was probably thoroughly possessed.

    1. If Swinburne was still with us he would be now a song-writer for Lady GaGa and would be seriously butt-hurt because Hellary didn’t Win and he would be no different than millions of other hard-core b*tches in country.

  9. I wonder what is THE POINT of promoting this spiritually decadent, nihilistic man and his ‘poetry’ on this site???
    In my book anybody ‘who deliberately promotes or praises evil’ is not far from the evil himself .

    1. @ Renne

      OK, so why don’t you just leave the site
      if you think it’s promoting evil?
      Who’s forcing you to stay here?

  10. Original Sin, Death, and Destiny
    “Sunt lacrymae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt”
    (Virgil, Aeneid )

    All living things fade quickly, and they die:
    What is the meaning? Can we answer why?
    The bird consumes a worm or scattered seed;
    The day it cannot fly it will then feed
    Some other creature; then it will return
    To earth, enriching soil for plants in turn.
    And so it is with plants and beasts — and Man
    As well — yet he alone in nature can
    Perceive the tragic beauty in it all —
    Yet they see least who know not of their fall.
    (By Darrell)

    1. What’s going on here? Am I to conclude that not even one person likes my poem? Oh, well, most people don’t appreciate what Jesus did either (redemption from sin), should I expect to fare any better? 😉
      Who knows, maybe after i’m dead someone will discover me.

      1. Excellent poem, Darrell.

        I bet you could teach Swinburne a thing or two.

        Hail, genius!

    2. Darrell –

      Not only does your piece, here, have the requisite rhyme (IMO) to be called “poetry”, it delivers a profound message… Well done, sir!
      (For me, isolated, stand-alone lines are of great value, such as the line “Yet they see least who know not of their fall.”). It inspires thought – which every good poem should inspire.

    3. Excellent Darrell. I would only add the word “tell” after “yet he alone in nature can (tell)”

      1. Thank you, Madame, Gilbert, and Winston for your kind words. Now I’ll only be left to wonder what our dear Lasha thinks….
        @Winston… If I added “tell” it would be an 11 syllable line. I have “Perceive” in the next line, so no need for “tell” anyway.

  11. My 2 cents:

    1st cent.
    for me, TROJ’s poem hits the right notes and contains the content, swinburn captures the languid grace of opium den nihilist but appears deeper than he is.

    2nd cent.
    (almost forgot, it must be that important – look at the calmly anxious woman in picture)
    back in the day, the notion of female beauty comprised stronger necks and lantern jaws … don’t want to hypo-or-hyper-thesize on it further, merely recording the prevalence.
    i wouldn’t hesitate to entrust my husky sled team to her and it would lift her flagging spirits too.

      1. flopot :

        A little jealous are WE, because lobro is very fluent in English, understands the subtleties and the nuances of English, appreciates the richness and expressiveness of English, has a wide vocabulary and can express himself intelligently and can express a wide range of feelings and emotions and thoughts without having to struggle to make himself understood, he’s very articulate, and you’re jealous I see.

        Why don’t you spend your time and energy learning the English language instead of spending your time and energy being jealous of lobro’s Mastery of The English language? The best way to get a handle on English, the best way to come to appreciate the richness of the English language, is to shut up and start reading alot. That’s the best way to get a feel for The Language, do alot of reading. Talking gibberish alot and being jealous of those who are fluent and articulate and are capable of expressing themselves intelligently does NOT lead to mastering the English language, but alot of reading goes a long way. But first you gotta shut up. 🙂

      2. Sound advice, I guess, coming from a guy parked permanently in Spamblinka. Keep it up, TROJ! We could could all do with some hot tips on how to write perfect comments! 🙂

      3. @TROJ

        I was being playful…hence the wink. I’m complimenting Lobro by showing my envy; but you weren’t to know because TEXT hides so much.

      4. A real tirade against Lobro’s expressive abilities might go something like this…

        Oh here we go again — more disarming sarcasm masking a metaphor with a punch. I wonder if Lobro understands the raging jealousy that wells up within as I gawp at the images conjured up by his writing? Imagine being tickled by Flaming June for an eternity — oh you’d love it as the ecstasy drives you insane…wait I’m getting side-tracked. Anyway, back to fulminating fists of fury aimed at Lobro’s gift: sod you Lobro!

        ……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
        ……….”…\………. _.·´

        Something like that. On a serious note, I learn something everyday from Darkmoon’s writers. You instantly understand the limits of your own writing from reading the contributions of the others…bastards. That’s a joke!

      5. PS And TROJ you’re completely right about learning to master the English language.

        I should also add that when you’re lucid, your writing is superb — long sentences shored up with commas and humorous yet poetic repetitions. Enough of the praise, though. Sod off 😉 Oh, one final point — I sometimes suspect you are Admin staff having a laugh.

        Apparently a “Tusker” or “Junker” or some other EU technocratic non-entity with power, thinks English is now passe — methinks tis the EU that is going that way.

        1. I like to think Repetition is an effective literary device to drive ihome mportant points and make the points stick, in both my prose and my poetry, but I’m just fooling myself. When dealing with thick-headed incorrigibles, Repetition is not effective, neither is any other type of literary device. Only a sledge-hammer, I think, is capable of breaking-up their concrete thick heads and getting thru to whatever little bit of brains they have hiding there in the middle of the concrete slabs they call their “heads”. Though I do notice they find Repetition annoying, and if only for that reason, I find the literary device of Repetition to be useful enough for certain purposes for me to continue to use the device of Repetitiveness. Yes, Flopot. Yes, repetition can be quite entertaining, I think so also. It’s good to see we’re on the same page concerning the value of the Repetition as a literary device, 🙂 .

  12. Tip of the true Mick porkpie hat, flopot & troj, i was out bromancing and commiserating with my brother in law all day and we put a workmanlike dent in his wine cellar so i wasn’t able to follow the twists and turns in real time.

    but, im-Humble-o, the ridiculous but true phrase that gave me a washroom break’s worth of puffed up pride is “calm anxiety“, which is my best understanding of Victorian England, exemplified by 5-foot swinburne and his 6-foot manly muse in diaphanous drag, Judea squatting on Albion’s face even as he pretended to let out his imperial roar.

    1. exemplified by 5-foot swinburne and his 6-foot manly muse in diaphanous drag, Judea squatting on Albion’s face even as he pretended to let out his imperial roar.

      Love it.

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