Atmosphere and absorption
Swinburne, Eliot, Drinkwater
in Algernon Charles Swinburne
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This chapter considers the milieu in which T. S. Eliot was writing and responding to poetry. Eliot's 1920 essay on Algernon Charles Swinburne had a lasting impact on the critical fortunes of the poet. Like Edward Thomas, Georgian poet John Drinkwater is critical of Swinburne, although he has a better sense of his achievement and his criticism is tempered by his sense of Swinburne's significance for English literature. As with Drinkwater, although for somewhat different reasons, Swinburne's poetry represents for Eliot a self-sufficient, independent 'world', and, as in Drinkwater, the emotion of this poetic world is 'impersonal'. Drinkwater and Eliot even evince apparent similarities in their conclusions as they ponder the state of literary writing after Swinburne, although on close inspection they have very different ideas about Swinburne's legacy.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

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