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Gendered Poetic Discourse and Autobiographical Narratives in Late Victorian Sonnet Sequences.

In the second half of the nineteenth century in England, when laws and cultural traditions concerning love, marriage, and sexuality were in flux, the sonnet was a poetic form well suited to express the conflict between shifting expectations of Victorian social propriety and increasingly liberal expressions of human desire. As Stephen Burt and David Mikics point out in The Art of the Sonnet, "the sonnet form thrives on, and fosters, within the self, a thorny internal monologue." (1) Italian poetic forms such as the sonnet and the rispetto that evolve out of a long and distinguished amatory tradition associated with carnal love allowed English poets in the later nineteenth century to express a new ideal of love that could accommodate and reflect sexual desire in a changing social framework. In this essay, I focus on the ways in which sequencing these poetic forms with attention to coherence and order enabled gendered discourse on what was conventionally unsayable, particularly when inspiration for that discourse was autobiographical. Sequencing sonnets and rispetti creates a hybrid form, a form that combines the subjectivity of the lyric voice with the objectivity of an implicitly fictional narrator in lyrics that contribute to an overarching storyline. Consequently, poetic expression of intimate and even forbidden desire unfolds with relative impunity. I am interested in the ways in which sequencing lyric poetic forms to create a hybrid genre-fostered poetic autobiography that discretely and subversively wrestles with late-nineteenth-century anxieties about marital infidelity, sexual desire, and sexual orientation and that contributes to a gendered discourse on the nature of the sacred and the profane in these matters.

As the nineteenth-century French sociologist Emile Durkheim points out, the sacred could be good and it could be evil, just as the profane could be either. (2) Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese is the first significant autobiographical sonnet sequence in the Victorian period, and it substantiates Durkheim's argument that one society's profane is another society's sacred; Barrett Browning was criticized for violating Victorian standards of reticence and discretion in making public the intimacy of her developing love for Robert Browning, while modern feminist audiences have been less forgiving of her self-abasement and self-denigration in the earlier sonnets of the sequence. Barrett Browning did not view herself as transgressive, and she did not publish her work with the intent to express subversive ideas about love, but she did publish a poetic autobiography. In contrast to Sonnets from the Portuguese, there are autobiographical sequences that reveal fissures in Victorian marriage--fissures that highlight marital infidelity, such as George Meredith's Modern Love, published in 1862, a sequence that reveals the sordid and cruel elements of the heterosexual love that Barrett Browning idealizes and that arises out of Meredith's own experience in a failed marriage. Because these sequences are autobiographical, their narratives come out of distinctly masculine and feminine life contexts in which the poetic discourse on these subjects unfolds, a discourse sometimes available to us today through memoirs and other documents that have passed through post-death restrictions on access and that now form a meta-commentary on the poetry. For instance, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt's "The Love Sonnets of Proteus," included in The Love Lyrics and Songs of Proteus, embeds the sequence "A Woman's Sonnets" in its poetic narrative, but these sonnets were actually written by the married woman with whom Blunt had an affair, Lady Augusta Gregory. John Addington Symonds and A. Mary F. Robinson challenge assumptions about gendered desire, suggesting alternatives to heterosexual love and even to sexual love itself. Symonds's "Stella Maris" was inspired by and written for his male lover, Angelo Fusato, and Robinson's rispetti sequence "Tuscan Cypress" arose out of her jealousy of Vernon Lee's friendship with Alice Callander. In all these sequences, the poet relies on what we might call the mask-lyric or, as Augusta Webster puts it, the assumption that in lyric poetry "I does not mean I." (3) It is not surprising that gender--as it is related to life experience--informs how this trope of disguise is used to create an autobiographical narrative that presents itself as fiction.

Sonnets from the Portuguese serves as an example of love within the context of the sacred--love sanctioned culturally, religiously, and legally within a heterosexual ideal--love in contrast to the most profane of loves idealized in Charles Baudelaire's 1857 Les Fleurs du Mal, for example, which A. C. Swinburne introduced to English readers in his review for the Spectator in 1862. (4) Baudelaire's autobiographical sequence problematizes all forms of experience of the "sacred," presenting love in these terms not only as impossible for what Baudelaire characterizes as essentially malevolent human beings but also as undesirable, since we live and love haunted by the limitations of human finitude. In the introduction to her translation of Les Fleurs du Mal, Edna St. Vincent Millay, who sequenced sonnets successfully herself, describes Baudelaire's poems as "flowers of doubt, flowers of torture, flowers of grief, flowers of blasphemy, flowers of weakness, flowers of disgust; cemetery flowers, fertilized by the corruption of the ardent and well-cared-for flesh; flowers forced on the sterile bough of the mind's unblossomy decay." (5) As Menachem Feuer points out, "[I]f one were to take the time to read his journals in tandem with his poetry and prose, one would see that Baudelaire was always looking to evoke and think through the conflict between the sacred and the profane." (6) Moreover, Les Fleurs du Mal offers a "modem" narrative in its depiction of what T. A. Unwin terms "states of mind," and it is in this respect that Baudelaire and Barrett Browning are ironically similar in the extent of their influence on the popularity of sequencing sonnets. (7) However, whereas Barrett Browning equates happiness with entrance into the Victorian institution of marriage that in turn will enhance her creative powers, Baudelaire situates happiness outside all social institutions, his creative powers enhanced as he divests himself not only of innocence and purity but also of inhibitions and pretense. Baudelaire's preface "To the Reader" manipulates the "hypocrite reader," the poet's "fellowman" and "twin," into participating in the creation of this poetic narrative through recognition of our own suppressed desires. (8) In English sonnet sequences following Baudelaire, we find similar idealization of embracing excess in the pleasures of earthly life and rejecting Victorian conventions of restraint, as the poets invite their contemporaries to share intimacies specifically related to the gender of each poet. That is, while Barrett Browning writes within the context of the sacred from the perspective of a woman conventionally and happily anticipating marriage, Baudelaire writes from the perspective of the profane flaneur, the voyeuristic man whose right to loiter idly on the street is directly related to the privilege accorded the male. English poets following Barrett Browning and Baudelaire, male and female, lean more decidedly toward the principles at the heart of the French sequence than toward those that unify Sonnets from the Portuguese; however, these poets are more often than not troubled by this deviance from convention. In their tendency to equivocate, to excuse, and to conceal the creative liberties they are taking, poets constructing sonnet sequences in the second half of the nineteenth century "mask" autobiography as lyrical fiction.

Like Baudelaire and Barrett Browning, George Meredith highlights "states of mind" as part of the larger narrative process of Modern Love, and, like Sonnets from the Portuguese, his narrative plot unfolds within the framework of Victorian heterosexual expectations and the institution of marriage.9 However, these narratives follow trajectories that move in opposite directions, Barrett Browning tracing the development, growth, and flowering of love and Meredith tracing the deterioration and disintegration of love. Using the hybridity of the sequenced poetic form to link her lack of confidence to her age, her physical disabilities, and her socially deprived adult life, Barrett Browning puts all these concerns of the "octave" of the overarching sequence to rest in the "sestet," and she accomplishes this feat through the agency that poetic hybridity provides. As Donald Hair has aptly shown in his recent study of Barrett Browning's metrics, she begins this process of attaining agency early in the sequence as she identifies Robert Browning as her "Chief musician" in the third sonnet, and she weaves this motif throughout the sequence in subtle and effective ways. (10) Thematically, then, Barrett Browning's narrative moves coherently toward answering the question of the penultimate sonnet as the sequence itself "count(s) the ways" that this love unfolds.

In contrast to Barrett Browning's affirmation of married love, Meredith's Modern Love, which was published in 1862, the same year that Swinburne brought Les Fleurs du Mal to English readers, develops a narrative that reinscribes through imagery of decay and deterioration the unsettling blend of pain and pleasure of Baudelaire's sequence, ultimately achieving what Arthur Symons described as "an astonishing feat in the vivisection of the heart." (11) This discourse of a male poet with a wife whom he no longer loves and who no longer loves him develops into a narrative that leads coherently to the only solution acceptable to mid-Victorian society: the death of the wife and, within the context of the gender-related double standard, the poet's justification of his role in her suicide. It is fitting that Meredith constructs a "damaged" version of the sonnet, not only developing the rhetorical process over sixteen lines instead of the conventional fourteen, but also inserting the third-person voice into the poetic discourse, drawing on this feature of the novel form with which he had some success. In taking such liberties with the poetic form, Meredith shifts emphasis from the specific moments of this marital disintegration depicted in individual sonnets to the "thorny internal monologue" of the overarching narrative of patriarchal justification to which the sonnets contribute. Therefore, whereas we see in Barrett Browning's sequence the natural progression of the engagement through significant moments, we see in Meredith's sequence the opposite--moments of a long, dark story uneasily compressed into individual sonnets, and at times resisting this compression. As a result of this shift in emphasis, we readers react similarly to Baudelaire's reader caught up in the story itself; we even, as Alan P. Barr suggests, laugh uneasily at moments in this marriage that seem awkwardly familiar. (12) Ultimately, however, when we place these moments of humor in the context of the larger narrative, they are subsumed in the tragedy this marriage has become. From the opening sonnet, as they lie "upon their marriage tomb, the sword between" the husband and his silently weeping wife, it is clear that there is no turning back from the conflation of love and violence that characterizes this marriage (p. 3). Lest we think for a minute that her "strange low sobs" and silent tears have to do with yearning on her part for what has been lost, we find in the second sonnet that both she and the husband have sought love elsewhere: "her eyes were guilty gates that let him in / By shutting all too zealous for their sin: / "each sucked a secret, and each wore a mask." The husband participates in the charade for "again / he fainted on his vengefulness, and strove to ape the magnanimity of love" (p. 4). There is no process of falling out of love in this sequence, for the husband and wife have both left the marriage and, as a brief and failed attempt to rekindle their love mid-sequence makes clear, have no prospect of returning to it.

The characteristic central to prose fiction that renders this sequence so interesting is that we scrutinize the disintegration of the marriage from the shifting perspectives of four characters rather than through the implied discourse between lovers more common in the sonnet. These characters are the main speaker, who is the husband, the wife, her lover, and the speaker's lover. "Since publication of the series," notes Kenneth Crowell, "it has often been posited that the four [poetic characters] are stand-ins for Meredith himself, his estranged wife Mary Nichols-Meredith, Henry Wallis--the pre-Raphaelite painter who cuckolded him--and one of any number of Victorian literary ladies of note." (13) Therefore, Meredith's autobiographical investment in this narrative is as significant to how we read the sequence as is Barrett Browning's real-life love story to our reading of Sonnets from the Portuguese, and just as she draws us into sympathy with her through the elements of love that cause her distress--her womanly fear that she is unworthy and will fail Browning physically, emotionally, and professionally--Meredith draws us into sympathy with a husband whose masculine resistance to any suggestion that he is partially responsible for the state of this dissolving union unfolds according to the Victorian double standard. When Meredith published Modern Love his wife had died, but she had left Meredith when she was already pregnant with her lover's child, and Meredith had retaliated for her desertion of him and their son by forbidding her to see the boy until she was literally about to die. Therefore, the sequence becomes most revealing when the husband, as Pauline Fletcher suggests, creates "so powerfully the consciousness and point of view of the woman, even though it is the largely antagonistic husband who narrates the events." (14)

This gendered discourse of "modern love" unfolds in Meredith's reconstruction of Baudelaire's poetic universe, a universe in which, as Deborah A. Harter suggests, one takes "a certain pleasure in figuring those forces that lie on the side of violence and violation." (15) John Holmes has argued that in attempting to integrate Darwinian concepts of gender equality into his sequence, Meredith goes about "undoing the double standard of Victorian sexual morality" (p. 524). Indeed, the wife's tears, her silence, her cries, and even her suicide convey the reality that she is a woman with few legal options who is trapped in a midcentury marriage that has broken down. By the third sonnet, the husband's resentment leads him to fantasize about simply taking what is "mine," despite the fact that he might metaphorically "meet" her lover in the kiss he would place upon her brow (p. 5). His fears are realized in Sonnet 6, when he indeed bestows the kiss, precisely at the moment when the wife and her lover sit "by the fire ... she laughing at a quiet joke" (p. 8). The focus on gender relations in this sequence is characterized not by moments of love but by moments of pain, and in Sonnet 8 the wife has become in the husband's eyes a dangerous and oxymoronic "abject worm, so queenly beautiful," as he, in this "unholy battle" that their marriage has become, seems, he says, to "grow base" (p. 10). In Sonnet 9, he has "felt the wild beast" within "so masterfully rude," and for the rest of the sequence, the mixed emotions of resentment, anger, and, perhaps worst of all, self-loathing offer us glimpses into Meredith's autobiographical motive for writing these poems in language antithetical to Barrett Browning's womanly conviction that marriage will lift her to greater heights of human perfection (p. 11).

The turning point in Barrett Browning's poetic narrative arguably occurs in Sonnets 22-24, when the poet expresses her love in compelling spiritual terms and feels herself an equal partner in a union of souls. Structurally, Meredith follows a similar pattern, with a turn beginning in Sonnet 20, when the husband fully understands his own duplicitous participation in playing the now farcical role of an ideal married couple. He says that he is "not of those miserable males / Who sniff at vice" and that he takes "the hap / Of all my deeds," but he makes the decision to continue to pretend to others that his marriage is on solid ground (p. 22). When a friend about to marry asks in the next sonnet for a "blessing" because he "is convinced / That words of wedded lovers must bring good," the distress of the moment causes the wife to faint, and the husband takes advantage of this moment to imply a reason for the wife's collapse: "Fainting points the sign / To happy things in wedlock" (p. 23). There is nothing more striking and more pointedly patriarchal he could have done than to hint at pregnancy in this moment, and his duplicity foreshadows the catastrophe of what he admits in Sonnet 35 comes from his self-serving decision to "act this wedded lie" (p. 37). In the end, this is a poetic narrative that is not about love at all but about the failure of one attempt to live within the "rosy temple" of married life, as the poet calls it in Sonnet 44; ultimately, the gendered discourse of Modern Love, along with the ironic context of its title, follows the pattern of Baudelaire's poetic narrative of love associated with vitriol, violence, and revenge (p. 46). Modern Love not only draws attention to the influence of the French poet but also foreshadows the tendency of English poets in the second half of the nineteenth century to use the hybridity of the sonnet sequence to explore love in guises far removed from Barrett Browning's celebration of love in the context of heterosexual marriage.

It is difficult to find a more unusual gendered discourse in the sonnet tradition than that related to the literary deception that unfolds in Wilfrid Scawen Blunt's autobiographical sequence The Love Sonnets of Proteus, originally published in 1881 and republished for the first time in 1892. (16) Blunt was not only a poet and essayist, but also a diplomat with a career that left him with time to pursue interests outside what seems to have been a companionate and happy marriage to an independent woman--Byron's granddaughter Lady Anne Noel. In the fall of 1882 Blunt began an affair with Lady Augusta Gregory, which lasted until she, remorseful and guilt-ridden about her betrayal of her much older husband and year-old son, ended the affair. However, as the affair was nearing its conclusion--perhaps in a deliberate final reclamation of some of the self-control that she felt she had lost--she wrote a sonnet sequence about her illicit love and gave it to Blunt the morning after their last night together. (17) When Blunt was revising "The Love Sonnets of Proteus" for the Kelmscott Press edition in 1892, Gregory gave him permission to publish the sequence as his own work in the new edition, suggesting the title "Sonnets written by a Woman" (Pethica, p. 99). Blunt, however, titled the sequence "A Woman's Sonnets," thereby subtly effacing the feminine origin of the sequence so that he might integrate the sonnets more effectively into "The Love Sonnets of Proteus." The truth of its authorship was revealed in 1952 when the Trustees of the Fitzwilliam Museum opened Blunt's papers, which, as Elizabeth Longford quips, they "hurriedly closed again," but it was not until 1972 that they were made available and Gregory's authorship was publically revealed, and it was not until 1987 that the sonnets were published as Gregory wrote them. (18) As a postscript, as he was carrying out these unusual revisions, Blunt was involved with Jane Morris, and it is perhaps true to his fashion that her husband William Morris was the publisher of this record of his wife's predecessors in Blunt's affection.

As the title suggests, Blunt's sonnet sequence in its entirety develops an overarching narrative of the "self' wearing the lyric mask of the Protean mythological qualities of mutability and transformation. Blunt's poetic persona is a man brought to his better "self," he feels, through experiences of love from which he emerges with his manhood intact and his mastery of women reinforced. The Love Sonnets of Proteus actually consists of four autobiographical sequences connected by their designation as "Parts" 1-4, and by their thematic development of the sexual and emotional experiences of the man who confided to Gregory just before his death, "I have lived my life in full." (19) His was indeed a busy life before he met Gregory, for he had, as Elizabeth Longford points out, "already seduced one married lady many years younger than her husband, fallen passionately in love with another, lived with a third in South America, helped to ruin the marriage of a fourth in Sussex, and been himself drawn from the arms of a little madrilene by the famous Anglo-Irish courtesan, Catherine, known as 'Skittles,'" the suspected inspiration for Part 1 "Manon" and Part 2 "Juliet" (Longford, "Lady Gregory," p. 86). Parts 3 and 4, "Gods and False Gods" and "Vita Nova," delineate subsequent loves and the poet's self-construction--or rather re-construction--in later life. Embedded between these last two sequences, "A Woman's Sonnets" stands out clearly in terms of tone, substance, and style as the expression of a woman deeply aware of the wrong she has done to her family, yet equally unable to characterize the tenderness she feels for her lover as wrong in itself. In "Manon" and "Juliet," in contrast, echoes of Baudelaire's language and his imagery of violence and vengeance can be found in Blunt's depiction of the women through whom he was able to live his life "in full." The poet describes Manon in Sonnet 2 not only as "brave as a falcon" but also as "merciless"; however, he is clearly pleased with his ability to hold on to this bird of prey for whom captivity is unnatural (p. 105). As William Going points out, the first set of poems are "to" Manon and the last set are "about" Manon, thereby signaling, I suggest, the cruel and vain speaker's having extricated himself from a relationship that leaves him (as the title of Sonnet 21 makes clear) relieved that "his bondage to Manon is broken" (p. 124). (20) When he moves on to Juliet, he finds himself up against more subtle but equally daunting resistance on the woman's part. This narrative is traced through the subtitles of the sonnets, as the speaker in Sonnet 23 begins by "asking for her heart," continues in Sonnet 32 "exhorting her to patience" and in Sonnet 33 "reminding her of a promise," and then extends the final act of breaking off the relationship over fifteen sonnets under the title "Farewell to Juliet" (p. 128, p. 137, p. 138, pp. 144-158). Abandoning this confessional style in the next two parts, "False Gods" and "Vita Nova," the poet enters into the relatively safe philosophical contemplation of love in its varied contexts, a shift in perspective and tone that not only underscores the feminine nature of Gregory's expression of regret and sorrow, but in so doing also comments ironically on Blunt's masculine control of the gendered system of ethics associated with the Victorian double standard.

Blunt's refashioning of Gregory's sequence, as his title suggests, emphasizes gender differences, subtly situating the discourse of this illicit love within the context of the same Victorian double standard that served Meredith so well. His amendments have the overall effect of recasting Gregory's self-reproach into a subversive commentary on love and desire meant to fit coherently into his own poetic narrative of infidelity, a narrative that situates women in a uniformly unfavorable light. Blunt carefully revises Gregory's sequence to emphasize the poet's compelling and blameless appeal to this woman in particular and, by extension, to women in general. However, as James Pethica notes, the sequence as Gregory originally wrote it reveals "a capacity for passion that those who knew her personally never guessed she could express" (p. 98). The fact that "A Woman's Sonnets" follows the pattern of a diary enhances the illusion of truth; however, in its focus not on the affair itself but on the final days of the affair, when both Gregory and Blunt agreed to end it, "A Woman's Sonnets" in its original form is spoken by a woman who has come to terms with the character of "Proteus" and who rejects her role as mistress of a man who uses the cumulative experiences of love to reinforce his masculine authority in such matters. Indeed, as Pethica points out, Blunt was "more practiced than Lady Gregory in the saying of farewells" (p. 114). Nevertheless, the hybridity of sequencing allows Gregory to construct what Linda Wagner-Martin notes is typical in women's autobiographical writing: a reconciliation of "narrative interest" with "social injunctions about appropriate--and proper--women's lives." (21) So subtle is this woman's manipulation of the man to whom she writes, it is likely that had Gregory published this sequence as her own work, it would have been reduced to an expression of gendered regret no different from many other Victorian confessional narratives. Moreover, Gregory not only maintained her friendship with Blunt but also at his request wrote the preface to his diaries and saw them through posthumous publication. She was indeed, as Longford suggests, "that queen of empathy," and ultimately, it seems, another woman in the long list of women who gave Blunt the boost to his self-esteem he needed. (22) However, Gregory did have the last say in defining her relationship with Blunt when the original sequence was finally published in 1987, and, to give Blunt credit, he did keep the original manuscript, knowing full well that one day his own sequence would be reconsidered in the context of the revisions he made.

Gregory's speaker opens the sequence with the claim that "if the past year were offered [her] again," she would "accept the pleasure with the pain," implying that both pain and pleasure are inevitable consequences of unfaithfulness such as hers (Pethica, p. 102). Blunt revises this suggestion of compromise, his woman declaring that she would "be wiser for the bliss and pain," thereby not only transforming the milder "pleasure" into the more intense "bliss," but also casting the experience in terms that suggest that she had gained more than she had lost, a hint of Baudelaire's perspective on love that goes against the grain of the overarching narrative of Gregory's sequence (p. 103). In the second sonnet, Gregory's woman demonstrates the influence of Victorian patriarchy as she asks of her lover, "do not leave me yet," thereby assuming that he will one day assert his masculine control in matters of love and end the affair; Blunt's woman expresses her request in significantly different terms: "ask me not to leave thee yet," implicitly suggesting her agency in making him "ask" her to leave. In the context of Victorian Patriarchy, this agency has the effect of casting her in a less appealing light, thereby paradoxically reaffirming the double standard (p. 102, p. 103). On the one hand, Gregory's woman is certain that the man's love will not last, and she hopes only that when he does withdraw it, she will "have gained more power / More strength" (p. 102). On the other hand, Blunt's woman shifts her priorities and hopes to "grow wiser first and gain more power," highlighting her lover's contribution to her personal growth and development (p. 103).

Blunt strategically carried out surgery on Gregory's sonnet sequence in order to, as he noted on the manuscript itself, "tell all our love's history that needs the telling." He wrote in his diary that the sonnets "are really most touching, and required little beyond strengthening here and there a phrase and altering a few recurrent rhymes." (23) However, despite his remarks designed to undermine the effect of his revisions, the changes he made reshape the narrative in significant ways, ultimately recasting the woman's feelings of guilt, her need to atone, and her regret into acknowledgment of and gratitude for the transformative experience of love. It is true that occasionally his edits are logical, as, for instance, in the fourth sonnet, when he changes her self-described "once dishonoured name" to "once well-honoured name," but by and large his changes are self-serving and detrimental to her original purpose (p. 104, p. 105). In the third sonnet, when she describes him as "knowing all the time that some dark day / Indifferent and cold thou'lt turn away," his revised woman is more pleading in tone, as she asks why "Spite of my worship, thou wilt turn away?" (p. 104, p. 105). Similarly, in the fifth sonnet, her fear of hurting those she loves leads her to accept, she says, that "her last hope of love [will] be dashed away" (p. 106). Blunt recasts this sacrifice as the position of a woman "bankrupt of pleasure," trivializing the relationship by substituting "pleasure" for "love" and at the same time drawing on the double standard to imply that, like the other women in the Proteus sequence, she has invested in the relationship for selfish gain and has overspent her resources (p. 107). Hence, when she says in the seventh sonnet that she wonders what she has "gained" in all of this and avows that if she could she "would gladly all the past undo," his revision of her regret casts it in terms of "gladly buy[ing] back ignorance," thereby hinting that it is the knowledge of what they both euphemistically call "forbidden food" that she regrets (p. 108, p. 109).

The turn in the sequence in both versions occurs in the eighth sonnet, when the poet utters her startling and truthful claim, "I staked my all upon a losing game." The "game" was over before it began, she suggests, because realistically, it was inevitable that she would play a small part in the life of a man with "so many worlds within thy ken" (p. 108). These flattering lines Blunt left alone, but in the original, the woman takes care to say that she does not blame him, because even though he was "my all dear," she went into the affair "knowing thy nature and the ways of men." Blunt changes this phrasing, reducing her declaration of absolute love to the philosophical shrug that he was "so much to me," and recasting the specific reference to his nature in more general terms, his woman speaker saying she began the affair "knowing the nature and the needs of men" (emphasis mine) (p. 108). As Pethica suggests, "her sacrificial love and acknowledgment of impending penance are reduced to a world-weary submission and jaded acceptance of the 'needs' of men in general" (p. 115). These crucial amendments redirect the trajectory of the sequence, and in subsequent sonnets, Blunt drives home his advantage. In Sonnet 9, he strategically switches two words to change the meaning in key ways. Gregory's speaker says that soon she will recover from this affair "and feel no sudden throbbing of the heart / No foolish rising of unbidden tears" (emphasis mine), hinting at her helplessness in entering into this illicit love (p. 110). Blunt's woman speaker, however, will "feel no mad throbbing at my foolish heart, / No sudden rising of unbidden tears" (emphasis mine), indicating her emotional distress at losing his love and implying her feminine weakness with the shift in placement of the adjectives (p. 111). In the tenth sonnet, Blunt characterizes the woman's transgression as a "sin" rather than the "crime" that Gregory's woman has committed (p. III, p. 110). Thus Blunt effectively situates the woman poet in the context of the transgressing angel of the Victorian double standard. In addition, with the deletion of "yet" in the twelfth line of the sonnet, Blunt rephrases her implied resistance to physical desire: Gregory's woman speaker describes herself as "having gained thy love yet said thee nay," while her revised counterpart suggests that she "having won thee still awhile said nay," leaving "no doubt," as Pethica points out, "that consummation took place in the end" (p. 116). Blunt brings the sequence to a close with his deletion in the final sonnet of her recognition that "the light is dimmed, the dream has past," through which she relegates her love for Blunt to an emotional space outside the reality of her marriage and motherhood (p. 112). Blunt's woman speaker of these lines is profoundly regretful that the affair has come to an end: "For me the daylight of my years is dim," she says, underscoring the everlasting influence of this love on her (p. 113). Blunt's revisions seem to lead to this final point as he consistently transforms Gregory's depiction of the woman disadvantaged in matters of love and desire into a confirmation of the widely accepted attributes of gender within the context of the double standard of the time.

John Addington Symonds became a mentor and friend to the nineteen-year-old A. Mary F. Robinson upon their meeting in 1876 in Bristol through Eleanor Frances Poynter, the sister of the painter Edward Poynter, and they remained close friends until his death in 1893. She was honest and direct with Symonds in correspondence that spans seventeen years and that includes a great deal of personal confession on her part and advice on his--particularly about her lack of confidence in herself as a poet and about the intense affection for Vernon Lee that lies at the heart of her rispetti sequence "Tuscan Cypress," which she included in An Italian Garden in 1886. Symonds, however, was less honest and direct with Robinson about the inspiration for "Stella Maris," his sonnet sequence included in Vagabunduli Libellus in 1884. His mentorship of Robinson in these years was complicated by the antipathy that Symonds and Lee had for one another. Symonds intuited the importance of the androgynous discourse in "Tuscan Cypress," telling Robinson that the lyrics "strike me as neither masculine nor feminine." He presses her for an explanation, commenting on how frequently she uses "I" and asking, "What is the I? Is it you?" (emphasis Symonds's). (24) Sensing that he has touched on something unanswerable, he closes the letter with his assurance that he doubts that the "I" of the sequence is Robinson, apologizing and blaming fatigue for his raising the issue. Two years earlier, he had sent Robinson his "Stella Maris," which she praised, but when she told him that his preface to this sequence was so heartfelt that no one would believe it was imaginary, he replied, "Stella never existed, except in my brain" and assured her that he had "never passed through any such experience with any woman--'nor' (to reverse Hamlet) 'man neither'." (25) Robinson was right that his protests were unconvincing, not because the ardent and intense love he expresses seems too powerful to be fictitious, but because Symonds was presenting a narrative of heterosexual love that was actually a narrative of homosexual love. Both Robinson and Symonds manipulate gendered pronoun usage in their sequences to tell what Robinson terms in "Tuscan Cypress" "a story that is not true," simply because neither could tell the true story in its time.

John Addington Symonds was a homosexual man married to a woman he loved in his fashion, and for her and his four daughters, he worked hard to keep what he called "the wolf'--his sexual desire for men--at bay. In 1873, he published A Problem of Greek Ethics, in which he links his reading of Plato's Symposium to his awakening sense, as he writes in his Memoirs, that "as though in some antenatal experience" he "had lived the life of a philosophical Greek lover" and, moreover, that the Greeks "treated this love seriously, invested it with moral charm, endowed it with sublimity." (26) Very few of Symonds's contemporaries knew of his numerous affairs with men. Horatio Brown, to whom Symonds entrusted his papers and who used these documents to produce a highly edited version of the "story that [was] not true" of Symonds's life, certainly knew, as did Havelock Ellis, with whom Symonds co-authored the original draft of parts of Sexual Inversion. Symonds's papers remained sealed until Phyllis Grosskurth, who wrote biographies of both Symonds (1964) and Ellis (1980), edited and published Symonds's memoirs in 1986. These memoirs reveal how and when Symonds's love affairs with men intersected with his personal life and his creative impulses, and they shed light on the inspiration for "Stella Maris," ostensibly a poetic narrative of heterosexual love but in reality a sonnet sequence that describes his profound love for a male gondolier in Venice, Angelo Fusato. (27) Symonds adjusted diction and syntax, as well as pronouns, before he published the sequence.

William Going credits Symonds with "being among the first poet-critics to use the term 'sonnet sequence'" and to foreground the genre itself. (28) In his preface to "Stella Maris," Symonds suggests that the sonnet sequence is generically suited to "the crystallization of thought around isolated points of emotion, passion, meditation, or remembrance"; however, he then explains that the poet-speaker of Animi Figura, which he had published in 1882, "yields to a passion" and gives up what he most wants "because he finds himself upon the verge of disloyalty to his superior nature." (29) The poet of "Stella Maris" reconciles his "superior nature" and his passionate desire in the final lines of the last of these sixty-seven sonnets, affirming both the power of love as "a close bond wedding two selves in one" and the power of the aesthetic elements of physical beauty that brings "Man back through love to law no life may shun." For Symonds, this aesthetic beauty was related to the classical model of love that Angelo represented; however, he goes to great lengths to conceal expression of this ideal as the real intent of "Stella Maris" with his claim in the preface that he wrote this sequence specifically to clarify what he felt remained confusing in Animi Figura. In "Stella Maris," he maintains, he wanted to reveal more clearly the mind of the poet-speaker of the earlier sequence through this new look at the same poet's "passionate experience" (pp. vii-viii). Without Symonds's memoirs, readers had no reason not to accept "Stella Maris" as a postscript to Animi Figura, and, although the memoirs do not negate this suggestion, they do invite revisionist readings of "Stella Maris" as well. Symonds himself wrote to his daughter Charlotte in November 1884 that "Stella Maris" was "the most thoroughly moralized of the book," and Grosskurth suggests that this sequence is "of all his published poetry the most intimate expression of his feelings" (Grosskurth, p. 218). The irony of the "moralized" sequence is clear in his daughter Margaret's memoir of 1925, in which she remembers Angelo Fusato as "a faithful friend and servant" who stayed with Symonds "up till the day of his death" and who "never really acknowledged any other master," until he died in 1923. (30)

In his own Memoirs, Symonds poignantly details his suffering on two levels: as a homosexual man hiding in and from an intolerant Victorian society and as a man fearful that the feelings he had for other men, particularly for Angelo, were indeed immoral, disgraceful, and profane. "Few men have ever been more tortured by their homosexuality than John Addington Symonds," notes John Julius Norwich. (31) In the Memoirs, Symonds tries to untangle the confused perspective from which he viewed his life by justifying his position as a homosexual man in a heterosexual marriage that by this point had become a companionate marriage. "I see no harm to society or character in sensual enjoyment between man and man," he writes, and he suggests that as in enjoying wine, moderation is the key: "The dedication of the higher self to lust or drunkenness, the immersion of the personality in either pursuit, is ruinous" (p. 278). In the Memoirs, Symonds articulates his passion for the gondolier, a passion that in its most intense moments was acutely sensuous and sensual: "He took hold of me by a hundred subtle threads of feeling, in which the powerful and radiant manhood of the splendid animal was intertwined with sentiment for Venice, a keen delight in the landscape of the lagoons, and something penetrative and pathetic in the man" (p. 272). This passion inspired the sonnets of "Stella Maris," a sequence whose narrative ostensibly traces the love of Stella, who arouses the speaker to similar heights of sensual experience, but who ultimately "loved not as he loved," as he concludes in Sonnet 63. This sonnet, and indeed nearly half the sonnets making up the sequence are what Grosskurth calls "mutilated" versions of the originals, and, like Blunt's amendments to Gregory's sonnets, they contribute to an equally "mutilated" version of the overarching narrative of the sequence (Memoirs, p. 272n). To reshape the poetic moments of each lyrical expression of love, Symonds took advantage of the hybridity of the sonnet sequence to form them into a narrative of heterosexual love so that he could "play the part of husband and father" to his wife and daughters during what he later called "an episode, a very important episode, in the history of my life during the Davos period" (p. 279). Angelo, in contrast, much to Symonds's dismay, showed no remorse about living unmarried with a young woman and their two children.

Angelo is transformed into Stella Maris, the Star of the Sea, a conventional term for the Virgin Mary as the guiding figure that leads humankind to Christ and to salvation. The sonnets identified in the Memoir as having been written specifically for Angelo in the original sequence, Symonds says, "faithfully describe the varying moods, perplexities and conflicts of my passion before it settled into a comparatively wholesome comradeship" (p. 272). However, when he revised these "states of mind" for publication, he was clearly conflicted about the task of erasing Angelo from the sonnets, and he left the emotional thrust of the sequence's narrative as he had developed it intact while he adjusted pronouns and rewrote telling sections. The first sonnet opens with the speaker's thoughts about forms of illicit love, specifically "loves that know themselves shameful and blind / Fierce cruel loves that crucify the mind," and he hints that these loves unfold in "our Maya-world of wishes." In the Memoirs, Symonds identifies "Maya" as one of five key words in the early sonnets that have "specific significance" (p. 272n). He uses the term in a dual sense, I suggest, referring not only to the qualities of illusion or the sense of unreality the term denotes but also to the Mayan patronage system based on two classes of people--the elite and the non-elite. Symonds admits that on first glimpsing Angelo on the Lido, he "writhed in the clutches of chimaera, thirsted before the tempting phantasmagoria of Maya," as though Angelo were an apparition (p. 273); however, he loved Angelo with a physical, sensual passion that unfolded within the class structure firmly in place, and he was always mindful of their respective social positions, Angelo working as his gondolier "at fixed wages, with a certain allowance for food and fuel" (p. 276). Nevertheless, Symonds was grateful that his "abnormal desire" had taught him "to know and appreciate a human being so far removed from [him] in position, education, national quality and physique" (p. 276).

The speaker names Stella "child of the sea and sun-god" in Sonnet 6 and the "star of [his] soul" in Sonnet 7. Angelo invaded his dreams to such an extent that Symonds imagined himself "at one time a woman whom he loved, at another a companion in his trade" (Memoirs, p. 273). Yet on another level, Symonds seems to have anticipated the discourse of the sonnet sequence from the first meeting as he recalls it, registering his surprise that a young man like Angelo would have taken the risk of accepting Symonds's invitation to meet in the first place. He assumes that Angelo's daring was related partly to his natural and youthful nonchalance and his casual attitude toward life and love, and partly to his extravagance and the poverty that stood in the way of his material pleasure. It is this last theme of worldly motives that makes its way insidiously into the narrative of "Stella Maris," transforming it from a dreamy love fantasy into a tale of greed, avarice, and duplicity that culminates in the end of a transient love. However, initially, "love reckons not by time" in Sonnet 11 and takes concrete shape in Sonnet 18 as the speaker's longing at night for "Hands that will clasp our hands, lips that might kiss, / A heart that with our heart can sympathise." The narrative continues along this trajectory to Sonnet 39, which begins, "She was a woman" and ends with the speaker's vow, "less than Love's best thou shalt refuse." Symonds left the original Sonnet 39, however, which he signaled by this last line, in his Memoirs as a striking and beautiful testament to his feelings for Angelo. This time, the poet begins with masculine pronouns: "I am not dreaming. He was surely here / And sat beside me on this hard low bed" (p. 274). (32) The rhetorical process of the sonnet as it appears in the Memoirs moves through the love-making of two men "Till, mother-naked, white as lilies, laid / There on the counterpane, he bade me use I Even as I willed his body." Shortly after the "mutilated" fantasy of this very real experience of love, the narrative of the heterosexual sequence begins to unravel and Symonds's worries about Angelo's mercenary motives become more markedly integrated into the sequence as a feature of the woman's understanding of heterosexual romance. By Sonnet 40, the speaker feels some disgust with himself as he continues his affair with a girl who he suspects "sells herself' for the "gold" he gives her, and in Sonnet 41 he admits that "Shame and Desire, twin brethren, are the brood / Of thoughts diseased" (emphasis mine) (p. 50, p. 51). The terminology is distinctly masculine, and, through the pairing of "shame" and "desire," the words on the page betray the false and awkward heterosexual context in which Symonds attempts to place them. The fact that the speaker delays his first reference to Stella by name until she has already left him in Sonnet 47, and then addresses her only twice more, perhaps enabled Symonds to keep the woman a shadowy figure in the background while he altered virtually every poem between Sonnet 43 and the final Sonnet 62. The sequence is indeed a hybrid of a unique kind in its expression of homosexual desire in heterosexual terms. In its presentation of Stella as the figure of greed, lust, and betrayal, it evokes Modern Love, albeit without the violence and the invective of Meredith's sequence on heterosexual marriage; moreover, "Stella Maris" moves toward the poignant resignation of "A Woman's Sonnets," as the speaker accepts the inevitable end of an affair that exists wholly outside the context of heterosexual marriage within which Barrett Browning writes. Ultimately, "Stella Maris" is not about the kind of love it pretends to be about, and in that respect it offers a unique perspective on "profane" love and desire from outside all conventions of the sacred, even those failed unions that are ultimately sanctioned because they are heterosexual.

We can see, then, why Symonds was so interested in Robinson's deliberately evasive gendered perspective in "Tuscan Cypress," not only in light of his own manipulation of gendered language, but also because there was a great deal of speculation at the time about the nature of Robinson's relationship with Vernon Lee. Symonds wrote to Robinson in August of 1884 (the year in which he published "Stella Maris") to ask her, "[A]re you in Michael Field's secret? I should like to know." (33) Robinson was indeed privy to Field's identity and the "secret" at that point, but as "Tuscan Cypress" suggests, her relationship with Lee was not a straightforward sexual liaison by any means. The friendship between Robinson and Lee has been difficult for scholars to understand, given that Lee was certainly lesbian and had what Vineta Colby calls "romantic friendships" with several women before and after Robinson. (34) However, not all of these friends seem to have reciprocated Lee's interest in the way that Kit Anstruther Thompson was able to do when she stepped into Lee's life just as Robinson stepped out to marry James Darmesteter. Annie Meyer was one of these early friends, and she was married, as was her niece Alice Callander, who remained friends with Lee after Annie's death three years after Annie and Lee had parted ways. In a letter that attempts to calm Lee's response to her engagement to Darmesteter, Robinson reminds Lee of their "whole years of a perfect companionship. And--at any rate from 1880 to 1884--a long friendship of absolute trust and satisfaction." (35) Robinson was honest with Symonds when she said that Alice Callander was the source for "Tuscan Cypress," at least insofar as Robinson was inspired by jealousy at what she perceived at the time to be Lee's transfer of affection from herself to Callander. This sequence is "the utterance of a jealous dying woman who feels herself forgotten before she is dead," Robinson tells Symonds, and although she soon came to realize that she had been wrong about Lee's feelings for Callander, the intensity of her emotional response clearly shook her to the extent that she hoped that she would "never feel anything of the sort" again. (36)

Nevertheless, Robinson herself arguably contributed to some of this uncertainty about her relationship with Lee, once admitting to Henry James, for instance, "I consider myself the other half of Violet." (37) It is her fear of dissevering this unified whole that she depicts in "Tuscan Cypress." Her marriage to James Darmesteter did not rescue her from what she viewed as damaging and distressing assumptions about her and Lee, for in 1894 Darmesteter's friend Anatole France modeled Vivian Bell in Le Lys Rouge (The Red Lily) on a conflation of Robinson and Lee. (38) Shortly after her marriage, Robinson wrote to Emily Sargent, the sister of the painter and a mutual friend, characterizing Lee's reaction to the marriage as "all some dreadful misunderstanding--and one that, of course, it is impossible to explain away. The best way is not to explain!" (emphasis Robinson's). (39) The irony is that in "Tuscan Cypress," Robinson's avoidance of the pronoun usage of heterosexual love is a similar strategy of "not explaining" that enables her to articulate desire that is ambiguously and suggestively both at odds with and consistent with the conventions of the gendered form of love that Victorian readers knew best. A disappointing gesture of betrayal provides a footnote to this sequence, for Symonds suggested to Havelock Ellis that Robinson and Lee "might be used as a typical case of lesbianism" in Sexual Inversion. (40)

The eight-line rispetto belongs to the same poetic family as the sonnet, and it too arises out of a long tradition of carnal desire and illicit heterosexual love. In shifting the emphasis of her sequence away from these conventions, Robinson develops an aestheticist narrative that in essential ways is similar to that of Symonds. Both poetic narratives highlight human transience, physical and emotional deterioration, and the finite nature of human life that moves inexorably toward death, and both sequences situate these narratives in an ambiguous context that implies heterosexuality. Robinson would certainly have been familiar with Symonds's seminal essay on the history of the sonnet and rispetto forms published in the Fortnightly Review in 1873. (41) However, whereas "Stella Maris" celebrates intense carnal passion and then shows it to be ultimately unsustainable, "Tuscan Cypress," like Meredith's Modern Love, begins and ends with love irrevocably damaged. Robinson's poetic perspective moves from the moon-blanched, sterile, and empty world of the first rispetto to a resigned embracing of Sorrow as life's companion in the final rispetto. Therefore, her androgynous speaker constructs an overarching narrative of grief and loss of love rooted in the second rispetto's plaintive question: "What good is there, Ah me, what good in Love? / Since, even if you love me, we must part" (p. 36). This is the note that echoes throughout the sequence as Robinson uses metaphors of separation--the sea and the sky, for instance--to develop the theme of unrequited love. She draws on personal experience that Lee could recognize, such as the unsustainable fantasy of living in childlike innocence far from social influence. She and Lee had actually lived a version of this fantasy in a cottage in Sussex, and while out walking with Lee one day during this time, as she told James Darmesteter a few months before their marriage, "it was then and there, God knows why--that by some beautiful accident I was perfectly happy. I often think of it." (42) Reconstructing the past into an ideal is the project of this poet, who pleads in the eleventh rispetto for the loved one to "tell me a story, dear, that is not true," thereby implying that the true story is problematic (p. 45). The avoidance of gendered pronouns at this point in the sequence is crucial to the depiction of two minds equally attuned to the goals of aestheticist poetry in telling a story of love that arises out of shared memories of unsayable emotion. Ultimately, there is no need for gendered pronouns in a sequenced poetic narrative that tells the "true" story of a relationship that seems to have existed wholly outside the orthodox categories of gendered love. It was neither heterosexual nor lesbian, but it was indeed a romantic love that included all the complexities of profound love of any nature. And although Robinson had not yet met Darmesteter, this sequence foreshadows the suspension of the intimacy that began, as Robinson reminds Lee in 1929, when "our minds rushed together in such enthusiasm that all the ups and downs of fifty years have not really divided what came together then." (43) It is ironically appropriate that Robinson and Darmesteter met as a result of his request that she allow him to translate An Italian Garden into French, for Robinson seems to have viewed her time with Lee as a form of preparation for a similar mode of love unconsummated in the conventional sense. Lee reports to her mother in a letter of September 29, 1887 that Robinson read aloud a letter from Darmesteter, who assured Robinson that he knew he should not have children, that he had never wanted children, and that "considering her health, he thought she might be willing to accept the condition under which alone he would get married." (44) Although we do not know the specifics of their agreed-upon mode of intimacy, the grounds upon which Robinson and Darmesteter experienced marriage seem to have been outside the heterosexual norm of physical relations, and in this sense, their love is consistent with the alternative to heterosexual desire presented ironically through the androgynous nature of the poetic discourse of "Tuscan Cypress."

The discourse of sequenced lyric poetry that follows Barrett Browning's intimate "confessional" narrative in Sonnets from the Portuguese reflects a growing nineteenth-century interest in repositioning the subjective "I" of lyrical poetry as the objective narrator of fiction. Specifically, in sequencing lyrical moments that reflect personal experience, the poet could express intimate details of love that unfolded outside Victorian ideals of heterosexual marriage I and sexuality. Barrett Browning's profound expression of love within those conventions and Baudelaire's equally profound expression of erotic desire outside those conventions ironically and jointly opened the door to a space in I which the varied experience of "modern love" could be examined and the "true" story of love, with its potential to cause pain as well as pleasure, could be told. In each of the sequences I have highlighted, gendered autobiographical discourse at the heart of the narrative intentionally subverts the "true" story in order to revise it into a marketable and palatable poetic plot ostensibly meant to reinforce Victorian values. In leaving memoirs, letters, wills, and annotated manuscript copies of their work, these poets have left us metacommentary on their engagement with gender and genre as the nineteenth century moved toward the symbolically transitional fin de siecle. We clearly have more work to do on the poetic narratives of nineteenth-century sequences and the insight they offer us into the role of poetry in articulating emerging shifts in gender expectations with respect to fidelity and infidelity, love and desire, and human sexuality.


(1) Stephen Burt and David Mikics, The Art of the Sonnet (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 2010), p. 7.

(2) Quoted in Daniel Pals, Seven Theories of Religion (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, I 1996), p. 99.

(3) Augusta Webster, "Poets and Personal Pronouns," in A Housewife's Opinions (London: Macmillan, 1879), p. 154.

(4) A. C. Swinburne, review of Les Fleurs du Mal, by Charles Baudelaire, Spectator, September 6, 1862, 998-1000.

(5) Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Preface," Les Fleurs du Mal, by Charles Baudelaire, trans. George Dillon and Edna St. Vincent Millay (New York: Washington Square Press, 1962), p. xxxiv.

(6) Menachem Feuer, Who Has the Last Word! Power or Comedy? On Baudelaire's "A Heroic Death," 12 April 2013, accessed 11 January 2018, https://schlemtelintheory .com/2013/04/12/who-has-the-last-word-power-or-comedy-on-baudelaires-a-heroic -death/

(7) T. A. Unwin, "The 'Pseudo-narrative' of Les Fleurs Du Mal," Orbis Litterarum 46 (1991): 321.

(8) Charles Baudelaire, "To the Reader," in Les Fleurs du Mal, trans. James McGowen (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1993), p. 7.

(9) George Meredith, "Modem Love" (1862), Modem Love and Other Poems (Portland, Maine: Kessinger Legacy Reprints, 1904), pp. 3-52. I have used original publications, or reprints of the original, of all the poetic sequences discussed. Since the original publications omit line numbers, I refer to individual sonnets by page number throughout the essay.

(10) Donald Hair, Fresh Strange Music: Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Language (Montreal: McGill-Queens Univ. Press, 2015), pp. 173-79.

(11) Quoted in John Holmes, "Darwinism, Feminism, and the Sonnet Sequence: Meredith's Modern Love," Victorian Poetry 48, no. 4 (2010): 526.

(12) Alan P. Barr, "How All Occasions Do Inform: 'Household Matters' and Domestic Vignettes in George Meredith's Modern Love," Victorian Poetry 42, no. 3 (2004): 286.

(13) Kenneth Crowell, "Modern Love and the Sonetto Caudate: Comedie Intervention through the Satiric Sonnet Form," Victorian Poetry 48, no. 4 (2010): 541.

(14) Pauline Fletcher, "'Trifles Light as Air' in Meredith's Modern Love," Victorian Poetry 34, no. 1 (1996): 95.

(15) Deborah A. Harter, "Baudelaire and the Poetics of Perversity," in Approaches to Teaching Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil, ed. Laurence Porter (New York: MLA, 2000), p. 108.

(16) The Love Sonnets of Proteus is included in The Love Lyrics and Songs of Proteus (London: Kelmscott Press, 1892), pp. 103-251. I have used italics for the title of the sonnet sequence in this essay to allow me to distinguish between the four parts of the sequence and the sequence itself.

(17) James Pethica, "A Woman's Sonnets," in Lady Gregory Fifty Years After, ed. Ann Saddlemyer and Colin Smythe (Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble, 1987), p. 114.

(18) Elizabeth Longford, "Lady Gregory and Wilfrid Scawen Blunt," in Lady Gregory, Fifty Years After, ed. Saddlemyer and Smythe, 85; James Pethica, "A Woman's Sonnets," in Lady Gregory, Fifty Years After, ed. Saddlemyer and Smythe, 102-13. Pethica places the original sonnets alongside Blunt's amended sonnets, and once again I refer to the sonnets by page number of this edition.

(19) Augusta Gregory, "Preface," in M;y Diaries: Being a Personal Narrative of Events 1888-1914, by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (New York: Knopf, 1921), p. vii.

(20) William T. Going, "Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Victorian Sonneteer," Victorian Poetry 2, no. 2 (1964): 71.

(21) Linda Wagner-Martin, Telling Women's Lives: The New Biography (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1994), p. 76.

(22) Elizabeth Longford, A Pilgrimage of Passion: The Life of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979), p. 191.

(23) Quoted in Pethica, p. 99.

(24) John Addington Symonds to Mary Robinson, Fonds Anglais, Bibliotheque Nationale de France. The letter is undated, but it is the letter to which Robinson responds on January 17, 1886 to describe the circumstances in which she wrote the sequence.

(25) Quoted in Phyllis Grosskurth, John Addington Symonds: A Biography (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1964), p. 242.

(26) John Addington Symonds, The Memoirs of John Addington Symonds, ed. Phyllis Grosskurth (New York: Random House, 1984), p. 99.

(27) John Addington Symonds, "Stella Maris," in Vagabunduli Libellus (London: Kegan Paul, 1884), pp. 11-77.

(28) William T. Going, "John Addington Symonds and the Victorian Sonnet Sequence," Victorian Poetry 8, no. 1 (1970): 25.

(29) Symonds, "Preface," "Stella Maris," p. ix, x.

(30) Margaret Symonds (Mrs. Vaughan), Out of the Past (London: John Murray, 1925), p. 240.

(31) John Julius Norwich, Paradise of Cities (New York: Doubleday, 2003), p. 142.

(32) Symonds left this sonnet's pronouns intact in the Memoir to give context to his discussion of Angelo's attraction to him and of their first meeting.

(33) John Addington Symonds to A. Mary F. Robinson, August 6, 1884, The Letters of John Addington Symonds Vol. 2 1869-1884, ed. Herbert Schueller and Robert L. Peters (Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1968), 2: 940.

(34) Vineta Colby, Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography (Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press, 2003), p. 52.

(35) Mary Robinson to Vernon Lee, n.d., 1888, Vernon Lee Collection, Colby College.

(36) Mary Robinson to John Addington Symonds, January 17, 1886, Fonds Anglais, Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

(37) Mary Robinson to Henry James, n.d., Placci Collection: Marucelliana Library, Florence. I am indebted to Alyson Price, the archivist at the British Institute of Florence Library, for this letter. "Vernon Lee" was, of course, the pseudonym of Violet Paget.

(38) "Carnet de Notes: Mary Robinson (1857-1944)," Revue Philosophique no. 3 (1976): 375. To make matters worse, The Red Lily was originally published in Le Revue de Paris, while James Darmesteter was co-editor of the journal.

(39) Mary Robinson to Emily Sargent, November 10, N.Y., Colby College Library. Although there is no year associated with the letter, it was sent from Rue Bara in the early days of Robinson's marriage and, therefore, during Lee's collapse.

(40) Quoted in Lynda M. Ely, '"Not a Song to Sell': Re-Presenting A. Mary F. Robinson," Victorian Poetry 38, no.l (2000): 95.

(41) John Addington Symonds, "Poliziano's Italian Poetry," Fortnightly Review 14 (1873): 165-188.

(42) Mary Robinson to James Darmesteter, January 4, 1888, Fonds Anglais, Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

(43) Robinson to Vernon Lee, October 8, 1929, Fonds Anglais, Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

(44) Vernon Lee to Matilda Paget, September 27, 1887, Vernon Lee Collection, Colby College.
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Date:Jun 22, 2019
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