Journal directory listing - Volume 63 (2018) - Journal of NTNU【63(1)】March

Poetry, Painting, and Emotions: Synesthetics in Swinburne’s “Before the Mirror” Author: Chiung-Ying Huang (International Language and Culture Center, College of General Studies, Yuan Ze University, Assistant Professor)

Vol.&No.:Vol.63 , No.1
Date:March 2018

In this paper, I consider how Swinburne brings together the visual and verbal realms in his ekphrasis by focusing on his “Before the Mirror,” the poem inspired by Whistler’s The Little White Girl (later titled Symphony in White, No. 2); this poem combines the visionary realm of lyric poetry with the visual realm of art. I examine how Swinburne develops his aesthetic personality through his ekphrasis and argue that his ekphrastic writing shows a specific poetic vision, specifically related to “Victorian” or aesthetic poetry, denoting themes of female narcissism and passionate suffering. Although the concept most associated with Swinburne’s writing on art is that of the female body, his idiosyncratic representation of feminine power, portrayed through his lyrical patterns, makes his work extraordinary. Regardless of whether “Before the Mirror” reinforces female physical beauty or female power, Swinburne’s linking of aesthetic painting to passionate verse engenders a feeling of “words” as a means of containing strong emotions we associate with responses to “images.” The poem takes us back to where poetry starts—the idea of passion—and to the question of “influence,” as Swinburne allows and desires his writing to be affected by other arts. Passionately engaged with the relationship between the visual and verbal, Swinburne wrote with the intention of presenting the power of words through poetry. The effort to make language embody and interpret the visual by assimilating, not displacing, its effects may be impossible, but it gives Swinburne’s poetry much of its energy and value.

Keywords:Aesthetrcism, ekphrasis, Swinburne, Whistler

《Full Text》

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  4. Ford, George H. Keats and the Victorians: A Study of His Infl uence and Rise to Fame, 1821-1895 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1945).
  5. Gosse, Edmund. The Life of Algernon Charles Swinburne (London: Macmillan, 1917).
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APA FormatHuang, C.-Y. (2018). Poetry, painting, and emotions: synesthetics in swinburne’s “before the mirror”. Journal of National Taiwan Normal University, 63(1), 41-57.
Chicago FormatHuang, ​Chiung-Ying. “Poetry, Painting, and Emotions: Synesthetics in Swinburne’s “Before the Mirror”.” Journal of National Taiwan Normal University 63, no. 1 (2018): 41-57.