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Short poem

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

The Roundel

              1A roundel is wrought as a ring or a starbright sphere,
              2    With craft of delight and with cunning of sound unsought,
              3That the heart of the hearer may smile if to pleasure his ear
              4    A roundel is wrought.

              5Its jewel of music is carven of all or of aught--
              6    Love, laughter, or mourning--remembrance of rapture or fear--
              7That fancy may fashion to hang in the ear of thought.

              8As a bird's quick song runs round, and the hearts in us hear
              9    Pause answer to pause, and again the same strain caught,
            10So moves the device whence, round as a pearl or tear,
            11    A roundel is wrought.


1] Swinburne writes Edward Byrne Jones on April 4, 1883: "I have got a tiny new book of songs or songlets, in one form and all manner of metres -- from 4-syllable to 18-syllable lines -- just coming out, of which Miss Rossetti has accepted the dedication. I hope you and Georgie will find something to like among a hundred poems of nine lines each, twenty-four of which are about babies or small children" (The Complete Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, ed. Sir Edmund Gosse and Thomas James Wise [London: William Heinemann, 1926]: V, 13). Swinburne wrote A. H. Japp on June 22 of that year that he started "by writing on the spur of a moment those roundels on the death of a friend's infant child" (V, 27).

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Swinburne's Collected Poetical Works, 2 vols. (London: William Heinemann, 1924): II, 575.
First publication date: 1883
Publication date note: Algernon Charles Swinburne, A Century of Roundels (London: Chatto and Windus, June 4, 1883): 63. end S956 C45 1883 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP 2.638.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/2

Form: roundel

Other poems by Algernon Charles Swinburne