"See Love, and so refuse him": The Poetics, Philosophy, and Psychology of Love in Algernon Charles Swinburne's "Poems and Ballads" 
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This dissertation studies the concept of “love” in Algernon Charles Swinburne’s "Poems and Ballads" . As I argue in Chapter One, there has been surprisingly little critical discussion of the concept of love in "Poems and Ballads," and what there has been is flawed in that it inadvertently reinforces the longstanding charge of Swinburne’s “meaninglessness,” obscures the ways in which the love of "Poems and Ballads" is an informed critical response to the culture of the time, and tends to render the poems and their dramatic speakers interchangeable. In Chapter Two, I attempt to redress the ahistoricism that has dominated these discussions by explaining how the love of "Poems and Ballads" arose in response to the “cult of love” of Swinburne’s contemporaries, which he, informed by ideas that he inherited from his Romantic forbearers, viewed as an impoverishment of sensual experience, and consequently of humankind’s creative capacities—as dramatized through his speakers’ “refusals” of love and its imaginative possibilities. In Chapter Three, I explore two such “refusals,” expressed through the voices of the very different speakers of the “Hymn to Proserpine” and “The Triumph of Time.” After clarifying some sources of confusion, I trace how both of these characters, by means of different philosophical and psychological pathways, come to turn away from love and (in doing so) their own poetic potential. In Chapter Four, I turn to “Dolores,” in which the speaker’s rejection of love drives him to the “perverse spiritualism” that Swinburne identifies with the Marquis de Sade. Although the speaker succumbs to creative impotence, I argue that he is capable of recognizing his own inadequacies, and to welcome a poet who can “kiss” and “sing” like Catullus once did (340-42). Finally, in Chapter Five, I argue that, in the Sappho of “Anactoria,” Swinburne provides a dramatic model of (the development of) the kind of poet who could “see love,” in all of its volatility and violence, and still “choose him.” In concluding the chapter, I also claim that Swinburne suggests, in Sappho’s relation to her future readers, how such a poet might inspire others to “choose” love.