Biography of Arthur Symons
Arthur William Symons, was a British poet, critic and magazine editor.
Born in Milford Haven, Wales, of Cornish parents, Symons was educated privately, spending much of his time in France and Italy. In 1884–1886 he edited four of Bernard Quaritch's Shakespeare's Quarto Facsimiles, and in 1888–1889 seven plays of the "Henry Irving" Shakespeare. He became a member of the staff of the Athenaeum in 1891, and of the Saturday Review in 1894, but his major editorial feat was his work with the short-lived Savoy.
His first volume of verse, Days and Nights (1889), consisted of dramatic monologues. His later verse is influenced by a close study of modern French writers, of Charles Baudelaire, and especially of Paul Verlaine. He reflects French tendencies both in the subject-matter and style of his poems, in their eroticism and their vividness of description. Symons contributed poems and essays to the Yellow Book, including an important piece which was later expanded into The Symbolist Movement in Literature, which would have a major influence on William Butler Yeats and T.S. Eliot. From late 1895 through 1896 he edited, along with Aubrey Beardsley and Leonard Smithers, The Savoy, a literary magazine which published both art and literature. Noteworthy contributors included Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and Joseph Conrad.
In 1892, The Minister's Call, Symons's first play, was produced by the Independent Theatre Society – a private club – to avoid censorship by the Lord Chamberlain's Office.
In 1902 Symons made a selection from his earlier verse, published as Poems. He translated from the Italian of Gabriele D'Annunzio The Dead City (1900) and The Child of Pleasure (1898), and from the French of Émile Verhaeren The Dawn (1898). To The Poems of Ernest Dowson(1905) he prefixed an essay on the deceased poet, who was a kind of English Verlaine and had many attractions for Symons. In 1909 Symons suffered a psychotic breakdown, and published very little new work for a period of more than twenty years. His Confessions: A Study in Pathology (1930), has a moving description of his breakdown and treatment.
Arthur Symons's Works:
Days and Nights (1889)
London Nights (1895)
Amoris victima (1897)
Images of Good and Evil (1899)
Poems in 2 volumes.(Contains: The Loom of Dreams in the second Volume, 1901), (1902)
A Book of Twenty Songs (1905)
The Fool of the World and other Poems (1906)
Knave of Hearts (1913)
Love's Cruelty (1923)
Jezebel Mort, and other poems (1931)
Studies in Two Literatures (1897)
Aubrey Beardsley: An Essay with a Preface (1898)
The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1899; 1919)
Plays, Acting and Music (1903)
Studies in Prose and Verse (1904)
Spiritual Adventures (1905)
Studies in Seven Arts (1906).
Figures of Several Centuries (1916)
Studies in the Elizabethan Drama (1919)
Charles Baudelaire: A Study (1920)
Confessions: A Study in Pathology (1930)
A Study of Walter Pater (1934)
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Arthur Symons Poems
In The Stalls
My life is like a music-hall, Where, in the impotence of rage, Chained by enchantment to my stall, I see myself upon the stage
As a perfume doth remain In the folds where it hath lain, So the thought of you, remaining Deeply folded in my brain,
Sweet, can I sing you the song of your kisses? How soft is this one, how subtle this is, How fluttering swift as a bird's kiss that is, As a bird that taps at a leafy lattice;
Love and Sleep
I have laid sorrow to sleep; Love sleeps. She who oft made me weep Now weeps.
It was a day of sun and rain, Uncertain as a child's swift moods; And I shall never spend again So blithe a day among the woods.
Before the Squall
The wind is rising on the sea, The windy white foam-dancers leap; And the sea moans uneasily, And turns to sleep, and cannot sleep.
The Loom of Dreams
I broider the world upon a loom, I broider with dreams my tapestry; Here in a little lonely room I am master of earth and sea,
The Old Women
They pass upon their old, tremulous feet, Creeping with little satchels down the street, And they remember, many years ago, Passing that way in silks. They wander, slow
The Broken Tryst
That day a fire was in my blood; I could have sung: joy wrapt me round; The men I met seemed all so good, I scarcely knew I trod the ground.
Emmy's exquisite youth and her virginal air, Eyes and teeth in the flash of a musical smile, Come to me out of the past, and I see her there As I saw her once for a while.
Amends to Nature
I have loved colours, and not flowers; Their motion, not the swallows wings; And wasted more than half my hours Without the comradeship of things.
In Fountain Court
The fountain murmuring of sleep, A drowsy tune; The flickering green of leaves that keep The light of June;
Twitched strings, the clang of metal, beaten drums, Dull, shrill, continuous, disquieting: And now the stealthy dancer comes Undulantly with cat-like steps that cling;
The gipsy tents are on the down, The gipsy girls are here; And it's O to be off and away from the town With a gipsy for my dear!
Before the Squall
The wind is rising on the sea,
The windy white foam-dancers leap;
And the sea moans uneasily,
And turns to sleep, and cannot sleep.
Ridge after rocky ridge uplifts,
Wild hands, and hammers at the land,
Scatters in liquid dust, and drifts
To death among the dusty sand.