Arthur Clement Hilton

(1851 - 1877)

Octopus - Poem by Arthur Clement Hilton

By Algernon Charles Sin-Burn
Strange beauty, eight-limbed and eight-handed,
Whence camest to dazzle our eyes?
With thy bosom bespangled and banded
With the hues of the seas and the skies;
Is thy home European or Asian,
O mystical monster marine?
Part molluscous and partly crustacean,
Betwixt and between.
Wast thou born to the sound of sea trumpets?
Hast thou eaten and drunk to excess
Of the sponges -- thy muffins and crumpets,
Of the seaweed -- thy mustard and cress?
Wast thou nurtured in caverns of coral,
Remote from reproof or restraint?
Art thou innocent, art thou immoral,
Sinburnian or Saint?

Lithe limbs, curling free, as a creeper
That creeps in a desolate place,
To enroll and envelop the sleeper
In a silent and stealthy embrace,
Cruel beak craning forward to bite us,
Our juices to drain and to drink,
Or to whelm us in waves of Cocytus,
Indelible ink!

O breast, that 'twere rapture to writhe on!
O arms 'twere delicious to feel
Clinging close with the crush of the Python,
When she maketh her murderous meal!
In thy eight-fold embraces enfolden,
Let our empty existence escape,
Give us death that is glorious and golden,
Crushed all out of shape!

Ah! thy red lips, lascivious and luscious,
With death in their amorous kiss,
Cling round us, and clasp us, and crush us,
With bitings of agonised bliss;
We are sick with the poison of pleasure,
Dispense us the potion of pain;
Ope thy mouth to its uttermost measure
And bite us again!


Comments about Octopus by Arthur Clement Hilton

  • (8/26/2018 8:34:00 PM)


    the way Octopus has been depicted is extraordinary.Thank you poet! (Report) Reply

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  • Susan Williams (8/26/2018 5:55:00 PM)


    PART THREE. Until I read this article, I just thought Hilton was a bit nuts about a lady octupus (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (8/26/2018 5:54:00 PM)


    PART TWO. The poem demonstrates most of the controversial themes for which Swinburne became notorious... the cruel yet libidinous pagan goddess figure of Dolores, the Lady of Pain. (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (8/26/2018 5:53:00 PM)


    PART ONE- After reading Adrian's Comment below, I tracked this down in Wikipedia. The speaker of the poem is the voice of a besotted lover, faced with, and lamenting, Swinburne's particular ruthless and grim representation of the sacred feminine, embodied here as the Lady of Pain.... with its sadomasochistic imagery.... (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (8/26/2018 5:48:00 AM)


    Her murderous meal! !

    Thanks for sharing.
    (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (8/26/2018 4:21:00 AM)


    We are sick with the poison of pleasure,
    Dispense us the potion of pain;
    Ope thy mouth to its uttermost measure
    And bite us again! ........so touching and impressive. A beautiful poem nicely executed.
    (Report) Reply

  • Adrian Flett (8/26/2018 3:51:00 AM)


    One of his parodies, this time likening Algernon Charles Swinburne to an octopus. (Report) Reply

  • Petals Azureblue (8/26/2018 12:28:00 AM)


    Yoh! ! What a poem this is by Arthur Hilton! (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: sick, death, kiss, red, beauty, home, pain, sea, sky



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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