Swinburne's spasms: 'poems and ballads' and the 'spasmodic school'

Kirstie Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores Swinburne's relation to the 'spasmodic school' of the 1850s, arguing that spasmodic poetry constituted an important influence on "Poems and Ballads." This influence is particularly apparent in a shared interest in the body and its impulses, significant with regard to both form and content. Swinburne's early letters and a parodic review he wrote as an undergraduate indicate an engagement with spasmodic verse which is reflected in the language and themes of his first volume. More broadly, associating Swinburne with spasmodism suggests ways in which he can be read in relation to the popular working-class poetry of his day.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-196
Number of pages17
JournalYearbook of English Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Swinburne
  • poetry
  • Victorian


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