O Son of man, but of what man who knows?
    That broughtest healing on thy leathern wings
    To priests, and under them didst gather kings,
And madest friends to thee of all man's foes;
Before thine incarnation, the tale goes,
    Thy virgin mother, pure of sensual stings,
    Communed by night with angels of chaste things,
And, full of grace, untimely felt the throes
Of motherhood upon her, and believed
    The obscure annunciation made when late
A raven-feathered raven-throated dove
    Croaked salutation to the mother of love
Whose misconception was immaculate,
    And when her time was come she misconceived.

Note: Napoleon III, whom Swinburne and other advocates of Italian liberty and unification believed had betrayed their cause, had been called "The Saviour of Society" in France.

Other Poems from Dirae

Punch Caricatures and other related material


The Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne, 6 volumes, London: Chatto & Windus, 1904. II, 308. [Scanned and formatted by GPL]

Last modified 2 November 2003