(For the Rev. John J. Burke, C. S. P.)

There was a murkier tinge in London’s air
As if the honest fog blushed black for shame.
Fools sang of sin, for other fools’ acclaim,
And Milton’s wreath was tossed to Baudelaire.
The flowers of evil blossomed everywhere,
But in their midst a radiant lily came
Candescent, pure, a cup of living flame,
Bloomed for a day, and left the earth more fair.
And was it Charles, thy “fair and fatal King”,
Who bade thee welcome to the lovely land?
Or did Lord David cease to harp and sing
To take in his thine emulative hand?
Or did Our Lady’s smile shine forth, to bring
Her lyric Knight within her choir to stand?

Analysis, meaning and summary of Joyce Kilmer's poem Lionel Johnson

1 Comment

  1. Dr Simon Jenner says:

    Catholic panegyric, attractively phrased ’emulative hand’ etc, very much in the vein that Guiney and others viewed Johnson. that is, a subtly inflected (but scoured!) homoeroticsm, rahter Uranian in feel, and a tribute to the Cavalier and Mystic tendency. Several omissions rather startle: No mention of later Irish Nationalism, whatever one thinks aobut J’s affected brogue. And a surgical excision of Johnson from the 1890s, despite Johnson’s own ‘A Decadent’s Lyric’ which attests his own comically perceived place – two pints of Glengarry whisky being enough for quite a few evil flowers. Of course J ddi not indulfge ‘mine aching lust’ but he felt it, so this rather White League poem for a white lily gilds it to death. It’s attractive, and one ius grateful people felt that aobut Johnson, and one honours the tradition and religion. but Johnson on Hardy shows a true criticsm of life (and of Arnold and Pater within that life), and this doesn’t really move outsdie its fragrant orbit. But I’m biogrpahically challenged on Johnson, and am grateful to add this to my studies.

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