1st Edition

Arthur Symons Selected Writings

By Arthur Symons, Roger Holdsworth Copyright 2004

    Arthur William Symons (1865-1945) is a haunting poet of the modern city, catching its dangerous, complex beauty in works that first introduced the imagery of the urban underworld into English poetry. He was a champion of the French Symbolists. Yeats, Pound and Eliot acknowledged their debt to him and were influenced by his sense of the city as the essential landscape of modernity. As a poet and critic, in his own right, though, Symons has come into his own in recent years. This selection is taken from the full range of Symons' poetry and prose, revealing an experimental writer exploring art, literature and music. Roger Holdsworth's introduction sets Symons in his context as both an 1890s Decadent and a precursor of Modernism.

    Further Reading
    Note on the Text
    From Days and Nights (1889)
    From Silhouettes (1892)
    From London Nights (1895)
    From Amoris Victima (1897)
    From Images of Good and Evil (1899)
    From The Loom of Dreams (1901)
    From The Fool of the World (1906)
    From Knave of Hearts (1913)
    From Love's Cruelty (1923)
    From Théophile Gautier
    From Paul Verlaine
    From Stéphane Mallarmé


    ARTHUR SYMONS was born in Milford Haven in 1865. He lived in London, where he frequented the Rhymers' Club, a group of writers who met at the Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street between 1891 and 1894. A friend of Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson and Wilde, he was an important influence on Yeats, with whom he shared lodgings for a time. He contributed to The Yellow Book and became editor of The Savoy. Symons was fluent in French and Italian; his The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1899) was influential in introducing French Symbolism to English readers. He was also a translator of Baudelaire and Zola, and a leading literary critic. Symons died in 1945. ROGER HOLDSWORTH lectures in English at the University of Manchester. He has edited plays by Jonson and Middleton, and has been a General Editor of the Malone Society.