ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE, English poet (d. 1909); A Victorian era English poet, his poetry was highly controversial in its day, much of it containing recurring themes of sadomasochism, death-wish, Lesbianism and irreligion.

One of the great lyric poets of the English language, Swinburne spent much of his life countering charges that his poetry was overly sensuous. Although his defensive critiques were undoubtedly necessary in the Victorian era, he needn’t have bothered.

His critics were right and he was wrong. His poetry is sensuous, and all the better for it. “Fleshly” his poems may have been, but whether he himself was fish or fowl is more difficult to say. He was most certainly a masochist who loved to be flogged, and he was probably homosexual as well. All we know is that he and Gay painter Simeon Solomon used to chase each other naked through the poet Rossetti’s house, but that’s hardly conclusive. Or is it?