Essay On Decadent Poetry

1557 Words 7 Pages
Beyond the Socially Acceptable

There are many things that can be said about Decadent poetry. It’s central themes are numerous, from aestheticism and beauty for the sake of it, to paganism and the urban, there are a multitude of angles one can take when analysing and interpreting the work of the poets of the fin du siècle. One of those themes is the idea of transgression; going beyond the limits and the law, exploring what is socially acceptable and more importantly what isn’t, and the consequences of said explorations. Whether it was a question of morals, sexuality or values, the decadents liked to break the chains of society’s constraints and write about what they found in their path. By analyzing the works of three different poets from
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Johnson 's "The Dark Angel", Gray 's "Did we not, darling you and I" and Symons ' "Nocturne", are three poems that can be interpreted as being about breaking the rules of what was socially acceptable at the time. Through allusions, word choices and imagery, these poets discussed transgression and its implications in the late Victorian and early Edwardian period.

In Johnson 's "The Dark Angel", the speaker addresses said dark angel directly, expressing anguish and torment at the way he 's being tempted to break the rules. At a time when homosexuality was illegal, one obvious interpretation of the poem lies in the conflict between desire and religious beliefs. The dark angel seems to tempt the speaker away from religion and socially acceptable behaviours, and into lust and carnal pleasures, bringing him a lot of suffering. The theme of transgression is, in this case, quite obvious. The allusions scattered throughout the poem firmly support that interpretation. Beyond the references to the angel of the title, there are other Christian associations made within the poem such as mentions of the “holy name”, “God” “divinity’ and “Paraclete”. By themselves, those hints at Christianity don’t seem

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