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Algernon Swinburne’s “Hertha”
Swinburne’s “Hertha” is an example of, as was explained in class, a matriarchal poem. I noticed that the poem seems to be separated into seven different parts. The first starting on line 1 and going to about line16.
The first area this poem discusses is the explanation of character. Hertha is the Germanic goddess of earth, fertility, and growth. From her God and man were created. Man being her child, and creation and God their creation. She merely explains her place in the scheme of things, and sets her claim of being before all. From line 17 to 31 is the second part, which hopes to do pretty much the same as the first part. That is explaining her place in creation. In this part she say that she is the beginning and end, the felt and unfelt. In other words she is all.
The third part is from lines 32-56. In this part Swinburne shows his blasphemous behavior when he has Hertha question Man’s devotion to God. She seems to not understand why she was forgotten. She asks the God of her creation why he has gotten all the credit for her acts. Her questioning almost sounds like jealousy. By the fourth area, lines 57-86 her jealousy has reared it ugly head. She is troubled by the way her children forsake her, and pray to a man, when it is woman who creates.
She continues her jealous rant into the fifth area, lines 57-111. This is where she relates more to the earth as her body, and this God as a figment of man. She also decrees that these Gods of man shall die, because they are nothing compared to her truth. The sixth area found on lines 112-156 has Hertha excepting her fate as a second to Man’s God. She, sounding like the mother she is, states that even if she is not remembered she still wishes the best for her children.
The seventh and final section has Hertha asking why, but accepting her fate. She also returns to the premise that these God’s time is almost ov...
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