Cor Cordium

Original Text: 
Swinburne's Collected Poetical Works, 2 vols. (London: William Heinemann, 1924): I, 831.
2     Hid round with flowers and all the bounty of bloom;
3     O wonderful and perfect heart, for whom
4The lyrist liberty made life a lyre;
5O heavenly heart, at whose most dear desire
8All day thy choral pulses rang full choir;
11          Help us for thy free love's sake to be free,
13     Till very liberty make clean and fair
14          The nursing earth as the sepulchral sea.


1] "Cor Cordium" is the phrase inscribed on Shelley's tomb.
This poem went through several versions. Swinburne wrote William Michael Rossetti on December 2, 1869, "I wrote the other day a sonnet to the Cor Cordium from another point than your admirable one -- a sort of `Ora pro nobis et re publicâ'" and in succeeding letters of December 16, 1869, and August 20, 1870, transcribed the poem as he revised it (The Complete Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, ed. Sir Edmond Gosse and Thomas James Wise [London: William Heinemann, 1926]: II, 62, 70, 121). For the more important variants, see below. Back to Line
6] cleft: clove (1869). Back to Line
7] and regent in death's room: in glow of things and gloom (1869). Back to Line
9] Love of loves, holy of holies, light of lights, (1869);
O heart whose hearing blood was running song (1870). Back to Line
10] O sole: And sole (1869). Back to Line
12] for thy strength's sake strong: (1870); righteous for thy rights (1869). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Algernon Charles Swinburne, Songs before Sunrise (London: F. S. Ellis, 1871): 205. end S956 S673 1871a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto) end S956 S673 1871b
RPO poem Editors: 
P. F. Morgan
RPO Edition: 
3RP 3.389.