A Pilgrimage of Passion: The Life of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

I’m reading an essay by the author Elizabeth Longford about her writing up the life of poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.

She was all hot and bothered by Blunt’s voracious sexuality.

She writes:

…But I have to admit to a moment about halfway through when I felt he was prostituting his poetry to an unworthy mode of life. He felt it too; which was one reason why my loyalty and affection returned to him long before the end.

"All this I am afraid is very fin de siecle and immoral," he wrote in 1891 when he found himself sending copies of precisely the same passionate verses to three different ladies on the same day. "But what can one do?" he continued. "Love is no respecter of time and place." (One might reply, what did he mean by this kind of "Love"?) With a final burst of ingenuousness, he concluded this unattractive passage by asserting the odious Victorian "double-standard" in sex with apparent sincerity. He expected no trouble, he wrote, from the three recipients of his love-verse even if they found out. "Women are not jealous in this way as men are," he assured his Victorian self, "for it is in the order of nature that a man’s love should be divided."

I admit I have done this same thing — sending multiple versions of the same poem to various women telling each it was for her. Hence, I have more sympathy for our cocksman.

Elizabeth Longford writes:

The total number of his "loves", from the year 1862 to about 1920 when he was no longer "capable" amounted to 38…

…No, the problem was to prevent the beauty of Blunt’s best poetry, the virility of his prose, and the courage and effectiveness of his political career from being damaged by the monotony of his lusts.

Elizabeth Longford might find Blunt’s lusts monotonous, but that’s her opinion. I doubt most men would find a cataloguing of Blunt’s lusts boring. I don’t. The beauty of his poetry and the virility of his prose is not diminished for me because Blunt screwed around.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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