A.D. Hope and the Symbolistes
If Australia had a Prince des poètes it would probably have been A.D. Hope from when he published his first collection (The Wandering Islands, 1955) at the age of forty-eight, until his death in July 2000 at the age of ninety-two and just three weeks after that of Judith Wright (/Princesse).
This may seem to accord a great deal of significance to a first book, but Hope had been writing and publishing poetry for over thirty years by the time The Wandering Islands appeared, and was already known as a poet when it did so. His work first appeared in The Burr, the Bathurst High School magazine, in 1923, and in magazines (The Pauline, The Arts Journal, Hermes) at the University of Sydney in the years just before and after his time at Oxford (1928-1930). By the mid 1930s he was gaining a reputation both as a poet and as a critic, and several of his poems from this time, gathered eventually in The Wandering Islands or later collections, are amongst his best known. The earlier poetry, however,—one hesitates to call it juvenilia—has been seldom consulted.[ii] This is unfortunate, since it establishes certain connections and predispositions important to an understanding of the later work.
In particular it establishes the early interest in and influence of French poetry, and the Symbolistes especially. From the first reviews of The Wandering Islands, Hope has been considered within an English tradition, his major influences poets such as Alexander Pope or W.B. Yeats. This is understandable enough: Hope, after all, is not only author of the Dunciad Minor and ‘William Butler Yeats’, but has announced the significance to him of such writers time after time, and left a great deal of evidence in the fabric of his work. The almost-equally-impressive amount of evidence he provided for what we might call the Symboliste counterweight to this tradition, however, has gone largely ignored.[iii]
Some examples. Hope’s poem ‘Conquistador’ tells the story of Henry Clay, who, ‘Although a small man in a little way’, ‘loved a white girl of uncommon size’—much to his disadvantage, since, having ‘Climbed the white mountain of unravished snow’ and ‘Planted his tiny flag upon the peak’, he is most unfortunately served:
And afterwards, it may have been in play,
The enormous girl rolled over and squashed him flat;
And, as she could not send him home that way
Used him thereafter as a bedside mat. (36)[iv]
Hope dates this poem 1944, but it may have begun far earlier. In a short prose piece entitled ‘Trees’ and published in Hermes in early 1927, we find an intriguing lead. ‘Only when I have climbed my tree’, Hope writes there,
do I truly see it, and feel that my uncentred thoughts, which go to and fro upon its face so restlessly have here a solid anchorage, a locus assured. Here I feel safe and somewhere, as very small babies at the breast must feel; or like Baudelaire basking catwise upon his Titaness, in a valley of sleeping limbs,
Under the shadow of her vast fair head,
The deep division of prodigious breasts.[v]
His reference is to Baudelaire’s ‘La Géante’, wherein we find, I think, the original of Henry’s love:
Had I been there when primal Nature teemed
with monstrous progeny, I would have tried
to live beside some mammoth girl, the way
a cat will sprawl at the feet of a queen;
scaling the slopes of her enormous knees,
to saunter through the landscape of her lap,
and when the fetid summers made her stretch
herself across the countryside, to sleep
untroubled in the shadow of her breasts
like a peaceful village at the mountain’s base.[vi]
Hope’s poem is his own, of course, and adds a great deal not prefigured in Baudelaire’s, but it centres upon a borrowed (or inspired) image that has a great deal in its entail—the possibility, for example, that having seen one Symboliste here one sees another, finds in Henry’s bar-room revery, let’s say, more than a passing glance at ‘Le Bateau Ivre’:
The sky was shrill with peril as he passed;
A hurricane crushed his senses with its din;
The wildfire crackled up his reeling mast;
The trumpet of a maelstrom sucked him in;
It might be that Baudelaire’s giantess appears also, and much earlier, in ‘The Damnation of Byron’ (1934-42), as the Eternal Goddess whom that poet hopes will rescue him from the endless copulations to which—wandering over a vast landscape of women’s bodies, all demanding his erotic attention—he seems condemned:
Before her now he stands and makes his prayer
For that oblivion of the Second Death . . .
When suddenly those majestic breasts all bare
Riding the tranquil motion of her breath
Reveal the body of her divinity:
The torso spread marmoreal, his eyes
Downwards uncover its mighty line and see
Darkness dividing those prodigious thighs.[vii]
If the great breasts themselves are not enough to do so, the word ‘prodigious’ rather seals the connection. The whole poem, moreover, plays upon another borrowing, this time from Baudelaire’s ‘Don Juan aux Enfers’:
Women parading their fallen breasts
writhed in the darkness behind him
and their moans faded like the lowing
of cattle led to slaughter.[viii]
These are not isolated examples. One might point to the second stanza of the earliest, or at least earliest-begun, of the poems Hope chose to preserve, ‘The End of a Journey’ (1930-60),
But with the dawn he rose and stepped outside.
A farm-cart by the doorway dripped and stank,
Piled with the victims of his mighty bow.
Each with her broken neck, each with a blank,
Small, strangled face, the dead girls in a row
Swung as the cold airs moved them to and fro,
Full-breasted, delicate-waisted, heavy-thighed. (14)
in suggesting that it is the sensuality and shock of Baudelaire’s poems—the way so many turn about a sudden eruption of sensual image (as ‘Un Voyage à Cythère’, say, about that of the gibbet)—that appeals so much to Hope at this stage, although one might point, too, to the way the whole of ‘Flower Poem’ (1940), presenting as it does the image of poem as flower, drawing its beauty from unexpected subterranean sources—
As its frail root fractures the subsoil, licks
At the damp stone in passing, drives its life
Deeper to split the ancient bedded rocks
And penetrates the cave beneath, it curls
In horror from that roof. There in its grief
The subterranean river roars, the troll’s knife
Winks on his whetstone and the grinning girls
Sit spinning the bright fibre of their sex. (20)
—seems not only suggested by and to embody the title of Les fleurs du mal itself, but to have assimilated it into a rudimentary theory of poetry.
A strong Baudelairean component then, but it is not Baudelaire alone. As Ann McCulloch records in her ‘A.D. Hope: An Annotated Chronology’, ‘Hope picked up French in his intermediate year , having not studied it previously. By the time he left university he had read most of the Symbolists “who attracted me greatly and whom I imitated”,’[ix] and there is evidence, amongst Hope’s university publications, of Mallarmé and Rimbaud as well as of their master.
In 1931, freshly returned from Oxford, Hope published a ‘Variation on a Theme of Stéphane Mallarmé’, composed three years earlier:
And the moon saddened. Seraphims in tears
Dreamily drawing their ecstatic bows
Across the dying viols: brilliant spears
Of sorrow, and white sobbing, and the close
Pale waxen breath of flowers on azure snows—…[x]
It is not a voice he continues—Baudelaire’s more direct and vigorous style suits him better for some time yet—and probably represents as much the substantial early influence of Christopher Brennan, but lately released from his employment at the university when Hope first came to it, and whom Hope had in fact sought out soon after his own return to Australia.[xi] But Mallarmé does seem to have detained him a short while at this point. He is there, beneath the more sonorous tones of Brennan, in ‘The Tides of Brahma’ (Hermes 33.3, 1927)—
Unchanged, unchanging, the returning tide
Thunders upon his ancient ways once more,
And each foam-bearded breaker takes the shore,
Curled for the glory of his sea-born pride—
Exulting—at one swift, clear, pauseless stride,
Rememb’ring the mid-ocean of his home!
The immarcescant flowers of the foam
Blossom around him—laughing where he died…
—and there, too, in ‘The Son’, published in the same issue:
That morn when I awake in Paradise
At the first trill of early heaven-song,
Lazily gazing from my bed along
My little azure alcove ere I rise…[xii]
Perhaps most indicative of the manner in which, much later, he will return to Mallarmé, he may be there also, two years before these poems, in ‘Helen in Sanctuary’, which Hope published in The Arts Journal in 1925.[xiii] Cowering in the temple of Vesta, ‘fearing alike the wrath of Greek and Trojan’, Helen speaks in a manner that might, just, reflect an early reading of ‘Hérodiade’, and could thus be seen as a distant foreshadowing of Susannah in ‘The Double Looking Glass’ (1960) or the re-written Jeune Parque of ‘The Poet, the Philosopher and La Jeune Parque’ (c.1979-85).
Others of the Symbolistes have not left such clear traces in these early writings, unless, in ‘A Letter to a Mathematician’ (1927), we wish to include the echo—a very loud echo—of Rimbaud’s ‘Voyelles’:
There, my friend, is my world of numbers. They are alive. They have colours. Four is black and dull like iron, Three is scarlet, Five is white. Seven is like dark honey. Nine is purple, Eight a straw-colour, Thirteen blood-stone, Sixteen pale azure.[xiv]
If nothing else—since the Rimbaldian, if it continues in Hope, does so subterraneously, scatologically, in a manner that might just as readily be Swift, Pope, Rochester or Skelton—such an instance indicates the rather open and joyful nature of Hope’s early attraction to the Symbolistes. It could have passed, as for many another it might have, but the point is that for Hope it did not. The exuberant early encounter matured, turned into an abiding interest and dialogue.
In the poetry of the 1930s and 1940s this is largely a matter of imagery, satiric thrust, and what we might, with George Bornstein, call the characteristic ‘mental action’ of a poem.[xv] Hope’s satire shows various influences—Auden’s too is strong at this time—but consistently shares with Baudelaire a propensity to ambush the reader with a sudden and often shocking sensual or grotesque image, as in ‘The Dinner’ (c.1946):
Delicate, young and cradled in delight,
You take your seat and bare your teeth to bite—
What is my courage then to suffer this
Miracle of your metamorphosis!
For in that instant I behold the jaws
Of the most terrible of carnivores[xvi]
Occasionally, however, one encounters signs of a broader entertainment of the Symboliste aesthetic. So, for example, the fourth stanza of ‘The Death of the Bird’—can one keep ‘L’Albatros’ entirely from one’s mind?—recalls the opening of ‘Correspondences’:
The sands are green with a mirage of valleys;
The palm-tree casts a shadow not its own;
Down the long architrave of temple or palace
Blows a cool air from moorland scarps of stone. (27)
and in so doing alerts one to the broader conceptual resonance between those ‘ghosts that haunt the heart’s possession’ and the ‘longs échos qui de loin se confondent’—key, perhaps, to a deeper link between the Symboliste aesthetic and that generated by Australian cultural circumstance: the sense that, in Australia, amongst so many phenomena yet to be culturally inscribed, one could be said to live amongst whispers, meanings and potentialities yet to be realised, and needs an aesthetic that can help one represent this.[xvii]
Hope’s own poetic voice, during this period, is growing stronger and more confident; influences multiply, become harder to track. During the 1950s the voice of Baudelaire becomes less prominent and distinct. Whether or not such balancing has been his intention, the delayed appearance of a first collection has given Hope time to write a set of more classical and austere poems to counterbalance the savage satire, provocative sensuality and occasional grotesquerie of the earlier work, and the poetry in general turns away from some of the tones and subjects with which Baudelaire might most have been expected to collude. (Although there are, always, exceptions: ‘Un Voyage à Cithère’, for example, may not have been very far from Hope’s mind during the composition of ‘The Coasts of Cerigo’, especially given the likely origin of Baudelaire’s ‘gibet symbolique’ in ‘the actual gibbet seen by Gérard de Nerval on the [then British] island of Cerigo [Cythera], as recorded in his Voyage en Orient. Les Femmes du Caïre .’[xviii])
When Hope next turns directly to Baudelaire, in the twelve ‘Sonnets to Baudelaire’ (1968), it is in what, over twenty years later, he was to claim was farewell.[xix] While I would dispute the eventual truth of this—Baudelaire is still there in ‘The Isle of Aves’ (1985), for example—the declaration of influence and fraternity is explicit:
These thoughts which I return to you are your due
Not so much that in origin most were yours,
As that of all those spirits who know what laws
Forge Irony to Beauty, it was you
Drank deepest of that pure sardonic draught;
You, naked, the first gardener under God,
Who tilled our rotting paradise, from its sod
Raised monstrous blooms and taught my tongue the craft. (99)
There are, however, clear signs that in the intervening period—from the mid 1950s to the late 1960s—Hope has been as much engaged with Mallarmé as with Baudelaire. In the meantime, for example, he has written ‘The Double Looking Glass’ (1960), a re-writing of the story of Susannah and the Elders that has been variously seen as a ‘richly gilded, psychologically elaborate, mise en abîme love story’, Hope’s version of Stevens’ ‘Peter Quince at the Clavier’,and (erroneously and simplistically?) as evidence of Hope’s supposed deep chauvinism, if not actual misogyny.[xx] It is also, and perhaps principally, a response to Mallarmé and Valéry on the subject of poetry itself. As Hope clearly states in his Introduction to his volume in the Angus & Robertson Australian Poets Series (1963),
I might have mentioned that ‘The Double Looking Glass’ was suggested by a picture by Veronese, … and that this subject or idea of a possible poem recurred to me at a time when I had the idea of writing a poem in a style suggested by certain poems of Mallarmé and Valéry.[xxi]
Brissenden has suggested that, although it may have begun as ‘an imitation of “L’après-midi d’un Faune”—or rather as an attempt to provide something in English that would be truer to the spirit of Mallarmé than Aldous Huxley’s translation—the poem, according to its author, almost immediately assumed a vigorously independent life and went its own way.’[xxii]
I would have to agree, and disagree. The poem does assume a vigorously independent life, does go its own way, and this, ironically, is in part Hope’s point in deploying Mallarmé in the first place: part of the point he is trying to make to Mallarmé.
Having acknowledged the initial Symboliste incentive, Brissenden asserts that ‘The presences of other poets—Yeats, Baudelaire, the Parnassians—that brood over some even of Hope’s finest pieces…are nowhere to be detected.’[xxiii] But it is just as possible to say that Susannah’s little island garden is alive with voices: of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, even, as Ruth Morse has suggested, André Chenier.[xxiv] ‘L’Invitation au Voyage’, for example, is arguably integral to the poem’s conception, and one might say the same for ‘Le Bateau Ivre’ or Mallarmé’s auto-erotic ‘Le Nénuphar Blanc’, in which the poet/persona, rowing by the estate of an unknown lady, drifts aground by a screen of vegetation through which he thinks he hears her footstep, and there conducts with her an imaginary conversation.
As Hope’s note implies, the principal presence of ‘L’après-midi d’un Faune’ is in style and tone rather than in any obvious community of subject—in the manner, for example, in which, as Susannah ‘strips her [white?] lily for the sun’ (white waterlily: nymphea alba) and ‘The silk shrieks upward from her wading feet’, the lines
Here all these things have their imagined counterparts:
A dragon-fly dim-darting on the stream
Follows and watches with enormous eyes
His blue Narcissus glitter in the air (59)
or the later
Now as I lean above the pool I seem
The image of my image in its heart.
In that inverted world a scarlet fish
Drifts through the trees and swims into the sky (61)
recall, from the opening of the Mallarmé,
I would perpetuate these nymphs.
The glow of them, so nimble in the air
Did I dream that love?
My doubt, the hoard of ancient night, divides
In subtle branches, which, the only woods
Remaining, prove, alas! that all alone
I triumphed in the ideal fault of roses.[xxv]
—not in any immediate coincidence of subject, but in the way the real and the illusory become confused and the poem explores its own power to generate reality (a ‘branch’ of thought is mentioned and we have a ‘wood’; a dragon-fly watching its reflection is so described that we do not know which is fly, which mirror-image; Syrinx is turned into a reed which, cut and played upon, creates a fleeting glimpse of pale flesh: the sunlight ‘sliding on a breathing flank’ [Hope]; an ‘animal whiteness in repose’ [Mallarmé]). And in Hope’s poem, as in the Mallarmé, this phenomenological fluidity is reinforced by a set of deft shifts of voice and perspective: Susannah dreams of a lover, or is it the old men imagining that this is what she dreams?; the cry goes up ‘I am undone!’, but is this Susannah, or the poet himself?
And, as I have said, ‘Hérodiade’ and ‘Le Nénuphar Blanc’ are here also, and again in detail as well as in concept. That ‘strong / Young lion of the rocks’, who ‘crouches all day long / Beside the pool’ to see Susannah at her bath (62), recalls and ironises the ‘old lions’ which guard Hérodiade (but why? Does this exhausted age/potent youth dichotomy—reinforcing the young lover/elders contrast in the apocryphal story—have its postcolonial aspect?), and Susannah’s frequent self-reassurances as to her privacy and safety (‘My garden holds me like its private dream, / A secret pleasure, guarded and apart’ ) cannot but bring to mind the unknown woman of ‘Le Nénuphar Blanc’, the ‘happy prow’ of Susannah’s imagined lover and that of Mallarmé’s rower, run gently aground amongst the reeds, intriguingly elided.
The details underpin a broader conceptual affinity. ‘The Double Looking Glass’ is first and foremost a poem about Susannah and Susannah’s (self)-consciousness, just as is ‘Hérodiade’ about Hérodiade’s and La Jeune Parque about hers. And just as Jeune Parque can be seen as Valéry’s response to and development of Hérodiade, so Hope’s Susannah may be seen as his response to something he sees embodied in or represented by what we might call the compound Muse of the Symbolistes.
This familiar compound figure Hérodiade/Jeune Parque (she is also Poe’s Helen, Annabel Lee or Lenore, Rilke’s Eurydice, etc.) can be variously understood (there is as much difference as similarity: I admit to some violence in my assertion of the latter), but she is of course at one level Poetry/the Poem itself—aloof, mysterious, untouchable, non-kinetic, chaste, pure for Mallarmé and Valéry, in whose conception of poetry the component of communication is muted in the interest of suggestion, evocation.
Certainly it is as the Poem that Hope saw her—and saw Valéry as seeing her—in his hitherto unpublished ‘The Poet, the Philosopher and La Jeune Parque: A Fable within a Fable’, his last extensive engagement with the Symboliste aesthetic. This poem is a translation and extension of Valéry’s own late codicil to La Jeune Parque, ‘Le philosophe et la Jeune Parque’ (1935), a short poem in which he has Jeune Parque reprimand the philosopher-critic Alain for his claim that the famed obscurity of La Jeune Parque ‘est tout imaginaire’, and has her quite openly declare herself Muse and Poem alike (‘Ces gens disent qu’il faut qu’une muse ne cause / Non plus de peines qu’une rose!’; ‘Poème que je suis’[xxvi]).
Hope’s own version of this compound Helen/Hérodiade/Parque figure, whether as Susannah or as his own Jeune Parque, is as different from Mallarmé/Valéry’s as is his sense of poetry itself. She is active, erotic, kinetic, nowhere near as aloof (and in this, perhaps, if in this only, akin to Brennan’s Lilith). In ‘The Double Looking Glass’, as we have seen, her fantasy of her lover occupies a good deal of the poem, and in Hope’s re-writing of Valéry, the young fate actually talks back, not only to her philosopher but to her poet himself. If we see her as the Poem, then she is not only robustly sensual, but communication is central to her function; if we see her as Muse, then she has own her particular opinions, which she does not hesitate to make known; if she is Unknown/Other, then our engagement with her is active, fructive, instructive, not helpless or impotent.
As it happens, she represents, in this—or accompanies, confirms—a shift in Hope himself, from fascination with an unknown that he fears may devour him—an attraction/repulsion which, underpinned by Baudelaire, is figured often in the earlier poetry as vagina dentata—to a more open and less fearful engagement of the unknown in the form of an avowal of Negative Capability; or rather, since the motif of the vagina dentata never quite leaves Hope’s work, she represents a strengthening possibility, a larger and larger part of his spectrum. The Unknown/Other, and the Poem/Muse which are its avatar(s), are not to be worshipped and so held aloof, made distant, but are to be engaged with, will respond. ‘I tell you it will not be long’, Hope has Jeune Parque tell the poet who created her,
Before, my dearest parent, even you
Tire of the art of labyrinthine song,
Deny your Jeune Parque and embrace Narcisse.
How could this happen, pray?
How, you may well ask, could it come to this?
I shall tell you simply: You were led astray;
The serpent in your Eden was Mallarmé;
You ate forbidden fruit:
His gospel of pure poetry and his Absolute,
They were delusions but they took you in
And your Original Sin
Was to accept the teaching of the Snake,
Your own superb intelligence to forsake
And, sharing his childish dream, suppose
Poetry’s essence the ‘absence of the rose’![xxvii]
Hope’s introductory note to this ‘Fable within a Fable’ spells it out even more clearly:
The long obsession with and the growing enthusiasm for obscure poetry from Mallarmé, the early and later Symbolists, the Imagists to their later descendants of today has always seemed to me both unfortunate and absurd […].
In spite of my immense admiration for Valéry and my deep respect for Alain, I cannot help thinking that this was a suicidal course for poetry to follow.[xxviii]
Amongst the characteristic reservations concerning obscurity in poetry, we might catch the words ‘immense admiration’ and remember that it is only a few years since Hope had written ‘Mallarmé will last forever’, and of Baudelaire and Mallarmé as ‘two of the greatest of nineteenth century French poets … so original, acute and penetrating in their own criticism.’[xxix]
So what do we have here, paradox? Contradiction? Yes and No. Hope’s principal admiration for Mallarmé, as he himself gave out more than once, may have been technical, and it is clear enough from the number of times he cites Valéry in his criticism that his admiration there, too, was arguably for insights into the poetic process. But technical admiration alone cannot explain the imitations, the re-writings, the consistent homage of conscious and (perhaps) unconscious allusion. The insistence of Hope’s Jeune Parque that the intellect, the argument, remain prominent in the poem may point up the persistent neo-classical caste in Hope’s symbolism, but that Hope makes the point through her at all directs us also to the persistent symbolist in his neo-classicism, and an abiding fascination with a poetic one might have thought would sit uncomfortably with the Middle Voice and the Discursive Mode. No account of Hope’s poetics will be very convincing unless it makes some attempt to reconcile them, allow them, as he did, to change and inflect one another. One might argue that the prominence of Christopher Brennan—legendary intellect and correspondent of Mallarmé—in Sydney at the time of Hope’s apprenticeship may have been a catalyst in the younger poet’s early absorption of the Symbolistes. One could as plausibly argue, in this early absorption, a certain amount of self-motivating élitism and (post)colonial resistance in a provincial and colonial intellectual and poetic environment. Certainly one could point to the simple fact that, for three-quarters of a century by the time Hope began writing, France had provided some of the most exciting developments in poetics, and that few serious poets could or would ignore them (if one turned to Brennan, Brennan led one to Mallarmé; if one turned to Yeats, Yeats did the same). But none of these explanations will quite account for a relationship that lasted a lifetime.
Whether there is something antipodean in the explanation—Australia as a place where the Other is made almost tangible, whereas in Europe it remains hypothesis, an impalpable abstraction, so that the southern-hemisphere Symboliste can be more robust, can find objective correlatives where northern counterparts could only suggest, evoke—will doubtless be argued elsewhere. Perhaps the last word, for the time being, can be left to some strange twists in Hope own poetry: the way, let’s say, an Australian reader might be amused, when they look up ‘Cerigo’ in a dictionary rather than an atlas, to find it an obsolete term for ’possum; or the way, reading so late and Australian a poem as ‘The Drifting Continent’ (1981), they find their own echidna described (that ‘bird-like head’, that ‘pipe-like mouth’) as if it were Baudelaire’s albatross, and their country (that ‘craft’, and they its ‘crew’) as if it were the deck it found itself stranded upon.
[iii] Again there are exceptions. R.F. Brissenden touches upon French sources in ‘“The Double Looking Glass”: A Reading’ (1974), in The Double Looking Glass: New and Classic Essays on the Poetry of A.D. Hope, ed. David Brooks, St Lucia, University of Queensland Press, 2000; Ruth Morse explores Hope’s interest in André Chenier in ‘Security of Allusion’, The Phoenix Review 9 (1992); Chris Wallace-Crabbe gives a useful survey in ‘True Tales and False Alike Work by Suggestion’(1990), rpt in The Double Looking Glass, op.cit. See also my own ‘The French Connection: Australian Literature and the Symbolistes’ in Security of Allusion, op. cit.
O trees of life, when does your winter come?
We are not in harmony, our blood does not forewarn us
like migratory birds’. Late, overtaken,
we force ourselves abruptly onto the wind
and fall to earth at some iced-over lake.
[xx] See, respectively, Wallace-Crabbe, op. cit., p.205, Brissenden, op cit. (passim), and John Docker, ‘The Image of Women in A.D. Hope’s Poetry’, The Double Looking Glass, op.cit., In the meantime, too, we might note, Hope has written ‘An Epistle: Edward Sackville to Venetia Digby’ (1959), to which he has given an epigraph from André Chenier:
Ainsi, bruyante abeille, an retour du matin
Je vais changer en miel les délices du thym
which looks backward to Pindar’s account of the origin of (his) poetry, forward to the use of the bee in ‘The Double Looking Glass’ (so pointing up a possible bee/poet nexus therein), and reminds us—or rather Ruth Morse does, in her essay ‘Security of Allusion’ in The Phoenix Review9 (1992), 61-82—that Chenier (1762-94) had himself written the beginnings of a long poem based on the story of Susannah and the elders.