Hyacinths and Narcissi: The Flowers of Uranian Poetry from Decadence to Modernism


  • Paola Di Gennaro University "Suor Orsola Benincasa", Naples




Uranian Poetry, Mark André Raffalovich, T. S. Eliot, Flowers in Literature, Hyacinth, Narcissus


It was in Love in Earnest (1970), one of the rare studies ever written on Uranian poetry, that Timothy d’Arch Smith chose the name ‘Uranians’ to designate a group of English poets and artists who shared a common love for boys and poetry in a period that went from about 1880 to 1930. These poets resorted to a set of symbols and imagery as a mode to conceal the object of their writings, appropriating fin-de-siècle Decadence and modelling a real ‘fashion’, an artistic attitude that might well be defined as ‘Decadent Neoclassicism’. The aim of this article is to examine the uses and functions of flowers in Uranian poetry, and more specifically two peculiar flowers often associated with male-male love as from the late nineteenth century: hyacinths and narcissi. One of the reasons behind their employment goes beyond aesthetic choices, as they are part of those ways adopted to conceal – or, simultaneously, highlight – the Uranian theme. Once outlined the polarities of an aporia of light and shade, candour and censorship, which can be traced in different hues in each and every author and text of my corpus, I will consider the possible Uranian influences on the works of those who, at least in their explicit intentions, would flee from their poetics: the Modernist poets.





Articles and Essays

How to Cite

Hyacinths and Narcissi: The Flowers of Uranian Poetry from Decadence to Modernism. (2024). Synergies: A Journal of English Literatures and Cultures, 4. https://doi.org/10.4454/syn.v4.903