Ask Nothing More

Ask Nothing More, by the unconventional Theophilus Marzials (1850-1920), was a hugely successful song of the 1880s. The lyrics were taken from Swinburne’s ‘The Oblation‘ (Songs Before Sunrise, 1871). Marzials was also a poet, and wrote what has often been claimed as the worst poem ever written, ‘A Tragedy’, from his Gallery of Pigeons and other Poems (1873), which starts, ‘Death! / Plop! / The barges down in the river flop, / Flop, plop, / Above, beneath.’ Another poem in the collection refers to his mistress, whose ‘bosom breathes ambrosial’, and whose garment is ‘as soft music flows, […] It madrigals while she goes.’, etc.

A line in the second verse of this song, ‘Touch you and dream of you, sweet,’ looks like censorship, as the original Swinburne line runs, ‘Touch you and taste of you, sweet,’ (see ‘The Oblation’, The Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne, 6 vols, London: Chatto & Windus, 1911, II, 221). Given Marzials’s poems, one wonders who decided that the line ought to be changed.

London: Boosey & Co, 1883

About Verseandmusic.com

Michael Craske researches transgressive poetics, music, aesthetics, and perhaps transgressive anything at Queen Mary, University of London (but mainly Swinburne, Wagner, and T. S. Eliot). He was once involved in diplomacy, of a Middle Eastern kind...
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2 Responses to Ask Nothing More

  1. Pingback: Felise, 1878 | Verseandmusic.com

  2. Pingback: Sounding Victorian: Swinburne, Tennyson, salons and the musical play of childhood - All Things SED

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