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Dolores (Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs) is a poem by A. C. Swinburne first published in his 1866 Poems and Ballads. The poem, in 440 lines, regards the figure of the titular "Dolores, Our Lady of Pain", thus named at the close of many of its stanzas.
The speaker of the poem is the voice of a besotted lover, faced with, and lamenting, Swinburne's particular ruthless and grim representation of the sacred feminine, embodied here as the Lady of Pain. In these respects, the poem shares its central themes with Satia te Sanguine from the same 1866 collection, as does it similarly share its sadomasochistic imagery with that poem and many others within Swinburne's corpus.
The poem demonstrates most of the controversial themes for which Swinburne became notorious. It conflates the cruel yet libidinous pagan goddess figure of Dolores, the Lady of Pain with Mary, Mother of Jesus and associates the poem itself, through its parenthetical titular text (Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs, i.e., "Our Lady of Seven Sorrows") with the Seven Dolours of the Virgin. It laments the passing of the worship of classical deities in favour of Christian morality (277 What ailed us, O gods, to desert you | For creeds that refuse and restrain?), a theme more fully elaborated in Swinburne's "Hymn to Proserpine". Finally, sadomasochistic themes and characteristics are attributed to the Lady of Pain throughout (397 I could hurt thee — but pain would delight thee, etc.
The short comics story How They Met Themselves, by Neil Gaiman (originally published in Vertigo: Winter's Edge #3, reprinted in Absolute Sandman Volume III, pp.510-519), tells how Swinburne wrote the poem after meeting Desire, who only told him that her name begins with a "D".
In the MatrixEdit
In The Matrix Online Chapter 8 cinematic 3, the Merovingian walks into the library as Persephone is reading the fourth stanza of the poem. Asking what she is doing, he says "more of your obession?", causing her to leave the room.
O lips full of lust and of laughter,
Curled snakes that are fed from my breast,
Bite hard, lest remembrance come after
And press with new lips where you pressed.
For my heart too springs up at the pressure,
Mine eyelids too moisten and burn;
Ah, feed me and fill me with pleasure,
Ere pain come in turn.