According to legend, the English poet and playwright Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) stopped the pram young Graves was in, patted him on the head and kissed him. Graves warmed to such associational links, recalling that two centuries before Queen Anne touched young Dr Johnson, who, as an old man himself, patted the head of Walter Savage Landor, who, as a very old man, gave poetic blessing to Swinburne.
With Graves’s future interest in the Romans and the life of Jesus Christ, he may well have known Swinburne’s ‘Before a Crucifix’.
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