Thomas Thackeray Swinburne

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"Swinburne Rock" - memorial to Thomas Thackeray Swinburne Swinburne Rock, Rochester NY.jpg
"Swinburne Rock" - memorial to Thomas Thackeray Swinburne

Thomas Thackeray Swinburne (April 21, 1865 – December 17, 1926) was an American poet from Rochester, New York. He has been called "Rochester's poet laureate" [1] He wrote a number of books of verse which he printed himself; one of these—By the Genesee: Rhymes and Verses—contains a version of the poem which, set to music by Herve D. Wilkins, has become the alma mater of the University of Rochester [2] The Genesee. [3]

Rochester, New York City in New York, United States

Rochester is a city on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in western New York. With a population of 208,046 residents, Rochester is the seat of Monroe County and the third most populous city in New York state, after New York City and Buffalo. The metropolitan area has a population of just over 1 million people. It is about 65 miles (105 km) east of Buffalo and 73 miles (117 km) west of Syracuse.

Herve Dwight Wilkins, was an American organist and composer.

University of Rochester private, nonsectarian, research university in Rochester, New York, United States

The University of Rochester, often simply referred to as Rochester, is a private research university in Rochester, New York. The university grants undergraduate and graduate degrees, including doctoral and professional degrees.


Swinburne attended the University of Rochester as a member of the class of 1892, but never graduated. [4] He was a member of Theta Delta Chi fraternity. [5]

Theta Delta Chi American social fraternity

Theta Delta Chi (ΘΔΧ) is a social fraternity that was founded in 1847 at Union College, New York, United States. While nicknames differ from institution to institution, the most common nicknames for the fraternity are TDX, Thete, Theta Delt, and TDC. Theta Delta Chi brothers refer to their local organization as charges rather than using the common fraternity nomenclature of chapters.

One critic compared Swinburne and Rochester in Song and Verse to Edgar Lee Masters and his Spoon River Anthology. [6]

Edgar Lee Masters American writer

Edgar Lee Masters was an American attorney, poet, biographer, and dramatist. He is the author of Spoon River Anthology, The New Star Chamber and Other Essays, Songs and Satires, The Great Valley, The Serpent in the Wilderness, An Obscure Tale, The Spleen, Mark Twain: A Portrait, Lincoln: The Man, and Illinois Poems. In all, Masters published twelve plays, twenty-one books of poetry, six novels and six biographies, including those of Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Vachel Lindsay, and Walt Whitman.

<i>Spoon River Anthology</i> book by Edgar Lee Masters

Spoon River Anthology (1915), by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of short free verse poems that collectively narrates the epitaphs of the residents of Spoon River, a fictional small town named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters' home town of Lewistown, Illinois. The aim of the poems is to demystify rural and small town American life. The collection includes 212 separate characters, in all providing 244 accounts of their lives, losses, and manner of death. Many of the poems contain cross-references that create an unabashed tapestry of the community. The poems were originally published in the St. Louis, Missouri literary journal Reedy's Mirror.

In 1926, distraught over the death of his sister Rose, to whom he had dedicated By the Genesee and Rochester in Song and Verse, he committed suicide by jumping from a bridge into the Genesee River. [4] [7]

Genesee River river in New York and Pennsylvania, United States

The Genesee River is a tributary of Lake Ontario flowing northward through the Twin Tiers of Pennsylvania and New York in the United States.

The University of Rochester and the Rochester community honored Swinburne with a memorial, Swinburne Rock, placed "beside the Genesee" near the University's Interfaith Chapel. The memorial, proposed in 1927 and dedicated in 1933, is a 26 ton glacial boulder holding a bronze plaque with verses from The Genesee sculpted by Alphonse A. Kolb. [6] [8] [9]

Alphonse Anton Kolb (1893–1983) was a German-American artist known for creating sculptures and other art works ranging in size from medals to statues. For many years he worked for Bastian Brothers of Rochester, New York and was the semi-official sculptor of the Rochester Numismatic Association.


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  1. Shilling, Donovan. "An Ode to the Genesee" . Retrieved Dec 17, 2013.
  2. "Symbols at Rochester". University of Rochester. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  3. Swinburne, Thomas T. (1900). By the Genesee: Rhymes and Verses.
  4. 1 2 Slater, John R. "Tom Swinburne, Poet-Philosopher of the Genesee". Rochester Review. Retrieved Dec 17, 2013.
  5. University of Rochester (1911). General Catalogue of the University of Rochester, 1850-1911.
  6. 1 2 "College Friends Will Dedicate Memorial to Thomas T. Swinburne" (PDF). Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. December 17, 1927. Retrieved Dec 26, 2013.
  7. "Poet of Genesee suicides". Reading (PA) Eagle. Dec 19, 1926. Retrieved Dec 17, 2013.
  8. University of Rochester. "The Swinburne Rock". Landmarks. Retrieved Dec 17, 2013.
  9. "Thomas Thackeray Swinburne". Rochester's Hope. Retrieved Dec 17, 2013.