Victorian Poetry

Learn more about Victorian Poetry and all Poets

Literature is always the mirror of the age. This is borne out in no age so faithfully as in The Victorian Age. The literary history of this age bears out the influences of the social forces that were at work during that age. Science, rational thoughts, technological advancement, religious controversies and movements and industrialism are all found to have conspicuous effects on the literary aspiration as well as activities of the age. The Victorian Age and literature are found closely related.

The Victorian era is additionally associated with an era of the ideological conflict. It’s associate era within which the conflict between science and religion, rationality and mysticism, and technical progress and non secular orthodoxy is found keen and clear. The writers of the age seem to have expressed their response to these diverse shades of conflict through their literary ideals and attitudes, thoughts and feelings.

Victorian poetry, just like the different branches of Victorian Literature, is found to be dominated by the social thoughts of the age. The age saw variety of powerful poets-

 

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Robert Browning (1812-1889)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

William Morris (1834-1896)

Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore (1823-1896)

 

The poets of the age , save the Pre-Raphaelites, entered into the controversy of the age and tried to find out the road to the true ideal of literature in an environment of spiritual and ethical controversies and contentions and materialistic thrills and shocks.

Victorian Poetry mustn’t be taken as fully with the exception of Romantic poetry. It is a continuation, in its spirit as well as pattern, of the latter, with good number of additions, deviations and transformations. Nature and her serenity, as noted in Wordsworth, as the poetic theme are replaced by man and his society in the Victorian World. But there is seen no new beginning. Shelleyan splendor, Byronic vigour and Keatsian sensuousness in the representation of the world of Nature are well perceived in Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelites, who are found to bear no less the romantic craving for loveliness. The main interest only is shifted from Nature, as in Wordsworth, to man, as in Tennyson and Browning. This interest in man, however, is well perceived in later Romanticists, in Byron and Shelley.

Again, the Wordsworthian religious thoughtof pantheism has continuity, with a new interest, in Browning’s religious optimism and Tennyson’s rationalistic interpretation of God’s way-

“The old order chageth yielding place to the new,

And God fulfils Himself in many ways”

In the matter of the poetical technique and pattern, there is the similar continuity. The lyrical gifts of the romantic poets are found bequeathed of the Victorian poets. Tennyson, Swinburne, Rossetti, Mrs. E. B. Browning, Clough, Matthew Arnold are all eminent lyricists. Like Romantic poetry, Victorian Poetry is more drawn to the stanza pattern. The musical element is Shelley and Keats is well preserved and continued in Tennyson, Swinburne, and many other Victorian masters.

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