Victorian Poetry: Contribution of Major Poets & Poetry

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      The Victorian Era was a period when Queen Victoria reigned during a long period 1837 to 1901. Therefore and because of it the poetry that was written during this period was called Victorian poetry. "Throughout this era poetry addressed issues such as patriotism, religious faith, science, sexuality, and social reform, that often aroused polemical debate. At the same time the poets whom we classify as Victorian frequently devised experiment that expanded the possibilities of the genre, creating innovative forms and types of prosody that enabled new kind of poetic voices to emerge in print.

The Victorian Era was a period when Queen Victoria reigned during a long period 1837 to 1901.
Major Victorian Poets

      The Victorian poetry divided into main group of poetry the high Victorian poetry and the Pre Raphaelites. Dealing with first group the major high Victorian poets were Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Bennett (Browning), Matthew Arnold and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

      Queen Victoria's reign meet the idea of Empire appear in poetry. And one of the poets who you used it was Tennyson for Robert Browning the dramatic monologue was a great innovation but Alfred Tennyson invented and used it too. "To be a dramatic monologue a poem must have a speaker and an implied auditor and that the reader often perceives a gap between what the speaker says and what he or she actually reveals". Elizabeth Bennett (Browning) poetry voice important for the feminist literature because before her poetry, there were no too much poetry about feminism. Matthew Arnold was influenced by Wordsworth and often considered a precursor of the modernist revolution and Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in a unusual style and influenced a lot of the 1940 poets.

      Victorian era does not have a topic in the poems about love and worship of nature as the Romantics had in their poetry. It is because the Romantics loved nature it was shown through their poems adoring and blessing her as if she were God. But in the Victorian poetry we have not found themes related to the topic of this paper, love and and what shape of nature because the victorians does not talk about her in their poetry. Therefore we will not relate this topic with the Victorian poets refer to in the descriptions of places in the poem And The Love and worship of God, in comparison with love and worship of nature. Nature understood as part of God created by him maybe as a personification of God himself in the earth.

      It can be mentioned that, the selection of poems has been made talking only the topic of this work into account and not the importance of the poem itself in the poets poem. Then we are going to show two most important Victorian poets that refer to nature or that have aspects related with nature.

      Just as the Victorian Age produced great moral reformers and prose-writers like Carlyle, Macaulay, Ruskin, and Matthew Arnold, and great novelists like Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot and Hardy, in the same way it produced great poets like Tennyson and Browning, besides Morris, Swinburne and Rossetti, and a number of other minor poets.

      Alfred Tennyson (1809 to 1892):- Tennyson was a poet Laureate of England by Queen Victoria, and become very popular in the Victorian public. He makes a reference to nature in the poem song "the winds as a their hour of birth". This poem is about that freedom that nature gives us. When we look at nature we feel free without any tie that blind us to live as happens in society, because we live with rules and we have to follow them. Therefore this freedom only can be found in nature, looking at the sea and the earth with its flowers. In Tennyson poetry this polished verses seem to express the important cultural social and religious concerns of the victorians.

      Throughout the entire Victorian Age Tennyson stood at the summit of poetry in England. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1850 after Wordsworth's death. For the next half Century Tennyson was not only a man and a poet—he was a voice, the voice of a whole people, expressing in wonderful melody their doubts and their faith, their griefs and their triumphs. From the beginning of his life to the end Tennyson was dominated by the impulse of poetry. Tennyson was born in Somersby Lincolnshire in 1809. The sweet influence of his early natural surroundings
is reflected in his early poems. When he was seven, he went to a school, where he was subjected, like Carlyle, to "the birch", which made him hate schools. In 1828 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. At university, he became known for his poetical ability and won the Chancellor's medal for his poem Timbuctoo. In 1830 he published his first collection of poems called Poems, Chiefly Lyrical. Soon after Tennyson sailed away with his friend Hallam to join the army of insurgents against King Ferdinand. The expedition was successful only from the literary point of view, because the wild beauty of the Pyrenees went into the scenic setting of Oenone. Tennyson left the University without taking a degree and lived in the natural calm of Somershy for six years. The first fruit of this period was Poems of 1832, which included Lows-Eaters, Palace of Art, Oenone and The Lady of Shallot. "The Quarterly" brutally condemned the work. In 1833 Hallam died, and both circumstances affected him deeply. It was in this mood of sadness that he started In Memorium and Idylls of the King. In 1850 he became Poet Laureate, and also married Emily Sellwood whom he had loved for thirteen years, but could not marry due to poverty. In 1853 he settled in his house in the Isle of Wight and remained there, like Wordsworth, "in the stillness of a great peace." He wrote many beautiful things there. He died very quietly at Aldworth in 1892.

      Apart from innumerable beautiful short poems that Tennyson wrote, his most well-known poems are Oenone (1832), The Lady of Shallot) (1842), The Princes, a Medley (1847), In Memoriam (1833-50), Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington (1852), Maud (1855), idylls of the King (1859-85), and Enoch Arden (1864).

      (i) Oenone (1832). Oenone was a nymph of Mont Ida, where Paris lived as a shepherd. She foretold to Paris the disasters which would come from his voyage to Greece. She loved Paris and pined for him. When Paris received the fatal wound in the battle of Troy, he was brought to her, but it was too late and she could not cure him (she knew the art of healing wounds). In despair she took her own life. This is one of the most beautiful poems of Tennyson.

      (ii) Lady of Shallot (1842). It is an allegorical dream picture, with the moral that seclusion from the world is undesirable. The story is developed in Lancelot and Elaine in Idylls of the king.

      (iii) The Princess (1847). It is a long poem of over three thousand lines blank verse. A Prince has been betrothed to Princess Ida, daughter of King Gama. But the Princess becomes a devotee of the rights of women, abjures marriage, and founds a university to promote her ideal The Prince and two companions, Cyril and Florion go to the university in the disguise of girl students. They are detected by Lady Psyche and Lady Blanche. The secret is known to the princess after the Prince has saved her from drowning. But the Prince is firm, and the three friends are in peril of their lives, when the Prince's father comes with his army. To decide the matter, a combat is arranged between fifty warriors led by the Prince, and fifty led by Ida's brother. The Prince is defeated, Ida's heart melts and she is won by the Prince. In the poem, Tennyson has upheld women's rights.

      (iv) In Memorium (1833-50). One the greatest poems written by Tennyson. He began it as an elegy on the death of his dear friend Arthur. H. Hallam. As he wrote lyric, after lyric his grief became less personal, and the greater grief of humanity mourning for its dead took possession of his mind. Gradually the poem became an expression, first of universal doubt, and then of universal faith. The immortality of human love is the theme of the poem. It is, next to Lycidas, the finest elegy in English.

      (v) Maud (1855). It tells the story of a lover who passes from morbidness to ecstasy, then to anger and murder followed by insanity and recovery. Some of its beautiful lyrics like "Come into the Garden, Maud" are very pretty.

      (vi) Idylls of the King (1859-85). Its general subject is the Celtic legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, and the chief source of its material is Malory's Morte d' Arthur; The poem is not an epic: in fact the idea occurred to him after he had written his Morte d' Arthur: Spenser and Milton had thought of it earlier. Then Tennyson wrote Geramf and Enid, Vivien, Elaine, Guinevere until Blain, the last of the idylls, appeared in 1885. It is a long poem connected by the thread of King Arthur, who is the central figure of the poem.

      (vii) English Idylls. In this book, Tennyson intended to reflect the ideal types of English life, of its varied poems the best are Dora, The Gardener's Daughter, Ulysses, Locksley Hall and Sir Galahad. One of the most famous of the series is Enoch Arden (1864). In this poem Tennyson turned from medieval knights, from lords, heroes and fair ladies to the lowly people who make up the bulk of English life. Its melody, its sympathy for common life and its revelation of the beauty and heroism in the life of humble men and women made it immediately popular.

      Robert Browning (1812 to 1889):- Browning got married with Elizabeth Barrett (Browning) poetry presents a wide variety of voice. He broke the mould of conventional Victorian poetic style and thus become an especially important influence on the great moderns. He makes another reference to nature in the poem Fra Lippo Lippi whose name makes reference to an Italian Renaissance painter Fra Flippo Lipi.

       The Victorians were influenced by the Romantics in terms of religion, and this poem shows us that love and worship that we are dealing with relating to nature in this paper, but in this case Browning has this feeling of love for God because he has created the world and all the things that live in it. Browning is talking to Fra Lippo Lippi the painter who as a painter and as a man has seen all the things that God has made for human beings. He is telling that the world of god is known in all places to understand the world of God the language does not matter is world his universal it does not matter. The language that you speak because you can understand him. Therefore, for Browning the world is a beautiful place then perhaps he might love nature looking at the river, mountains and at the sky create by his beloved God.

      Browning is the poet of eternal vigor and hope. He feels his mission of faith and courage in a world of doubt and timidity. There is obscurity in his poems, but his is partly due to the depth of his thought. His field is the individual soul which he tries to explore. He is not an entertaining poet, but he is certainly one of the greatest of English poets. Browning led an uneventful life till in 1846 he suddenly became famous because he eloped with the best-known literary woman in England, Elizabeth Barrett. She had been living as a helpless invalid, but love and Italy proved better than her doctors, and for fifteen years Browning and his wife led an ideally happy life in Pisa and in Florence. The exquisite romance of their love is preserved in Mrs. Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese and in the volume of Letters.

      Some of Browning's finest poems are Prospice, The Last Ride Together, How they brought the Good News, Andrea del Sarta, My Last Duchess, The Bishop Orders His Tomb, Muleykeh, Rabbi Ben Ezra, A Grammarian's Funeral. Among longer poems two are most interesting, Pippa Passes and The Ring and the Book.

      (i) Pippa Passess. The idea of the poem was suggested to Browning while listening to a gypsy girl singing in the woods near his home, but he transfers the scene to Italy. Pippa is a little silk weaver who goes out in the morning to enjoy her holiday. She goes on her way singing

God's in his heaven —
All's right with the world.

      Her songs falls into the ears of four different groups of people, and changes the evil of their lives into good. She enjoys her holiday, and goes to bed, entirely ignorant of the good she has done in the world.

      (ii) The Ring and the Book. The story of the book is slight — it is count Guido's murder of his beautiful young wife. The poem is a series of monologues in which the same story is retold nine different times by the different actors in the drama. The count, the young wife, the suspected priest, the lawyer, the Pope—each tells the story. The most interesting characters are Guido, the husband; Caponsacchi, the young priest who aids the wife in her flight from her brutal husband, and is unjustly accused of-false motives; Pompilia, the young wife, one of the nobles characters in literature, fit to rank with Shakespeare's great heroines, and the Pope, a splendid figure, the strongest of all Browning's masculine characters.

      Matthew Arnold  (1822-1888) was a significant writer of the Victorian era. He was at once a poet and a prose-writer. His poetry is reflective and intellectual, and in his prose writings, he tried to rouse the consciousness of the middle class sunk in materialism and complacency. Arnold's volumes of poetry include The Strayed Reveller and other Poems, Empedocles on Etna and other poems, Poems, Quiet Work, The Forsaken Mermon, To Merguerite, The Scholar Gipsy, Dover Beach are of his remarkable poems. Thyrses is a pastoral elegy and Merope is a verse tragedy written after classical models. Arnold's poetry is characterised by doubt and melancholy. Arnold felt the collapse of traditional faith and the breaking of bonds between man and God and between man and nature. He is a great humanist and a lover of Greek art and Literature. He was a classicist and his classic spirit reveals itself in the lucid style, in the restraint of passion and expression. His romantic spirit is expressed in his discontent with his generation and sadness that runs through all his poems.

      Arnold's The Study of Poetry in his Essays in Criticism states that the supreme power of poetry is 'consolation and stay', and that poetry will eventually replace religion. According to him the greatest poetry resides in the high seriousness of content and the architectonic skill. Milton is the master of grand style. In his critical essays on poetry his classical bent is revealed.

      Elizabeth Barret Browning (1806 to 1861) became famous in 1844 when she published her Poems, which received remarkable, public favor. In her poem The Cry of the Children she voiced the protest of humanity against child labour. Her most famous work is Sonnets from the Portuguese (1804). Her verse novel Aurora Leigh (1856) shows the zeal of a social reformer, the zeal of Dickens and George Eliot.

      Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82). He was the son of an exiled Italian painter and scholar. Rossetti was the leader of the Pre-Rephaelite movement and published in the first numbers of the 'Germ' his beautiful poem The Blessed Damozel. In 1860 he married a delicate and beautiful English girl, who died two years later. He never recovered from the shock. In 1881 he published his Ballads and Sonnets, a remarkable volume containing such excellent poems as The Confessions, The Ballad of Sister Helen, The King's Tragedy, The House of Life. The House of Life is a collection of one hundred and one sonnets reflecting the poet's love and loss.

      Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909). Swinburne is, chronologically the last of the Victorian poets. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1865 he published Atlanta in Calydon which brought him fame. In 1866 appeared the first series of Poems and Ballads, which was censured on account of its paganism, and its repudiation of conventions. A Song of Italy (1867), and Songs before Sunrise (1871) show Swinburne's hatred of kings and priests. The second, series of Poems and Ballads came in 1878. It contains A Forsaken Garden. Studies in Song (1880) shows Swinburne's love for the sea. Tristram of Lyonesse, considered to be the best of Swinburne's poems, came in 1882. The third series of Poems and Ballads came in 1889. The Duke of Gandia (1908) was his last work. Swinburne possessed perfect command over old English verse forms: as Stedman says, "before his advent we did not realize the full scope of English verse."

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