What is Victorian Poetry?

The word Victorian suggests a few features of the literature (and poetry) of the nineteenth century. In poetry and literature, it carries the suggestion of pessimistic subject, elegiac tone, lyrical expression, musical poetry, description of the misery of the poor or old people, theme of dissatisfaction with the loss of old values and sudden modernization and degradation of the society.

The Victorian age in English literature was the age of Queen Victoria, who ruled Britain in the nineteenth century. This age comes after the Romantic age and ends with the turning of the modern age of the twentieth century. The Victorian age was in many ways the most glorious age in the history of England, because it made unexpected progress in all spheres of life, and the British empire. It was an age of material prosperity, political awakening, democratic reforms, industrial and mechanical advancement, social upheaval, educational expansion, imperialism and empire-building, humanitarianism and all-pervading energy and activity in social life. However, it was strangely the time of pessimism for poets, writers and thinkers. Most scholars severely criticized the age and denounced all the external gloss and glitter of material prosperity and wonders of mechanical progress. There was a big gap between the rich and the poor, as shown by the novels of Charles Dickens, and the old values of society and religion were quickly fading away, as seen in the poems of Mathew Arnold. Tennyson is also a typical poet of the time who wrote elegiac poetry of gloom and despair. Along with that spirit of pessimism and doubt, there was also the romantic spirit of desire for the lost, past and the ideal. There was also in its literature the old romantic thirst for beauty, love and art. Most Victorian poetry was written in perfect musical stanzas, but its expression has been usually lyrical and romantic.

Published on 24 Jan. 2014 by Kedar Nath Sharma

Related Topics

Charles Dickens: Biography

Mathew Arnold: Biography

Alfred Lord Tennyson: Biography