A Companion to Victorian Poetry
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
This Companion brings together specially commissioned essays by distinguished international scholars that reflect both the diversity of Victorian poetry and the variety of critical approaches that illuminate it.
- Approaches Victorian poetry by way of genre, production and cultural context, rather than through individual poets or poems
- Demonstrates how a particular poet or poem emerges from a number of overlapping cultural contexts.
- Explores the relationships between work by different poets
- Recalls attention to a considerable body of poetry that has fallen into neglect
- Essays are informed by recent developments in textual and cultural theory
- Considers Victorian women poets in every chapter
England. The Gaelic fringes of Great Britain continued to attract epic notice, and not just in Idylls of the King, which, as Tennyson’s scheme crystallized during the 1860s, increasingly withdrew into Welsh sources and Cornish headlands. William Allingham’s Lawrence Bloomﬁeld in Ireland: A Modern Poem (1864) was half a verse novel but half an epic too, while Ulsterman Samuel Ferguson’s ﬁve-book Congal (1872) was the thing itself; Irish traditions of heroic verse remained sufﬁciently vital to
piety (Watts 1884: I, 167–77). T. K. Hervey, the editor of The Poetical Sketch Book (1829) and The English Halcyon: A Selection of Modern Poetry (1841), was best known, according to fellow editor Rufus Griswold, for his ‘ “poems of the affections”, descriptive of domestic incidents and feelings, upon which he writes with taste, simplicity, and tenderness’ (1848: 416). Eliza Cook, with her proliﬁc versifying on rural and working-class domestic life, became a literary phenomenon, ‘the rage of
the speaker of ‘By the Fire-side’ with Browning himself and ‘my perfect wife, my Leonor’ with Elizabeth Barrett, that was less because of descriptive details in the poem than because of the myth of domestic bliss that the Brownings embodied and encouraged. With tales of their romantic elopement from London and married life in Italy, the Brownings represented the domestic ideal in life even if they did not always choose to represent it in their art. They were not the only poets to cultivate the
worth, but with public practice. She is denied modesty on a public level because of the patriarchal and capitalist hypocrisy that will not, when it comes to women, separate economic practice from sexual morality. Women who ply a trade, of whatever kind, will ﬁnd that their private modesty is always overlaid by a subtly imposed gender prejudice. Hence in this passage the word ‘modesty’ functions as a site of cultural contestation, where bourgeois morality displaces personal respectability. Again,
rather more: / Too common!’ (VI). One of the most powerful things in the work is its evocation of reticence: as when a thought slips into view, giving the sense of something that had been in mind all along, but not publicly acknowledged. Section CVIII is a good example: the poem’s bracing and general rhetorical questions maintain a brave face; but, in a last turn of the verse, the ﬁnal word – ‘thee’ – brings abruptly to light a terrible personal closeness, always present but unmentionable. For