The Victorian Age started in the shadows of Romanticism. Its span is almost 70 years, so it is not right to make generalizations about this period. However, there are certain features that were dominant and true for some time of this age.
Characteristics of the Victorian Era Politically and economically: Britain reached its highest point of development as a world power. Material prosperity and technological advancement: Trains and railways – steam engine.
The Victorian Society The Victorians were conservative in morality and social life. They had a strong sense of responsibility. Devotion to duty. Utilitarianism.
About Robert Browning (1812-1889) He was often referred to as “Mrs. Browning’s husband”, since Elizabeth Barrett Browning was by far a more famous poet. Until 1860, his poems were met with either indifference or misunderstanding.
He is known for the dramatic monologue – a poem with one speaker-. The reader has to work his way through the words of the speaker to discover the meaning of the poet. Famous work: My Last Duchess.
The gray sea and the long black land; And the yellow half-moon large and low: And the startled little waves that leap In fiery ringlets from their sleep, As I gain the cove with pushing prow, And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.
Imagery Definition: The representation of sense experience through language. It is the mental reproduction of sensation.
Types of Imagery 1.Visual imagery. 2. auditory (Sound) imagery. 3.Olfactory (smell) imagery. 4.Gustatory (taste) imagery. 5.Tactile (touch) imagery. 6.Organic (internal sensations such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, nausea) imagery. 7.Kinesthetic (Movement or tension of muscles) imagery.
With imagery, the poet does not need to describe all details; few sharp and representative details are enough to recreate the sensation. The rest is left for the imagination of the reader.
Now let’s examine the imagery in the poem.. Example in the poemImagery Type Little waves- long- low- large- grey sea- long black lands – yellow half moon- fiery ringlets – blue spurt of lighted match Visual: colors and shapes (The blue light against the dark background pleases our eyes and depict the romantic love between this couple.) A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch/ And a voice less loud, thro’ its joys and fears,/ Than the two hearts beating each to each. Auditory Then a mile of warm sea-scented beachOlfactory And quench its speed in the slushy sandTactile As I gain the cove with pushing prow,/ And quench its speed in the slushy sand Three fields to cross till a farm appears Kinesthetic
Sound Each technique will contribute to the meaning and overall effect of the poem..
The poet used onomatopoeia along with one- sylable words like in “tap”, and “quick sharp scratch”. This imitates the hurried actions of the lovers. The use of voiceless sounds as in “sea”, “sleep”, “slushy sand”, “pushing prow” is to recreate the tranquility of the scene. The usage of Alliteration, such as: “slushy sand”, “pushing prow”, “large and low” gives musicality to the poem.