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VICTORIAN PERIOD POETS Lecture 17 History of English Literature COMSATS Virtual Campus Islamabad
Outline Alfred Lord Tennyson Robert Browning Matthew Arnold
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Background Born August 6, at Somersby Several men in his family had mental and physical problems: epilepsy, insanity, excessive drinking Tennyson’s father was abusive and violent
Cambridge Tennyson attended Trinity College, Cambridge Invited to join The Apostles, an undergraduate club. This group included his lifelong friends. Most important friendship was with Arthur Hallam. He and Tennyson knew each other for only four years, but their intense friendship had a major influence on the poet. Hallam’s death in 1833 when he was only 22 lead to his best poetry, including In Memoriam.
1830 and 1832 Poems In 1830, Tennyson published Poems, Chiefly Lyrical Poems (1832 and 1833) were attacked by critics as obscure and affected. Criticism kept Tennyson from publishing again for another nine years.
1842 Poems Established Tennyson’s career as a writer This volume includes “The Lady of Shalott,” “The Lotus Eaters,” and “Ulysses.”
In Memoriam Tennyson’s greatest poem Published in 1850 Represents his struggle with Hallam’s death and with the new developments in astronomy, biology, and geology that were diminishing man’s stature in the universe. After publication of this poem, Tennyson was named Poet Laureate.
Tennyson’s Later Poetry Tennyson’s later poetry follows a narrative style Several poems dealt with national affairs By this time, Tennyson was established as the most popular poet of the Victorian period. The money from his poetry allowed him to purchase a house in the country and write in seclusion. His appearance enhanced his notoriety.
Idylls of the King Large-scale epic poem that occupied the second half of his career. Uses the Arthurian legend to construct a vision of the rise and fall of civilization. Tennyson’s most extensive social vision.
Themes in Tennyson’s Poetry The divided self Links external scenery to interior states of mind. The historical past The mythological past Tennyson’s personal past Geological time and evolutionary history Social and political concerns
Tennyson’s Reputation Tennyson was the most popular poet in England in his own day He was the target of mockery by his immediate successors, the Edwardians and Georgians. Today, many critics consider Tennyson to be the greatest poet of the Victorian Age.
Robert Browning He was born on May 7, 1812 in Camberwell, England Browning had a sister named Sarianna Browning His mother, Sarah Anne Wiedemann was an accomplished pianist and a devout Christian His father, Robert Browning was a bank clerk, and also an artist, scholar, antiquarian, and collector of books and pictures Browning got much of his education from his father He learned Latin, Greek, and French by the time he was fourteen From age fourteen to sixteen he was educated at home When he was ten he started at the Peckam school where he stayed for four years At age twelve he wrote a volume of Byronic verse entitled Incondita. His parents tried to have it published but were unsuccessful (www.poets.org)
In 1828 Browning enrolled at the University of London, but soon after he left because he wanted to read and learn at his own pace In 1833 he anonymously published his first major work, Pauline: A Fragment of a Confession In 1840 he published Sordello, which was a failure Browning also tried writing drama, but his plays, Strafford, and the Bells and Pomegranates series were unsuccessful However his use of diction, rhythm, and symbol are regarded as his most important contribution to poetry, influencing major poets of the twentieth century such as Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and Robert Frost Browning corresponded with Elizabeth Barrett in 1844 for a few months after reading her Poems, and finally met her in 1845 They got married in 1846 and moved to Pisa and then to Florence where they continued to write In 1849 they had a son, Robert “Pen” Wiedemann Barrett Browning This was the same year Browning’s Collected Poems was published Elizabeth inspired Robert’s collection of poems Men and Women in 1855, which is now one of his best works but at the time was not noticed much ( (http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo /display/poet37.html ) (http://www.galegroup.com/free_resour ces/poets/bio/browning_r.htm)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning died in 1861 and Robert Browning and his son moved back to London In 1863 Browning published Dramatis Personae In 1868 The Ring and the Book firmly established Browning’s reputation, and from then on he was considered one of England’s greatest living poets In he published Dramatic Idyls and other works that brought him worldwide fame In 1881 the Browning Society was established in London to study his poems He was awarded with Hon. M.A. of Oxford: June 1868, Hon. fellow of Balliol College: October 1868, Hon. LL.D. of the University of Edinburgh: 1884, Hon. president of 5 Assoc. Societies of Edinburgh: 1885 Robert Browning died on December 12,1889 during a stay in Venice and, he was buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey (www.poets.org) (www.galegroup.com) (www.poets.orgwww.galegroup.com
This is the first stanza of The Pied Piper of Hamelin Hamelin Town's in Brunswick, By famous Hanover city; The river Weser, deep and wide, Washes its wall on the southern side; A pleasanter spot you never spied; But, when begins my ditty, Almost five hundred years ago, To see the townsfolk suffer so play/poem2750.html
A Woman's Last Word I. Let's contend no more, Love, Strive nor weep: All be as before, Love, ---Only sleep! II. What so wild as words are? I and thou In debate, as birds are, Hawk on bough! III. See the creature stalking While we speak! Hush and hide the talking, Cheek on cheek! IV. What so false as truth is, False to thee? Where the serpent's tooth is Shun the tree--- V. Where the apple reddens Never pry--- Lest we lose our Edens, Eve and I. VI. Be a god and hold me With a charm! Be a man and fold me With thine arm! VII. Teach me, only teach, Love As I ought I will speak thy speech, Love, Think thy thought--- VIII. Meet, if thou require it, Both demands, Laying flesh and spirit In thy hands. IX. That shall be to-morrow Not to-night: I must bury sorrow Out of sight: X ---Must a little weep, Love, (Foolish me!) And so fall asleep, Love, Loved by thee. oem=282
Meeting At Night The grey 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. Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach; Three fields to cross till a farm appears; A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch And blue spurt of a lighted match, And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears, Than the two hearts beating each to each! My Star All that I know Of a certain star, Is, it can throw (Like the angled spar) Now a dart of red, Now a dart of blue, Till my friends have said They would fain see, too, My star that dartles the red and the blue! Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled: They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it. What matter to me if their star is a world? Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.
The Poetry of Matthew Arnold
Biographical Information Dates ( ) Remembered as both a literary critic and poet Studied at the Rugby School (his father was headmaster), and later Balliol College, Oxford University (degree in 1844) Returned to Rugby as a teacher of classics Married in 1851; worked as a government school inspector (grueling job, but offered travel throughout England and the Continent)
Biography (continued) School inspector’s job (for 35 years) developed an interest in education, which influenced his critical works and his poetry Two volumes of poetry (Empedocles on Etna, 1852, and Poems, 1853) established his reputation as a poet. In 1857 he was offered the position of Professor of Poetry at Oxford. Arnold was the first professor to lecture in English at Oxford, rather than in Latin. During this time Arnold wrote the bulk of his most famous critical works, which reflect the main values of the Victorian era.
Nature and Themes of his poetry Meditative and rhetorical (not expecting a response) Often wrestles with problems of psychological isolation: reverses Donne’s idea that “No man is an island,” suggesting instead that we mortals are all isolated to some extent. Ex: “To Marguerite—Continued”
Nature and Themes (continued) Problem of isolation linked with the dwindling faith (questioning) of the Victorian era, such as “Dover Beach.” Arnold struggled with his own religious doubts but wanted to establish the “essential truth” of Christianity.
Arnold’s Essays Most influential were those concerning literary topics. In “The Function of Criticism” and “The Study of Poetry” he called for a “new epic poetry,” a poetry that would address the moral needs of his readers, to “animate and ennoble them.” He favored a renewed religious faith and a return to classical theories of poetry. Set the tone and approach of modern criticism as an art form; always respectful, gentlemanly, and subtle.
Later Life Made two lecture tours of the United States in 1883 and 1886 Died in Liverpool in 1888.