This article examines the poetry and essays of Alice Meynell. It first considers the poem, ‘A Modern Poet’ (1875), which illustrates both her ambivalence about women’s poetry and her own reception as a nineteenth- or twentieth-century poet. It then turns to ‘The Laws of Verse’ and ‘The English Metres,’ where she addresses poetic form.
This article traces the history of American poetry in the Victorian period, which witnessed the birth, maturity, and demise of American poetic culture. In 1837, American poetry was in its infancy. Cultural pressures to create a distinctively American literature that was respected by Europeans and met the needs and democratic aspirations of a highly diverse populace raised the value of poetic production and rewarded those who produced it. By mid-century, a fully accredited culture of letters was established in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, along with Emerson, manned an American outpost of mainstream Victorian culture: English poetry’s satellite campus at Harvard.
By focusing on her long narrative poem Yu-Pe-Ya’s Lute, this article examines Augusta Webster’s commitment to poetic forms that hybridize lyric and narrative. Well-known as a woman poet and for her intervention in the development of the dramatic monologue, Webster experimented with many other forms, including sonnets, rispetti and short stanzaic forms, as well as novels, translations from Greek and Yu-Pe-Ya’s Lute, a narrative poem in heroic couplets interrupted by the songs of its title character. With its narrative that sometimes fails to progress and its songs that often aim to hasten a wait, Yu-Pe-Ya’s Lute explores the dynamics of stasis and progress, reflecting on the passage of time and the poet’s desire to manipulate it.
This article is concerned with the skilful use made by Victorian poets of the four-beat line with varied offbeats and a strong, easily grasped rhythm, sometimes known as ‘dolnik’ verse. The poems considered include those by Alfred Tennyson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Browning, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Edward Lear, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Rudyard Kipling, and Thomas Hardy.
Wordsworth returned to the 1796 draft of The Borderers in 1842. In revising the play, he confronted again the two problems that aggravated the original composition: 1) how was Rivers/Oswald able to compel Mortimer/Marmaduke to murder a frail blind old man; 2) what were his motives. Even the radical rewriting during Wordsworth’s first year of work on the tragedy indicates more a concern with adjusting the circumstances of the plot to deepen the dark psychological assault of one of the main characters on the other. In the 1796 version, Rivers is depicted as reenacting the stratagem of the historical Macbeth using an elixir of belladonna to drug and vanquish Harold Harefoot’s Danish troops. A reliance on ‘strong’ medicines almost vanishes from the 1842 revision. Wordsworth replaced the medicinally induced mind-control and relied exclusively on the corrupting power of Oswald’s insinuations and deceptions.
Robert Browning’s poem, The Ring and the Book (1868–69), reflects on the difficulty of balancing evidence and argument that is essential to just judgement. This article examines Browning’s moral, rhetorical, and rhythmical handling of balance throughout the poem.
Constance W. Hassett
This article takes a new look at Christina Rossetti’s poetry, suggesting that the prevailing characterization of her lyric style, admired as ‘unemphatic’ by Arthur Symons in ‘Miss Rossetti’s Poetry’ (1887) and ‘deeply unparaphrasable’ by modern critics, tends to ignore her talent for raucous modes and genres. A pair of quirky poems, ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ (Macmillan’s Magazine, 1863) and ‘Freaks of Fashion’ (Every Girl’s Annual, 1878), with their talking birds, unusual physical perspectives, and emphatically dour and hilarious pronouncements display the breadth of Rossetti’s aesthetic range. The first resists ballad narrative to allow for prophetic elegy while the second mixes ornithological fact with fashion chatter to push back against mean-spirited contemporary editorializing. These poems flaunt Rossetti’s enjoyment of her prosodic skill.
This article focuses on Victorian poetry and religion in the nineteenth century. It discusses the fantasy of the church as reflected in popular religious poems by writers from various religious backgrounds. It considers how the genre of the ‘village church’ made its way into major Victorian poems. It then examines a selection of little-known poems that deliberately stage their rejection of churchgoing as part of an ongoing dissenting, radical political commitment.
Rolf P. Lessenich
This article examines city poetry in the Victorian period. Throughout the period city poetry largely remained what it had been in the Romantic era–a matter of changing visual selections and perspectives. Victorian city poetry reflected the conflict between the real and the ideal, with reminiscences of the 'beautiful city' of myth (Jerusalem, Camelot) evoked as corrective for the drab reality of filth and poverty. The works of several Victorian poets, including Arthur Symons, William Ernest Henley, Arthur Hugh Clough, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Mathew Arnold, and Robert Williams Buchanan are discussed.
This article examines the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in relation to European literature. Coleridge was a literary enthusiast throughout his life, gobbling up a diverse diet of reading from various European traditions. He was committed to the task of translation as well as to the critical appraisal of the English literature of his time. The article attempts to explain the ways in which these apparently opposing aspects of his literary enthusiasm grew together and remained fundamental to one another, while also pointing to the most important connections to European literature within Coleridge's oeuvre.
James C. McKusick
This article examines the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in relation to language theory. It argues that Coleridge's speculation on linguistic universals anticipates Noam Chomsky's theory of generative grammar. The article suggests that Coleridge's engagement with language theory was vitally important to the intellectual culture of its own time, and that it remains a seminal instance of nineteenth-century speculation on the nature and origin of language.
This article examines the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge relevant to philosophy. It suggests that although Coleridge did not leave behind an original, coherent philosophical system or a single finished book which could be called a philosophical work, he has somehow acquired the reputation of being the most philosophical of the British Romantic poets. The article discusses doubts concerning Coleridge's qualifications as an original philosophical thinker. Renée Wellek, for example, remarked on the fundamental weakness of his thought– incoherence and indistinctness–and considered the study of Coleridge's philosophy to be futile.
This article examines the issues of plagiarism in the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It explains that the sources of Coleridge's writings have long fascinated critics. Coleridge's kindest critics have disentangled the components of his eclectically derivative corpus and compulsively devious practice, while his unkindest critic, Norman Fruman, has reacted against the canonical sentimentality that has transmogrified the real Coleridge into the ‘Da Vinci’ of literature. The article suggests that Coleridge crossed a qualitative line, that intangible border which separates plagiarists from the other writers who have their secrets, but who seem to lack the tendency towards dependency.
Eric G. Wilson
This article examines the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge relevant to science. It explains that Coleridge, for most of his adult life, had been an assiduous student of several scientific disciplines, ranging from geology to chemistry to physiology. The article argues that Coleridge never separated his poetical and philosophical efforts from ongoing commitment to the hard facts of nature, and that his stay with physician James Gillman in Highgate, England provided him with the opportunity to learn more about science.
This article examines the role of Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a critic of William Shakespeare. It discusses the loss of Coleridge's notebook for the Lectures on the Principles of Poetry, which made it difficult to accurately assess his criticism on Shakespeare. The article suggests that the innovations of Coleridge's criticism came out of the depths of his own mind and years of thinking on the principles of poetry, while his close reading of Shakespeare provided him with the necessary figures, accidents, and minutiae to substantiate his claims.
This article examines the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge relevant to arts. It highlights his efforts to attain fluency in the language of the visual arts, but also to bring the visual and the verbal into conversation in the space of the text. The article suggests that Coleridge's deep consideration of the arts influenced other areas of his thought, including his political writings, his arguments on the history of philosophy, and his later spiritual writings.
Christopher R. Miller
This article examines the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in relation to the English poetic tradition. It suggests that Coleridge advanced the tradition envisioned by Thomas Gray by departing from the kind of ode which his predecessor exalted. The article contends that while lyric form alone could not revivify Coleridge's spirits, it indisputably invigorated the English poetic tradition. Some of those influenced by Coleridge's works include John Keats.
This article examines the collaboration and ‘symbiosis’ of English poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. It explains that this celebrated friendship involved intimate and creative gift exchange both in world view and in the craft of verse, and that two instances of this gift were Frost at Midnight and Tintern Abbey, two of the greatest poems of 1798. The article contends that the long-term outcome of this friendship was a weakening of each poet's confidence in his own voice.
This article examines the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge relevant to theology. It explains that despite being mostly known in literature, Coleridge was primarily a theologian, and that he was serious in his theology. Coleridge investigated the questions of the status of Scripture, doctrines of the Fall, justification and sanctification, and the personality and infinity of God. He believed that theology requires philosophical explication, and his theology was deeply metaphysical.
Michael John Kooy
This article examines the career of Samuel Taylor Coleridge as editor of The Watchman and The Friend. It suggests that although these journals were produced in very different political circumstances by a man whose own political views had also changed profoundly, they both arose out of, and sought to address, the feeling of disenchantment with politics by appealing to fixed principles. These journals injected high moral purpose, historical perspective, and philosophical reflection into political debate in order to give strength to those whose millenarian hopes had not been realized.