Get help from the best in academic writing.

Tennyson, Browning, Arnold and Carlyle

Tennyson, Browning, Arnold and Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle writes in Characteristics that, “The healthy know not of their health, but only the sick”(923). He extends this medical/biological aphorism to the social and ideological world of Victorian England. Carlyle thoroughly goes over the question, What is the state of England? He finds that England is in a state of transition, and while the old is no longer useful to the society, the new has not yet been clearly defined. This void contributes to problems of poverty, social graces, and spiritual/social direction in 19th C. England. Carlyle goes on to discuss the nature and effects of the problems he identifies in the culture, and encourages the members of the society to remain hopeful of finding a solution. Carlyle identifies problems and trends in the society by close observation. In his contemporary poets are correlations to Carlyle’s own work. Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, Dante Rossetti, and Algernon Swinburn all exhibit traits in their poetry that relate to Carlyle’s ideas about the condition of England.

Carlyle wrote that literature is “a branch of Religion,” and believed that in Victorian England “it is the only branch that still shows any greenness; and, as some thing, must one day become the main stem”(926). It makes sense, when Carlyle gives such huge import and value to literature, to look for ways that his ideas are evinced in the poetry of his time. During his age, poets were becoming more socially responsible. They incorporated themes and ideas that they envisioned to be solutions to at least some of the problems they saw around them. Often they simply gave voice to the problems they witnessed, allowing the issue to be discussed rather than i…

… middle of paper …

…and searching voices trying to figure out how to live in a modern world as a community.

Works Cited

Abrams, M. H., ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth Edition, Volume II. USA: Norton, 1993.

Arnold, Matthew. “The Buried Life.” Abrams 1354-1356.

—. “Dover Beach.” Abrams 1366-1367.

—. “Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse.” Abrams 1367-1372.

Browning, Robert. “The Laboratory.” Abrams 1192-1193

—. “My Last Duchess.” Abrams 1190-1192.

—. “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister.” Abrams 1188-1190.

Carlyle, Thomas. “From Characteristics.” Abrams 923-932.

Rossetti, Dante. “The Blessed Damozel.” Abrams 1461-1464.

Swinburne, Algernon. “Hymn to Prosperine.” Abrams 1514-1516.

Tennyson, Alfred. “Locksley Hall.” Abrams 1073-1079.

—. “Pelleas and Ettarre.” Abrams 1141-1154.

—. “Ulysses.” Abrams 1067-1069.

The Emotion, Imagination and Complexity of Wordsworth and Coleridge

The Emotion, Imagination and Complexity of Wordsworth and Coleridge

The 19th century was heralded by a major shift in the conception and emphasis of literary art and, specifically, poetry. During the 18th century the catchphrase of literature and art was reason. Logic and rationality took precedence in any form of written expression. Ideas of validity and aesthetic beauty were centered around concepts such as the collective “we” and the eradication of passion in human behavior. In 1798 all of those ideas about literature were challenged by the publication of Lyrical Ballads, which featured the poetry of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wordsworth and Coleridge both had strong, and sometimes conflicting, opinions about what constituted well-written poetry. Their ideas were centered around the origins of poetry in the poet and the role of poetry in the world, and these theoretical concepts led to the creation of poetry that is sufficiently complex to support a wide variety of critical readings in a modern context.

Wordsworth wrote a preface to Lyrical Ballads in which he puts forth his ideas about poetry. His conception of poetry hinges on three major premises. Wordsworth asserts that poetry is the language of the common man:

To this knowledge which all men carry about with them, and to these sympathies in which without any other discipline than that of our daily life we are fitted to take delight, the poet principally directs his attention. (149)

Poetry should be understandable to anybody living in the world. Wordsworth eschews the use of lofty, poetic diction, which in his mind is not related to the language of real life. He sees poetry as acting like Nature, which touches all living things and inspires and delights them. Wordsworth calls for poetry to be written in the language of the “common man,” and the subjects of the poems should also be accessible to all individuals regardless of class or position. Wordsworth also makes the points that “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility” (151). These two points form the basis for Wordsworth’s explanation of the process of writing poetry. First, some experience triggers a transcendent moment, an instance of the sublime. The senses are overwhelmed by this experience; the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” leaves an individual incapable of articulating the true nature and beauty of the event.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.