Key differences between Romantic Era and Victorian Era Poetry
Poetry is one of the ways that poets use in order to express their ideas and opinions to the rest of the world. Poetry is a genre that has lived the test of time as one of the avenues that artists and poets reach the audience and convey their messages. The two most popular periods that experienced different styles in poetry and which mark the basis of this discussion are the Romantic and Victorian poetry. The discussion delineates on the noticeable differences of poetry in these two periods.
Examples of poems classified as romantic include John Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, William Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey ‘and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ among many others. The Victorian poems include Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses” and Robert Browning’s “My last Duchess” among others.
Romantic poetry is believed to have begun in the 70s in Europe. This period was associated with intellectual artist movement, as people were gaining more knowledge through education. During this period, most of the ideas and poems were focused on the beauty of nature. Extreme emotional scenes and moods characterized the poems. These poems also laid much emphasis on individuality and liberation. They were aimed at expressing some form of liberty and freedom in terms of love and nature. Most of these poems went against the conformity, convention, and tyranny of religion. For instance, in the William Wordsmith’s poem “Tintern Abbey”, the poet emphasizes on the splendid nature. The poet recounts the many seasons that have passed before going to Abbey to experience the nature and the beauty that nature provides such as mountains, as illustrated in the first stanza of the poem “five years have passed, five summers, with the length”.
The poems of this era also centered on the poet as the focus. For instance, in the poem ‘Tintern’ by William Wordsmith, the focus is on the poet who is remembering the past years. He expresses the love and the beauty of Abbey. The focus is on him and not other people. This is illustrated in the last stanza which reads “and this green pastoral landscape, were to me”. The use of “me” is an indication of the poet who is telling the story.
Another aspect of the poems of the romantic era is that they were expressive and dramatic. This means that the language the poets used to convey the message was full of expressions. The expressions aimed at enhancing or emphasizing the message the poets were communicating. Examples of these dramatic expressions in the poems include ‘Ah!’ and ‘O!’ among others. In the poem ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ by John Keats, some of the verses with these expressions include ‘Ah, happy, happy boughs! That cannot shed,’ ‘O mysterious priest,’ or ‘mountain-built with peaceful citadel’ among many others.
The poems are also more aligned in indulging the audience into physical and emotional passions. For instance, William Wordsmith’s poem ‘Tintern’ evokes physical as well as emotional passions through the narrations. The poet expresses how he used to feel going to the mountains to experience nature. These were the old days when he was young. The expressions and narrations of the physical landscape are conveyed with passion; the way the poet misses and how he used to enjoy triggers emotional passions. It makes one want to experience the adventure of the poet. For example, the verses ‘My former pleasures in the shooting light Of thy wild eyes’ and ‘Oh! yet a little while, May I behold in thee what I was once,’ are a clear illustration of how the poet felt during the period of his youth.
On the other hand, Victorian poems were composed during the period 1832- 1901, during the reign of Queen Victoria. As stated earlier, two examples of poems that fall in this category include Lord Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ and Robert Browning’s ‘My last Duchess’. These poems implied themes that revolved around the culture of people, and the way they worshiped gods and conquered wars in their battles. Ulysses is concerned about his elderly wife; therefore, he passes laws to help guard his wife. He is also exalted for winning the battle of Troy. He hopes that he is still valuable even in his old age. He has hopes in his son Telemachus, and believes that he would lead the people to the right direction if he dies, “This is my son, mine own Telemachus, To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle, Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill”. Even in his old age, he is optimistic as he leads him to new world “It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles.”
Likewise, in the “My last Duchess” by Robert Browning, the speaker shows arrogance in the way he addresses people. There is some sense of aristocracy manifested in this poem. This indicates how the people through social status have authority and power to dictate. No one would quell or tame their arrogance, “Worked busily a day, and there she stands. Will’t please you sit and look at her?” There is a sense of male superiority that is exhibited in the poem.
The languages that the poets use are modern and do not incorporate or seem influenced by the Shakespearian bells. It is a language that can be easily understood. It is also devoid of drama and expressions as it is in the case of the poems during the romantic era. Examples of verses that are extracted from the poems include “Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” and many others that convey a message clearly. Another noticeable difference between the Romantic and Victorian poets is that the latter did not base views from the poet’s opinions or experiences like the romantic poets, but rather portrayed a scenario of “man in the world’. The narrators were people that experienced the harshness and the happiness of the world. They were in the society engaging in various issues such as battle leadership and explorations among many others.
The poets also display human misery, something that was not manifest in the Romantic era. The poems during this period touched on themes of sufferings such as battles, murders, and other social injustices that were being experienced in the society. They also used dramatic monologue to convey their message in addressing the unknown audiences. A good example of the poem that adopted these styles was Robert Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess”. Some of the verses which show these are: “That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call, That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hand, Worked busily a day, and there she stands, Will’t please you sit and look at her?” Furthermore, as passed to Romantic era, most of the Victorian poems show skepticism of religion. The religious conviction is withdrawn because of the Darwinian controversial theory of evolution. It is also less dramatic compared to the Romantic period, as there is less deviations from the social norms.
In conclusion, there are distinct differences in terms of poetry between the Romantic and Victorian periods. Victorian era was more individualistic and emotional. Aristocracy, male supremacy, battles, and roaming around the world characterized the Victorian era. These are some of the differences exemplified in the discussions above. Nevertheless, all the periods were very instrumental in developing poetry and communicating various themes to the audience.
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