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Romantic and Victorian Poetry

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(1809 - 1892) Tennyson was the Poet Laureate of the era, and one of the most revered poets of all time. His lengthy poem In Memoriam is his most famous. He is the 2nd most quoted writer after Shakespeare. Early poems in the style of those of Keats, which delighted in the senses. In The Princess, A Medley (1847) theme of equality of the sexes.. The first three books of poetry (1833, 1832, 1842) include Tennyson´s best work e.g. Mariana, "The Lady of Shalott", "Ulysses"," Morte d´Arthur", "The Lotos-Eaters". Later, new developments in scientific progress led him to contemplate on the changing world. For Tennyson, doubt was the basis of his inspiration. In, "In Memoriam" A.H.H. - a series of elegies (1833- 1850), - comments on change and evolution and contemplates the question of man's destiny and immortality in the age of new discoveries. Queen Victoria declared that she valued it next to the Bible. Despite Tennyson's Romantic spirit, he was a Victorian who shared the fundamental ethos of the Victorian age. "Ulysses"(1833), illustrates the Victorian morality of self-control and self discipline as a means to continue and succeed is about the great hero searching for life in spite of old age and coming death. "Tithonus" concerns the weariness of life on earth when all one wants to do is fade into the earth and no longer linger on. "The Two Voices" is a debate about whether or not to commit suicide. "The Idylls of the King" (1859-72) his popular series of poems on episodes from the legends of King Arthur. Tennyson - in constant protest against the individualism, which the Victorian era inherited from the Romantic period.
(1812 - 1889) Browning was famous for his dramatic monologues and commentary on social institutions. He was married to Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Aware that he was writing poetry in an age of science, of technology and prose. Interested in the study of human soul. From the very start he discussed in monologue, problems of life and conscience. His poem, "Pauline" was a fragment of personal confession. In "Paracelsus" (1835) he described the strange career of the Renaissance physician, in whom true science and charlatanism were combined. B's main literary inspiration - P.B.Shelley. His early long poem" Sordello "(1840) poem - the relationship between life and art - recognized as one of his most extraordinary and important works. Browning's admiration for the' subjective poet´ soon gave way to a desire for greater objectivity which led him to his 'dramatic monologues ' MY LAST DUCHESS The dramatic monologue - Browning's main achievement. B's mature poetry, portrays exciting controversial characters, some based on historical figures, some products of his imagination: Dramatic Romances and Lyrics ( 1845 ) , Men and Women (1855 ), Dramatis Personae ( 1864). Many poems consider the impending nature of death as a melancholy context to balance the joy of life. Examples are "Love Among the Ruins" and "A Toccata of Galuppi's." Other poems find strength in the acceptance of death, like "Prospice," "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," and "Rabbi Ben Ezra." Some poems - like "My Last Duchess," "Porphyria's Lover," "Caliban upon Setebos," or "The Laboratory" - simply consider death as an everpresent punishment. Browning's most ambitious work, the long narrative of a 17th-century murder story is" The Ring and the Book" (1868 -69). The poem consists of 10 verse narratives, all dealing with the same crime, each from a different viewpoint. Based on an actual trial, the record of which Browning discovered in Florence. Browning´s fame rests on the volumes, published between 1842 and 1864, which contain his love poems and dramatic monologues.
Born April 7th, 1770 in Cockermouth, England to John Wordsworth and Ann Cookson. Grew up in the Lake District, which was a science region in Northern England. Sister is Dorothy Wordsworth, a poet and diarist who he was baptized with and remained close to all his life. They had three other siblings: Richard the lawyer, John, who was also a poet until his 1809 death by shipwreck, and Christopher, who became an academian. Grew up reading great poets such as Milton and Spencer, given full access to his father's library. Spent time with mother's relatives in Cumberland, where he experienced the moors and natural landscapes. Suffered from mistreatment from relatives. Did not get along with his uncle or his grandfather and contemplated suicide. Father was a lawyer in a mansion far away, and the whole family was distant from him. In 1778, his mother died and his father sent him to Hawkshead Grammar school, and his
sister Dorothy to Yorkshire, with relatives. They would not see each other again for nine years. In 1787, published his first sonnet in The Europeans Magazine and began attending St. John's college. Started travelling and took part in walking tour of Europe for the beauty of natural landscapes. In November of 1791, travelled to France where he met and fell in love with a French woman named Annette Vallon. She conceived a daughter, Caroline. For financial reasons, Worsworth returned alone to England, and the French tensions and Reign of Terror prevented him returning to his family. He continued to support them financially and became depressed, as he loved both mother and child dearly. Wrote one of his most famous poems, "It is a beauteous evening, calm and free" about talking a walk with his daughter. In 1802, was finally able to return to France, where a mutual agreement about his obligations was reached. In 1795, he met fellow poet Samuel Coleridge, and the the two quickly became friends. Inspired by the world around him and the beauty of physical landscapes, he began to compose "Lyrical Ballads", the volume of poetry that set the Romantic movement in poetic literature into swing. The book opened with Coleridge's "The Ancient Mariner". Inheriting a legacy, his finances improved and he moved in with Dorothy, who he cared for over the last twenty years of her life. In 1798, he began to write a long, philosophical autobiographical poem that would not be published until after his death in 1850. Wrote the enigmatic "Lucy" poems in Germany, over the winter of 1798-99. In 1802, he married Mary Hutchinson, an old childhood friend. Mary and Dorothy (ever present) became very close. Mary bore William's children five times, and three of those children died before Mary and William. "Willy" Wordsworth and John Wordsworth were the only two to outlive their parents. Dora Wordsworth would livelong enough to marry and grow up, while Thomas and Catherine died in 1812. Thomas was six, Catherine was three. In 1805, his brother John died and this affected him greatly. After the death of Robert Southey in 1843, Wordsworth became Poet Laureate of England. When Dora died in 1847, his poetry came to a standstill. On April 23'rd, 1950, Wordsworth met his fateful end by re-aggravating a case of pleurisy. Was buried in St. Oswald's cemetary in Grasmere. His widow, Mary, published his autobiographical poem to Coleridge as "The Prelude". Did not garner much attention in 1850, but is now regarded as his masterpiece. Spent most of his life living in the Lake District in a place called Dove Cottage.
Was born on October 21st 1772 in Ottery, St. Mary to John and Ann Coleridge. Bullied by his brother Frank and ran away at age 7. His father died in 1781, just before his 9th birthday. Sent to the boarding school, Christ school. He was a brilliant student. In 1791, his brother George sent him to Jesus College on a small allowence. Won a college medal in the first year for a beautiful poem written in Greek, and was one of the four competitors for a scholarship in the second year. At the same time, was going through an adolescent crisis and experimenting with opium, sex, alcohol and falling in love. Coleridge in December of 1793, he left school and joined the Dragoons, but kept falling off of his horse. In April, his brothers found him, bailed him out and convinced him to return to Cambridge. That summer (1794) he quit school and met the poet Robert Southey, and the two planned to build a utopia. The plan required both of them to marry, so Southey married Edith Fricker and Coleridge married her younger sister Sara. The utopia failed miserably, and he was trapped in a loveless marriage. Was earning his money at this time as a Unitarian preacher, and began to seriously write poetry. Befriended William and Dorothy Wordsworth. The poets planned "Lyrical Ballads" in 1797. (p. 1798) That Semptember, they visited Germany where Coleridge was heavily influenced by Kant, Schiller and Schelling. Came back full of Romantic German thought. In 1799, moved in with the Wordsworths and fell in love with Mary Hutchinson's younger sister, Sara. She appears in his poems as "Asra". Earned an annuity of 150.00 a year, that kept him from having to be a minister. Was using opium, though it is unclear whether or not his increasing use was a cause or a symptom of his worsening depression. His 1802 poem, "Dejection: An Ode", emphasized his despair at his loss of creative powers. Travelled to Sicily and Malta in 1804, working as Public Secretary under the commissioner, Alexander Ball. Gave this up and returned to England in 1806. People were shocked to see how bad his addiction had become. used as much as two quarts a week. Seperated from his wife in 1808. Quarelled with Wordsworth in 1810. Lost his annuity in 1811. Put himself under care of Dr. Daniel in 1814. in 1817, finally moved to Highgate to be cared for by Dr. Gilman. Established himself as the most intellectual of all the poets. Delivered an influential series of lectures on Shakespeare. Was better known as a speaker than anything else. Became famous for his "Highgate Thursdays". Managed to keep his demons under control for the next eighteen years. Eventually mended his friendship with Wordsworth. The Gilman family built an addition on their home to support the poet. Died on July 25th, 1834 due to heart failure caused by an unknown lung disorder, linked to his use of opium.
Born October 31st, 1795 to Thomas and Frances Keats. Oldest of the four surviving children. In 1803, he went away to Endfield to John Clarke's school. In 1804, his father was killed after falling off a horse and fracturing his skull. Two months later, his mother remarried but was unhappy and left her new husband. She regretted this action because by law, now everything belonged to her new husband including the kids. Frances' mother took custody of the children but could not get any property back. Hubby #2 quickly sold everything and disappeared. Tip of the ice berg of his tragic life. Even though he was small, got into a lot of fist fights. Never grew much more than five feet and was very annoyed when people mistook his younger brother George as being older than he was. In 1809, finally saw his mother again. She had become a prostitute to support herself after leaving her husband. Keats nursed her devotedly, but she died a year later from tuberculosis. Her brother had died of the same disease. He was devastated by her death and his agressive behaviour became one of study. A year later he was asked what he would like to do, and he wanted to become a surgeon. Sent to study as an apprentice under Thomas Hammond. Began to read lyrical poetry for the first time. He was fourteen. In 1814, his grandmother died and the family was split up. The only girl, Frances, was sent to live with other gaurdians, as it was imporper for a young girl to live with her older brothers. George and Tom were sent away to work, and John isolated himself and began to write very sorrowful poetry. When he became a published poet, Keats gathered every scrap of paper he'd written on and burned it because he thought it was awful. Even with his gorwing interest in poetry, he worked very hard in his studies and jumped ahead of the curriculum. Earned a promotion at the Guy Hospital in London, moved around from room to room near the London Bridge. Met publisher Leigh Hunt, who believed Keats had promise and potential. "A Poet to watch". First book of poetry appeared on March 3rd 1817. The book did not sell well, and did not please critics. His friend and fellow poet Shelley challenged him to a competition. Keats won the poem and became the sought after poet in London, caught in a whirlwind of parties. In June of 1818, he became paranoid that he only had three years to live. He knew he would die from tuberculosis. left london and started touring Scotland and its Lakes, as well as England's Lake District. Had already written most of his most famous poetry but felt he hadn't touched the literary world enough. Moved to Hampstead to take care of Thomas who was sick with consumption. At this time, fell in love with a young woman named Fanny. Believed that he was too poor to marry her, and that it would stunt his creativity. He did not marry her. Tom died in December of 1818. John should have inherited some money, but Abbey, another legal gaurdian claimed he could not inherit the money until his younger sister turned 21. Later revealed that Abbey had taken 1000.00 from the grandma's death. Brother George had moved to America and squandered money away, so was now relying on John to help pay off his debts. Published more poetry for money, and gave it all to his brother, even though he was penniless. Critics hated it. In early 1820, he began to cough up blood. He had developed consumption. A close friend, Charles Brown, wanted to send him to italy, as it was a warmer climate and there was no cure for consumption. in September, departed with another ill friend, Joseph Severn. Became sicker during the journey, due to the close quarters and quarantine. Kept in touch with Fanny, though he asked for the letters to be destroyed after his death. 31 survived and made it into the Oxford University Press. Once in Rome, he roomed with Severn and was not allowed to write anymore poetry, as doctors thought it was too strenuous. He kept writing to Fanny and missed her deeply. Wanted to attempt suicide by taking poison, but Severn stopped him. Later became so delirious that he would rant a Severn for stopping him, and believed his friends in London had tried to poison him. On February 23rd, 1821, Keats died. An autopsy showed his lungs were totally destroyed, and they were amazed he had lasted so long. Buried on February 26th in a Protestant cemetary.
Born in 1792 to Timothy and Elizabeth Shelley. His father was an M.P. and his family was aristocratic. He was educated at Eton school and Oxford University. Expelled on March 25th, 1810 for writing a pamphlet called "The Necessity of Atheism". Eloped with 16 year old Harriet Westbrook and moved to Scotland. His father never forgave him. Harriet had two children: Ianthe and Charles. In 1814, he started having an affair with Mary Wollstonecraft's daughter. Harriet committed suicide by drowning in 1816. The children were left to her parents custody. Harriet had just borne Charles, while Shelley had already been with Mary. Shelley was now free to marry his new love, Mary Godwin. His poetry became well known for its deep, mythological vision. Friends with John Keats and financially supported Leigh Hunt when he was imprisoned. Hunt published the long poem, "Queen Mab" where Shelley explored his values including republicanism and atheism. Mary's half sister, from the second Mrs. Godwin, also committed suicide. Mary and Percy took to travelling Europe. February 15th, 1815, Mary delivered a daughter who only lived for a few days. Jaunary, 1816, their son was born. Named William. Mary's stepsister Jane Clairmont reinvented herself as Clair Clairmont and became Lord Byron's mistress. Percy Shelley, being an amazing peacemaker and friend to Byron, fell in love with Claire while he was trying to solve tensions between her and Byron. And everyone still loved him. In 1818, he and Mary moved to Italy, and their son Percy Florence was born. Byron, Shelley and Leigh Hunt published The Liberal, attacking British Government. They were safe from prosecution because it was published in italy. Returning from a peace making mission, he was lost at sea during a fierce storm. His body washed up on shore 11 days later, and he was cremated. His heart was buried in Bornesmouthe.
Considered the perfect image of a poet-hero. George Gorden Noel Byron was born the sixth baron Byron on January 22nd, 1788. Born into aristocracy and fast-decaying nobility. His father married his mother, Catherine for her financial income, and died in 1791. Was born with a birth defect that caused him to walk only on the balls of his feet. This, combined with his family's contempt for widow and child, caused wounded pride. He had a need for self-assertion, which came in three ways: poetry, love and action. Had an active childhood, full of play and mischeif. Willingly played cricket, and appointed someone else to run for him. When he was eight, he fell madly in love with his cousin. Upon hearing of her engagement at sixteen, he became physically ill. His teachers believed he was a genius, but he was more concerned with his friends and starting school revolts than actually doing his schoolwork. He read constantly and was known to have an amazing memory. Called his friends "passions". In 1798, his granduncle died, leaving George to inherit the estate and the title of "Lord". Spent four years at Harrow, then went to Trinity college. Had a mad love for women and numerous love affairs, which he wrote journals and catlogues about. They are, make no mistake, packed. Love. Action. Poetry. He became more concious of idealism (romanticism), and less concerned with the realistic importance of experience. He wanted genuine passion. He wanted women. In 1807, published his first book of poetry called "Hours Of Idleness". In the preface, he apoligizes for pushing himself on the world when at his age, he should be employed some other way. Critics harshly attacked his work. Despair? No. Byron then harshly attacked the critics, showing for the first time his sarcastic wit and satirical abilities. Caused by his aristocratic life and classical education. This singled him out amongst the other romantic poets. In 1809, travelled into the Mediteranian, where he toured for two years. Wrote his two cantos (long poetry), called "Childe Harold's Pilgrimmage". It was released in 1812 and recieved instant glory. Combined the descriptive scnes of nature, the meditations of visions on earth, the vanity of material objects, the exaltation of freedom, and above all, a new hero was impassioned in spite of his weariness of life. He shocked all of London by his affairs with Lady Caroline Lamb, Lady Oxford, and his half sister Augusta. love. Action. Poetry. Proved he had no morals, and it only made him more popular. From then on, his guilt and feelings of incest were strongly present in his writing. He published many books between 1812 and 1816. Believed incest was a good metaphor for man: criminal, but genuine and irresistable. In his total alienation, he started to focus on the tragic condition of mankind and made himself an outcast. Guess what? More popularity. Hoping to appease his guilty mind, married Anna Milbank in 1815. It was a total failure. She left him after a year. While his private life had often been ignored by critics, the Tories attacked the failure of marriage due to Byron's attack of Prince Regent. On April 25th, 1816, had to leave his native country and never return. In Switzerland, he spent months reading Wordsowrth under the convincing of his friend, Percy Shelley. Influenced his work in new ways. His first drama, "Manfred", revealed a new inwardness. in October of 1816, moved to venice, Italy where he settled at last. his new work showed maturity and he fell in love one last time, with Theresa Giuciolli. He was at last coming to terms with his desperate idea of life. He ran real risks to help the Italian Carbonari in 1820-1821. The group was a secret organization that believed in change in society and ran on a constitution. His early poetry had brought awareness to the struggle of Greece under the rule of the Turks. Joined the freedom fighters, where he died of fever on April 9th in Greece. He was a hero.