Victorian poetry is defined as poetry written during the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901. The defining characteristics of Victorian poetry are its focus on sensory elements, its themes of the conflict between religion and science, and its interest in medieval legends and fables.
One of the main defining characteristics of Victorian poetry is that it is pictorial, which means it uses detailed imagery to convey thoughts and emotions. While many poets use imagery, the Victorians took this a step further. They used sensory elements to describe abstract ideas such as the struggles between religion and science.
Religion was a common theme in Victorian poetry. Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" was published in 1859 and had a big impact on a world that was already shifting toward a science-based perspective of the world. The book fomented controversy over the nature of existence and mortality that was reflected in many Victorian poems, particularly those of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Although Victorian poets dealt with social issues of the day, they were also deeply interested in the past. Nostalgia and sentimentality were common themes, and many Victorian poets drew upon medieval fables such as the legend of King Arthur for sources of inspiration.