What Are Some Characteristics of Victorian Poetry?

John William Waterhouse / Public domain/Other

Victorian poetry is characterized by both religious skepticism, inherited from the Romantic Period, but contrarily also devotional poetry that proclaims a more mystical faith. Religion becomes more of a personal experience expressed through poetry. Victorian poetry also employs more humor and whimsy than the prior Romantic Period. Despite the whimsy, in the Victorian Era, poetry and literature take a more harsh and utilitarian view of nature and philosophy.

Victorian form favored narrative and length over the short, lyric poems that were previously popular. Poets also emphasized imagery less, and instead they focused on meter and rhythm. Themes were much more realistic, identifying emotions such as isolation, despair and general pessimism.

Several factors that influenced Victorian poetry and literature were the conflicts between scientific discoveries, such as evolution, and faith, the industrialization of nations and a growing social consciousness about reform movements for better working conditions for women and children.

Even though many Victorian poets struggled with a loss of faith, there was still a sense of high morality that they held close and revered. Victorian poets were enthralled with classical and medieval literature. They loved the heroic stories and courtly attitudes. Through their writing, they tried to encourage readers toward more noble actions and attitudes.