Rhymers and Reasoners: Poetry in Transition
Most of the poetry that we now identify as ‘Victorian’ through the multiple anthologies that exist to chart the period had been published before 1870, and the period 1880–1914, though ‘rich in poetry … was less dominated by evident giants than the high-Victorian period’ (Bergonzi 1980, ix). As with fiction in the period, there is the sense of a missing generation between the heights of High Victorianism and the heights of High Modernism, though also as with fiction, that missing generation is heavily populated. The absence of ‘giants’, however, means that most university students study a particular canon of Victorian poetry followed by a canon of Modernists. Any brief trawl through anthologies designed to map this period produces the impression that there is no ‘authorized version’ of late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — no readily agreed canon of ‘greatness’ between 1870 and 1905, 1910 or 1914: indeed, there is not even much agreement about the dates.1 The smallness of the lyric poems, and the unsustained achievements of the poets imply a period of minor works.
KeywordsWoman Writer Poetic Form Victorian Period Music Hall Lyric Poem
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