Tennyson was the most popular as well as the representative poet of the Victorian age. From his early age he displayed a talent for poetry and afterwards he choose poetry as his vocation. His genius lay in his Lyrics, the dramatic monologue and the classical poems. Tenyson’s most ambitious work for which he was most acclaimed in his own age was the Idylls of the King, a series of poems on King Arthur. These Arthurian poems were picturesque at the same time romantic, allegorical and didactic . He reduced the plan of the Arthurian stories to the necessities of Victorian morality. His another remarkable work is In Memoriam. In this poem he dives deeper into the mystery of the human mind. Here he records the death of his friend Arthur Hallam and his thoughts and the problems of life and death, his religious anxieties, and his hard-won faith in eternal life.
He also wrote poetry by using Greek legends. In his such classical poems as Ththonus, Ulysses, and The Lotos Eaters he re-interpreted the Greek legends in a modern way. He made poetry the description of a beautiful and antique old world. His other notable poems are ‘Maut’ The Palace of Art’ ‘The dream of fair Women’, Oenone and The Princess. In the princess he touches upon the theme of the legitimate position and function of women in the Victorian society.
Tennyson, it has been pointed out, was the representative poet of his age. He represented its ideals, its aspirations, its social attitude and its moral perplexities. He chooses ideas that reflected the strength and the weakness of the Victorian age. He was also the supreme craftsman of the structure of verse among the Victorian poets.
Robert Browning was one of the representative poets of the Victorian Age. Browning started his poetic career quite early, but it was his dramatic elopement with Elizabeth Barrett, the young poetess, at the age of thirty three that brought about new an glorious chapter in his poetic life. For the next fifteen years, the couple lived in Italy, where so much of Browning’s best poetry was inspired and composed.
Browning is most remembered for his dramatic monologues in which he makes psychological studies of several characters. He was interested in the fortunes of a single mind, and for this purpose he evolved the ‘dramatic monologue’. And it was in this form that many of his best-known pieces were composed such as ’ Andrea del Sarto, ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’ ‘Soul’ , and ‘The Bishop orders his Tom’. Their appearances in a series of volumes, which included Dramatic Lyrics, Men and Women, and Dramatic Personae gave him in the later half of the century a reputation second only to that of Tennyson. They remain his outstanding achievement. He put his method to the greatest test in The Ring and the Book in which a series of dramatic monologues are woven to make one of the longest poems in the English language.
In his poetry Browning depicts the Italian Renaissance. Browning had selected a sordid Italian life of crime. His poems are crowded with memorable characters, and the whole of Renaissance Italy comes to life in his pages. At first he seems to have created a world of living people as Shakespeare had done, but a closer inspection shows that Browning’s Men and Women are not free. They live in a spiritually totalitarian state in which browning is chancellor and God is president, always with the proviso that the chancellor is the President’s voice on earth.
He had developed also an independence of style, with an assumption of unusual rhythms, grotesque rhymes, and abrupt, broken phrasing. At its best this gave to his verses a virility which contrasts pleasantly with the over-melodious movement of much nineteenth-century poetry. That he was a master of verse can be seen from the easy movement of his Lyrics, but his special effects, though they gave realism to his poems, were in danger, in his later works, of becoming a mannerism.
Thus, for his beautiful dramatic monologues, the psychological study of the characters, the depiction of Renaissance Italy and the Philosophical quality of his poetry Browning has remained one of the frequently cited poets of English literature.
Mathew Arnold was also an intellectual Victorian poet and his poetry expressed more keenly the intellect of the Victorian World. His place, as a poet is honorable and dignified in the ranks of those, who are just below the best. But as a prose master, Arnold has a more secured position in the literary world of England. His remarkable prose works are On Translating Homer, Essays in Criticism, and Culture and Anarchy.
As a scholar, Arnold remains basically a formidable force for the intellectual and cultural revival of his race. All this end. He has insisted, in all of them, on the strength of the classical spirit to rehabilitate the intellectual and cultural outlook of English literature.
Arnold is essentially a critic, though originally a poet, and his poetry and his criticism go hand in hand, As a critic-poet, he has emphasised the necessity of design in poetry and also the grand style. Arnold’s exposition of the ‘grand style’ is found in his lectures On Translating Homer. In his Essays of criticism, he insists on the interpretative power of poetry. He calls poetry a criticism of life, under the conditions fixed for such a criticism by the laws of poetic truth and poetic beauty.
His prose has the full measure of regularity, uniformity, precision and balance, In facts, the outstanding quality of Arnold’s prose style is its lucidity, its precision and its clarity. His meaning is never missed and his correctness is unquestionable.