Narrative matters: keynote address, "forms and fashions: a conference in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Victorian Poetry".
My title might suggest attention to narrative poetry generally, or poetry's relation to the novel, vital issues indeed. (1) Though a synthesis of narrative poetry's larger role in the Victorian era has yet to be written, I take up a different topic and a different purpose, for my title is both a descriptor and, in little, an argument. I want to explore what kind of narrative VP told at the outset about Victorian poetry, how that narrative has persisted or changed over its fifty-year history, and how scholars might complicate that narrative as VP looks forward to its sixtieth anniversary. The narrative relayed by the journal and individual scholars matters not only because this work collectively represents Victorian culture's poetic production but also because such narratives form a hermeneutic that shapes scholars' fundamental assumptions, the questions they pose, and their specific interpretive outcomes.
A cursory glance at volume one of VP, issued half a century ago, would suggest this encapsulation of the genre it studied: Victorian poets were men; there were three major poets, namely Arnold, Tennyson, and Browning; most scholars who wrote about Victorian poetry were also male; and Victorian poetry merited study and admiration for its aesthetic qualities resulting from poets' artistry. Thus only two contributors to Victorian Poetry in 1963, Patricia Ball and Lore Metzger, (2) were women, and all contributions focused on male poets, though Elizabeth Barrett Browning was twice mentioned in passing. Of thirty-seven articles in volume one, twelve were devoted to Browning and eight each to Tennyson and Arnold. Richard Tobias, the "Legendary Pitt English Professor," as John Stasny called him, (3) contributed the first of a fifty-year-long sequence of "This Year's Work," illuminating the immediate back story of volume one by surveying scholarship published in 1962. As Professor Tobias reported, "I find [that] Arnold, Browning, and Tennyson continue to dominate the yearly bibliographies. Arnold has a slight lead over Tennyson and Browning, but the Arnold listing is stretched by a number of short notes on individual poems. Yeats, Hopkins, and Hardy (in about that order) follow" (p. 225). (4) Arnold's dominance in 1963 is likewise evident in the preface to the new journal by founding editors Gordon Pitts and John Stasny, who allude to "The Scholar-Gipsy" in their second sentence: "We wish merely to serve our fellow Victorianists in a mutual endeavour of scholarly and critical inquiry into the poetry of the Victorians, who, as their Age recedes farther and farther into the past, appear more and more worthy of the attention of us who still suffer from 'this strange disease of modern life."' (5) As they also remarked, "The main concern of the journal will be the aesthetic consideration of the poetry of that period" (p. v) in contradistinction to the "study of the poetry in its social, historical, or philosophical context," though they were open to "an occasional worthy study" of this sort (p. v).
This initial encapsulation of VP's first volume, however, scants the forward-looking dynamism, breadth of outlook, and complex purposes that also marked the journal from the beginning. If the major poets, including Hopkins, (6) took up most space in the journal's first issues, volume one also represented the diversity of Victorian poetry and the scholarship it inspired with two articles each on George Meredith and Arthur Hugh Clough, individual essays on Arthur Symons' decadent poetry, Rossetti's "Rose Mary," Carlyle's poetry, and comparative studies of Arnold and George Sand and of Tennyson's In Memoriam and Goethe's Faust. (7) Richard Tobias' critical survey additionally noted work on William Barnes, John Davidson, and Eugene Lee-Hamilton, as well as approaches to poetry based on religion and politics. (8) Volume one, furthermore, announced a monumental new project that laid the groundwork for a more inclusive consideration of women's poetry: "Readers may be interested to learn," Philip Kelley and Ronald Hudson remark, "that a start has been made towards publication of the definitive edition of the letters of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.... We estimate that the project will result in a twenty-volume edition of the letters, taking some fifteen years to complete"--this last a daunting reminder of the demands of scholarly editing on the scale of The Brownings' Correspondence, which continues fifty years later with Philip Kelley still at the helm and volume twenty, as yet unpublished, marking the halfway rather than end point of the edition. (9)
From the beginning VP was also markedly forward looking in seeing that scholarship and teaching could and should be complementary. In his 2012 address entitled "Teaching as Vocation," Modern Language Association president Russell Berman argued that "classrooms are, after all, our primary concern. As professional scholars, we are first and foremost teachers." (10) It was a recognition articulated in 1963 by Gordon Pitts and John Stasny:
Victorian Poetry, in its second function, is dedicated to becoming for the classroom teacher of Victorian literature a source and reservoir of analyses, reappraisals, and useful explicative insights. Within this function, many of the articles will be provocative, suggestive, explorative--pedagogical catalysts, we hope--and their appearance in Victorian Poetry will not mean necessarily that the editors regard them as final or absolute readings, or that they even agree with the interpretations. The only qualification for the acceptance of such articles will be their liveliness of approach, their soundness of argument, and their possible use toward a more vital and effective presentation of the credentials of Victorian poetry in the classroom. (pp. v-vi)
If their ideal classroom, which they envisioned as the scene of "dramatic monologues before crowds of enthralled students" (p. v), no longer seems tenable in an era of laptops and smart phones, their conviction that scholarship devoted to Victorian poetry should hold value not just for specialist scholars but also for the many in their classrooms remains timely fifty years later.
One final comment from Pitts and Stasny's introductory editorial merits attention, their assertion that Lionel Stevenson's "'The Pertinacious Victorian Poets' ... provided us in large measure with our initial inspiration" (p. vi). To follow their hint takes the founding narrative of the journal back even further, to 1950, when Stevenson first presented his argument as a presidential address to the Philological Association of the Pacific Coast. Stevenson's lecture illuminates just why VP's first editors were so intent on emphasizing "aesthetic consideration" of Victorian poetry rather than historical or social analysis. Though Stevenson never names New Criticism or Modernist poetry, they are his presumed referents when he cites the "most aggressive school of criticism," which emphasizes "the images, the patterns, and the verbal nuances of poetry," and "allusions as a primary condition of poetic enjoyment" in the "dominant school of modern poetry." He also identifies "archetypal images" nested within poets' combinatory allusive practices as one of "the most valid current techniques of poetic analysis," a glance toward recent Jungian approaches in which Stevenson himself excelled. (11) Hence, he contends, Victorian poetry's intrinsic aesthetic qualities are the principal grounds for refuting Modernist denigration of Victorian poets as "pretentious moralizers or sentimental embroiderers." (12) To demonstrate, Stevenson reads Tennyson's The Princess in the context of Shakespeare and Arthurian legend to establish how "Tennyson selects and adapts mythological material to provide symbols for his theory about the conflict of the sexes" and situates Browning's "The Laboratory" in relation to the historical figure Mme. de Brinvilliers, Racine's Andromaque, and Casimir Delavigne's "Le Toilette de Constance" (pp. 236-238, 243-244). In a twinkling Stevenson uncovers the strong pressure that poetic Modernism was exerting on poetry studies at VP's founding, when complex "allusions" as in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land were in Stevenson's words "a primary condition" to the very "enjoyment" of poetry, and when tracing archetypal symbols of the sort Jung or Yeats's Spiritus Mundi invoked was a defining feature of substantive scholarship. In this remark Stevenson may also shed light on the production of the marvelous Longman Annotated English Poets series that began to appear in the 1960s, in which scholars mapped the complex allusiveness that Stevenson hails. So far as I can determine, the earliest volume, issued in 1965, was devoted to Matthew Arnold; and editor Kenneth Allott dated his preface 1963, the same year that VP debuted. (13) As Stevenson's address concluded, "For half a century the critics have insisted on considering [Victorian poets] only as sociologists or metaphysicians and then condemning them for alleged inadequacy in that role. Let us begin to do them justice by regarding them as artists" (p. 245). Here, clearly, is the wellspring of VP's early narrative of Victorian poetry's aesthetic and allusive complexity, and also its back story in poetic Modernism, under the aegis of which VP emerged. Thus, to counter Modernist denigration of Victorian poetry the earliest contributors to VP emphasized the poetry's aesthetic unity, coherence, and complex allusiveness--as David Fleischer did in "'Rabbi Ben Ezra,' 49-72: A New Key to an Old Crux" or Boyd Litzinger in "The Structure of Tennyson's 'The Last Tournament'" in VP's inaugural issue. (14)
VP's current editorial statement reveals a strikingly different narrative in several respects, beginning with the fact that it is most readily accessed on the worldwide web--a reminder of the very different context in which scholarship and teaching occur today:
Founded in 1962 to further the aesthetic study of the poetry of the Victorian Period in Britain (1830-1914), Victorian Poetry publishes articles from a broad range of theoretical and critical angles, including but not confined to new historicism, feminism, and social and cultural issues. The journal has expanded its purview from the major figures of Victorian England (Tennyson, Browning, the Rossettis, etc.) to a wider compass of poets of all classes and gender identifications in nineteenth-century Britain and the Commonwealth. (15)
Arnold has disappeared from the triumvirate of major Victorian poets following the precedent of Isobel Armstrong in Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics, and Politics. Pointing out that "Matthew Arnold and Dante Gabriel Rossetti feature less strongly than the customary canon of Victorian poetry might insist," she contends that in "the depth and range of their projects and in the beauty and boldness of their experiments with language, Tennyson, Browning and Christina Rossetti stand pre-eminent." (16) Women poets are explicitly welcomed in VP's current editorial statement in the references to feminism, the plural "Rossettis," and the "wider compass of poets of all classes and gender identifications." Geographical scope has also expanded to the "Commonwealth." Above all, however, by the time of its fiftieth anniversary VP had altered its narrative to welcome the inclusion of poetry's intersection with culture, history, and social issues.
To locate which of the "broad range of theoretical and critical angles" mentioned in VP's editorial statement dominate the journal's current narrative, I instance the two issues of VP I guest-edited in 2003 and 2004, entitled "Whither Victorian Poetry?," which were designed to suggest future directions in the field. Collectively the contributors exhibited two primary interests: 1) crossing boundaries between poetry and other genres, theoretical approaches, historical eras, and national cultures, and 2) cultural neo-formalism, the term advanced by Herbert Tucker in 1999 to indicate an understanding of form as intrinsically laden with cultural codings and significance. (17) Accordingly, relative to 1963, our contemporary narrative of Victorian poetry relies less on poetry understood in relation to individual artistry than on poetry defined by its condition of embeddedness in the matrices of material, ideological, archival, technological, entrepreneurial, social, political, and multinational practices and formations of its time. This narrative of embeddedness, whether linked to nuanced formal analysis or the tracing of broad ideological effects of or on poetry, has had consequences for interpretation just as the VP narrative of fifty years ago did. Without quickened interest in the cultural production and ideological valences of poetry, for example, the special issue of VP devoted to Spasmodic poetry would have been unthinkable. (18)
Renewed study of Victorian poetry's intersection with religion is another corollary of our altered narrative of Victorian poetry. If we recall Lionel Stevenson's impatience in 1950 with "the long shelf of books on such subjects as 'The Message of In Memoriam' and 'Browning as a Philosophic and Religious Teacher,'" which "gave the impression that moralizing was the sole purpose and justification of their work" and had been so "exhaustively" probed that "no further analysis of any sort need be undertaken" (pp. 232-233), it is unsurprising that it has taken half a century as well as the visceral impact of clashing religions in the twenty-first century to re-establish religion as a compelling element in Victorian poetry's own narrative. Even in 2003 and 2004, not one of the contributors to "Whither Victorian Poetry" adduced religion as an important next phase of emphasis, even though two of the younger scholars, William McKelvy and Charles La Porte, have since published important contributions to the subject. (19) In 2004 Kirstie Blair did, however, edit a volume entitled John Keble in Context and then in 2006 co-edited with Emma Mason the special issue of VP devoted to "Tractarian Poets"--a development also related to the rising stature of Christina Rossetti and the feminist studies of poetry that helped propel attention to her work. (20) The introduction to Kirstie Blair's newest work, Form and Faith in Victorian Poetry and Religion, brings together the dual strands of poetry's embeddedness in culture and of cultural neoformalism as she emphasizes the intrinsic role of form in both religion and poetry and their mutually shaping force. (21) That religion and poetry will continue to interest emerging scholars is suggested by graduate student Erin Nerstad's focus on Browning and religion in the concluding number of volume 50 of VP, which honors the bicentenary of Browning's birth. (22) Nerstad takes up precisely the topic that Lionel Stevenson spurned--"Browning as a Philosophic and Religious Teacher"--except that the teaching is displaced from Browning to Jowett. For Nerstad argues that Friedrich Schleiermacher's biblical hermeneutics inspired both Browning and Jowett to envision forms of writing and reading that required imaginative entry into a character and that character's historical context. (23)
In the same issue, co-edited by Mary Ellis Gibson and Britta Martens, appears "Future Directions for Robert Browning Studies: A Virtual Roundtable," a suitable introduction to the topic of how VP's narrative might or should change in the future. The questions posed to Warwick Slinn, Isobel Armstrong, Sandra Donaldson, John Woolford, and Herbert Tucker are predicated on poetry's cultural embeddedness, since Mary Ellis Gibson begins by asking, "Is there a future for Robert Browning studies at a time when cultural studies and a focus on material culture dominate Victorian studies?" (24) Another of her questions derives from poetry studies' increasing tendency to focus on intersecting texts, authors, and media rather than in-depth analyses of a single poem. The answers from Roundtable participants frequently reference the role of long poems and the mediation or remediation of poetry: Isobel Amstrong mentions print-culture studies and the pirating of Browning in newspapers; John Woolford comments on Browning's engagement with sensation fiction; and Herbert Tucker contends that poetry studies, in some 20-200 years, will have become "absorbed" into "media studies" (pp. 435-436, 438, 440).
I concur in seeing these as fruitful paths of future research and now turn specifically to periodical poetry, an interest I share along with Kathryn Ledbetter, Natalie Houston, and Alison Chapman, to explore what implications poetry and periodicals might pose for the larger narrative of Victorian poetry. My interests date back to my collaboration with Michael Lund on The Victorian Serial and our discussion of Coventry Patmore's Victories of Love serialized in Macmillan's Magazine and William Morris' The Pilgrims of Hope in Commonweal (25); periodical publication also turned out to play a crucial role in the career of poet Graham R. Tomson, later Rosamund Marriott Watson, whose biography I have written. For both projects it was necessary to carry out research using dusty volumes at the British Newspaper Library in Colindale or eye-straining microfilms. Now, with the active digitization of Victorian periodicals, a vast archive of remediated print is widely accessible. In response, at least three online indexes of Victorian periodical poetry are under way, and Alison Chapman and Caley Ehnes are guest-editing a forthcoming special issue of VP dedicated to poetry and periodicals. (26) What kinds of questions might this approach enable us to pose, and what sort of narrative could it lead us to construct? The answer is by no means monolithic or even one that inherently requires a major shift away from current or earlier approaches. In Poetics en Passant: Redefining the Relationship between Victorian and Modern Poetry (2010), for example, Anne Jamison identifies a crucial role for the newspaper press in Baudelaire's avant garde poetry and high Modernism, since most of Baudelaire's prose poems first appeared in the Paris newspaper La Presse and incorporated elements of journalism in their texts. (27) As Jamison comments, "not only does the newspaper provide material (content, subject matter) and materiality (publication) to the prose poem, it also underlies its form" (p. 57). She thus underscores the self-aware referentiality and linguistic play in Baudelaire's hybrid poetics of low and high, one possible expressive form that the "shock" of the modern can take. (28) Surprisingly, however, Jamison says nothing of the role of the press for the other poet on whom her study focuses, Christina Rossetti. The second half of "Mother Country" could serve as one more of Rossetti's corpse poems that interest Jamison, who detects in them "stealth" more than shock and hence a transgressive coupling of the modern with chiseled impersonal form that creates a counterpart to Baudelaire. (29) In "Mother Country," Rossetti first paints a utopian realm, then turns to the end all share in this world:
All must lie down together Where the turf is green, The foulest face hidden, The fairest not seen; Gone as if never They had breathed or been. Gone from sweet sunshine Underneath the sod, Turned from warm flesh and blood To senseless clod, Gone as if never They had toiled or trod, Gone out of sight of all Except our God. (30)
This was first published in Macmillan's Magazine in March 1868. The materiality of her poem's context in a magazine shipped in trains across the country and thumbed by dirty hands is, I suggest, an intriguing counterpart to the insistent materiality of decaying bodies. The poem, moreover, was sandwiched between an installment of Sir Arthur Helps's political roman-a-clef Realmah, which invoked the things of this world in the form of contemporary politics, and Frederic William Farrar's essay on Robert Lytton ("Owen Meredith"), which occluded the self-effacing poet who preceded his words when he ranked current poets: "We cannot decide with any certainty whether Mr. Tennyson or Mr. Browning will be hereafter regarded as the representative poet of the present generation, but there can be no question that the honour will be assigned to one of the two"; among runners-up he counted Arnold, Patmore, Robert Buchanan, Jean Ingelow, Swinburne, and Morris. The Farrar essay thus constructs a self-referential frame of poetry making around Rossetti's lyric. (31) Within this frame, Rossetti's accomplished form calls out from its material vehicle to the aesthetically minded with its disturbing, perfect rhymes of God with sod, clod, and trod (a word so important to Hopkins), while the disruptive half rhyme of "blood" registers corporeal imperfection yet also anticipates the perfect rhyme to come when warm flesh is resolved into harmony with God's plan by itself becoming a clod.
If periodical poetry can serve narratives of modernity and materiality, it is also inseparable from the attention to poets of "all classes and gender identifications" that is welcomed in VP's current editorial policy. Mike Sanders opens The Poetry of Chartism: Aesthetics, Politics, History (2009) with a poem by factory girl E. H. in the weekly newspaper Northern Star, and his method in all but the final chapter is to take the "column of an individual journal rather than the individual poet as its object of analysis." Because the Northern Star has been digitized as part of the open access Nineteenth Century Serials Edition edited by Laurel Brake and others, the poetry of hundreds of working-class poets is now open to international readers inside or outside the academy. (32) Both as a historical print medium and as an open-access remediated source, Northern Star and its periodical poetry also further the study of Victorian popular culture, as, on a more restrictive scale, do the digitizations of London Journal, Good Words, and Reynolds's Miscellany in commercial databases marketed to research libraries. (33)
Josephine Guy and Ian Small, however, express skepticism about what studying poetry in its material publishing context can tell us, beginning with the problem of what the text is (is it the entire volume? the text plus its contextual placement? the linguistic text only?) and extending to how such study clarifies the value of an individual poem or why any twenty-first-century reader of poetry, who will likely not encounter a poem in its original print context, should care. (34) As they comment,
An important question ... is whether recognizing the generic importance of poetry to nineteenth-century magazines has any relevance to our present-day judgments about the literary or aesthetic value of specific poems, rather than ... requiring us to revise our views of the nature and functions of the periodicals in which they were printed.... [I]t leaves unanswered the question of its impact on the way we, as modern readers, both understand and respond to [a] poem qua poetry. (p. 67)
They conclude their chapter on poetry in its material print contexts by asserting that,
in the absence of a compelling account of the relationship between these poetic types the modern reader is unlikely to be persuaded that reading nineteenth-century poetry in its original print contexts--whether in a periodical or anthology--is anything more than a historical issue or has any relevance for how they encounter and value such poetry today. (92)
In essence they question the relevance of historical studies of poetry altogether, as well as Jerome McGann's premise that bibliographical codes both create and shape meaning. Jerome McGann provides, I think, an excellent riposte. Not only does his brilliant chapter on Coleridge in The Beauty of Inflections indicate how relevant paratext is to the meaning of text in The Ancient Mariner, but he also warns against presentist, ahistorical readings because they so readily invite confirmation of pre-existing orientations and beliefs as readers evade the challenge of "historically alienated material." (35)
Guy and Small are more persuasive to my mind when they question "the most familiar story of the relationship between poetry and nineteenth-century publishing institutions ... [which] documents a dramatic decline in interest in the genre from the 1820s onward--a decline relative, that is, to the enormous increase in the popularity of prose fiction" (p. 59). The persistence of this narrative is clear in Richard Cronin's Reading Victorian Poetry published in 2012: "The great majority of the poets of the century failed to benefit from the new mass readership that supported the earnings of novelists such as Dickens and George Eliot. No doubt that economic discrepancy encouraged poets to cultivate a certain disdain for the popular, but they seem also have felt a real anxiety." (36)
Even the supposed falling off of Victorian from Romantic poetry has been complicated by Wiliam St. Clair, who points out that in its own day the earliest canonical Romantic poetry consisted of narrative poems by Sir Walter Scott and Byron. As St. Clair comments,
The division between poetry and prose, and between 'literature' and other writing was less sharp [in the Romantic era] than it has since become. The notion that 'poetry' is a uniquely dense and complex type of writing, mainly concerned with inner feelings, and is necessarily obscure and inaccessible except to those who have a specially trained sensibility, still lay largely in the post-romantic Victorian and modernist future. (37)
Note that the elements he singles out--density and complexity--are those underscored by Lionel Stevenson in "The Pertinacious Victorian Poets." Yet even the predominance of these qualities in twentieth-century poetry can be overstated. In exploring the premium placed on poetic and interpretive difficulty in academic study of poetry in the mid-twentieth century, John Guillory offers in passing a narrative of popular modern poetry at variance with the scenario invoked by St. Clair. Drawing upon a scholarly investigation of 1920s poetry anthologies by Craig Abbott, Guillory points out that
there already existed by the 1920s a fairly well established canon of "modern" American poets, whose works were extensively anthologized, as well as taught in the high schools and colleges. These figures were not the familiar titans of modernism but rather such poets as Vachel Lindsay, Amy Lowell, Edgar Lee Masters, and Carl Sandberg--poets not thought especially difficult then or now. (38)
St. Clair's and Guillory's reminders of poetry that was popular, widely read, and aesthetically valued in its day, from 1805 when Scott published Lay of the Last Minstrel into the 1920s, suggest the possibility that the popular consumption of Victorian poetry has also been underestimated. (39)
Of course, sales of novels and their reprints, as well as copies of novels borrowed from lending libraries, far exceeded the numbers for poetry volumes. (40) But this did not mean that Victorian audiences ceased to value or read poetry or that, en masse, they preferred only the simplest and lightest of poems. The mass circulation of thousands of periodicals, so many of which included poetry, meant that Victorian poetry reached a very wide audience indeed. Nor did poets publishing in widely circulating periodicals cease to aspire to aesthetic quality, as Mike Sanders demonstrates of Chartist poets (p. 2). An important factor in the wide readership enjoyed by Victorian poetry is pointed out by Kathryn Ledbetter: "agreements with publishers did not extend to periodicals." That is, any poem published in a periodical could immediately be reprinted in full or excerpted by another periodical. (41) Andrew Hobbs, who is indexing poetry in the provincial press from 1800-1900, has recently estimated that local newspapers published five million individual poems in this time period. And though they constitute a minority--less than two percent of the 1800 poems Hobbs has indexed thus far--Tennyson, Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Swinburne, and George Eliot (42) are among the poets circulated to readers by this means.
Demonstrating that poetry was a routine rather than marginal presence in Victorian print culture, however, does not fully address Guy and Small's contention that a text's material context or history tells us little about the meaning or value of Victorian poems today. If I find a different story in Christina Rossetti's "Mother Country," since the Macmillan's Magazine context complicates and deepens poetic meaning in ways that I find as interesting as those Anne Jamison posits for Baudelaire's prose poems in La Presse, I turn to a very different poet to indicate how a material history and assumption that poetry enjoyed a wide readership could lead us to ask new questions or find altered meaning in a Victorian poem today. My test case may at first blush seem perverse. It is the poet so important to VP in its early years, Matthew Arnold, and his work of limited publication first issued in 1853: Switzerland, a lyric sequence that remains closely associated with the proto-modernist theme of alienation, especially through the frequent selection of "To Marguerite: Continued" in contemporary classroom anthologies. Arnold's final ordering of the sequence in 1877, on which almost all critical commentary is based, reinforced the representation of alienated subjectivity. "Meeting" introduces Marguerite but already signals inevitable parting dictated by "God's tremendous voice" pronouncing, "Be counselled, and retire" ("Meeting, ll. 11-12). (43) "Parting" then represents the speaker's conflicted yearning toward retreat and toward desire, this last undone by "Our different past" (l. 66). "A Farewell" begins with the lovers' embrace in a reunion that rapidly devolves into her indifference and his resigned conclusion that they can at most meet only in the afterlife. "Isolation. To Marguerite," addressed principally to the speaker's solitary heart, records the decree that "'Thou hast been, shalt be, art, alone'" (l. 30); and since "happier men" are merely those who "Have dreamed two human hearts might blend / In one" (ll. 37-39), the speaker implies that his is an ontological human condition. Isolation becomes cosmic indeed in "To Marguerite--Continued," which figures human beings as "in the sea of life enisled," between whom flows "The unplumbed, salt, estranging sea" ordained by God (ll. 1, 24). Two concluding lyrics provide the denouement. In "Absence" the "grey" eyes of a stranger summon the memory of Marguerite's blue eyes (ll. 1-8), while in "The Terrace at Berne," set ten years later, the speaker again sees Marguerite's house, speculates on her likely decline or death, and, reprising the trope of "To Marguerite--Continued," concludes, "So on the sea of life, alas! / Man meets man--meets, and quits again ... And Marguerite I shall see no more" (ll. 47-48, 52).
This is the sequence I read in graduate school, in the long-influential Houghton and Stange anthology. (44) Neither that anthology nor the first and second Longman annotated editions of Arnold's poems pointed out that a different poem fronted the Switzerland sequence for nearly a quarter century, titled "To My Friends, who ridiculed a tender Leave-taking" from 1853-1869, and after 1869 "A Memory Picture." (45) Since Arnold removed this entree to the sequence only in 1877, eleven years before his death, "To My Friends"/ "A Memory Picture" was the best-known opening of Switzerland in Arnold's lifetime. I reproduce in full the 1853 version, before Arnold introduced a new refrain in 1857--"Ere the parting hour go by":
Laugh, my friends, and without blame Lightly quit what lightly came: Rich to-morrow as to-day Spend as madly as you may! I, with little land to stir, 5 Am the exacter labourer, Ere the parting kiss be dry, Quick, thy tablets, Memory! But my Youth reminds me--"Thou Hast liv'd light as these live now: 10 As these are, thou too weft such: Much hast had, hast squander'd much." Fortune's now less frequent heir, Ah! I husband what's grown rare. Ere the parting kiss be dry 15 Quick, thy tablets, Memory! (46) Young, I said: 'A face is gone If too hotly mus'd upon; And our best impressions are Those that do themselves repair.' 20 Many a face I then let flee, Ah! is faded utterly. Ere the parting kiss be dry, Quick, thy tablets, Memory! Marguerite says: "As last year went, 25 So the coming year'll be spent; Some day next year, I shall be, Entering heedless, kiss'd by thee." Ah, I hope!--yet, once away, What may chain us, who can say? 30 Ere the parting kiss be dry, Quick, thy tablets, Memory! Paint that lilac kerchief, bound Her soft face, her hair around: Tied under the archest chin 35 Mockery ever ambush'd in. Let the fluttering fringes streak All her pale, sweet-rounded cheek. Ere the parting kiss be dry, Quick, thy tablets, Memory! 40 Paint that figure's pliant grace As she tow'rd me lean'd her face, Half refus'd and half resign'd Murmuring: "Art thou still unkind?" Many a broken promise then 45 Was new made--to break again. Ere the parting kiss be dry, Quick, thy tablets, Memory! Paint those eyes, so blue, so kind, Eager tell-tales of her mind; 50 Paint, with their impetuous stress Of inquiring tenderness, Those frank eyes, where deep doth lie An angelic gravity. Ere the parting kiss be dry, 55 Quick, thy tablets, Memory! What, my Friends, these feeble lines Shew, you say, my love declines? To paint ill as I have done, Proves forgetfulness begun? 60 Time's gay minions, pleas'd you see, Time, your master, governs me. Pleas'd, you mock the fruitless cry: "Quick, thy tablets, Memory!" Ah! too true. Time's current strong 65 Leaves us true to nothing long. Yet, if little stays with man, Ah! retain we all we can! If the clear impression dies, Ah! the dim remembrance prize! 70 Ere the parting kiss be dry Quick, thy tablets, Memory! (47)
One effect of these lines is to place a more vibrant, spirited woman at the head of the sequence, rather than the abstract figure who in 1877 barely enters before she is being ushered out. (48) As Patricia Ball remarked in 1976, "She is a person not just a presence," with "independent reactions," unlike Lucy in Wordsworth's sequence. (49) And in 1985 Miriam Allott noted the sensory details that recur in "A Memory Picture," "Meeting," and "Parting," as well as "'The unconquered joy in which her spirit dwells."' (50) Especially in lines 33-44 of "To My Friends," Marguerite is sensuously evoked as an embodied woman accessible to the speaker's touch, audition, and vision. Nor does the conclusion of the 1853 sequence, unlike the "Terrace at Berne" in 1877, entirely erase Marguerite as a living presence. "Absence," the last lyric in 1853, marks the lovers' geographical estrangement but ends with the poet beseeching, "Stay with me, Marguerite, still!" (Poems, p. 190).
Most important, however, is the polyvocality unloosed by "To My Friends." The poem's title announces both a community and differing perspectives within it, since the friends "ridicule" the speaker's farewell. (51) The first word of the 1853 Switzerland is "Laugh," and since even Marguerite sometimes teasingly mocks the speaker (hers is the "archest chin / Mockery ever ambush'd in" [lines 35-36]), he tacitly groups her with his teasing friends. Yet the "tenderness" of her gaze parallels the speaker's "tender" leave-taking; and the "angelic gravity" of her "frank eyes" (lines 52-54) hints at loving encouragement rather than ironic banter. (52) She is both a resisting coquette and a beckoning angel. Even the refrain dually refers to a wet "kiss" bespeaking passion and one gone "dry." Above all, the speaker's awareness of his potentially laughable qualities registers a poetic subjectivity aware that others, even those close to him, do not necessarily share his own standpoint or outlook. Since Arnold's 1853 Preface underscores the necessary architectonics of poetry, perhaps this poem opens the sequence to register a sensibility receptive to others, as a lover's must be, and thus structurally marks an emotional high point. But "To My Friends" also functions to ironize the speaker and render his subsequent lyrics contingent; perhaps, as his friends allege, the problem of love indeed lies less in the cosmos or God's interdiction than in the speaker's insufficient ardor ("these feeble lines / Shew, you say, my love declines?" [lines 57-58]).
Patricia Ball notes that in Amours de Voyage "Clough sees Claude's predicament as one generated entirely by his individual temperament"; placing "To My Friends" at the head of Switzerland brings the two sequences closer together. (53) "To My Friends" also comes closer than the 1877 Switzerland to the stance of Clough in his 1853 review essay "Recent English Poetry" insofar as the lyric's polyvocality opens spaces for a wider range of readers and adopts a less recherchd tone. (54) The 1853 Switzerland is a more inclusive poem, a dialogue of the mind with others, its ending more hopeful, (55) One reason for the relative neglect of the twenty-four-year-long alternative entree to Switzerland has been scholarly interest in the biographical puzzle behind the poem, which has generated lively debates. (56) For example, "A Memory Picture" is identified merely as being at one point part of Switzerland in the Allott editions of Arnold. The majority of the headnote to "Meeting" focuses instead on the identity of Marguerite. Another reason for the relative inattention to the 1853 sequence, I suggest, is that "To My Friends" destabilizes not only the inner standing point of the entire sequence but also our customary expectations of the Arnoldian voice of alienation. Miriam Allott suggests that "To My Friends" has a "Praed-like bittersweet vers de societe swing"--the kind of voice associated more readily with periodicals and newspapers, where Praed published almost all his verse tales. (57)
For Switzerland, I thus suggest, the sequence's material history and especially its nearly quarter-century-long alternative introduction indeed matters to the meaning we find in Victorian poetry today. I find the 1853 version more interesting: not only are its sexual politics less regressive, since Marguerite is represented as having an existence independent of the speaker's subjectivity, but the play of meaning in the entire sequence is richer, more complex, because the speaker's potential unreliability in "To My Friends" injects more ambiguity into the whole. I also suggest that this is a textual, material history we are more likely to seek out if we come to the study of Victorian poetry assuming that it was not a marginal literary discourse grounded in alienation but a familiar presence that encouraged poets to think of theirs as single voices amidst many contending perspectives and tones.
No single narrative can encompass the whole of Victorian poetry, of course, as a glance toward Hopkins in the context of periodical poetry immediately makes clear. A principal appeal of Victorian poetry today is its range of forms and fashions. I end, then, by returning to my epigraph: "In their use of the whole antecedent range of poetic forms and themes, the Victorians were far more eclectic than any other poetic group has ever been.... Experimenting ..., they widened the scope of English poetry, both in subject-matter and in technique, to an unparalleled extent." This comes, I am pleased to say, from one of the founding documents behind VP, Lionel Stevenson's "The Pertinacious Victorian Poets" (p. 233). Though our dominant narratives of Victorian poetry have shifted and will continue to do so, Stevenson's fundamental insight remains an invigorating constant.
My warmest thanks to John Lamb for inviting me to deliver the keynote address at the "Victorian Poetry: Forms and Fashions" conference in April 2013, for his patient support when at the last minute I needed to deliver the address virtually via Skype, and for his receptiveness to the essay in the pages of VP. My thanks as well to Jessica Queener for her memorable introduction at the conference and to Hilary Attfield for pointing out the sequencing of Switzerland in the 1986 Oxford Authors edition (personal communication, June 14, 2013).
(1) A number of important studies illuminating these topics have appeared in the last five years, including Herbert Tucker's monumental study of epic's integral relation to modernity or Monique Morgan's investigation of narrative and lyric synergy. More recently still Claude Rawson, in his 2011 introduction to The Cambridge Companion to English Poets, observes "the large trace of narrative fiction in poetry, including lyric poetry, ever since the emergence of the novel as a major form of literary expression" even as he likewise asserts "the reality of poetry's special place in the literature of all periods." See Herbert Tucker, Epic: Britain's Heroic Muse 1790-1910 (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2008); Monique Morgan, Narrative Means, Lyric Ends: Temporality in the Nineteenth-Century Long Poem (Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 2009); Claude Rawson, Introduction, The Cambridge Companion to English Poets (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011), p. 2.
(2) Richard C. Tobias began his survey of the Year's Work in volume 1 by pronouncing Lady Katharine Chorley's new book on Clough, The Uncommitted Mind (Oxford Univ. Press), the most important contribution of 1962. Valerie Pitt and Joanna Richardson did not fare so well. Confessing that he had yet to read Pitt's Tennyson Laureate (London: J. Cape, 1962) or Richardson's The Pre-Eminent Victorian (London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1962), Tobias declared himself "willing to accept the judgment of Richard Mayne in the New Statesman (LXIV, 782): 'We have a stricter duty to the past ... than this'" (R. C. Tobias, "This Year's Work in Victorian Poetry: 1962," VP 1, no. 3 [August 1963]: 228).Though gender seems a possible factor in his willingness to judge unread books, the two studies' focus on the public Tennyson and his social role as well as his poetic craft would have been unlikely to find favor in VP in 1963 for reasons explained below. For a much more sympathetic, retrospective account of Pitt and Richardson, see Laurence W. Mazzeno, Alfred Tennyson: The Critical Legacy (Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2004), pp. 107-110.
(3) Cited in the Victorian Poetry obituary by John Stasny; see "In Memoriam: Richard C. Tobias," VP 44, no. 3 (Fall 2006): 310.
(4) R.C. Tobias, "This Year's Work in Victorian Poetry: 1962," VP 1, no. 3 (1963): 225.
(5) Gordon Pitts and John F. Stasny, "Editorial," VP 1, no. 1 (January 1963): v.
(6) Three articles in volume 1 of VP were devoted to Hopkins.
(7) See Russell M. Goldfarb, "Arthur Symons' Decadent Poetry," VP 1, no. 3 (August 1963): 231-234; Clyde K. Hyder, "Rossetti's 'Rose Mary': A Study in the Occult," VP 1, no. 3 (August 1963): 197-207; John W. Morris, "The Germ of Meredith's 'Lucifer in Starlight,'" VP 1, no. 1 (January 1963): 76-80; Carl H. Ketcham, "Meredith and the Wilis," VP 1, no. 4 (November 1963): 241-248; Michael Tunko, "The Satiric Poetry of Arthur Hugh Clough," VP 1, no. 2 (April 1963): 104-114; Clyde de L. Ryals, "An Interpretation of Clough's 'Dipsychus,'" VP 1, no. 3 (August 1963): 182-188; G. B. Tennyson, "Carlyle's Poetry to 1840: A Checklist and Discussion, a New Attribution, and Six Unpublished Poems," VP 1, no. 3 (August 1963): 161-181; Kenneth Allott, "Matthew Arnold's 'The New Sirens' and George Sand," VP 1, no. 2 (April 1963): 156-158; and Lore Metzger, "The Eternal Process: Some Parallels Between Goethe's 'Faust' and Tennyson's 'In Memoriam,'" VP 1, no. 3 (August 1963): 189-196.
(8) Tobias, pp. 223-130. Religion was the focus of Hoxie Neal Fairchild's fifth volume of Religious Trends in English Poetry, covering 1880-1920, with reference to Hopkins, Hardy, Housman, and Yeats, which Tobias deemed the second most important contribution of 1962 (p. 223). Politics figured importantly in his coverage of Benjamin DeMott's essay on the relation of "The Lotos-Eaters" to the General Torrijos expedition, which DeMott likened to the Bay of Pigs invasion (a comparison that Tobias deemed "obvious" [p. 228]).
(9) Philip Kelley and Ronald Hudson, "The Letters of the Brownings," VP 1, no. 3 (August 1963): 238-239.
(10) Russell Berman, "Presidential Address 2012: Teaching as Vocation," PMLA 127, no. 3 (May 2012): 452.
(11) Lionel Stevenson, "The Pertinacious Victorian Poets," University of Toronto Quarterly 21, no. 3 (April 1952): 233. Stevenson adopted a Jungian reading of Tennyson in his well-known essay "The 'High-born Maiden' Symbol in Tennyson," first published in PMLA 63, no. 1 (March 1948): 234-243, then in John Killham's influential collection Critical Essays on the Poetry of Tennyson (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1960), pp. 126-136.
(12) Stevenson, p. 245; see also pp. 232-233.
(13) Christopher Ricks' edition of Tennyson then followed in 1969 (The Poems of Tennyson [London: Longman, Green and Co., 1969]).
(14) David Fleisher, "'Rabbi Ben Ezra,' 49-72: A New Key to an Old Crux," and Boyd Litzinger, "The Structure of Tennyson's 'The Last Tournament,'" both in Victorian Poetry 1, no. 1 (1963): 46-52, 53-60.
(15) Victorian Poetry website, http://wvupressonline.com/journals/victorian_poetry.
(16) Isobel Armstrong, Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics, and Politics (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 8.
(17) Herbert Tucker, "The Fix of Form: An Open Letter," Victorian Literature and Culture 27, no. 2 (1999): 531-535. Intersecting texts and intersecting media, as well as cultural and political readings of form, also remain dominant notes in scholarship today.
(18) "Spasmodic Poetry and Poetics," ed. Charles LaPorte and Jason Rudy, VP 42, no. 4 (2004).
(19) William McKelvy, The English Cult of Literature: Devoted Readers, 1770-1880 (Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press, 2007); and Charles LaPorte, Victorian Poets and the Changing Bible (Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press, 2011).
(20) The first special issue of VP devoted to women poets, edited by A. H. Harrison in 1994, marked the centenary of Rossetti's death. Blair notes that "women's religious poetry and hymns have been at the forefront of the renewed interest in popular Victorian religious verse" (Form and Faith in Victorian Poetry and Religion [Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012], p. 4).
(21) Her critical survey of prior work provides a useful overview of both previous work on religion and poetry and form understood as an active cultural inscription and force (Blair, pp. 1-20).
(22) The centenary observances have been a feature of VP from the beginning. As Pitts and Stasny remark in their founding editorial, "the emphasis will be on the poetry, with special series from time to time on the major Victorian poetic masterpieces, as well as an occasional issue devoted to studies of a single poet, especially as centennial years occur" (p. v). The "poetic masterpieces" series has long disappeared, but the centenary issues still thrive.
(23) Erin Nerstad, "Decomposing but to Recompose: Browning, Biblical Hermeneutics, and the Dramatic Monologue," VP 50, no. 4 (2012): 543-561. The publication of work by graduate students is another divergence from the earliest days of VP. The "Contributors" page feature did not debut until 1976; the earliest graduate contribution identified in its pages occurred in Summer 1976 (14, no. 2).
(24) Mary Ellis Gibson, Warwick Slinn, Isobel Armstrong, Sandra Donaldson, John Woolford, and Herbert Tucker, "Future Directions for Robert Browning Studies: A Virtual Roundtable," VP 50, no. 4 (2012): 431.
(25) Linda K. Hughes and Michael C. Lund, The Victorian Serial (Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1991), pp. 27-29, 209-215.
(26) Natalie Houston, Lindsy Lawrence, April Patrick, "The Periodical Poetry Index" (http://www.periodicalpoetry.org/poetryl/history.php); Alison Chapman et al., "Database of Victorian Periodical Poetry" (http://web.uvic.ca/~vicpoet/database-ofvictorian-periodical-poetry/); Andrew Hobbs and Claire Januszewski, "The Local Press as Poetry Publisher, 1800-1900" (http://hobbb.tumblr.com/).
(27) Anne Jamison, Poetics en Passant: Redefining the Relationship between Victorian and Modern Poetry (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 53-87; the information about La Presse appears on p. 66.
(28) Jamison's recurrent reference to "shock" is based in part on Baudelaire's own poetics, as in "Le Mauvais Vitrier" ("The Bad Glazier") or Walter Benjamin's famous articulation of them, but also on Ivan Kreilkamp's contribution to "Whither Victorian Poetry" in VP ("Victorian Poetry's Modernity," VP 41, no. 4 : 6034511); see Jamison, pp. 1-2.
(29) As Jamison remarks, "In her death poetry, I see an analogous move to skew the relationship between a stealthily transgressive semantic content and a coldly impersonal formal perfection--a relationship the poems themselves present allegorically" (p. 9).
(30) "Mother Country," Macmillan's Magazine 17 (March 1868): 404. For a recent contribution to alternative material contexts for Rossetti's poetry, see Clayton Carlyle Tarr's "Covent Goblin Market," VP 50, no. 3 (Fall 2012): 297-316. Tarr is another of the graduate student contributors whose significant presence marks a departure from the earliest days of VP.
(31) [Farrar], '"Chronicles and Characters,' by the Hon. R. Lytton," Macmillan's Magazine 17 (March 1868): 405-407.
(32) Mike Sanders, The Poetry of Chartism: Aesthetics, Politics, History (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009), pp. 1, 3; Nineteenth Century Serials Edition, ed. Laurel Brake, Isobel Armstrong, Jim Mussell, Suzanne Paylor, 2008, http://www.ncse.ac.uk/ index.html.
(33) Recently three scholars, drawing upon digitized periodicals, have extended our understanding of popular poetry in the context of nationalist politics, religion, and the local press. See Rose Novak, "Revising 'Eva' of The Nation? Eva O'Doherty's Young Ireland Newspaper Poetry"; Caley Ehnes, "Religion, Readership, and the Periodical Press: The Place of Poetry in Good Words"; and Andrew Hobbs, "Five Million Poems, or the Local Press as Poetry Publisher, 1800-1900"; all appear in Victorian Periodicals Review 45, no. 4 (Winter 2012): 436-465; 466-487,488-492. Throughout The Nineteenth. Century Press in the Distal Age (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), Jim Mussell argues that those making use of digitized periodicals must also study the bibliographical codes (and means of encoding) of the remediated forms, which differ in fundamental ways from their print antecedents.
(34) Josephine M. Guy and Ian Small, The Textual Condition of Nineteenth-Century Literature (New York: Routledge, 2012), pp. 59-92.
(35) Jerome McGann, The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method & Theory (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1985), pp. 135-172, 157. With the Rime, the print format of Coleridge's added glosses are inseparable from meaning and even readers' sensory experience of the poem, since the paratext forces their eyes to move between text and gloss--or at least to register a something more in their peripheral vision--whether conducting a presentist or historically informed reading. Moreover, McGann avant la lettre situates the poem in relation to biblical higher criticism and Coleridge's representation of accreting historical layers of commentary on an early text.
(36) Richard Cronin, Reading Victorian Poetry (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), p. 18. Contrast Herbert Tucker in "Of Monuments and Moments: Spacetime in Nineteenth-Century Poetry, "MLQ 58 (1997): "The nineteenth century developed the nearest thing that publishing poets have ever had to a mass readership, with distributive possibilities and market schemes to match, but also new grounds for anxiety about whom a poet was speaking to--indeed, about whether anyone was listening" (p. 278). If Tucker concurs with Cronin in Victorian poets' anxiety, he identifies a reverse cause--poetry's wide reach in print culture.
(37) William St. Clair, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004), pp. 209-210, 214.
(38) John Guillory, Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1993), p. 170.
(39) Significantly, the most censorious remark in Richard Tobias' initial survey of the year's work was reserved for "Miss" Dallas Kenmare's An End to Darkness: A New Approach to Robert Browning and His Work (London: Peter Owen), which he termed "probably the silliest book about Browning to appear in the last twenty years" (pp. 226-227). Kenmare, according to Tobias, used Browning "as a club" to attack twentieth-century critics, arguing that Browning is "consistently and constantly 'Christian'" (p. 227). Tobias also objected to her contention that Pauline is equal in quality to The Ring and the Book. Kenmare, that is, continued the late-Victorian popular practice of finding religious and moral teaching in poetry.
(40) See, e.g., Richard Altick, The English Common Reader, 2nd ed. (Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 1998), pp. 383-387; and Lee Erickson, The Economy of Literary Form (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1996), pp. 48, 142-169. My own sampling of borrowers' records at the Portico Library, Manchester, and London Library in July 2007 confirmed that the borrowing of novels overwhelmingly exceeded that of contemporary poetry volumes.
(41) Kathryn Ledbetter, Tennyson and Victorian Periodicals: Commodities in Context (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), p. 2.
(42) Andrew Hobbs, "'Five Million,'" p. 488; and The Local Press as Poetry Publisher, 1800-1900, http://hobbb.tumblr.com/. Complete poems by canonical authors, however, were "occasional" features (Andrew Hobbs, personal communication, April 9, 2013).
(43) Except when noted, all citations are from The Poems of Matthew Arnold, ed. Kenneth Allott and Miriam Allott, 2nd ed. (London: Longman, 1979). Individual line numbers are given in the text.
(44) Walter E. Houghton and G. Robert Stange, eds., Victorian Poetry and Poetics, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968). This long remained the sole teaching anthology available, one that I used for a graduate seminar in the mid-1990s.
(45) Houghton and Stange's introductory annotation focused on the poem's biographical background (p. 44 1n1); the headnote to "Meeting" in the Allotts' Longman editions again rehearses biographical background, observing that the ordering of lyrics within the sequence was unstable until 1877, but remarking only that "A Memory Picture" "was part of 'Switzerland' 1853-69" (pp. 121-122). An appendix on p. 711 gives only the 1877 order of lyrics. Their headnote to "A Memory Picture" identifies its initial publication in 1849 as "To my Friends, who ridiculed a tender Leave-taking" and its incorporation into Switzerland but not its positioning. They record that in 1877 it became "an 'Early Poem'" (pp. 113-14).
According to Clinton Machann, the 1979 Longman edition is most frequently cited in Arnold scholarship (personal communication, June 18, 2013). However, the 1986 Oxford Authors edition places "A Memory-Picture" at the head of the Switzerland sequence, suggesting that numerous students since 1986 have encountered a pre-1877 version when the entire sequence has been assigned. The front matter of the Oxford Authors edition identifies as source text for poems The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold, ed. C. B. Tinker and H. E Lowry (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1950); yet that edition places "Meeting" at the head of Switzerland (p. 174). The notes to the 1986 Oxford Authors edition explain that it prints the sequence based on chronological order of composition, not on pre-1877 versions of the sequence. See Miriam F. Allott and R. H. Super, eds., Matthew Arnold, Oxford Authors series (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1986), pp. 514-515.
(46) As the Allotts note, this stanza followed the first until 1869, when Arnold cancelled the first two stanzas and renamed the poem "A Memory Picture." Arnold restored the first stanza but not the second in 1877, when the poem was reclassified as an "Early Poem."
(47) Matthew Arnold, Poems (London, 1853), pp. 171-175. As of 1857 Arnold changed his refrain from "Ere the parting kiss be dry" to "Ere the parting hour go by." See Allott and Allott, eds., p. 114.
(48) Antony H. Harrison comments on Arnold's usual practice of "portray[ing]" women "negatively, as ciphers whose full humanity is elided"; see The Cultural Production of Matthew Arnold (Athens: Ohio Univ. Press, 2009), p. 76.
(49) Patricia Ball, The Heart's Events: The Victorian Poetry of Relationships (London: Athlone Press, 1976), p. 35.
(50) Miriam Allott, "Arnold and 'Marguerite'--Continued," VP 23, no. 2 (Summer 1985): 130. Bill Bell points out that Allott's "much maligned" approach "counterbalances the sometimes too cold surface of an impersonal Arnold, poetry professor and school inspector" (Bill Bell, "In Defense of Biography: Versions of Marguerite and Why She Really Does Matter," Victorian Newsletter 80 [Fall 1991]: 36).
(51) Harrison's recent study is dedicated to excavating the contemporary politics that often motivate Arnold's lyrics, from which overt traces have been purged. See, for example, pp. 3-4.
(52) Allott argues that "the lively pictorial images reinforc[e] the half playful, half tearful tempus fugit subject matter." At the same time, she asserts that the friends' "quizzings" anticipate the dialogue of the mind with itself to come (pp. 131-132).
(53) Ball, p. 33. Eugene August proposes that Clough embedded an allusion to Arnold's affair in Amours de Voyage as a telling trace--and riposte to the harsh criticism of his poetry Arnold was expressing in their correspondence of 1848-49. Eugene R. August, "Amours de Voyage and Matthew Arnold in Love: An Inquiry," Victorian Newsletter 60 (Fall 1981): 15-20.
(54) Noting the superior popularity just then of Vanity Fair and Bleak House, Clough asks whether, "to be widely popular, to gain the ear of multitudes, to shake the hearts of men, poetry should deal more than at present it usually does, with general wants, ordinary feelings, the obvious rather than the rare facts of human nature?" [Arthur Hugh Clough], "Recent English Poetry," 77 North American Review (July 1853): 2-3.
(55) Arnold's motivations for reconstructing the 1877 sequence as he did is not recoverable. In terms of its effects, however, it is fair to say that this version is more clearly the work of a middle-aged poet and more firmly grounded in detachment and alienation.
(56) See Miriam Allott, "Arnold and 'Marguerite'--Continued," pp. 125-143, versus Park Honan, "The Character of Marguerite in Arnold's 'Switzerland,'" VP 23, no. 2 (1985): 145-152; and Bell, pp. 34-36, versus Wendell Harris, "Biography, the Interpretation of Meaning, and the Seeking of Significances," Victorian Newsletter 80 (1991): 37-38.
(57) Allott, p. 132. For Praed's publication practices, see Suzanne O. Edwards, "Winthrop Mackworth Praed," Dictionary of Literary Biography 96: British Romantic Poets: 1789-1832, Second Series, ed. John R. Greenfield (Detroit: Gale Group, 1990), p. 285; she cites Kenneth Allott's introduction to Selected Poems of Winthrop Mackworth Praed, ed. Allott (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1953). See also Derwent Coleridge, "Memoir," The Poems of Winthrop Mackworth Praed, 2nd ed., 2 vol. (London, 1864), 1:1vi. Praed contributed to the Literary Souvenir among other periodicals.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||Hughes, Linda K.|
|Article Type:||Conference notes|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2013|
|Previous Article:||In memoriam: Hayden W. Ward: 1939-2013.|
|Next Article:||Erotic, prosodic, and ethical-aesthetic forms of triangulation in Augusta Webster's Dramatic Studies and A Woman Sold and Other Poems.|