Eras & Modes in English Poetry

By Josephine Miles | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
THE CLASSICAL MODE OF THE LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY

THE POETRY of the late nineteenth century, often called decadent, was structurally not only a falling off from old sublimities, but also a building up, a return from romantic extremes to poise and equilibrium with the renewed aid of classical models. As B. Ifor Evans has suggested in his survey of the era ( English Poetry in the Later Nineteenth Century, London, 1936, p. 26), Swinburne Poems and Ballads "made the year 1866 a turning-point in poetical history," for Swinburne, as distinguished from the Pre-Raphaelites of 1850, was concerned with a new need for smoothness and modulation as the century began to draw toward its close. Just as Sackville had begun to lead the Tudors, and Waller the Stuarts, and Goldsmith the eighteenth-century Georgians to a reconsideration of the balanced mode, so the young Pre-Raphaelite chose not to follow the implicative ballad structures of the brotherhood, neither one extreme in Browning nor another in

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