The Best and Shortest Victorian Poems: From Tennyson to Charlotte Brontë
Victorians often loved their poetry as much as their novels: the bigger the better. And yet, just as there are some great Victorian stories (they helped pioneersthe ghost storyjdetective story, for example), then there are some short poetic gems found among Victorian collections of poetry. Robert Browning gave us the wideThe ring and the bookbut he also gave us the two-line poem below; Tennyson devoted several thousand lines to himroyal idyllbut he also wrote the six-line classic Der Adler. The ten following Victorian poems are no longer than ten lines and one is only two words long.
1. Tennyson, "The Eagle."This short article, subtitled Fragment, was written in the early 1830s and published in 1851year after Tennyson's Sannus mirabilis🇧🇷 (We haverezensierte 'El Águila' here🇧🇷 in another post, weWe have selected our ten favorite Tennyson poems.)
He clings to the rocks with crooked hands;
close to the sun in lonely lands,
Surrounded by the blue world, he rises.
The crumpled sea drags beneath him;
He watches from the walls of his mountains,
And like lightning
2. Christina Rossetti, "Ein Grab am Meer".Written byone of the greatest poets of the Victorian eraWritten in 1853 and published in 1884, this short poem contains many of the features and themes we find in other Rossetti poems: sorrow, death, memory, love.
without thinking of the roses
Without thinking of the thorn
A reaper rests wearily
Among the collected corn:
Me too, see you tomorrow!
Cold like the cold December,
Gone like the days that ended
while only one remembers
And everyone forgets...
3. Robert Browning, "Rhyme for a Boy Seeing a Nude Venus in a Painting of The Judgment of Paris."Despite its long title, this is one of the shortest poems to appear on this list. This letter was not published until 1925 but was written around 1872Robert BrowningThe poem is only two lines long and uses only four different words:
He looked and looked and looked and looked
Amazed, amazed, amazed, amazed.
Things couldn't be much simpler! Or could they? The following poem has only two words.
4. George MacDonald, "The Shortest and Sweetest Song".We have discussed MacDonald's poem in oursPost about careful reading of poetry, in an attempt to show how any poem, however small, short, or light, can be the subject of careful analysis. "The Shortest and Sweetest of Songs" consists of only two lines and actually two words:
There is a nostalgia behind these two words, represented by the interval between the first and last words of the poem; a sense that something isn't quite right, implied by the almost rhyming (and almost yearning) "Come" and "Home." (CompareWilfred Owen's masterful use of pararhymesin his poems).
5. John Clare, „Donnerrollen“.This short poem by one of England's leading nature poets was written in 1845. Although Clare is often associated with the Romantics rather than the Victorians, this poem is from the Victorian era. The poem has only nine lines:
The thunder growls louder and louder
With a faster movement, people drive the rake
Ready to blow out slow sails on the black cloud
and the whole gang makes a bigger haystack
Sitting below: the forest wind awakens
Drops that big wet everything in an hour
A small tide runs down the sloping rake
In the sweet but dry hay, the hay people shrink
and some under the wagon avoid the bath
Like several of Clare's poems, it ends without a period and avoids punctuation, except for the hyphen, which is right in the middle.
6. Lewis Carroll, "How's the little crocodile doing".First published inAlice in Wonderland1865, that little nonsense ofLewis Carrollis twenty lines shorter thanhis masterpiece “Jabberwocky”, and much, much shorter than his 'absurd epic',the snark hunt.
How is the little crocodile?
Improve your shiny cock,
And spills the water of the Nile
On every gold scale!
With what joy it seems to smile
How far it spreads its claws
and welcomes the little fish,
With gently smiling pines!
How about some more nonsense?
7. Edward Lear, "There Was an Old Man Who Guessed".Along with Lewis CarollEdward Lear was the leading nonsense writer of the Victorian era.🇧🇷 he was tooa pioneer on the Limerick Way, and helped popularize it in his 1846pointless book🇧🇷 Here are some of his best five-line nonsense, organized into just four lines by Lear himself:
There was an old man who said
That the front door was partially closed;
But some very big rats, they ate their coats and their hats,
While that useless old man was taking a nap.
Unlike many of Lear's limericks, he actually uses a different rhyme for that last line (many of them repeating the word used in the first or second line).
8. CharlotteBrontë, "It was quiet at home".This short poem fragment is distinguished by its styleanticipates Emily Dickinson's distinctive poetic style🇧🇷 (The two poets could not have known each other's work: Brontë's poem wasit was not published until 1915, and much of Dickinson's poetry was not published until 1890, when both women were dead).
The house was silent - the room was silent
It was a June afternoon
A caged canary in the sun
Then putten - he trilled a song
A free bird in this lilac bush
Off the Grid can be heard
Listened for a long time - silence followed
He uttered a word of reply:
The free prisoner answered
But alas, what he answered we shall never know. The poem stops there.
9. Gerard Manley Hopkins, „Mondaufgang, 19. Juni 1876“.Here is another Victorian poem that was not published until long after the author's death. Although dated 1876, Moonrise did not appear until the 20th century, after Robert Bridges had published Hopkins' poetry in 1918.the life of gerard manley hopkinshere and I selectedTen of his best poems here.)
I woke up in the middle of summer, not to call it night, in white and on my morning walk:
The moon, waning and thin as a fingernail on a candle,
Or peeled from the fruit of paradise, beautiful in decay but opaque,
He got down from the stool, walked away from the hill, from dark Maenefa, the mountain;
A tip still held him, a chance still tugged at him, tangled him, wouldn't quite let go.
This was the cherished and desirable view, not sought, so simply presented,
It broke leaf upon leaf, it broke me, eyelid and eyelid of sleep.
10. Ernest Dowson, "The Shortest Life"."They are not long, weep and laugh," begins this poem, and it's not that little Dowson classic either.Ernest Dowson was a fascinating poet of the 1890s., and his own life would be short-lived.
Don't hesitate, the crying and the laughing,
love, desire and hate;
I guess they have no stake in us after that
We go through the door.
Not long now, the days of wine and roses:
From a foggy dream
Our path appears for a while, then it closes
in a dream
So there you have it: ten great Victorian poems in no more than ten lines. What are the best Victorian poems in your book? Learn about the history of poetry withOur History of English Poetrytold through 8 short poems and check out oursSelection of the best poems by Robert Burns🇧🇷 For more information on Tennyson, check out ourAnalysis of his classic poem "Break, break, break"🇧🇷 we have tooanalyzed one of the great poems of the Victorian era on religion, "Dover Beach".
The best anthology of Victorian poetry is, in our opinionThe New Oxford Book of Victorian Verse (Oxford Books of Prose & Verse), edited by Christopher Ricks. It contains many of the short poems cited above, as well as some of the longer poems essential to Victorian literature.
Image (above):Portrait of Christina Rossetti by Dante Gabriel Rossetti(1866), public domain. Image (below):Portrait of Charlotte Bronte by J.H. thompson, approx. 1839, Wikimedia Commons, free.
The most prolific and well-regarded poets of the age included Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Matthew Arnold, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Oscar Wilde.What are some simple poems? ›
- “Awaking in New York” by Maya Angelou. ...
- “This Room” by John Ashbery. ...
- “Hesitations Outside the Door” by Margaret Atwood. ...
- “The Sick Rose” by William Blake. ...
- 5. “ ...
- “I saw a man pursuing the horizon” by Stephen Crane. ...
- 7. “[ ...
- “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson.
- 3 A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe.
- 4 Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.
- 5 Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.
- 6 The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus.
- 7 If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda.
- 8 The Tyger by William Blake.
- 9 Daffodils by William Wordsworth.
- 10 Trees by Joyce Kilmer.
"How Do I Love Thee?" (Sonnet 43) is probably Barrett Browning's most famous poem today. The victim of a thousand wedding readings, it is part of her Sonnets from the Portuguese cycle, and was written during her courtship with Robert Browning.Is Emily Bronte a Victorian poet? ›
Emily Brontë's canon is not as extensive as that of other Victorian writers, in part due to her early death. Additionally, Wuthering Heights is by far the most famous of her works. However, she did have a history of talented writing, and was also a poet in addition to being novelist.What is the best shortest poem ever? ›
"Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes", also known simply as "Fleas", is a couplet commonly cited as the shortest poem ever written, composed by American poet Strickland Gillilan in the early 20th century.What are the 10 most popular poem? ›
- Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.
- Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare.
- O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman.
- The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.
- Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas.
- i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings.
- Power by Audre Lorde.
- The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.
A 10 word poem has no restrictions other than it can only have 10 words.What is shortest and simplest poem? ›
Haiku is the world's shortest poetry form. It has 17 syllables, arranged in three lines of 5-7-5 syllables. Haiku grew out of another poetry form, tanka, which has 31 syllables of 5-7-5-7-7. Haiku poets convey their vivid impression, sensation and surprise of a specific fact of nature in a short verse.What is a very short poem? ›
We define short form poetry as anything 9 lines and under, or any poem that uses 60 words or less. The sonnet, for example, is a 14-line poem that often grapples with love, and though sonnets are by no means “long,” they often have abstract qualities not found in short poems.
A 7-line poem is called a Septet. It can also be known as a Rhyme Royal.What is the most famous epic poem of the old times? ›
1. Homer. Homer's works are some of the most celebrated in global literature. His Iliad and Odyssey are two of the earliest examples of creative literature, both epic poems which depict the story of Helen of Troy, the Trojan War, and Odysseus' troubled journey home after the battle.Who is considered the greatest poet of the Middle Ages? ›
In the Middle Ages, a man called Geoffrey Chaucer was revolutionising the literary scene of the day, becoming one of the greatest poets and fathers of literature in England.Which great poet wrote a 6000 word epic poem when he was 12 years old? ›
Born on August 6, 1809, in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England, Alfred, Lord Tennyson is one of the most well-loved Victorian poets. Tennyson, the fourth of twelve children, showed an early talent for writing. At the age of twelve he wrote a 6,000-line epic poem.What is the most famous line of poetry? ›
- “To be or not to be: that is the question” ...
- “'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” ...
- “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams” ...
- “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the road less traveled by”
1. William Shakespeare (1564–1616, England) William Shakespeare is arguably the world's most famous poet and playwright. His works have been translated into every major language, and his plays have been performed more often than those of any other playwright.Is Wuthering Heights Gothic or Victorian? ›
Wuthering Heights is a Gothic novel. Gothic novels usually feature supernatural elements, ominous settings, and threats to young women, often involving imprisonment in an isolated mansion.Is Wuthering Heights Victorian or romantic? ›
Even though Wuthering Heights is set entirely within the Romantic period, the values of both the Romantic and Victorian periods are present in the novel.Was Oscar Wilde a Victorian poet? ›
On October 16, 1854, the famous Irish poet and writer Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde aka Oscar Wilde was born. He is considered to be one of the most iconic figures from late Victorian society.What poem only has 3 lines? ›
Tercets are any three lines of poetry, whether as a stanza or as a poem, rhymed or unrhymed, metered or unmetered. The haiku is a tercet poem.
devoted to one-word poems: the idea being that the poem consists of one word and a title. These are to be thought of as 2 straight lines, which make a corner (the poems will have form); while the paradox of these corners is, that they are open in all directions.Is there a 5 line poem? ›
A quintain (also known as a quintet) is any poetic form or stanza that contains five lines.What is a 1 line poem? ›
A poem or stanza with one line is called a monostich, one with two lines is a couplet; with three, tercet or triplet; four, quatrain. six, hexastich; seven, heptastich; eight, octave.Who are the big six poems? ›
In English literature, the key figures of the Romantic movement are considered to be the group of poets which is known as “Big Six”. In this group the poets are William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and the much older William Blake.What is a 10 or 13 line poem called? ›
A rondel is a verse form originating in French lyrical poetry of the 14th century. It was later used in the verse of other languages as well, such as English and Romanian. It is a variation of the rondeau consisting of two quatrains followed by a quintet (13 lines total) or a sestet (14 lines total).What are 5 7 5 poems called? ›
haiku, unrhymed poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.Is there a poem with 6 lines? ›
Sestet. A six-line stanza, or the final six lines of a 14-line Italian or Petrarchan sonnet. A sestet refers only to the final portion of a sonnet, otherwise the six-line stanza is known as a sexain.What is a 30 line poem called? ›
Explore the glossary of poetic terms. The sestina is a complex, thirty-nine-line poem featuring the intricate repetition of end-words in six stanzas and an envoi.What poem is shorter than a haiku? ›
Senryu is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 or fewer morae (or on) in total. However, senryu tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryu are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious.What is a 3 syllable poem? ›
A poem written using three-syllable feet is called “triple meter.” The most common three-syllable feet are the “dactyl” (pronounced “DAK-tuhl”) and the “anapest” (pronounced “AN-uh-pest”).
Do you know what the world's shortest form of poetry is? It is haiku, which was born in Japan. Haiku is a short poem, consisting of just three lines, but it can capture natural scenery or scenes from daily life and even tell a story.What is a minute poem? ›
The Minute Poem is a 60 syllable verse form, one syllable for each second in a minute. The theme should be an event that is over and done completely, as in a minute. Since the dominant line is short the effect is likely humorous, whimsical or semi-serious.Is a short poem with 14 lines? ›
Sonnet A lyric poem that consists of 14 lines which usually have one or more conventional rhyme schemes. Read more about sonnets.What is 9 line poem called? ›
Such is the case when writing a nonet poem, a nine-line form with a specific structure.What is a funny poem that has five lines? ›
A limerick is a humorous poem consisting of five lines.What is a 17 line poem called? ›
Haiku are very short poems comprising a total of 17 Japanese syllables organized into three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables each. Haiku has a deeply rooted history, but in recent years a new style of haiku has emerged: the English-language haiku.What are the 5 epic poems? ›
- The Odyssey. by Homer.
- The Aeneid. by Virgil.
- Civil War. by Lucan.
- Paradise Lost. by John Milton.
- The Rape of the Lock. by Alexander Pope.
Beowulf is the oldest surviving Germanic epic and the longest Old English poem; it was likely composed between 700 and 750.What is the greatest Old English poem When was it written? ›
The most important work of literature written in Old English is the epic poem Beowulf." No one known the name of Beowulf's author, but scholars believe that the poem was composed sometime in the late 10th or early 11th centuries AD.Who is America's greatest poet? ›
Walt Whitman is considered one of America's most influential poets. His verse collection, Leaves of Grass, is a landmark in the history of American literature.
Europe's medieval period lasted from the fall of Rome in the 5th century to the spread of the Renaissance in the 15th century. In this time, the pope (the head of the Catholic Church) became one of the most powerful figures in Europe.Who is the most famous poet of the 19th century? ›
- Blake, William (1757-1827)
- Burns, Robert (1759-1796)
- Byron, Lord George Gordon (1788-1824)
- Clare, John (1793-1864)
- Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834)
- Hemans, Felicia (1772-1834)
- Keats, John (1795-1821)
- Robinson, Mary (1758-1800)
The World Record of 'youngest poet' has been achieved by Master Mrigendra Raj (07 years) from Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. The poetry book of Master Mrigendra Raj (son of Ms. Shakti & Mr.Who was the first famous female poet? ›
Enheduanna (2285–2250 BCE), Akkadian princess, priestess and Sumerian-language poet, possibly the world's earliest known female author.Who is the father of Victorian poetry? ›
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in full Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson of Aldworth and Freshwater, (born August 6, 1809, Somersby, Lincolnshire, England—died October 6, 1892, Aldworth, Surrey), English poet often regarded as the chief representative of the Victorian age in poetry.Is Emily Dickinson a Victorian poet? ›
Answer and Explanation: Emily Dickinson is considered a Victorian-era poet, but did not exactly fit the mold of a typical Victorian woman. Born in 1830 in New England, Dickinson had a typical Victorian upbringing in an upper-class family--she socialized, gardened, did household chores, and went to church.Who was the first Victorian poet? ›
Charles Dickens went on to become the most popular Victorian author who helped define Victorian literature and he is still one of the best-selling authors today. Another prolific novelist of the Victorian era was Wilkie Collins. The son of a well-known artist William Collins, he was born in London in 1824.Who was Queen Victoria's poet? ›
Description. Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (1809-1892) was, and remains, one of the most popular English poets. He held the position of poet laureate for much of Queen Victoria's reign, from 1850 until his death in 1892.Is Jane Austen a Victorian writer? ›
Austen died in 1817. Queen Victoria was crowned in 1837 and reigned until 1901. We call that period—from 1837 to 1901—the Victorian era. So when people say Austen was a Victorian novelist, they're either confused or they're broadening out Victorian to refer to the entirety of the 19th century, which it shouldn't.
In spite of her Emersonian influences, Dickinson depicts a trinitarian God. She believes and accepts Jesus's salvific nature of suffering, death, and resurrection based on the integrity of his personal life. The King James Version of the Bible was both a book of faith and a treasure house for her poetic imagery.What is Emily Dickinson most famous quote? ›
1. “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.”How old was Emily Dickinson when she died? ›
The poet herself became ill shortly after her nephew Gib died: “The Crisis of the sorrow of so many years is all that tires me” (L873). She remained in poor health until she died at age 55 on May 15, 1886. She was buried four days later in the town cemetery, now known as West Cemetery.What makes a poem Victorian? ›
In general, classic Victorian compositions are exceptionally attentive to verse, display some sentimentality, and often play on chivalric themes. Poets of this time often composed epic poems and dramatic monologues. The sonnet form was also frequently used. Britain's Victorian Era lasted from 1837 to 1901.Why is the Victorian age called the Golden Age? ›
To what is considered the "golden age" of England, the Victorian period brought a time of improvements in society, great achievement, and revolutionary ideas that paved the way for modern times. Like today, the Victorian society functioned on three main classes: upper class, middle class and working class.Where to start with Victorian literature? ›
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë ...
- Middlemarch by George Eliot. ...
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. ...
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. ...
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. ...
- Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. ...
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
- 15 Famous Female Writers in History. home. ...
- Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) ...
- Mary Shelley (1797 - 1851) ...
- Emily Brontë (1818 - 1848) ...
- Charlotte Brontë (1816 - 1855) ...
- Louisa May Alcott (1832 - 1888) ...
- Gertrude Stein (1874 - 1946) ...
- Virginia Woolf (1882 - 1941)
Answer and Explanation: Pride and Prejudice is not a Victorian novel; it is a Regency novel.