Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 September 1999
PART OF THE EXCITEMENT of reading Victorian woman’s poetry lies in its manifold refusals to adopt wholesale the codes and conventions of the male poetic tradition. Such refusal may manifest itself in the bold rewriting of forms (as in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese), or in the unhinging of domestic or romantic pieties through irony and other doubling strategies (as in Dora Greenwell’s “Scherzo” or Christina Rossetti’s “Winter: My Secret”). Both the rewriting of male forms and the attack on conventional ideologies opened up new subject positions for women. For example, women’s responses to poetic tradition and to each other’s work initially made use of expressive theory to explore sexual and religious passions simultaneously (as in the poetry of the Brontës), while towards the end of the century, when religion and sexuality were not so inextricably intertwined, women could openly celebrate non-hierarchical sexualities (as in the lesbian poems of Michael Field).
Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.