Tennyson, Browning, and the Poetry of Reflection

Gregory Tate

in The Poet's Mind

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199659418
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191749018 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Tennyson, Browning, and the Poetry of Reflection

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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This chapter considers two issues that were of vital importance to poetry in the 1830s and throughout the mid-nineteenth century: the complex relation between the lyric expression and the self-reflective analysis of psychological processes; and the competing claims of physical and metaphysical theories of mind. Using reviews of Tennyson's poetry by Arthur Henry Hallam and William Johnson Fox as starting points, it argues that Tennyson and Browning, in their early poetry, develop a poetics of psychological analysis. In addition, it shows that associationist psychology was a crucial influence on this psychological poetry, and that, in the work of these two poets, assocationism's account of the embodied mind clashes with theological notions of the soul. The chapter examines the tensions between expression and analysis, and between physical and metaphysical psychology in a range of poems, including Browning's Pauline and Sordello and Tennyson's ‘The Two Voices’.

Keywords: Tennyson; Browning; Hallam; Fox; associationist psychology; embodied mind; soul; Pauline; Sordello; The Two Voices

Chapter.  15312 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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