Difference Between Romantic and Victorian Poetry

Key Difference – Romantic vs Victorian Poetry

Romantic period and Victorian period were two major periods in English literature. Romantic and Victorian poetry refer to the poetry produced in the Romantic and Victorian periods, respectively. The key difference between Romantic and Victorian poetry lies in the way in which these two schools of poetry portrayed life, new inventions, idea, and philosophies. Romantic poetry was mainly influenced by nature and regarded nature in an idealistic and romantic light whereas Victorian poetry was more or less influenced by scientific and technological discoveries of the period.

What is Romantic Poetry?

The Romantic era originated in the 1800s and ended around 1830s. The birth of the Romantic period is known to be associated with intellectual artistic movement with which people gained more knowledge and entered into great depths of education. Romantic period mainly focused on literature or art that was emotional and aesthetic. During this era, people were encouraged to re-connect with nature; they were reminded of nature and its values, and were given freedom to express their individual imagination and taught of spirituality, value of human kind. There was also an overturning of previous social conventions, especially in terms of the position of the aristocracy. All in all, it can be said that Romantic poetry is idealistic, emotional, romantic, and greatly influenced by nature.

Difference between Romantic and Victorian Poetry

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

What is Victorian Poetry?

With the end of the Romantic era, the reign of Queen Victoria or the Victorian period came into being. The Victorian Era began in 1837 and lasted till 1901, until the death of queen Victoria. The industrial revolution that took place,in the Victorian period, had a major influence in literature. The influence of science and technology can be seen in many works written during this period. Unlike the Romantic artists, Victorian artists didn’t see nature in an emotional and idealistic light. Their treatment of nature was more realistic and was influenced by the technological inventions of the era. These characteristics of Victorian literature are also reflected in the poetry of the era.

Key Difference - Romantic vs Victorian Poetry

Lord Tennyson

Romantic vs Victorian Poetry – Compare and Contrast

Let us now compare and contrast the poetry of these two eras.

What are the Similarities Between Romantic and Victorian Poetry?

When considering the similarities between these two eras of poetry the following notions can be taken into consideration:

  • Both maintained formal structures, rhymes, meters, etc.
  • Both eras had a male dominant society
  • Changes and occurrences that happened between the 18th and 19th centuries such as colonization and technical progress are reflected in the poems in terms of art, work and daily life of the people.
  • Many literary works were based on the interpretation of the Bible, which caused an inquiry towards the church, but the two eras had two different interpretations for this notion.
  • Both theses eras of poetry questioned the facts of formal religion and formed new ideas on it.

What are the differences between Romantic and Victorian Poetry?

The main difference between romantic and Victorian poetry is the way in which these two portrayed life, new inventions, idea and philosophies in their poetry.

Romantic Poetry

Victorian Poetry

Time Period

1800- 1830 1837-1901


  • Influenced by Nature
  • Supernatural elements
  • Wonderment, Romance, emotional aspects involved
  • Alarmingly dramatic and expressive
  • Influenced by science, innovations, and technology.
  • Less emotional
  • Down to earth
  • Realistic
  • Human misery was showcased
  • Occasional poetry written to describe a particular event


John Keats, Percy Shelley, Samuel Taylor,William Wordsworth

Alford Lord Tennyson,             Mathew Arnold, Robert         Browning


  • Conventional
  • Full of expressions
  • Expressive and dramatic
  • Praise of nature
  • Emotionally charged
  • Flowery language
  • Medieval text
  • Modern Language
  • Can be easily understood
  • Industrialization, grayness of life is brought out
  • Realistic


  • Centers on the poet: poet’s eye
  • Emphasized the power of imagination and man’s relationship to the supernatural.
  • Not just the views and experience of the poet; a second person can be involved
  • Man as not a part of nature but as the ruler of it


  • Literary enlightenment
  • Liberalization
  • Artistic
  • Nature
  • Conventional women
  • Aristocracy
  • Middle-class
  • Industrialization
  • Science technology
  • Progress in medicine and communication
  • Women’s large role in society
  • Realistic portrayal of life
  • Economic hardships
  • Poverty
  • Working class struggle with politics and daily life

When examining all these facts, we see that even though these two types of poetry are from two different eras, there is a development from the Romantic era into the Victorian era with more research, knowledge and with the development of  technology. Therefore, rather than a breakaway from one era to another, the relationship between these two can be considered as progress in poetry from one specific era to another specific era with ideas which are different in terms of growth in poetry.

Image Courtesy: 
“Samuel Taylor Coleridge portrait” By Artist unidentified – Google Books (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
“Alfred Tennyson 2″ – University of Texas at Austin Portrait Gallery, (from Evert A. Duyckinick, Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women in Europe and America. New York: Johnson, Wilson & Company, 1873.) (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia