The Prelude is a long autobiographical poem, and it describes the poet’s love of nature and the world around him. It is an excellent example of the poet’s style, and makes it possible to distinguish Wordsworth’s stylistic approaches from the style which Browning used in his poetry: “Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows Like harmony in music; there is a dark Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles Discordant elements, makes them cling together In one society. ” (Wordsworth) The Prelude had a great influence on poetry in general.
Wordsworth wrote it in the form of lyrical monologue, which was actually a challenge to traditional poetic monologue and produced new poetic impressions among readers (Wilson 64). In distinction from Browning, Wordsworth was trying to step away from mournful colors in poetic expression, and has actually become the creator of the prose poem. Moreover, The Prelude is actually the call against misery and unhappiness in poetry: “The calm existence is mine when I / Am worthy of myself! ” (Wordsworth). The uniqueness of Browning’s and Wordsworth’s genres remains the critical element which differentiates the two poets and their creative works.
In distinction from, and probably even as opposed to Wordsworth, Robert Browning has won the reputation of a dramatic poet and has been able to produce the dramatic monologues. Lyrical dialogues exercised by Wordsworth were not suitable for him to express his thoughts and ideas. Poetic dramatic monologue could be characteristic of modern criticism, but as modern criticism was stressing the dramatic part of writing, the dramatic monologue used by Browning stressed the lyrical characteristics of poetic environment.
His works evidently represented the mixture of romantic and dramatic elements (Hassett 40). It seems that Browning saw the dramatic principle in employing the fictional characters who would take the speaking role in his poems. However, as Wordsworth was emphasizing the lyrical, Browning obviously tended towards the dramatic. Both poets could describe similar events, but the use of different poetic emphases and different poetic genres (styles) made their poetry completely different from each other.
The Confessional is the revelation of the church’s sins, but as we have already noted, it certainly combines the lyrical and the dramatic moments. “You think Priests just and holy men! Before they put me in this den I was a human creature too, With flesh and blood like one of you, A girl that laughed in beauty’s pride Like lilies in your world outside. ” (Browning) The girl, about which Browning writes in his poetic expression, is a critical lyrical element of his poem; simultaneously, the poet has introduced a dramatic moment, speaking of priests as human beings with their sins, negative thoughts and earthy desires.
“Dust as we are” (Wordsworth) – this message is also conveyed in Browning’s The Confessional, but the implementation of different literary genres makes these works so different, that an unfamiliar reader would never believe these two poets lived during at the same era. Conclusion Wordsworth and Browning were striving to deliver similar ideas and messages to their contemporary readers, but the difference of their poetic styles has created significant poetic distance between them. The use of different genres is the distinguishing feature in the works of Browning and Wordsworth.
Wordsworth was a romantic poet, and has introduced the notion of lyrical dialogue in poetry. The idea of prose poems also belongs to him. Browning, on the contrary, was mostly relying on the elements of drama in poetry, and was keeping to the principles of dramatic monologue. However, even in the light of the described differences, the works of both poets have significantly contributed into the world poetic heritage.
Bristow, J. “Whether ‘Victorian’ Poetry: A Genre and Its Period. ” Victorian Poetry 42 (2004): 114-24. Browning, R. “The Confessional. ” 1845. Dramatic Lyrics. February 23, 2008.