Define Browning’s creed as found in Rabbi Ben Ezra. Is he an ethical teacher? Is there any similarity between his teaching and Carlyle’s? What most interests Browning,—word-painting, narration, action, psychological analysis, or technique of verse? See whether a comparison of his Prospice with Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar does not help you to understand Browning’s peculiar cast of mind. What qualities in Browning entitle him to be ranked as a great poet?
Tennyson.—From his 1842 volume, read the poems mentioned on page 556. From The Princess, read the lyrical songs; from In Memoriam, the parts numbered XLI., LIV., LVII., and CXXXI.; from Maud, the eleven stanzas beginning: “Come into the garden, Maud”; from The Idylls of the King, read Gareth and Lynette, Lancelot and Elaine, The Passing of Arthur (Van Dyke’s edition in Gateway Series); from his later poems, The Higher Pantheism, Locksley Hall Sixty Years After, and Crossing the Bar.
The best single volume edition of Tennyson’s works is published in Macmillan’s Globe Poets. Selections are given in Page’s British Poets of the Nineteenth Century, Bronson, IV., Oxford Book of Victorian Verse, Manly, I., and Century.
In The Palace of Art, study carefully the stanzas from XIV. to XXIII., which are illustrative of Tennyson’s characteristic style of description. Compare Locksley Hall with Locksley Hall Sixty Years After, and note the difference in thought and metrical form. Does the later poem show a gain over the earlier? Compare Tennyson’s nature poetry with that of Keats and Wordsworth. To what is chiefly due the pleasure in reading Tennyson’s poetry: to the imagery, form, thought? What idea of his faith do you gain from In Memoriam and The Passing of Arthur? In what is Tennyson the poetic exponent of the age? Is it probable that Tennyson’s popularity will increase or wane? Select some of his verse that you think will be as popular a hundred years hence as now.
Swinburne.—Read A Song in Time of Order, The Youth of the Year (Atlanta in Calydon), A Match, The Garden of Proserpine, Hertha, By the North Sea, The Hymn of Man, The Roundel, A Child’s Laughter.
The most of the above are given in Page’s British Poets of the Nineteenth Century, Bronson, IV., Manly, I., Century, Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.
Compare both the metrical skill and poetic ideas of Swinburne and Tennyson. Can you find any poet who surpasses Swinburne in the technique of verse? What are his chief excellencies and faults?
Kipling.—Read The Jungle Books. The following are among the best of his short stories: The Man Who Would be King, The Brushwood Boy, The Courting of Dinah Shadd, Drums of the Fore and Aft, Without Benefit of Clergy, On Greenhow Hill.