From Austere Evangelicalism to Evangelical Humanitarianism : A Study of E B Browning’s Religious Poetry
E B Browning (1806-1861), one of the most popular poets of Victorian age, was a prolific writer whose works are characterized by a rich variety of themes such as love, art, politics, religion and nature .Her magnum opus Aurora Leigh is a verse novel divided into nine books. A large number of E B Browning’s poems are based on the theme of religion as she considered religion to be the soul of poetry. A close look at her religious poetry reveals that there is a slow but distinct shift from strict Evangelicalism to a more liberal and humanized Evangelicalism in her poems based on the theme of religion. If in her Early Poems (1820-33) and Seraphim (1838) there is a stultifying self- consciousness to christianise English poetry, her later work Aurora Leigh (1856) illustrates her broadened vision of religion.
In the Preface to Seraphim and Other Poems (1833) E.B. Browning wrote: “ ‘An irreligious poet’ says Burns, meaning an unemotional one,’ is a monster'. An irreligious poet, he might have said, is no poet at all." ( Poetical Works 80 ) This clearly indicates that E.B. Browning held all poetry essentially religious; she thought that the gravitation of all poetry was upwards. She did not even consider the need of defending her religious poetry because she firmly believed that religion was a most apt theme for poetry.