Some of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era wrote—at times movingly or humorously—about their pets. They did so in a wider literary context, for poetry about pets was ubiquitous in the period. Animal welfare organizations utilized poems about canine and feline suffering in institutional publications to call attention to various abuses. Elegies and epitaphs over the loss of a beloved cat, songbird, or dog were printed on funeral cards, tombstones, and appeared in mass-produced poetry collections as well as those intended for an intimate circle of friends. Yet poems about pets, as well as attendant issues such as breeding and overpopulation, have not received the kind of critical analysis devoted to fictional works and short stories. With an introduction, afterword, and eight essays offering new perspectives on significant as well as lesser known poems, Victorian Pets and Poetry remedies this omission.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
A note on Spelling
Pet and Poet
Kevin A. Morrison
Part One: "Pedigree, Breed, and Verse"
Rethinking Pedigree in Victorian Women’s Dog Poems
"Easily domesticated and bred": Canary Poetry in Victorian Periodicals
Empathy and Kinship: Animal Poetry and Humane Societies during the Victorian Age
Part Two: "Illness, Death, and Companion Species"
"Darling, Darling Little Flushie": Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Dog Love
Kevin A. Morrison
Still Lives: Apologetic Mourning in Victorian Dog Elegies
Grave Thoughts: Thomas Hardy’s Elegies for Dead Pets
Part Three: "Decadence, Symbolism, and the Dog"
Dog and Dogma: Canine Catholicism in Michael Field’s Whym Chow: Flame of Love
The Symbolist Dog: Arthur Symons Mourns Api
Kevin A. Morrison is Provincial Chair Professor, University Distinguished Professor, and Professor of British Literature in the School of Foreign Languages at Henan University. His many publications include the Modern Language Association-award winning Victorian Liberalism and Material Culture: Synergies of Thought and Place as well as A Micro-History of Victorian Liberal Parenting: John Morley’s "Discreet Indifference" and Study-Abroad Pedagogy, Dark Tourism, and Historical Reenactment: In the Footsteps of Jack the Ripper and His Victims.