Pre- Raphaelite Poetry: ‘Fleshly School’ of Sexual Passion

The Pre- Raphaelite movement was started in 1810 by two German painters, Cornelius and Overbeck. It was called Pre- Raphaelite Brethren’. In England it was started by D.G. Rossetti, Hunt and Millais in 1848. It was called Per- Raphaelite Brotherhood. Its object was to revive in painting the simplicity, natural ease and grace of the early painters of Italy before Raphael. They indented themselves artistically with the painters before Raphael. Later on the move mint was joined by Morris and Swinburne. Of these D.G. Rossetti, Morris and Swinburne were poets, the other were painters. Rossetti was both painter and poet. These there poets represent the Pre-Raphaelite school of poetry. The poetry of the Per-Raphaelite poet was also called by some critics as the poetry of the ‘Fleshly school’.
The Pre-Raphaelite poetry was a revolt and reaction against the conventionality of the poetry represented by Tennyson. The poetry did not go in for the revise of social and political problems of the age. The poetry of the Pre- Raphaelite School glorifies art rather than the temporary values of earthly life. They were above all Christian art was their religion. They had orally to preach and no refers to introduce though the medium of their poetry. Love of beauty was their creed. In glorifying beauty they became sensuous. Their poetry abounds in poetry imagery. The Pre- Raphaelite poetry was very much intends by act’s Sensuous. Rossetti’s poetry is immensely sensuous and passionate. But while Shelley and Browning gave sentiments to feeling, Rossetti gave it to thought.

   In this genre of poetry sexual passion was portrayed more explicitly. Thus they are accused of being ‘fleshly school’. Rossetti The House of Life was charged with the fleshly elements by the Victorian critics who laid greater emphasis on decency, decorum, discipline, order and respectability. But it is fair today Pre Raphaelites were keen to depict or create beastly for to norm sake, without any regard of material reward or for the approval of the moralists. Admixture of symbolism and romanticism, musicality and picturesque were the other qualities of this school.
Fed up with the excessive materialistic pursuits and psychological and moral confusion of the Victorian Age, the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite School were drawn towards chef lore and enchantment of the medieval ages. The medieval culture and spirit of adventure allured them. Again they were musical too. But sometimes the Per Raphaelite poets sacrificed sense at the altar of sound. Thus in them words or phrases were added with musical effect without arousing the sense or meaning in the line such charges are specially brought against Swinburne.
However, it should be remembered that the Pre- Raphaelite poets only continued some of the streams of Romantic poetry. Shelley, Keats, Coleridge and Scott were their forerunners form whom they drew their inspiration. The Per Raphaelite only further enriched the Romantic steams and least a rich harvest of poetry for the posterity to enjoy and preserve.
Ref: 1. Pure and Impure Poetry: Kenyon Review    
     2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature