The Victorian age witnessed the rapidly developing scientific thoughts affecting people’s cosmological views about heaven, earth, the divine, and human beings. Just before and after Darwin, ideas about evolution and natural selection had made a great impact on people’s religious beliefs. This paper takes Robert Browning and Algernon Charles Swinburne as examples to observe mid- and late- Victorian responses to evolution. The two poets, with different religious backgrounds and distinctive writing styles, revealed different outlooks towards lives in the universe in their poems. They reviewed, adopted and reacted to evolutionary ideas while developing their own cosmological views. This study probes how each poet, in a transitional period, pondered upon issues (such as the origins and the ends of lives, and man’s relation to God) and explored the meanings of life in their own ways.
KEYWORDS: Mid- and Late-Victorian poetry, Browning, Swinburne, evolution, genesis, literature and science
維多利亞中期以後，科學思想逐漸影響當時人的宇宙天人觀，許多舊有的天、地、神、人之相關概念也產生變革。人們的宗教信仰受到達爾文前後的進化思想與天擇說衝擊。本文舉布朗寧（Robert Browning）與史溫本（Algernon Charles Swinburne）兩位具代表性重要詩人為例，觀察比較兩位信仰與風格極端迥異詩人在聽聞進化理論後，對人與天地萬物關係的想像產生了何種變化，因應維多利亞中晚期信仰危機。從兩者文本對照分析兩人在達爾文進化論出現前後的時代轉型期，如何思考生命的始源及歸處、人與神的關係種種問題，循各自的思路在作品中探討人生的意義。