The poets of the mid-nineteenth century lived in a time of 'nation-building'. The Realms of Verse brings this political and intellectual context to life. Drawing on a wide range of soources, Matthew Reynolds shows that the Italian Risorgimento raised questions about community and individualliberty which were especially problematic for subjects of the multi-national United Kingdom, and argues that these questions are at the heart of the poetry of Robert and Elizabeth Browning, Tennyson, and Clough. Their long poems characteristically tell stories about marriage, investigating thesymbolic and actual interactions between that personal union and national unity. Their verse as a whole exploits correspondences between political government and poetic form, and is alert to its own role in fostering a common culture. Historically detailed, theoretically astute, critically nimble,and stylishly written, The Realms of Verse is the most far-reaching reassessment of Victorian poetry to have been published in recent years.