Although remembered now for his elegantly argued critical essays, Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) began his career as a poet, winning early recognition as a student at the Rugby School where his father, Thomas Arnold, had earned national acclaim as a strict and innovative headmaster. Arnold also studied at Balliol College, Oxford University. In 1844, after completing his undergraduate degree at Oxford, he returned to Rugby as a teacher of classics. After marrying in 1851, Arnold began work as a government school inspector, a grueling position which nonetheless afforded him the opportunity to travel throughout England and the Continent. Throughout his thirty-five years in this position Arnold ... more »
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Matthew Arnold Poems
The sea is calm to-night. The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits; - on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
What is it to grow old? Is it to lose the glory of the form, The lustre of the eye? Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
I ask not that my bed of death From bands of greedy heirs be free; For these besiege the latest breath Of fortune's favoured sons, not me.
Foil'd by our fellow-men, depress'd, outworn, We leave the brutal world to take its way, And, Patience! in another life, we say The world shall be thrust down, and we up-borne.
Come to me in my dreams, and then By day I shall be well again! For so the night will more than pay The hopeless longing of the day.
Was it a dream? We sail'd, I thought we sail'd, Martin and I, down the green Alpine stream, Border'd, each bank, with pines; the morning sun,
A wanderer is man from his birth. He was born in a ship On the breast of the river of Time; Brimming with wonder and joy
A Summer Night
In the deserted, moon-blanched street, How lonely rings the echo of my feet! Those windows, which I gaze at, frown,
A region desolate and wild. Black, chafing water: and afloat, And lonely as a truant child In a waste wood, a single boat:
The Last Word
Creep into thy narrow bed, Creep, and let no more be said! Vain thy onset! all stands fast. Thou thyself must break at last.
Isolation: To Marguerite
We were apart; yet, day by day, I bade my heart more constant be. I bade it keep the world away, And grow a home for only thee;
'Twas August, and the fierce sun overhead Smote on the squalid streets of Bethnal Green, And the pale weaver, through his windows seen In Spitalfields, looked thrice dispirited.
IN THIS fair stranger’s eyes of grey Thine eyes, my love, I see. I shudder: for the passing day Had borne me far from thee.
Weary of myself, and sick of asking What I am, and what I ought to be, At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me Forwards, forwards, o'er the starlit sea.
Quotationsmore quotations »
The working-class ... is now issuing from its hiding-place to assert an Englishman's heaven-born privilege of doing as he likes, and is beginning to perplex us by marching where it likes, meeting wher...Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), British poet, critic. Culture and Anarchy, ch. 3 (1869).
''Our society distributes itself into Barbarians, Philistines and Populace; and America is just ourselves with the Barbarians quite left out, and the Populace nearly.''Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), British poet, critic. Culture and Anarchy, preface (1859). Arnold held that literature was of paramount importance for...
''The discipline of the Old Testament may be summed up as a discipline teaching us to abhor and flee from sin; the discipline of the New Testament, as a discipline teaching us to die to it.''Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), British poet, critic. Culture and Anarchy, ch. 4 (1869).
''One has often wondered whether upon the whole earth there is anything so unintelligent, so unapt to perceive how the world is really going, as an ordinary young Englishman of our upper class.''Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), British poet, critic. Culture and Anarchy, ch. 2 (1869).
''Home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties!''Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), British poet, critic. Essays in Criticism, preface, First Series (1865). Referring to Oxford University; see Arnold's ...
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
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The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; - on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness ...