This poem is comprised of free verse, though there is an iambic stress on each line. It means that the measure to which a poem is genuine and noble, and free from charlatanism. Not only does Arnold present a commentary on different poets, but in doing so presents a way of critique and criticism which, according to him, is the most appropriate and effective one. Nor is Clarindas love-poet, Sylvander, the real Burns either. By the end of the poem, the speaker calls upon his love to be true, claiming that the beautiful world before them lacks joy, love, peace, and all good things. Then, again, a poet or poem may count to us on grounds personal to ourselves.
In poetry, which is thought and art in one, it is the glory, the eternal honour, that charlatanism shall find no entrance; that this noble sphere be kept inviolate and inviolable. Nevertheless if we are urgently pressed to give some critical account of them, we may safely, perhaps, venture on laying down, not indeed how and why the characters arise, but where and in what they arise. Poetry can reflect the true spirits of life when it will be free of any kind of corruption or ignobility. He started his literary career by writing poetry. In personal estimate, we cannot wholly leave out the personal and subjective factors. Poetry can fulfill its high function only if we keep a high standard for it.
But if we have any tact we shall find them, when we have lodged them well in our minds, infallible touchstone for detecting the presence or absence of high poetic quality, and also the degree oft his quality, in all other poetry which we may place beside them. At the same time, his constant analysis and judgment of schools and education gifted him with added perspective on society and learning. But whether we set ourselves, as here, to follow only one of the several streams that make the mighty river of poetry, or whether we seek to know them all, our governing thought should be the same. And naturally the poets to be exhibited in it will be assigned to those persons for exhibition who are known to prize them highly, rather than to those who have no special inclination towards them. If we are thoroughly penetrated by their power, we shall find that we have acquired a sense enabling us, whatever poetry may be laid before us, to feel the degree in which a high poetical quality is present or wanting there. Take that incomparable line and a half of Dante, Ugolinos tremendous words Io no piangeva; sì dentro impietrai.
As a critic, Arnold put great emphasis on the inherent good that poetry represented. More and more mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us. Arnold is frequently acknowledged as being one of the first poets to display a truly Modern perspective in his work. Arnold draws upon legends of Empedocles hurtling himself into an active volcano. The greatness of Wordsworth lies in his powerful application of the subject of ideas to man, nature and human life.
The second half of the essay then goes on to lay out the lineage of English Poetry from Chaucer through the Romantics, and to describe who he thinks to be the great English poets and why. Do you ask me whether Drydens verse, take it almost where you will, is not good? Art should be given value which it possesses in itself. Let us add, therefore, to what we have said, this: that the substances and matter of the best poetry acquire their special character from possessing, in an eminent degree, truth and seriousness. For the votary misled by a personal estimate of Shelley, as so many of us have been, are, and will be,of that beautiful spirit building his many-coloured haze of words and images Pinnacled dim in the intense inane no contact can be wholesomer than the contact with Burns at his archest and soundest. He is the scantiest and frailest of classics in our poetry, but he is a classic. If we conceive thus highly of the destinies of poetry, we must also set ourstandard for poetry high, since poetry, to be capable of fulfilling such highdestinies, must be poetry of a high order of excellence.
But if we conceive thus highly of the destinies of poetry, we must also set our standard for poetry high, since poetry, to be capable of fulfilling such high destinies, must be poetry of a high order of excellence. Firstly, Arnold is returning to the question that had interested him in exchanges with Clough, the connection between emotion and artistic form. Poetry makes men moral, better and nobler, but it does so not through direct teaching, or by appealing to reason, like science, but by appealing to the soul of man. And yet in the very nature and conduct of such a collection there is inevitably something which tends to obscure in us the consciousness of what our benefit should be, and to distract us from the pursuit of it. The two are vitally connected together.
The strongest part of our religion today is its unconscious poetry. There is not a creed which is not shaken, not an accredited dogma which is not shown to be questionable, not a received tradition which does not threaten to dissolve. Gray is our poetical classic of that literature and age; the position of Gray is singular, and demands a word of notice here. The Study of Poetry, which appeared in 1888 as the first entry of his Essays in Criticism, Second Series, presents Matthew Arnold's case for the importance of poetry. Indeed there can be no more useful help for discovering what poetry belongs to the class of the truly excellent, and can therefore do us most good, than to have always in ones mind lines and expressions of the great masters, and to apply them as a touchstone to other poetry.
Lesson Summary Matthew Arnold was a poet and literary critic whose influence continued long after his death. The purpose of literary criticism, in his view, was 'to know the best that is known and thought in the world, and by in its turn making this known, to create a current of true and fresh ideas', and he has influenced a whole school of critics including new critics such as T. Yet Dryden was Miltons contemporary. Arnold says the critics seem to substitute 'a halo for physiognomy and a statue in the place where there was once a man. Dryden regards as not seriously disputable the opinion that the sweetness of English verse was never understood or practised by our fathers.