Matthew Arnold


English Poet, Essayist and Cultural Critic

Author Quotes

Culture is "to know the best that has been said and thought in the world."

Fate gave, what Chance shall not control, his sad lucidity of soul.

Go, for they call you, shepherd, from the hill.

Hear it, O Thyrsis, still our tree is there!?Ah, vain! These English fields, this upland dim, these brambles pale with mist engarlanded, that lone, sky-pointing tree, are not for him; to a boon southern country he is fled, and now in happier air, wandering with the great Mother?s train divine (And purer or more subtle soul than thee,

I knew the mass of men conceal'd their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd they would by other men be met with blank indifference.

It is ? last stage of all ? when we are frozen up within, and quite the phantom of ourselves, to hear the world applaud the hollow ghost which blamed the living man.

Like driftwood spares which meet and pass Upon the boundless ocean-plain, So on the sea of life, alas! Man nears man, meets, and leaves again.

Nor does the being hungry prove that we have bread.

One must, I think, be struck more and more the longer one lives, to find how much in our present society a man's life of each day depends for its solidity and value upon whether he reads during that day, and far more still on what he reads during it.

Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive and wisely effective mode of saying things, and hence its importance.

Singing, "Here came a mortal, but faithless was she: and alone dwell forever the kings of the sea."

The best poetry will be found to have a power of forming, sustaining, and delighting us, as nothing else can.

The Greek word euphuia, a finely tempered nature, gives exactly the notion of perfection as culture brings us to perceive it; a harmonious perfection, a perfection in which the characters of beauty and intelligence are both present, which unites "the two noblest of things"--as Swift . . . most happily calls them in his Battle of the Books, "the two noblest of things, sweetness and light.

The power of the Latin classic is in character that of the Greek is in beauty. Now character is capable of being taught, learnt, and assimilated: beauty hardly.

The whole scope of the essay is to recommend culture as the great help out of our present difficulties; culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world; and through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits, which we now follow staunchly but mechanically, vainly imagining that there is a virtue in following them staunchly which makes up for the mischief of following them mechanically.

This truth?to prove, and make thine own: ?thou hast been, shalt be, art, alone.?

Too fast we live, too much are tried, Too harass'd, to attain Wordsworth's sweet calm, or Goethe's wide And luminous view to gain.

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English Poet, Essayist and Cultural Critic