Matthew Arnold


English Poet, Essayist and Cultural Critic

Author Quotes

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.

And amongst us one, who most has suffer'd, takes dejectedly his seat upon the intellectual throne.

Beautiful city! . . . Spreading her gardens to the moonlight, and whispering from her towers the last enchantments of the Middle Age . . . her ineffable charm. . . . Adorable dreamer, whose heart has been so romantic!

Children dear, was it yesterday (Call yet once) that she went away?

Culture is a study of perfection.

For eager teachers seized my youth, pruned my faith and trimmed my fire. Showed me the high, white star of truth, there bade me gaze and there aspire.

God's Wisdom and God's Goodness! ? Ah, but fools Mis-define thee, till God knows them no more. Wisdom and goodness they are God! ? What schools have yet so much as heard this simpler lore. This no Saint preaches, and this no Church rules: 'Tis in the desert, now and heretofore.

Her cabin?d, ample Spirit, it flutter?d and fail?d for breath. To-night it doth inherit the vasty Hall of Death.

I met a preacher there I knew, and said, Ill and overworked, how fare you in this scene? Bravely! said he; for I of late have been Much cheered with thoughts of Christ, the living bread.

It is a very great thing to be able to think as you like; but, after all, an important question remains: what you think.

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 in. Sophocles long ago Heard it on the Aegean.

Not a having and a resting, but a growing and a becoming is the character of perfection as culture conceives it.

One thing only has been lent to youth and age in common - discontent.

Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive, and widely effective mode of saying things.

Six years-six little years-six drops of time.

The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I.

The heart less bounding at emotion new, The hope, once crushed, less quick to spring again.

The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light. He who works for sweetness and light, works to make reason and the will of God prevail. He who works for machinery, he who works for hatred, works only for confusion. Culture looks beyond machinery, culture hates hatred; culture has one great passion, the passion for sweetness and light.

The will is free; Strong is the soul, and wise, and beautiful; The seeds of godlike power are in us still; Gods are we, bards, saints, heroes, if we will!

Thou hast no right to bliss.

Too quick despairer, wherefore wilt thou go? Soon will the high midsummer pomps come on.

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English Poet, Essayist and Cultural Critic