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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Matthew Arnold's theory of poetry .

Matthew Arnold one of foremost critic of 19th century is often regarded as father of modern English criticism . Arnold's work as literary critic started with "Preface to poems " in 1853 .It is a kind of manifesto of his critical creed . It reflects classicism as well his views on grand poetic style . Arnold was classicist who loved art , literature and Hellenic culture .
                                                            His most famous piece of literary criticism is in his essay " The study of poetry ". In this work he talks about poetry's " high destiny " . He believes " mankind  will discover that we have to turn poetry to interpret life for us ,to console us ,to sustain us " .
Arnold lived in a materialistic world where advancement of science has led society in a strange darkness . Importance of religion was submerged . People were becoming fact seekers .A gap was being developed and Arnold believed poetry could fill that gap .In his words "Our religion has materialised itself in the fact , and the fact is now failing it .But for poetry the idea is everything ,the rest is world of illusion , of Divine illusion " .Arnold wrote " without poetry our science will appear incomplete ;and most of what now passes with religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry .
He had definite aim in writing poetry .It was " criticism of life " By " criticism of life " he meant   " noble and profound application of ideas of life ". He said poetry should serve a greater purpose  instead of becoming a mere medium of gaining pleasure and appreciating beauty .
                          According to him  the best poetry is criticism of life , abiding laws of poetic truth and poetic beauty .By poetic truth he meant representation of life in true way . By poetic beauty he meant manner and style of poetry . He said poet should be a man with enormous experience . His intellect should be highly developed by means of enormous reading and deep critical thinking .
          Arnold says poetry is an " application of ideas to life " . If the application of ideas  is powerful the poetry will become great . He also lays emphasis on quality of " high seriousness "
It comes with sincerity which poet feels for his subject. Many critics disagreed Arnold ,T.S.Elliot a great poet himself disagreed his view by saying  Arnold's view is "frigid to anyone who has felt the full surprise and elevation of new experience in poetry " .Arnold classic poets include Dante , Milton , Homer and  Shakespeare . He quotes famous line of Milton

" Nor thy life nor hate ; but what thou livest
Live well : how ling or short , permit to heaven" .
According to Arnold Geoffrey Chaucer was not a classic poet as he lacked " high seriousness " .

Arnold said poetry should deal with ideas not facts . Ideas should be moral . He said moral should not be taken in narrow sense . He says " poetry of revolt against life ; a poetry of indifference towards moral idea is a poetry of indifference towards life ".


  1. nice note on ARNOLD's theory of poetry.....i liked it

  2. really very helpfull note bro
    thanks for it

  3. Thanx for it....I am also student of literature in BHU

  4. good to hear frm u dear ............

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. A smart writing where complex things presented in a simple way.

  7. Kindly check your spellings.You have spelt *Eliot* wrong.

  8. The best I got thank u so much

  9. Replies
    1. There are so many kiddish mistake ,😁 I have gone through many prestigious books like B. Prasad's Introduction to English criticism and many more , after reading that your blog seems nothing more than a childish attempt on Criticism . Seriously 😂

  10. Saale jhandu copy to achhe se krleta loru.........Poetry Foundation ki website ki kuch to laaj rakh leta.