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A few of his poems such as "Thyrsis," "Rugby Chapel," "Heine's Grave," and "Haworth Churchyard" are properly called "Elegiac." There is a sense in which two-thirds of his verse is elegiac a somber contemplation of vanished ambitions, a tribute given perforce to a something lost out of his life, he scarcely knew what. It is at this point, as much as at any other, that the superior moral personality of his father appears, a superiority which the son himself was not slow to discern, as he wrote in "Rugby Chapel ":

"to us thou wast still

Cheerful, and helpful, and firm!
Therefore to thee it was given
Many to save with thyself;

And, at the end of thy day,
O faithful shepherd, to come,
Bringing thy sheep in thy hand.

And through thee I believe

In the noble and great who are gone."

Such, as we estimate them, are the salient features in the poetic work of Arnold, nor are we far astray when we summarize his merits and demerits in the statement that he had high ideals as a poet which he had not the gifts fully to realize. He had the "vision divine," though not the "faculty divine"; while no careful reader of his verse can fail to note the evidence on almost every page

of this despairing struggle to make poetic conception and poetic execution accordant. Visible as this feature is in his shorter poems, it is especially apparent in his three longer narrative poems and in his two specific attempts at dramatic writing, in no one of which poems has he approximated to Miltonic or Shakespearean effects.

Conceding as he does in one of his poems,

"The seeds of godlike power are in us still; Gods are we, bards, saints, heroes, if we will,"

the implanted seeds never developed to full maturity, nor did the will to become a master-bard prove sufficient to effect so great a result. In his poem "Self-Deception," he would almost seem to have conceded this limitation, as he writes:—



Ah, whose hand that day through Heaven guided
Man's new spirit, since it was not we?
Ah, who sway'd our choice, and who decided
What our gifts, and what our wants should be?

For, alas! he left us each retaining

Shreds of gifts which he refused in full.

Still these waste us with their hopeless straining,
Still the attempt to use them proves them null.

"And on earth we wander, groping, reeling;
Powers stir in us, stir and disappear.
Ah! and he, who placed our master-feeling,
Fail'd to place that master-feeling clear.

"We but dream we have our wish'd-for powers,
Ends we seek we never shall attain.

Ah! some power exists there, which is ours?
Some end is there, we indeed may gain?"

Here is an acknowledgment of gift and inability in one and an almost pitiful lament over the chasm discovered by the poet himself between ambition and ability. A poet of classic culture and intellectual merit; a poet of unique personality and high poetic dignity, of marked ethical purpose and lofty ideal he still with all his merits falls far short of masterliness in verse. Adopting his own favorite phrase, he is an "interesting," though not a great, poet. He is interesting only because not inspiring, and he is not inspiring because not inspired.

With some superb lines and passages at distant intervals in his verse there is no extended and even flow of high poetic form in which mind and sou! and art are fused in the unity of great effect, and the reader is carried aloft to the vision of truth and goodness and beauty and love. It is the constant presence of this vain endeavor to be as a poet what he longed to be that is the explanation of that dominant feature of sadness that is so clearly seen in the thoughtful face of Matthew Arnold.



OUR poet was born in the vicinity of London, in 1812, in Camberwell. After his early schooldays and his later educational life at London University, he went to Italy, in 1832, spending in all not less than fifteen years in that land of song and art. It is probable that but few, if any, Englishmen have made themselves more thoroughly acquainted with the language, life, and history of medieval and modern Italy. It is, therefore, matter-of-fact prose as well as poetry when in Gustibus", he writes:

"Open my heart, and you will see

Graved inside of it, Italy.'"

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Bella Italia was ever on his lips, as on those of Mrs. Browning, and it was their mutual delight to sing her praises and defend her interests. would be a pleasing task to trace the history of English poetry from Edward III. to Victoria with the purpose of showing its indebtedness to Italy; to Petrarch and Boccaccio, Boiardo, Ariosto, Tasso,

Bruno, and the gifted Alfieri. Under this specific poetic influence, Browning voluntarily placed himself, and cannot be appreciated as a man or a poet apart from its presence as a primal factor. Not only did his special studies in the monasteries of Venice and Lombardy make him, in a real sense, Anglo-Italian, but, also, his protracted life among the people made him such.

On the basis of natural tendencies, and from the fact that his father was a man of poetic taste and achievement, our author is said to have written verse as early as at ten years of age, thus placing himself in line with Pope and other English bards of premature development. His first production, entitled" Pauline: A Fragment of a Confession," was published in 1833, just as he reached his majority, and was fittingly called by the poet himself, a boyish work." In 1835, at the age of twenty-three, he he wrote Paracelsus," between whose central idea as a poem and that of Goethe's "Faust" many English critics have noted points of marked resemblance. As most first efforts of such minds, these poems were purely tentative and indicative in no high sense establishing his claim to poetic merit, and yet doing something in the line of opening up the way to worthier things. In

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