Preface to Poems of 1853
In the preface to his Poems (1853) Arnold asserts the importance of architectonics; (‘that power of execution, which creates, forms, and constitutes’) in poetry – the necessity of achieving unity by subordinating the parts to the whole, and the expression of ideas to the depiction of human action, and condemns poems which exist for the sake of single lines or passages, stray metaphors, images, and fancy expressions. Scattered images and happy turns of phrase, in his view, can only provide partial effects, and not contribute to unity. He also, continuing his anti-Romantic theme, urges, modern poets to shun allusiveness and not fall into the temptation of subjectivity.
He says that even the imitation of Shakespeare is risky for a young writer, who should imitate only his excellences, and avoid his attractive accessories, tricks of style, such as quibble, conceit, circumlocution and allusiveness, which will lead him astray.
Arnold commends Shakespeare’s use of great plots from the past. He had what Goethe called the architectonic quality, that is his expression was matched to the action (or the subject).
But at the same time Arnold quotes Hallam to show that Shakespeare’s style was complex even where the press of action demanded simplicity and directness, and hence his style could not be taken as a model by young writers. Elsewhere he says that Shakespeare’s ‘expression tends to become a little sensuous and simple, too much intellectualised’.
How can life or anything be so wonderful, but at times seem so unbearable? This is a question that Matthew Arnold may have asked himself one day, while writing 'Dover Beach'. This is a poem about a sea and a beach that is truly beautiful, but hold much deeper meaning than what meets the eye. The poem is written in free verse with no particular meter or rhyme scheme, although some of the words do ...
Shakespeare’s excellences are 1)The architectonic quality of his style; the harmony between action and expression. 2) His reliance on the ancients for his themes. 3) Accurate construction of action. 4) His strong conception of action and accurate portrayal of his subject matter. 5) His intense feeling for the subjects he dramatises.
His attractive accessories (or tricks of style) which a young writer should handle carefully are 1) His fondness for quibble, fancy, conceit. 2) His excessive use of imagery. 3) Circumlocution, even where the press of action demands directness. 4) His lack of simplicity (according to Hallam and Guizot).
5) His allusiveness.
As an example of the danger of imitating Shakespeare he gives Keats’s imitation of Shakespeare in his Isabella or the Pot of Basil. Keats uses felicitous phrases and single happy turns of phrase, yet the action is handled vaguely and so the poem does not have unity. By way of contrast, he says the Italian writer Boccaccio handled the same theme successfully in his Decameron, because he rightly subordinated expression to action. Hence Boccaccio’s poem is a poetic success where Keats’s is a failure.
Arnold also wants the modern writer to take models from the past because they depict human actions which touch on ‘the great primary human affections: to those elementary feelings which subsist permanently in the race, and which are independent of time’. Characters such as Agamemnon, Dido, Aeneas, Orestes, Merope, Alcmeon, and Clytemnestra, leave a permanent impression on our minds. Compare ‘The Iliad’ or ‘The Aeneid’ with ‘The Childe Harold’ or ‘The Excursion’ and you see the difference.
A modern writer might complain that ancient subjects pose problems with regard to ancient culture, customs, manners, dress and so on which are not familiar to contemporary readers. But Arnold is of the view that a writer should not concern himself with the externals, but with the ‘inward man’. The inward man is the same irrespective of clime or time.
Explain how themes / ideas were developed in the texts you have studied. Sonnets 18 and 29 by William Shakespeare. In Sonnets 18 and 29 Shakespeare discusses the themes of love, beauty, time and depression. He develops these themes through the structure of the sonnet. The structure of a sonnet consists of three quatrains and a couplet. In Sonnet 18 Shakespeare compares his friends beauty to a ...
Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Summary_of_Shakespeare_by_Matthew_Arnold#ixzz1NfCCi8Nw
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Cascade: steep waterfall
Cashmere: fine, delicate wool
Chrysalis: protective covering
Cinnamon: an aromatic spice; its soft brown color
Coalesce: unite, or fuse
Crepuscular: dim, or twilit
Crystalline: clear, or sparkling
Desultory: half-hearted, meandering
Epitome: embodiment of the ideal
Ethereal: celestial, unworldly, immaterial
Etiquette: proper conduct
Exuberant: abundant, unrestrained, outsize
Felicity: happiness, pleasantness
Filament: thread, strand
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Idyllic: contentedly pleasing
Incorporeal: without form
Incandescent: glowing, radiant, brilliant, zealous
Ineffable: indescribable, unspeakable
Languid: slow, listless
Lilt: cheerful or buoyant song or movement
Lithe: flexible, graceful
Lullaby: soothing song
Luminescence: dim chemical or organic light
Mellifluous: smooth, sweet
Mist: cloudy moisture, or similar literal or virtual obstacle
Murmur: soothing sound
Myriad: great number
Penumbra: shade, shroud, fringe
Quintessential: most purely representative or typical
Redolent: aromatic, evocative
Resonant: echoing, evocative
Rhapsodic: intensely emotional
Sapphire: rich, deep bluish purple
Somnolent: drowsy, sleep inducing
Sonorous: loud, impressive, imposing
Spherical: ball-like, globular
Sublime: exalted, transcendent
Succulent: juicy, tasty, rich
Suffuse: flushed, full
Symphony: harmonious assemblage
Talisman: charm, magical device
Tessellated: checkered in pattern
Zenith: highest point
Cacophony: confused noise
Cataclysm: flood, catastrophe, upheaval
Chafe: irritate, abrade
Coarse: common, crude, rough, harsh
Cynical: distrustful, self-interested
Decrepit: worn-out, run-down
Disgust: aversion, distaste
Grimace: expression of disgust or pain
Grotesque: distorted, bizarre
Hoarse: harsh, grating
Mediocre: ordinary, of low quality
Obstreperous: noisy, unruly
Rancid: offensive, smelly
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Shriek: sharp, screeching sound
Shrill: high-pitched sound
Shun: avoid, ostracize
Slaughter: butcher, carnage
Unctuous: smug, ingratiating
Visceral: crude, anatomically graphic