Poem introduction

In his lifetime, in the mid- to late nineteenth century, Matthew Arnold won more respect and admiration as a literary critic and an educationalist – he was a dedicated long-term schools inspector – than as a poet. But a number of his poems continude to hold the attention of those twentieth-century readers who appreciated the clear and passionate evocations of place in his more lyrical writing, as in 'The Scholar-Gipsy', and his command of a grand style in narratives like 'Sohrab and Rustum'. In another mood, 'Dover Beach' catches vividly the sense of doubt and apprehension underlying the required optimism of the Victorian age, which rejoiced in the expansion of Empire and celebrated industrial progress whatever the cost. Arnold here speaks calmly of a human misery and confusion against which he can only oppose the power of a personal love he feels for his partner in a poem said to be inspired by his honeymoon in 1867. Here is...

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