Frasi di Matthew Arnold

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Matthew Arnold

Data di nascita: 24. Dicembre 1822
Data di morte: 15. Aprile 1888

Matthew Arnold è stato un poeta, critico letterario e educatore britannico.

Era figlio di Thomas Arnold, famoso rettore della Rugby School, e fratello di Tom Arnold, docente di letteratura e di William Delafield Arnold, scrittore e funzionario coloniale.

Nel periodo 1847-51 lavorò come segretario di Lord Landsdowne, poi fu ispettore scolastico, viaggiando spesso per visitare scuole inglesi e non, e per vedere come fossero organizzate e come migliorarne l'insegnamento .

Nel 1851 sposò Fanny Lucy Wightman con la quale ebbe sei figli, di cui solo tre gli sopravvissero.

Nel 1857 fu eletto Professor of Poetry dell'Università di Oxford, dove fu il primo a usare l'inglese anziché il latino durante le proprie conferenze. Venne confermato nel mandato successivo .

Come critico letterario, si distinse per il tentativo di reinserire l'individuo all'interno della società e il letterato nell'ambito della tradizione.

A partire dalle Lives of the Poets di Samuel Johnson, per cui fece una scelta e una prefazione importante, anche dove non fosse d'accordo con lui, Arnold fornì con generosità e intelligenza tutta una serie di valutazioni ed espressioni alla critica letteraria del suo tempo. Promuovendo una cultura europea comune, accusò la cultura inglese di essere provinciale, principalmente con gli "Essays and Criticism" , che furono apprezzati da diversi lettori soprattutto dopo la sua morte .

Alcuni suoi scritti, per lo più pubblicati su giornali come "Cornhill" e "Fortnightly Review" e solo dopo raccolti in volumi, si occuparono anche dei problemi sociali e religiosi, come nel caso di Culture and Anarchy , nel quale l'autore assegnò alla cultura il compito di infrangere gli steccati che separavano le varie classi sociali, con un fondo di ottimismo a proposito dello sviluppo dell'umanità in quanto organismo.

In saggi successivi, come Literature and Dogma e God and the Bible , Arnold identificò la poesia come un possibile sostituto sia della religione sia della metafisica.Una delle sue formule critiche più fortunate fu quella di evidenziare l'amalgama di coscienza morale ebraica e intelligenza ellenistica che stanno alla base della cultura occidentale, essendo religione e poesia, ovvero "cuore e immaginazione" le due matrici della "moralità toccata da emozione" ovvero la poesia quale mezzo di trasmissione dell'esperienza spirituale.

Il suo magistero critico, con maggiore o minore fedeltà, ha collaborato a creare il punto di vista generale sulla funzione della cultura in critici come Lionel Trilling, Northrop Frye o Harold Bloom, o per le pagine critiche di Oscar Wilde, George Santayana e di T.S. Eliot, tra tutti forse il debitore più grato.

La sua produzione poetica, da qualcuno ritenuta tra le più importanti del periodo vittoriano inglese, fu caratterizzata da opere di ampio respiro, quali Tristram and Iseult , le tragedie Empedocles on Etna e Merope e da composizioni brevi come il sonetto Shakespeare , The Forsaken Merman .

Famosa è la sua poesia Dover Beach , sulla cittadina inglese che era porto verso la Francia e l'Europa.

Frasi Matthew Arnold

„Dispersi per il vasto deserto delle acque
Noi mortali viviamo a milioni in solitudine.“

—  Matthew Arnold

(da To Marguerite, in Returning a Volume of the Letters of Ortis (1852), stanza 1)
Dotting the shoreless watery wild, | We mortal millions live alone.

„It is important, therefore, to hold fast to this: that poetry is at bottom a criticism of life; that the greatness of a poet lies in his powerful and beautiful application of ideas to life — to the question, How to live.“

—  Matthew Arnold

Wordsworth, originally published as "Preface to the Poems of Wordsworth" in Macmillan's Magazine (July 1879)
Essays in Criticism, second series (1888)
Contesto: If what distinguishes the greatest poets is their powerful and profound application of ideas to life, which surely no good critic will deny, then to prefix to the word ideas here the term moral makes hardly any difference, because human life itself is in so preponderating a degree moral.
It is important, therefore, to hold fast to this: that poetry is at bottom a criticism of life; that the greatness of a poet lies in his powerful and beautiful application of ideas to life — to the question, How to live. Morals are often treated in a narrow and false fashion, they are bound up with systems of thought and belief which have had their day, they are fallen into the hands of pedants and professional dealers, they grow tiresome to some of us. We find attraction, at times, even in a poetry of revolt against them; in a poetry which might take for its motto Omar Khayam's words: "Let us make up in the tavern for the time which we have wasted in the mosque." Or we find attractions in a poetry indifferent to them, in a poetry where the contents may be what they will, but where the form is studied and exquisite. We delude ourselves in either case; and the best cure for our delusion is to let our minds rest upon that great and inexhaustible word life, until we learn to enter into its meaning. A poetry of revolt against moral ideas is a poetry of revolt against life; a poetry of indifference towards moral ideas is a poetry of indifference towards life.

„Ah! do not we, wanderer! await it too?“

—  Matthew Arnold

St. 18
The Scholar Gypsy (1853)
Contesto: Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! and we,
Light half-believers of our casual creeds,
Who never deeply felt, nor clearly will’d,
Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds,
Whose vague resolves never have been fulfill’d;
For whom each year we see
Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new;
Who hesitate and falter life away,
And lose to-morrow the ground won to-day—
Ah! do not we, wanderer! await it too?

„The poet's matter being the hitherto experience of the world, and his own, increases with every century.“

—  Matthew Arnold

Letter to Arthur Hugh Clough (December 1847/early 1848)
Contesto: Had Shakespeare and Milton lived in the atmosphere of modern feeling, had they had the multitude of new thoughts and feelings to deal with a modern has, I think it likely the style of each would have been far less curious and exquisite. For in a man style is the saying in the best way what you have to say. The what you have to say depends on your age. In the 17th century it was a smaller harvest than now, and sooner to be reaped; and therefore to its reaper was left time to stow it more finely and curiously. Still more was this the case in the ancient world. The poet's matter being the hitherto experience of the world, and his own, increases with every century.

„Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?“

—  Matthew Arnold

" The Buried Life http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/arnold/writings/buriedlife.html" (1852), st. 2
Contesto: Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceal'd
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves — and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!

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„Yes, thou art gone! and round me too the night
In ever-nearing circle weaves her shade.“

—  Matthew Arnold, Thyrsis

St. 14
Thyrsis (1866)
Contesto: Yes, thou art gone! and round me too the night
In ever-nearing circle weaves her shade.
I see her veil draw soft across the day,
I feel her slowly chilling breath invade
The cheek grown thin, the brown hair sprent with grey;
I feel her finger light
Laid pausefully upon life’s headlong train; —
The foot less prompt to meet the morning dew,
The heart less bounding at emotion new,
And hope, once crush’d, less quick to spring again.

„Come, dear children, let us away;
Down and away below.“

—  Matthew Arnold

St. 1
The Forsaken Merman (1849)
Contesto: Come, dear children, let us away;
Down and away below.
Now my brothers call from the bay;
Now the great winds shoreward blow;
Now the salt tides seaward flow;
Now the wild white horses play,
Champ and chafe and toss in the spray.
Children dear, let us away.
This way, this way!

„Silent — the best are silent now.“

—  Matthew Arnold

Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse (1855)
Contesto: But — if you cannot give us ease —
Last of the race of them who grieve
Here leave us to die out with these
Last of the people who believe!
Silent, while years engrave the brow;
Silent — the best are silent now. Achilles ponders in his tent,
The kings of modern thought are dumb,
Silent they are though not content,
And wait to see the future come.
They have the grief men had of yore,
But they contend and cry no more.

„The heart less bounding at emotion new,
And hope, once crush’d, less quick to spring again.“

—  Matthew Arnold, Thyrsis

St. 14
Thyrsis (1866)
Contesto: Yes, thou art gone! and round me too the night
In ever-nearing circle weaves her shade.
I see her veil draw soft across the day,
I feel her slowly chilling breath invade
The cheek grown thin, the brown hair sprent with grey;
I feel her finger light
Laid pausefully upon life’s headlong train; —
The foot less prompt to meet the morning dew,
The heart less bounding at emotion new,
And hope, once crush’d, less quick to spring again.

„Is it so small a thing
To have enjoy’d the sun“

—  Matthew Arnold, libro Empedocles on Etna

Act I, sc. ii
Empedocles on Etna (1852)
Contesto: Is it so small a thing
To have enjoy’d the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanc’d true friends, and beat down baffling foes?

„For both were faiths, and both are gone.“

—  Matthew Arnold

Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse (1855)
Contesto: Forgive me, masters of the mind!
At whose behest I long ago
So much unlearnt, so much resign'd —
I come not here to be your foe!
I seek these anchorites, not in ruth,
To curse and to deny your truth; Not as their friend, or child, I speak!
But as, on some far northern strand,
Thinking of his own Gods, a Greek
In pity and mournful awe might stand
Before some fallen Runic stone —
For both were faiths, and both are gone.

„Not till the hours of light return
All we have built do we discern.“

—  Matthew Arnold

"Morality" (1852), lines 7-12
Contesto: With aching hands and bleeding feet
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
We bear the burden and the heat
Of the long day and wish’t were done.
Not till the hours of light return
All we have built do we discern.

„It is not in my nature, some of my critics would rather say, not in my power, to dispute on behalf of any opinion, even my own, very obstinately.“

—  Matthew Arnold

Preface to the Second Edition (1869)
Essays in Criticism (1865)
Contesto: It is not in my nature, some of my critics would rather say, not in my power, to dispute on behalf of any opinion, even my own, very obstinately. To try and approach truth on one side after another, not to strive or cry, nor to persist in pressing forward, on any one side, with violence and self-will, — it is only thus, it seems to me, that mortals may hope to gain any vision of the mysterious Goddess, whom we shall never see except in outline, but only thus even in outline. He who will do nothing but fight impetuously towards her on his own, one, favourite, particular line, is inevitably destined to run his head into the folds of the black robe in which she is wrapped.

„Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole.“

—  Matthew Arnold

"To a Friend" (1849), line 9-12
Contesto: But be his
My special thanks, whose even-balanced soul,
From first youth tested up to extreme old age,
Business could not make dull, nor passion wild;
Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole.

„I knew they lived and moved
Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves — and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!“

—  Matthew Arnold

" The Buried Life http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/arnold/writings/buriedlife.html" (1852), st. 2
Contesto: Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceal'd
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves — and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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