Quotations by Arnold, Matthew


Still bent to make some port he knows not where,
Still standing for some false impossible shore.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
“A Summer Night,” l. 68-9 (1852)
Added on 25-Mar-08 | Last updated 25-Mar-08
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And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
“Dover Beach,” l. 35-37 (1867)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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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.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
“Morality,” ll. 7-12 (1852)

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Added on 13-Nov-09 | Last updated 13-Nov-09
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What is the course of the life
Of mortal men on the earth?—
Most men eddy about
Here and there—eat and drink,
Chatter and love and hate,
Gather and squander, are raised
Aloft, are hurl’d in the dust,
Striving blindly, achieving
Nothing; and, then they die—
Perish; and no one asks
Who or what they have been,
More than he asks what waves
In the moonlit solitudes mild
Of the midmost Ocean, have swell’d,
Foam’d for a moment, and gone.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
“Rugby Chapel,” st. 6 (1867)

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Added on 5-Mar-10 | Last updated 5-Mar-10
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We, in some unknown Power’s employ,
Move on a rigorous line;
Can neither, when we will, enjoy,
Nor, when we will, resign.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
“Stanzas in Memory of the Author of ‘Obermann'”, s. 34 (1852)
Added on 18-Dec-09 | Last updated 18-Dec-09
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But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us, to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
“The Buried Life,” st. 6 (1852)

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Added on 20-Nov-09 | Last updated 20-Nov-09
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Yet the will is free;
Strong is the soul, and wise, and beautiful;
The seeds of god-like power are in us still;
Gods are we, bards, saints, heroes, if we will!

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
“Written in Emerson’s Essays” (1849).

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Added on 23-Oct-09 | Last updated 23-Oct-09
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The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light. He who works for sweetness and light, works to make reason and the will of God prevail. He who works for machinery, he who works for hatred, works only for confusion. Culture looks beyond machinery, culture hates hatred; culture has one great passion, the passion for sweetness and light.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Culture and Anarchy, ch. 1 “Sweetness and Light” (1869)

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Added on 12-Mar-10 | Last updated 12-Mar-10
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It is a very great thing to be able to think as you like; but, after all, an important question remains: what you think.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Democracy (1861)
Added on 8-Jan-10 | Last updated 8-Jan-10
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Nations are not truly great solely because the individuals composing them are numerous, free, and active; but they are great when these numbers, this freedom, and this activity are employed in the service of an ideal higher than that of an ordinary man, taken by himself.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Democracy (1861)
Added on 22-Jan-10 | Last updated 22-Jan-10
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We do not what we ought,
What we ought not, we do,
And lean upon the thought
That chance will bring us through.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Empedocles on Etna Act I, sc. ii (1852)

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Added on 19-Feb-10 | Last updated 19-Feb-10
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The sophist sneers: Fool, take
Thy pleasure, right or wrong!
The pious wail: Forsake
A world these sophists throng!
Be neither saint nor sophist-led, but be a man.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Empedocles on Etna, Act I, sc. ii (1852)

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Added on 24-Dec-09 | Last updated 24-Dec-09
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Thou hast no right to bliss.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Empedocles on Etna, Act I, sc. ii (1852)

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Added on 12-Feb-10 | Last updated 12-Feb-10
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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?

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Empedocles on Etna, Act I, sc. ii (1852)

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Added on 26-Feb-10 | Last updated 26-Feb-10
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The free-thinking of one age is the common sense of the next.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
God and the Bible (1875)
Added on 15-Jan-10 | Last updated 15-Jan-10
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The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
God and the Bible (1875)
Added on 28-Apr-16 | Last updated 28-Apr-16
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Conduct is three-fourths of our life and its largest concern.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Literature and Dogma, ch. 1 (1873)
Added on 5-Feb-10 | Last updated 5-Feb-10
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Culture, the acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world, and thus with the history of the human spirit.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Literature and Dogma, preface (1873)
Added on 6-Nov-09 | Last updated 6-Nov-09
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We cannot kindle when we will
The fire that in the heart resides,
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides; —
But tasks, in hours of insight willed,
Can be through hours of gloom fulfilled.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Morality, st. 1 (1852)

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Added on 30-Oct-09 | Last updated 30-Oct-09
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Below the surface stream, shallow and light,
Of what we say and feel — below the stream,
As light, of what we think we feel, there flows
With noiseless current, strong, obscure and deep,
The central stream of what we feel indeed.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
St. Paul and Protestantism (1870)
Added on 29-Jan-10 | Last updated 29-Jan-10
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Ah! two desires toss about
The poet’s feverish blood;
One drives him to the world without,
And one to solitude.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
Stanzas in Memory of the Author of “Obermann” (1852), st. 24.
Added on 4-Dec-09 | Last updated 4-Dec-09
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