Matthew Arnold: A Bridge between Romanticism and Modernism
Matthew Arnold is generally known as a poet of Victorian social unrest and spiritual crisis. The critics have shown profound interest to evaluate him as a classical poet in view of real estimate. Their approach has often led to misleading judgment of his poetry. There is no denying the fact that Arnold is a classical poet. But that is not all. He is more than that. The aim of this paper is to explore Matthew Arnold as a bridge between romanticism and modernism. For this purpose four of his poems Dover Beach, The Scholar Gypsy, The Forsaken Merman and Thyrsis have been analysed.
It is a fact not to deny that Matthew Arnold is one of the really powerful emotional forces in English poetry. The themes which his poetry generally works out are those of aching hearts, longing, frustration, and the depths of blankness and isolation. In his poetry “he usually records his own experiences, his own feelings of loneliness and isolation as a lover, his longing for a serenity that he cannot find.”1 Arnold is a poet very much aware of the conflict in himself-the conflict which “tears him, and he sees it, and it becomes in our eyes all the more painful, but also the more moving-not a muddle, but a battle; not stupid, but tragic. For Arnold was indeed at war with himself.”2 His literary career may be roughly classified into four phases-the period of discontent represented by the early poetry-the modernist Hellenism culminating in Culture and Anarchy-the eight-year period of the Biblical studies-the final decade in which Arnold returns to modernism. The two basic problems that Arnold deals with in his early poems are alienation of the mind from nature and the sense of futility inherent in the cyclic concept of history.
The Victorian period may be regarded as isolated between two streams-Romanticism and Modernism. In Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse Arnold admits that he...