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> My Favorite Love Poem, A Review of Matthew Arnold's "The Buried Life"
Maggie
post Jul 18 06, 17:15
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My Favorite Love Poem (A Review of Matthew Arnold's 'The Buried Life')

My son's wedding was in July of 2000, and the mother of the bride and I were each to read something appropriate. I chose a section from my favorite love poem "The Buried Life" by Matthew Arnold. As a back-up I held a copy as I recited the treasured words.

Ah, to be able to write "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?" Arnold goes on with "But we, my love!-doth a like spell benumb/Our hearts, our voices?-must we too be dumb?" He's talking about lack of self-knowledge there, not shyness, for later in the poem he points out that shyness goes by the wayside when certain feelings occur.

Arnold next explains why mankind often can't know its own feelings: That inability is part of grand design. He speaks of fate: "That it might keep from his capricious play/His genuine self, and force him to obey/Even in his own despite his being's law,/Bade through the deep recesses of our breast/The unregarded river of our life/Pursue with indiscernible flow its way. . . ."

The poet understands a man's desire to know himself. "But often in the world's most crowded streets,?But often in the din of strife,/There arises and unspeakable desire/After the knowledge of our buried life...."

He says we have "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."

Bemoaning our lack of self knowledge, the poet writes that we "Hardly had skill to utter one of all/The nameless feelings that course through our breast,/But they course on for ever unexpressed." With this inability "From the soul's subterranean depth upborn/As from an infinitely distant land,/Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey/A melancholy into all our day."

Now Arnold gets to the heart of the matter-the reconnection of a person with his feelings and destiny. This self-knowledge comes with true love; the deepest emotional involvement with another brings the deepest awareness of self. This is rare according to Arnold, but his words indicate the poet experienced it himself.

"When jaded with the rush and glare
Of the interminable hours,
Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear,
When our world-deafened ear
Is by the tones of a loved voice caressed-
A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again;
The eye sinks inward and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean we say, and what we would we know.
A man becomes aware of his life's flow. . . . "

When this happens, Arnold says "An air of coolness plays upon his face/And an unwonted calm pervades his breast./And then he thinks he knows/The hills where his life rose,/And the sea where it goes."

So don't wait for a wedding or Valentine's Day. Google "The Buried Life." Print it out and share it now with the love of your life.

Peggy Carpenter Harwood


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Guest_Nina_*
post Jul 21 06, 01:10
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Hi Peggy

Thanks for sharing this with us. A lovely poem to read at your son's wedding.

I'm not quite sure how to crit this but I wonder if you really want this critted or if you'd rather the essay were moved to our "Legendary Libations Forum" where we post about famous writer works.

Let me know either on this thread or via PM and I will either try to comment further or move the post.

Nina
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Jul 21 06, 01:50
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Hi Peggy

For a biog of Arnold: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Arnold

I will wait to add more till you reply to Nina's query.

In the meantime, as Arnold died more than 70 years ago (1888, Wiki says), his work is unlikely to still be copyright and I will copy it here in full for those of us (like myself) who are not au fait with his verse:

The Burried Life

Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet,
Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet!
I feel a nameless sadness o'er me roll.
Yes, yes, we know that we can jest,
We know, we know that we can smile!
But there's a something in this breast,
To which thy light words bring no rest,
And thy gay smiles no anodyne.
Give me thy hand, and hush awhile,
And turn those limpid eyes on mine,
And let me read there, love! thy inmost soul.

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!

But we, my love!--doth a like spell benumb
Our hearts, our voices?--must we too be dumb?

Ah! well for us, if even we,
Even for a moment, can get free
Our heart, and have our lips unchain'd;
For that which seals them hath been deep-ordain'd!

Fate, which foresaw
How frivolous a baby man would be--
By what distractions he would be possess'd,
How he would pour himself in every strife,
And well-nigh change his own identity--
That it might keep from his capricious play
His genuine self, and force him to obey
Even in his own despite his being's law,
Bade through the deep recesses of our breast
The unregarded river of our life
Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;
And that we should not see
The buried stream, and seem to be
Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,
Though driving on with it eternally.

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.
And many a man in his own breast then delves,
But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.
And we have been on many thousand lines,
And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;
But hardly have we, for one little hour,
Been on our own line, have we been ourselves--
Hardly had skill to utter one of all
The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
But they course on for ever unexpress'd.
And long we try in vain to speak and act
Our hidden self, and what we say and do
Is eloquent, is well--but 't#is not true!
And then we will no more be rack'd
With inward striving, and demand
Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
Their stupefying power;
Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!
Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
From the soul's subterranean depth upborne
As from an infinitely distant land,
Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
A melancholy into all our day.
Only--but this is rare--
When a belov{'e}d hand is laid in ours,
When, jaded with the rush and glare
Of the interminable hours,
Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear,
When our world-deafen'd ear
Is by the tones of a loved voice caress'd--
A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life's flow,
And hears its winding murmur; and he sees
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

And there arrives a lull in the hot race
Wherein he doth for ever chase
That flying and elusive shadow, rest.
An air of coolness plays upon his face,
And an unwonted calm pervades his breast.
And then he thinks he knows
The hills where his life rose,
And the sea where it goes.

Matthew Arnold
 
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Maggie
post Jul 21 06, 04:04
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Real Name: Peggy Harwood
Writer of: Poetry & Prose
Referred By:just wandered in



Hi Nina,

Yes, I'd like it moved to the famous writers' works forum, please.

Thanks so much!

Peggy


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Guest_Nina_*
post Jul 21 06, 23:11
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done grinning.gif

Nina
 
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Maggie
post Jul 24 06, 05:02
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Group: Gold Member
Posts: 698
Joined: 29-May 06
From: US East Coast
Member No.: 185
Real Name: Peggy Harwood
Writer of: Poetry & Prose
Referred By:just wandered in



QUOTE (Nina @ Jul 22 06, 00:11 ) *
done grinning.gif

Nina


Hi Nina,

Thank you!

Peggy


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