Arnold's Coleridgean Conversation Poem: "Dover Beach" and "The Eolian Harp" by ProQuest


Poetry is made out of other poems.-Northrop Frye Let us give up the failed enterprise of seeking to "understand" any single poem as an entity in itself.-Harold Bloom The more complete and concrete our knowledge of an artist's generic contracts, the deeper can we penetrate the peculiar features of his generic form and the more correctly can we understand the interrelationships within it, of tradition and innovation.-Mikhail Bakhtin Everywhere there is connection, everywhere there is illustration, no single event, no single literature is adequately comprehended except in relation to other events, other literatures.-Arnold, "On the Modern Element in Literature" I Arnold's complex relationship to the Romantic poets, and particularly to Wordsworth, has been a recurring topic in criticism of his poetry, but conspicuously absent from the indexes of books on Arnold, and especially on his poetry, are entries under the name of S. T. Coleridge. When Matthew Arnold's most famous poem is not read as the quintessential expression of mid-Victorian religious angstand loss of faith (the traditional reading1), or as a key document in the poet's biography,2 it is usually read either as an example of the dramatic monologue, which, with the publication of Browning's Men and Women (1855) and Dramatis Persona (1864) became a prominent form of the Victorian lyric,3 or as a Victorian variation on what M. H. Abrams calls the greater Romantic lyric.4 Though technically a dramatic monologue, "Dover Beach" has more in common with its Romantic antecedents than with the contemporary dramatic lyrics in Men and Women.

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