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Tony Grist

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The Bronze Medallist [Apr. 6th, 2018|04:30 pm]
Tony Grist
"Wandering between two worlds, one dead, one powerless to be born..."

I'd been reading an article about world politics- how the nation state is dying and the future is global- and these lines came into my head.


I couldn't think who the author was. Shelley? Yeats? Neither as it turns out. They're by Matthew Arnold- from his Stanzas on the Grande Chartreuse.

Arnold is the third great Victorian poet. Tennyson is a supreme lyricist, Browning is the life force personified and Arnold can seem starchy and a little laboured by comparison. He's not quite as good, he takes the bronze while they compete for gold and silver. He's better perhaps in odd lines than in complete poems; Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse, if I remember rightly, is a humourless exercise in late-romantic self-pity, and much too long....

But he's very quotable. "City of dreaming spires" is one of his. So is

"And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept by confused alarms of struggle and flight
Where ignorant armies clash by night"

That's from Dover Beach- which, whatever else one might say about him and his work, is a very great poem.

[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2018-04-06 04:08 pm (UTC)
I like darkling plain
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-04-06 06:33 pm (UTC)
He was a great phrase maker.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2018-04-07 02:47 pm (UTC)
I'd have to add Hopkins to your list, even if he wasn't published till later. I'd also love to add Rossetti (Christina of that ilk), but can't quite make the case...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-04-07 05:20 pm (UTC)
Hopkins stand a little apart. I don't quite see him as a great Victorian, but I suppose the dates say he is. I agree about Christina Rossetti. Are there any other serious contenders? I love early William Morris and there might- just- be a case to be made for Swinburne- who I thought was wonderful when I was teen- but now find rather silly.

Hardy, Kipling and Yeats were all Victorians- and wrote significant work during her reign- but belong more properly- I think- in the 20th century.
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