Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/98

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

inference–– that the extraordinary popularity of Tennyson was partly owing to the fact that he could express what occurred to everybody in language that could be approached by nobody. Arnold, on the contrary, is, in all his poems, writing for the cultivated, and even for a small class of cultivated people. The ideas which he expresses are not only such as do not commend themselves, but sometimes such as are rather annoying, to the average reader. The sentiments peculiar to a narrow, however refined, class are obviously so far less favourable to poetical treatment. Arnold seems to admit this in his occasional employment of that rhymeless metre which corresponds to the borderland between prose and poetry. A characteristic piece is that upon 'Heine's Grave.' We all remember the description of England, the 'Weary Titan,' who with deaf

Ears, and labour-dimmed eyes,
Regarding neither to right
Nor left, goes passively by,
Staggering on to her goal, etc.

and a phrase which tells us how the spirit of the world, beholding men's absurdity, let a sardonic smile