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By: Matthew Arnold

Balder Dead by Matthew Arnold Balder Dead

“Balder Dead” is a beautiful epic poem by Matthew Arnold. It draws from Norse mythology to retell the story of the the death of Odin’s son, Balder, instigated by the treacherous jealousy of Loki.

Tristram and Iseult & Sohrab and Rustum by Matthew Arnold Tristram and Iseult & Sohrab and Rustum

Tristram & Iseult is a narrative poem containing strong romantic and tragic themes: and was first published in 1852 by Matthew Arnold. This poem draws upon the Tristram and Iseult legends: which were popular with contemporary readers.The poem opens with Tristram upon his deathbed. The monologue of the dying man is shot through with sharp pangs of regret: centering upon his induced passion for Iseult of Ireland - inflamed by his unwittingly imbibing an irresistible love-potion.Before his decease, Tristram's lawful wife - Iseult of Ireland - arrives in time to share his deathbed...

Book cover Sohrab and Rustum: An Episode

A young soldier born among Tartars but sired by the mighty Persian lord Rustum, serves in the Tartar army, seeking his great father. To this end, he persuades his general to call a truce and arrange for him to challenge the Persians to single combat. Should he prevail, his father will learn his whereabouts and come to him, or so he thinks, for Sohrab is unaware that his mother, fearing to lose her son, wrote to Rustum that their child was a girl. The Persians agree but have no champion until it is learned that they have recently been joined by Rustum...

Book cover Culture and Anarchy

Culture and Anarchy is a series of periodical essays by Matthew Arnold, first published in Cornhill Magazine 1867-68 and collected as a book in 1869. The preface was added in 1875. Arnold's famous piece of writing on culture established his High Victorian cultural agenda which remained dominant in debate from the 1860s until the 1950s. According to his view advanced in the book, "Culture [...] is a study of perfection". He further wrote that: "[Culture] seeks to do away with classes; to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current everywhere; to make all men live in an atmosphere of sweetness and light [...

Book cover Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold
Book cover Selections from the Prose Works of Matthew Arnold
Book cover Celtic Literature
Book cover Lake

Matthew Arnold was an English poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. Matthew Arnold has been characterised as a sage writer, a type of writer who chastises and instructs the reader on contemporary social issues. He is sometimes called the third great Victorian poet, along with Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning. This week's poem is the first part of Arnold's Lyric Poem 'Switzerland'.

Book cover Balder Dead (version 2)

The poem begins with the beloved god Balder, thought to be invulnerable, dead at the hands of the inoffensive blind god Hoder, in a game. Loki, whose deceit brought about this catastrophe, is promptly punished with exile, and Odin, Balder's father, sponsors a heroic quest to rescue his son from the land of the dead. This desperate venture unexpectedly meets with partial success, a conditional agreement to release Balder if everyone in the land of the living mourns his death. And even though over every hope hangs the threat of the ultimate end of the reign of the Norse gods, the mother of the gods points out that "much must yet be tried which shall but fail."


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