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Six of the Best Matthew Arnold Poems

The best poems of Matthew Arnold

Matthew Arnold (1822-88) is largely remembered for one great Victorian poem: ‘Dover Beach’. But he wrote a number of other classic poems beside this. What are the best half-dozen of Matthew Arnold’s poems? We offer our recommendations below. ‘Dover Beach’ is there, as are a few other more famous titles, but we also include a couple which, although not as celebrated as the others, are, we believe, among Arnold’s best poetry.

Below the surface-stream, shallow and light’. This poem is almost like a fragment of blank verse, its five unrhymed iambic pentameter lines appearing to offer a brief insight into the speaker’s mind, though this thought isn’t taken anywhere or developed into some grand psychodrama or narrative. In a curious way, the poem reads like a Victorian precursor to the Imagist poetry of the early twentieth century. If you want a nice short introduction to Arnold’s poetry, this is the perfect place to start. Read the rest of this entry


Five of the Best Books for Cat-Lovers

Five great books about cats

What gift should one get for the book-lover who is also a cat-lover? Below are our five suggestions, all of which are great books – memoirs, novels, poetry books – which feature cats in some substantial way. What book would you suggest as the ideal gift for a cat-lover or cat-owner? Are there any must-reads we’ve left off our list?

Emily Fragos (editor), The Great Cat: Poems About Cats (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets). This collection of classic cat poems has something to delight every cat-owner, from eighteenth-century ‘mad’ poet Christopher Smart’s wonderful poem about his cat Jeoffry, W. B. Yeats’s poem about Minnaloushe, and Emily Dickinson’s gloriously eccentric but accurate description of a cat. The ideal gift for the cat-lover who is also a poetry fan. Read the rest of this entry

Five of the Best Books about T. S. Eliot

The best books on the life and work of T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot is not the sort of poet you can understand in isolation. True, we can read the poetry and get a great deal from it, but our appreciation of, say, The Waste Land or ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock‘ is intensified and improved with the assistance of a trusty literary guide, such as a good critic or biographer. Here are our five recommendations of some of the best books that have been written about T. S. Eliot’s life and work. Read the rest of this entry