Thursday, January 08, 2009

Matthew Arnold's Great Essay

When the doing fails and the Hebraic command
goes unheeded, my right hand quakes
and shivers from fear and I turn toward the other--
the Hellenic release, the sinister side--
and seek solace in the unreal.
The poem contains the not-doing
while alluding to the doing. The script,
a liquid sculpture, stains the page.
Arnold engineered the seesaw;
he saw the necessity in structure
balanced among the ancients. Stevens
picked it up like a fumbled ball
and ran with it, speaking its division
over and over in one guise or another.
He found release in the up and down strokes;
and threaded the needle with its theme
like James and Carlyle before him,
the great Peripatetics.

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