Austerity Of Poetry

That son of Italy who tried to blow,
Ere Dante came, the trump of sacred song,
In his light youth amid a festal throng
Sate with his bride to see a public show.

Fair was the bride, and on her front did glow
Youth like a star; and what to youth belong--
Gay raiment, sparkling gauds, elation strong.
A prop gave way! crash fell a platform! lo,

'Mid struggling sufferers, hurt to death, she lay!
Shuddering, they drew her garments off--and found
A robe of sackcloth next the smooth, white skin.

Such, poets, is your bride, the Muse! young, gay,
Radiant, adorn'd outside; a hidden ground
Of thought and of austerity within.

by Matthew Arnold

Other poems of ARNOLD (62)

Comments (3)

Interesting poem, nicely analysed, thanks for sharing.
Extremely thoughtful and analytical poem. Just as the jaded outer appearance of a woman may not reflect her inner beauty, an ostentatious poem may not carry any literary excellence. I would like to quote a few lines as under: Such, poets, is your bride, the Muse! young, gay, Radiant, adorn'd outside; a hidden ground Of thought and of austerity within.
Some poetry can be outwardly beautiful and ornate - it is dressed in lovely language but this can be disguising superficiality. Some poetry is like sackcloth- plain and functional not at all luxurious or beautiful. In other words, a gorgeous poem might be disguising only a simple idea. Arnold cautions against being drawn in by flowery language that might only be dressing up banality. If you can look past the stagecraft and props, you might see if a poem is worth reading or not.