Scholar gypsy as a pastoral elegy

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scholar gypsy as a pastoral elegy

The Scholar Gypsy by Matthew Arnold

This small volume contains Matthew Arnolds nine most famous poems. Arnold was at the same time an elegiac poet of loss and separation and a discerning commentator on Victorian English society. His poetry is diverse, both restless and lyrical. Soothing images of calm seas, seen in Dover Beach, are set against fraught images of fever and illness: the scholar gypsy is urged to fly from the wasteland which symbolises Englands social and cultural ills.
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Published 09.03.2019

The Scholar Gypsy

Arnold’s Pastoral Elegies

The speaker of "The Scholar-Gipsy" describes a beautiful rural setting in the pastures, with the town of Oxford lying in the distance. He watches the shepherd and reapers working amongst the field, and then tells the shepherd that he will remain out there until sundown, enjoying the scenery and studying the towers of Oxford. All the while, he will keep his book beside him. His book tells the famous story by Joseph Glanvill, about an impoverished Oxford student who leaves his studies to join a band of gypsies. Once he was immersed within their community, he learned the secrets of their trade. After a while, two of the Scholar-Gipsy 's Oxford associates found him, and he told them about the traditional gypsy style of learning, which emphasizes powerful imagination. His plan was to remain with the gypsies until he learned everything he could, and then to tell their secrets to the world.

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It has often been called one of the best and most popular of Arnold's poems, [1] and is also familiar to music-lovers through Ralph Vaughan Williams ' choral work An Oxford Elegy , which sets lines from this poem and from its companion-piece, " Thyrsis ". Arnold prefaces the poem with an extract from Glanvill which tells the story of an impoverished Oxford student who left his studies to join a band of gipsies , and so ingratiated himself with them that they told him many of the secrets of their trade. After some time he was discovered and recognised by two of his former Oxford associates, who learned from him that the gipsies "had a traditional kind of learning among them, and could do wonders by the power of imagination, their fancy binding that of others. Arnold begins "The Scholar Gipsy" in pastoral mode, invoking a shepherd and describing the beauties of a rural scene, with Oxford in the distance, he then repeats the gist of Glanvill's story, but extends it with an account of rumours that the scholar gipsy was again seen from time to time around Oxford. Arnold imagines him as a shadowy figure who can even now be glimpsed in the Berkshire and Oxfordshire countryside, "waiting for the spark from Heaven to fall", [4] and claims to have once seen him himself, he entertains a doubt as to the scholar gypsy's still being alive after two centuries, but then shakes off the thought.

Victorian Poetry

Summary of “The Scholar Gipsy ” by Matthew Arnold हिंदी में समझें

Pastoral elegies had its origin in the classical poets of ancient Greece, viz, Theocritus, Bion and Moschus. It was lyric in character and dealt with the simple life of shepherds and their day to day occupations, such as singing with their oaten pipes in the flowery meadows, piping as though they would never be old, tending their folk of sheep. The essence of pastoral poetry is simplicity of thought and action in a rustic setting. Drawing on his knowledge of rustic scenes around Oxford, he produced a meditative pastoral poem whose language owes something to Theocritus but whose tone and emotional coloring are very much Arnoldian. Moreover, there is no lament here for the death of a shepherd but what the poet laments is the decay of an age or vanished age. What the poem really offers is a very delightful pastoral week end. In structure the poem is no doubt pastoral; the fairly elaborate ten-line stanza helps to keep the movement of the poem slow and develop the note of introspection.

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