Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cliffs of Dover

Number 125 of the hero list is the mutton chopped fellow above. His name is Matthew Arnold, and he was born this day 1822 in Laleham-on-Thames, England. He trudged through the usual English school boy education, and managed to come out the other side with a 2nd class Honours degree in "Greats" from Oxford. After kicking around trying to sort out how to be gainfully employed so he could start a family, he managed to land a job as Inspector of Schools. Like most full times gigs it was as much fun as being a loafer. He complained about the drudgery of full time work (welcome to the real world Matty), but did appreciate the benefits of full time employment (I guess it does pass the time). His job did, at first, require him to travel around a bit, and he got the benefit of being one of the first "men of letters" to experience rail travel on a regular basis. Arnold wrote reams and reams of stuff, poetry, criticism, prose, the whole nine yard in the literary world, but it is for one poem that I anoint him a hero. It is called "Dover Beach" which is probably terrible, but it was the first poem that I ever had to attempt to study, and write a paper about back in the stone ages when I was beginning my classical education. I am sure my readers will be shocked, absolutely shocked, to know that I got a resounding "F" on that paper, and managed to go on and fail the entire fucking class. Seems the road to becoming classically educated is not as smooth and wide as one would think. I recovered from that setback to become the blogging giant you read before you today, and for that Mr. Arnold deserves some credit. So, for that one poem that became a wake up call in my academic life, Matthew Arnold (December 24th, 1822- April 15th 1888, at the age of 65 of heart failure), you are my hero of the day.

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