“For the creation of a masterwork of literature two powers must concur, the power of the man and the power of the moment, and the man is not enough without the moment.” – Matthew Arnold
Born on Christmas Eve, 1822, Arnold was an English poet and cultural critic who worked many years as a fulltime inspector of schools. Those duties required him, at least at first, to travel constantly and across much of England, both spending time in countless railway waiting rooms and also reaching and interacting with thousands of school children, their parents and teachers. It was during that time that he not only became a writer but also a writer of and for the entire nation because of his broad interaction with people from all regions and walks of life.
While he wrote prose and literary criticism, it was his poetry that gained Arnold the most fame. Sometimes called the third great Victorian poet, along with Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning, he eventually was elected "Professor of Poetry" at Oxford. As such, he became the first in this position to deliver his lectures in English rather than Latin. Arnold’s groundbreaking move set a precedent for generations of other professors at the school.
As a teacher, he had simple advice for his students: “Use your gifts faithfully, and they shall be enlarged; practice what you know, and you shall attain to higher knowledge.”
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