Clough, Arnold, and the Dialogue of the Mind

Gregory Tate

in The Poet's Mind

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199659418
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191749018 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Clough, Arnold, and the Dialogue of the Mind

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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This chapter examines how a younger generation of poets, specifically Arnold and Clough, responded to the poetry of psychological analysis discussed in the previous chapter. It argues that these writers were both drawn to and suspicious of the poetic study of the mind. Contrasting this ambivalence with the aggressive introspection of the spasmodic poets Alexander Smith and Sydney Dobell, it contends that it was their scepticism about spasmodic poetry which ultimately led Clough and Arnold to disavow introspective poetry. The chapter begins by discussing the two poets' views on poetry in the 1840s and 1850s, before studying Clough's sustained analyses of mental processes in his poems Amours de Voyage and Dipsychus. It then considers the poetry of Arnold, Smith, and Dobell, and closes by examining the debate about spasmodic poetry that took place in 1853–4 in the critical writings of Clough, Arnold, David Masson, and William Edmonstoune Aytoun.

Keywords: Clough; Arnold; Alexander Smith; Dobell; spasmodic; introspection; Amours de Voyage; Dipsychus; Masson; Aytoun

Chapter.  14290 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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