Life Poems: The Buried Life - Poem by Matthew Arnold

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The Buried Life - Poem by Matthew Arnold

Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet,
Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet!
I feel a nameless sadness o'er me roll.
Yes, yes, we know that we can jest,
We know, we know that we can smile!
But there's a something in this breast,
To which thy light words bring no rest,
And thy gay smiles no anodyne.
Give me thy hand, and hush awhile,
And turn those limpid eyes on mine,
And let me read there, love! thy inmost soul.

Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceal'd
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves--and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!

But we, my love!--doth a like spell benumb
Our hearts, our voices?--must we too be dumb?

Ah! well for us, if even we,
Even for a moment, can get free
Our heart, and have our lips unchain'd;
For that which seals them hath been deep-ordain'd!

Fate, which foresaw
How frivolous a baby man would be--
By what distractions he would be possess'd,
How he would pour himself in every strife,
And well-nigh change his own identity--
That it might keep from his capricious play
His genuine self, and force him to obey
Even in his own despite his being's law,
Bade through the deep recesses of our breast
The unregarded river of our life
Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;
And that we should not see
The buried stream, and seem to be
Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,
Though driving on with it eternally.

But often, in the world's most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us--to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.
And many a man in his own breast then delves,
But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.
And we have been on many thousand lines,
And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;
But hardly have we, for one little hour,
Been on our own line, have we been ourselves--
Hardly had skill to utter one of all
The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
But they course on for ever unexpress'd.
And long we try in vain to speak and act
Our hidden self, and what we say and do
Is eloquent, is well--but 't#is not true!
And then we will no more be rack'd
With inward striving, and demand
Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
Their stupefying power;
Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!
Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
From the soul's subterranean depth upborne
As from an infinitely distant land,
Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
A melancholy into all our day.
Only--but this is rare--
When a belov{'e}d hand is laid in ours,
When, jaded with the rush and glare
Of the interminable hours,
Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear,
When our world-deafen'd ear
Is by the tones of a loved voice caress'd--
A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life's flow,
And hears its winding murmur; and he sees
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

And there arrives a lull in the hot race
Wherein he doth for ever chase
That flying and elusive shadow, rest.
An air of coolness plays upon his face,
And an unwonted calm pervades his breast.
And then he thinks he knows
The hills where his life rose,
And the sea where it goes.


Comments about The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold

  • Rookie aniya (4/12/2018 8:05:00 AM)

    the man is scare and it coves the thougt of the pome (Report) Reply

    Rookie - 0 Points Kate Coates Coates (4/16/2019 1:06:00 PM)

    my classmate mAkes $84/hr on the net. She hAs been fired from work for 5 months but lAst month her pAyment wAs $7000 just working on the computer for A few hours. here's the site to reAd more- -> > jobscycle.com

    0 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 87,814 Points Terry Craddock (5/31/2015 9:00:00 PM)

    I knew the mass of men conceal'd
    Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd
    They would by other men be met
    With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
    I knew they lived and moved
    Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest
    Of men, and alien to themselves- and yet
    The same heart beats in every human breast!

    A very deep well penned poem worthy of several readings and meditation upon the meaning of lines. So much of Matthew Arnold's poetry is written with reflective beauty or a deep insight, I am often drawn in to think upon and explore similar themes, ideas tugging at meanings in life. Poems can be read so many ways and great poems such as this poem, will offer highlighted different focuses themes emotions upon different readings. Only one major theme will I address here, and in focus only one line, because the sentiment and meaning of the above which Matthew defines I agree with totally; yet all hearts are not the same because 'The same heart beats in every human breast! ' is true in the sense of an organic organ with the same purpose, yet same hearts are younger stronger or healthier than others, and metaphorically the same is true of the intentions sincerity purity of our beliefs and goodwill to others or not, what a beautiful world we would live in if all heats shared the desires aspirations of Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus, Buddha to name but three. To return to the beginning

    Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet,
    Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet!
    I feel a nameless sadness o'er me roll.

    The poem 'The Buried Life' by Matthew Arnold is not a 5.5 as presently voted here, but a 10+++ for me, and thus I have voted, because this is a wonderful poem, ill judged perhaps because it is long and cannot be grasped in one swift rapid read?
    (Report) Reply

    Gold Star - 234,637 Points Mohammed Asim Nehal (2/18/2019 1:09:00 PM)

    Very well said, he is much more than the ratings but who cares.

    9 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 458 Points Samantha Belsey (5/31/2015 3:34:00 PM)

    Timeless poetic perfection. Touches the heart and soul with words expertly woven. (Report) Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 458 Points Samantha Belsey (5/31/2015 3:24:00 PM)

    This is a insightful powerful poem and it resonated with me on a personal level. thank you (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 222,091 Points Chinedu Dike (5/31/2015 6:34:00 AM)

    Very deep love and romantic piece of poetry, insightfully penned with conviction. A powerful poem indeed. Thanks for sharing.10/10 (Report) Reply

    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
Life Poems
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    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  2. 2. Life
    Charlotte Brontë
  3. 3. Life In A Love
    Robert Browning
  4. 4. O Me! O Life!
    Walt Whitman
  5. 5. Love In A Life
    Robert Browning
  6. 6. The Buried Life
    Matthew Arnold
  7. 7. Life In A Bottle
    Robert Browning
  8. 8. Full Of Life, Now
    Walt Whitman
  9. 9. Human Life
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  10. 10. Too Much Of A Good Thing (Life Life Li..
    Udiah (witness to Yah)
  11. 11. Life
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  12. 12. How Life Is For Life (Tanka)
    Muzahidul Reza
  13. 13. River Of Life, The
    Thomas Campbell
  14. 14. Life Is What Life Is
    Edward Veilleux
  15. 15. An Image From A Past Life
    William Butler Yeats
  16. 16. What Is Life?
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  17. 17. Life (The Real Meaning Of Life)
    C.N.Premkumar (love poems, V ..
  18. 18. Each Life Converges To Some Centre
    Emily Dickinson
  19. 19. Xxxvi Life-In-Love
    Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  20. 20. Life Is Love, And Love Is Life
    Anna Jonson
  21. 21. A Life Went Wrong.......The Denial Of Life
    saadat tahir
  22. 22. Life Goes On
    Elizabeth Quinn
  23. 23. Love Love - Life Life
    Mohammed Asim Nehal
  24. 24. A Life Of Death, Or The Death Of Life
    Andre Veilleux
  25. 25. Views Of Life
    Anne Brontë
  26. 26. Life Beyond, The
    Rupert Brooke
  27. 27. Ploughman's Life, The
    Robert Burns
  28. 28. Leaflets From My Life - My Father's Firs..
    Dr. Geeta Radhakrishna Menon
  29. 29. The Country Life:
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  30. 30. (c) 1 (Life/Philosophy) Life Is....
    Renu Rakheja a.k.a Tranquil ..
  31. 31. Choice? (Life Life Life Life Life)
    Udiah (witness to Yah)
  32. 32. Weave In, Weave In, My Hardy Life
    Walt Whitman
  33. 33. Life Is The Body's Light
    Robert Herrick
  34. 34. End To Life And Life To Come
    Cassandra Reiman
  35. 35. Life Is Just Like Life
    Rahman Henry
  36. 36. One Life To Live One Life To Love
    pinky porwal
  37. 37. Life Is Life
    Samir E...
  38. 38. Long Life (Life Is Too Short, But Just ..
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  39. 39. Tie The Strings To My Life, My Lord,
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  40. 40. The Plaudite, Or End Of Life
    Robert Herrick
  41. 41. Imagine Life Rights Click Here To Liste..
    Bernadette Gannon
  42. 42. My Life, My Worthless Life
    Gary Witt
  43. 43. Life...After Life
    (brief renderings) Joe Fazio
  44. 44. Life Raft Of Life
    (brief renderings) Joe Fazio
  45. 45. Life, Purpose, My Life... My Life...
    Yiannis Baki
  46. 46. Shopping For Yourself (Life Life Life ..
    Udiah (witness to Yah)
  47. 47. The Life Of A Pumpkin Begins At Its Poll..
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  48. 48. Life Of My Life, You Seem To Me
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  50. 50. A Life Without A Life...
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Life Poems

  1. Life

    LIFE, believe, is not a dream So dark as sages say; Oft a little morning rain Foretells a pleasant day. Sometimes there are clouds of gloom, But these are transient all; If the shower will make the roses bloom, O why lament its fall ? Rapidly, merrily, Life's sunny hours flit by, Gratefully, cheerily, Enjoy them as they fly ! What though Death at times steps in And calls our Best away ? What though sorrow seems to win, O'er hope, a heavy sway ? Yet hope again elastic springs, Unconquered, though she fell; Still buoyant are her golden wings, Still strong to bear us well. Manfully, fearlessly, The day of trial bear, For gloriously, victoriously, Can courage quell despair !

  2. Life In A Love

    Escape me? Never--- Beloved! While I am I, and you are you, So long as the world contains us both, Me the loving and you the loth While the one eludes, must the other pursue. My life is a fault at last, I fear: It seems too much like a fate, indeed! Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed. But what if I fail of my purpose here? It is but to keep the nerves at strain, To dry one's eyes and laugh at a fall, And, baffled, get up and begin again,--- So the chace takes up one's life ' that's all. While, look but once from your farthest bound At me so deep in the dust and dark, No sooner the old hope goes to ground Than a new one, straight to the self-same mark, I shape me--- Ever Removed!

  3. Love In A Life

    I. Room after room, I hunt the house through We inhabit together. Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her--- Next time, herself!---not the trouble behind her Left in the curtain, the couch's perfume! As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew: Yon looking-glass gleaned at the wave of her feather. II. Yet the day wears, And door succeeds door; I try the fresh fortune--- Range the wide house from the wing to the centre. Still the same chance! She goes out as I enter. Spend my whole day in the quest,---who cares? But 'tis twilight, you see,---with such suites to explore, Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!

  4. O Me! O Life!

    O ME! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; Of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities fill'd with the foolish; Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light--of the objects mean--of the struggle ever renew'd; Of the poor results of all--of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; Of the empty and useless years of the rest--with the rest me intertwined; The question, O me! so sad, recurring--What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here--that life exists, and identity; That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

  5. A Psalm Of Life

    Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream! For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem. Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul. Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each to-morrow Find us farther than to-day. Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave. In the world’s broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife! Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act,— act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o’erhead! Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time; Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again. Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.

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