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The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold

The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold was written in 1852.

The poem is all about the speaker willing to connect the deep yearning of his soul with another human to understand the velocity of the latter’s feeling

In the entire poem, Arnold expresses his deep desire and increased passion to understand his lover.


The Buried Life Matthew Arnold

The Buried Life Poem Summary

The poem begins with an innocent gesture where he is having a sweet moment with his lover. He talks about the love and laughter between themselves, the jokes that they both are sharing with each other.

However, in spite of such a happy moment, it is also contaminated with sadness so much that the wretched emotion is described later in the poem.

The Buried Life Cover

Arnold explains how he feels to be around his lover contended but also there is a fathomless passion he years for.

The poem expands on the next stanza on this – explaining that if love is too weak or has the power to open up one’s soul to the other person completely for an intense understanding.

He has become too anxious to know the inner warmth of his lover’s mind and soul, as it is bizarre to him.

He wants to find out whether his lover feels for him the same way he feels, and if she is devastated too in not knowing the former’s anticipation.

Finally, he ends the poem by realizing that he is unable to plunge into his lover’s ardor.

He speaks about the chaos of the city streets and the day to day life of common humankind, who are roaming around with their “buried life”, their thoughts and desire, motivations and emotions that he cannot dig into and analyze.

He only wishes to perceive a little more about someone else’s life and disclose his own through it.

And this can only happen if he connects with a lover, who will allow him to devour into their soul, and then he can see the true meaning of his “buried life” and the connotation of his soul’s journey.

The Buried Life Analysis

The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold is a ninety-eight line poem which is divided into seven stanzas.

The poem is a monologue where a saddened speaker tries to scrutinize his own life and complicated feelings.

Here the speaker begins in stanza one of the poem with the complex feelings he has within, that is involved through the conversations between his lover and the moments spent.

He vents out how the opponent’s gestures towards him are “light” and slightly “mocking” but the same has made his “eyes..wet!”. There is an element of sadness in the exchange of words that takes place.

The Buried Life Painting

He is unable to keep it affecting him. The speaker understands that he should not feel this way as her “gay smiles” won’t be healing the pain. There is something hidden within the speaker that cannot be calmed.

In the second stanza, the speaker explains the power of love. He questions or what are the capabilities of love, “To unlock the heart, and let it speak?”

In this anguish of his he is trying to come out of his pain. He loves this person yet he is wondering what love is and what the ability of it is.

Next, the speaker explains his perception of human psychology on the emotions that they control, and the perception they have of an experience.

He discerns that men are befitting in hiding their emotions as they fear of being “met/ With blank indifference” with other men.

They are scared that their true feelings will be shown to the world and for that, they live in “disguises” and are often “alien to the rest/ Of men.”

He himself disapproves this kind of living but he is unable to find a solution to come out of it as he is suffering the same way as others are.

The third stanza is a couplet. Here the lines outrage the speakers complete emotional fear where he is emotional and says that he does not want his feelings to “benumb” his heart and his voices like before.

In the fourth stanza, the speaker goes out to the next level of love where he says of the possibility to escape from the nuisance of life with his lover.

The Buried Life When Lost Painting

He wishes to live for a moment with his lover happily and do not have to suffer. He says “Even for a moment” they can make their hearts free and “unchain” their lips.

The fifth stanza speaks of the fate of men and how he is entitled to the same. He says that a man is bonded by is fate since the time he is born.

He elucidates that fate knows how a man will behave and act and that he will be distracted by the outer allure.

It knows that he will be unable to control himself and get involved with the conflict which would keep him away from his “genuine self.”

While men what they portray from outside might be settled but there is a part of human existence that is within one’s mind. That is “buried stream” that the narrator expresses.

That feeling is “blind” and it will be there till “eternity” without any scope of escaping from the belief that are carved within, “the deep recesses of our breast.”

The sixth stanza explains how one’s subconscious mind comes out without even trying to conceal. It is not something that someone controls or even understand.

It peduncles from the “knowledge of our buried life.”

When one understands the true meaning or the experience of their “buried life”, one tries to find out even a portion of it and go deep within the occurrence.

The final stanza is the end of his monologue. He speaks of the end of a “hot race.” One will understand the existence of his life and bring to reality that will in a way usher a calm and cooler way of living.

This form is “elusive.”

One will understand “The hills where his life rose” and will see the destination of life. In the end Arnold, tried to replicate that life should be lived in a carefree manner and with an optimistic mentality.

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