Poetry is the criticism of life

Poetry is the criticism of life

Question: Discuss the term “poetry is the criticism of life”.

Or, evaluate Arnold’s theory or definition of poetry.


One of the most prestigious forms of writing is poetry. It is an art that is embedded in the soul and spirit of the people. The ‘first modern critic’ Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) shows a high conception of poetry in his literary criticism “The Study of Poetry” which is his attempt to establish the standard of what poetry should be. He asserts that the best poetry is the “criticism of life by the laws of poetic truth and poetic beauty”.

The “Criticism of Life”

The phrase “Criticism of life” means proper interpretation of life. Poetry accurately explains life. Here we discover and analyze how poetry is the criticism of life.

Integrity between poetry and human life

Arnold defines poetry as a critique of life. To put it differently, poetry must concern itself with life and the problems of life. It should not be remote in a way that does not directly connect to our lives.

Source of ingredients of life

By the phrase “Criticism of Life” Arnold means to say that the readers can identify their faults and mistakes for the purpose of rectification by going through poems. They must apply the powerful ideas which they pick up through reading poetry.

Click here: For all the notes of Literary Criticism

The ways of the leading life

Arnold claims that poetry teaches us how to lead life since it is filled with moral ideas. By emphasizing the moral system, Arnold does not mean the composing of moral or didactic poems. Rather, according to Arnold, it is the question of how to live and whatever comes under it, that is moral. Arnold quotes Milton:

“Nor love thy life nor hate; but what thou liv’st

Live well; how long or short, permit to heaven”

Besides poetry gives shelter and consolation in crisis.


To sum up, we can say that poetry is the criticism of life. It is the responsibility of the reviewer to examine both poetry and life at the same time. Arnold performs his duty as a father of modern criticism, although his theory of poetry has extended the hornet’s nest or numerous reactions.

Ruhul Huda
Ruhul Huda

You can call me Mr. Huda. I am a researcher and doing this work for years. I like to learn everywhere. So, feel free to share your experience with me.

Articles: 158

Leave a Reply

error: Sorry !!