Can someone give me a detailed explanation of the poem "Shakespeare" by Matthew Arnold.

1 Answer | Add Yours

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The poem "Shakespeare", by Matthew Arnold, is a tribute poem to the great playwright William Shakespeare.

The poem explicitly shows Arnold's honor by raising Shakespeare to a level similar to one which others typically raise God/gods to.  The lines of the poem conveys the greatness which Arnold thought Shakespeare exemplified.

According to Arnold, while others must "abide our questions", Shakespeare is free from them. While questions are asked over and over, Shakespeare only has to smile showing his unending knowledge.

Perhaps the most adorning line is : " Self-school'd, self-scann'd, self-honour'd, self-secure". Here, Arnold is saying that Shakespeare's ability to teach himself outweighs all others because he must only answer to himself and no one else. "We" mortals must submit to the questions that others pose to us. Arnold believes that Shakespeare was (and remains) above this.


We’ve answered 317,661 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question