"Man Hath All Which Nature Hath, But More"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: One of the popular notions to emerge from the late eighteenth century, especially from writers like Rousseau and Wordsworth, was that men could be happy only when they left cities and lived in harmony with nature; from its conception, this notion was bandied about by men who sought a romantic escape from the problems of human life. By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, the notion was becoming passé. Arnold, who wrote this poem after he heard a preacher urge his congregation to live in harmony with nature, violently disliked such an easy solution to the suffering he found in his contemporaries. A stanch believer in humanistic culture, Arnold thought that nature was cruel, stubborn, fickle, and antagonistic to man, and that the spiritual values that men should seek are opposed to such savagery. The only way to meet the problems of modern society was, according to Arnold, to face them squarely and, by using the best thoughts of the best men, to seek solutions that were practicable:

"In harmony with Nature?" Restless fool,
Who with such heat dost preach what were to thee,
When true, the last impossibility–
To be like Nature strong, like Nature cool!
Know, man hath all which Nature hath, but more,
And in that more lie all his hopes of good. . . .
Man must begin, know this, where Nature ends;
Nature and man can never be fast friends.
Fool, if thou canst not pass her, rest her slave!