"All The Live Murmur Of A Summer's Day"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Arnold's poem is derived from a passage in Joseph Glanvil's Vanity of Dogmatizing (1661) which tells of a scholar who, for lack of money, abandoned his studies at Oxford and joined a band of gypsies. The scholar was admitted to the confidence of the gypsies, who communicated to him the secrets of their knowledge and philosophy. After he had been with them for several years, two of his fellow students at Oxford chanced upon him, and to them he said that the gypsies have the power to bind the imagination of others with their own. He asserted that when he was perfect in the knowledge he would communicate it to the world.

Arnold's poem begins with the poet's telling the shepherd to go to the hills to release the sheep from the fold, but in the evening, when tired men and dogs have gone to rest, the shepherd is to renew his quest for knowledge. The poet sits in a corner of the field where the reaper stored his basket of food, his jug of drink, and his coat while he was working. The poet will sit and wait for country sounds to come to him–the bleating of sheep, the cries of the reapers, and all the live murmur of a summer's day.
Here, where the reaper was at work of late–
In this high field's dark corner, where he leaves
His coat, his basket, and his earthen cruse,
And in the sun all morning binds the sheaves,
Then here, at noon, comes back his stores to use
Here will I sit and wait,
While to my ear from uplands far away
The bleating of the folded flocks is borne,
With distant cries of reapers in the corn–
All the live murmur of a summer's day.