Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 172
Context: "Thyrsis" is an elegy written in traditional pastoral form. The poem expresses Arnold's love for his friend Arthur Hugh Clough as well as the love both the young poets felt for the countryside around Oxford. As the poet retraces in verse the countryside often visited by the two, Arnold gives the pastoral name "Thyrsis" to Clough who had died in Florence in 1861. Treading a particular path the two must have walked many times, the poet comes upon a view of Oxford that can be seen from a hill. This lovely sight the two young men probably enjoyed on numerous walks because Arnold tells us that "Lovely all times she lies. . . ." Oxford is the "sweet city" to which the poet fondly refers.
The signal-elm, that looks on Ilsley Downs,
The Vale, the three lone weirs, the youthful
This winter-eve is warm,
Humid the air! leafless, yet soft as spring,
The tender purple spray on copse and briers!
And that sweet city with her dreaming spires,
She needs not June for beauty's heightening.
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