"But for poetry the idea is everything; the rest is a world of illusion. Poetry attaches its emotion to the idea; the idea is the fact."
"More and more mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us. Without poetry, our science will appear incomplete; and most of what now passes with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry."
"Everything depends on the reality of a poet's classic character . . . if he is a real classic, if his work belongs to the class of the very best (for this is the true and right meaning of the word classic, classical), then the great thing for us is to feel and enjoy his work as deeply as ever we can . . . This is what is salutary, this is what is formative; this is the great benefit to be got from the study of poetry."
"Indeed there can be no more useful help for discovering what poetry belongs to the class of the truly excellent, and can therefore do us most good, than to have always in one's mind lines and expressions of the great masters, and to apply them as a touchstone to other poetry. Of course we are not to require this other poetry to resemble them; it may be very dissimilar."
(Matthew Arnold, "The Study of Poetry")