The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIII. The Victorian Age, Part One.
§ 44. Edwin Arnold
Whether Edwin, later Sir Edwin, Arnold can be called a more popular poet than lord Lytton is a question which might occasion logomachy; but he certainly escaped the unfavourable criticism which, in this way and that, “Owen Meredith” attracted. Although we do not now write Arts of Preserving Health or discussions of the sugar cane in verse, there has never failed a public for poetry which, as the naïve phrase goes, “tells you something”; and The Light of Asia, Sir Edwin’s best known poem, gained vogue as an easy version of what some said was a very exoteric Buddhism. Despite active employment, first in educational matters and then in journalism, he produced a good deal of verse on many different subjects and in many different forms. Some of it obtained considerable praise, while, on the other hand, there are critics who are seldom able to perceive true poetry in anything that Sir Edwin wrote—his blank verse appearing to them fluently insignificant and his lyrics, with one remarkable exception, lacking life, wanting in intensity and in anything but rather commonplace music.