Publication details [#14180]

Wilder, Lance. 2008. Un-Gypsying the Gypsies: Arnold's Wandering Metaphor of Time. Philological Quarterly 87 (3-4, Summer-Fall) : 389–413. 25 pp. URL
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Iowa City, Ia.: University of Iowa Press


This article explores Matthew Arnold’s fascination for the Gypsies and in particular, it gives a detailed account of four poems where Gypsies occupy a dominant and significant role. Their titles are To a Gipsy Child by the Sea-Shore, Resignation, The Scholar-Gypsy and Thyrsis. In the British debate of the Ninetheenth-century, the Gypsies were central because the so-called “Gypsy Problem” involved different levels of the British society, i.e. law, academia, church and literature. The discussion was centred on numerous controversial issues, from Christian evangelism to national identity to enclosure. Many scholars wondered why Arnold often dealt with Gypsies in his works. One possible answer suggested that he was fascinated by Gypsies’ abilities to escape time passing. The author was obsessed by the effects of time and old age, whilst Gypsies represented an image of timelessness, a way to overcome his fears.