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Matthew Arnold's Sohrab and Rustum and Other Poems by Matthew Arnold

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Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, 25
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems 30
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain 35
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


Hark! ah, the nightingale--
The tawny-throated!
Hark, from that moonlit cedar what a burst!
What triumph! hark!--what pain deg.! deg.4

O wanderer from a Grecian shore, deg. deg.5
Still, after many years, in distant lands,
Still nourishing in thy bewilder'd brain
That wild, unquench'd, deep-sunken, old-world pain deg.-- deg.8
Say, will it never heal?
And can this fragrant lawn 10
With its cool trees, and night,
And the sweet, tranquil Thames,
And moonshine, and the dew,
To thy rack'd heart and brain
Afford no balm? 15

Dost thou to-night behold,
Here, through the moonlight on this English grass,
The unfriendly palace in the Thracian wild deg.? deg.18
Dost thou again peruse
With hot cheeks and sear'd eyes 20
The too clear web, and thy dumb sister's shame deg.? deg.21
Dost thou once more assay
Thy flight, and feel come over thee,
Poor fugitive, the feathery change
Once more, and once more seem to make resound 25
With love and hate, triumph and agony,
Lone Daulis, deg. and the high Cephissian vale deg.? deg.27
Listen, Eugenia--
How thick the bursts come crowding through the leaves deg.! deg.29
Again--thou hearest? 30
Eternal passion!
Eternal pain deg.! deg.32


What mortal, when he saw,
Life's voyage done, his heavenly Friend,
Could ever yet dare tell him fearlessly:
"I have kept uninfringed my nature's law deg.; deg.4
The inly-written chart deg. thou gavest me, 5
To guide me, I have steer'd by to the end"?

Ah! let us make no claim,
On life's incognisable deg. sea, deg.8
To too exact a steering of our way;
Let us not fret and fear to miss our aim, 10
If some fair coast have lured us to make stay,
Or some friend hail'd us to keep company.

Ay! we would each fain drive
At random, and not steer by rule.
Weakness! and worse, weakness bestow'd in vain 15
Winds from our side the unsuiting consort rive,
We rush by coasts where we had lief remain;
Man cannot, though he would, live chance's fool.

No! as the foaming swath
Of torn-up water, on the main, 20
Falls heavily away with long-drawn roar
On either side the black deep-furrow'd path
Cut by an onward-labouring vessel's prore, deg. deg.23
And never touches the ship-side again;

Even so we leave behind, 25
As, charter'd by some unknown Powers
We stem deg. across the sea of life by night deg.27
The joys which were not for our use design'd;--
The friends to whom we had no natural right,
The homes that were not destined to be ours. 30



Yes deg.! in the sea of life enisled, deg.1
With echoing straits between us thrown,
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
We mortal millions live _alone_.
The islands feel the enclasping flow, 5
And then their endless bounds they know.

But when the moon deg. their hollows lights, deg.7
And they are swept by balms of spring,
And in their glens, on starry nights,
The nightingales divinely sing; 10
And lovely notes, from shore to shore,
Across the sounds and channels pour--

Oh! then a longing like despair
Is to their farthest caverns sent;
For surely once, they feel, we were 15
Parts of a single continent!
Now round us spreads the watery plain--
Oh might our marges meet again!

Who order'd, that their longing's fire
Should be, as soon as kindled, cool'd? 20
Who renders vain their deep desire?--
A God, a God their severance ruled!
And bade betwixt their shores to be
The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea. deg. deg.24


_April_ 6, 1887

What, Kaiser dead? The heavy news
Post-haste to Cobham deg. calls the Muse, deg.2
From where in Farringford deg. she brews deg.3
The ode sublime,
Or with Pen-bryn's bold bard deg. pursues deg.5
A rival rhyme.

Kai's bracelet tail, Kai's busy feet,
Were known to all the village-street.
"What, poor Kai dead?" say all I meet;
"A loss indeed!" 10
O for the croon pathetic, sweet,
Of Robin's reed deg.! deg.12

Six years ago I brought him down,
A baby dog, from London town;
Round his small throat of black and brown 15
A ribbon blue,
And vouch'd by glorious renown
A dachshound true.

His mother, most majestic dame,
Of blood-unmix'd, from Potsdam deg. came; deg.20
And Kaiser's race we deem'd the same--
No lineage higher.
And so he bore the imperial name.
But ah, his sire!

Soon, soon the days conviction bring. 25
The collie hair, the collie swing,
The tail's indomitable ring,
The eye's unrest--
The case was clear; a mongrel thing
Kai stood confest. 30

But all those virtues, which commend
The humbler sort who serve and tend,
Were thine in store, thou faithful friend.
What sense, what cheer!
To us, declining tow'rds our end, 35
A mate how dear!

For Max, thy brother-dog, began
To flag, and feel his narrowing span.
And cold, besides, his blue blood ran,
Since, 'gainst the classes, 40
He heard, of late, the Grand Old Man deg. deg.41
Incite the masses.

Yes, Max and we grew slow and sad;
But Kai, a tireless shepherd-lad,
Teeming with plans, alert, and glad 45
In work or play,
Like sunshine went and came, and bade
Live out the day!

Still, still I see the figure smart--
Trophy in mouth, agog deg. to start, deg.50
Then, home return'd, once more depart;
Or prest together
Against thy mistress, loving heart,
In winter weather.

I see the tail, like bracelet twirl'd, 55
In moments of disgrace uncurl'd,
Then at a pardoning word re-furl'd,
A conquering sign;
Crying, "Come on, and range the world,
And never pine." 60

Thine eye was bright, thy coat it shone;
Thou hast thine errands, off and on;
In joy thy last morn flew; anon,
A fit! All's over;
And thou art gone where Geist deg. hath gone, deg.65
And Toss, and Rover.

Poor Max, with downcast, reverent head,
Regards his brother's form outspread;
Full well Max knows the friend is dead
Whose cordial talk, 70
And jokes in doggish language said,
Beguiled his walk.

And Glory, stretch'd at Burwood gate,
Thy passing by doth vainly wait;
And jealous Jock, thy only hate, 75
The chiel deg. from Skye, deg. deg.76
Lets from his shaggy Highland pate
Thy memory die.

Well, fetch his graven collar fine,
And rub the steel, and make it shine, 80
And leave it round thy neck to twine,
Kai, in thy grave.
There of thy master keep that sign,
And this plain stave.


Creep into thy narrow bed,
Creep, and let no more be said!
Vain thy onset! all stands fast.
Thou thyself must break at last.

Let the long contention cease! 5
Geese are swans, and swans are geese.
Let them have it how they will!
Thou art tired; best be still.

They out-talk'd thee, hiss'd thee, tore thee?
Better men fared thus before thee; 10
Fired their ringing shot and pass'd,
Hotly charged--and sank at last.

Charge once more, then, and be dumb!
Let the victors, when they come,
When the forts of folly fall, 15
Find thy body by the wall!


Set where the upper streams of Simois deg. flow deg.1
Was the Palladium, high 'mid rock and wood;
And Hector deg. was in Ilium deg. far below, deg.3
And fought, and saw it not--but there it stood!

It stood, and sun and moonshine rain'd their light 5
On the pure columns of its glen-built hall.
Backward and forward roll'd the waves of fight
Round Troy--but while this stood, Troy could not fall.

So, in its lovely moonlight, lives the soul.
Mountains surround it, and sweet virgin air; 10
Cold plashing, past it, crystal waters roll;
We visit it by moments, ah, too rare!

We shall renew the battle in the plain
To-morrow;--red with blood will Xanthus deg. be; deg.14
Hector and Ajax deg. will be there again, deg.15
Helen deg. will come upon the wall to see. deg.16

Then we shall rust in shade, or shine in strife,
And fluctuate 'twixt blind hopes and blind despairs,
And fancy that we put forth all our life,
And never know how with the soul it fares. 20

Still doth the soul, from its lone fastness high,
Upon our life a ruling effluence send.
And when it fails, fight as we will, we die;
And while it lasts, we cannot wholly end.


Before man parted for this earthly strand,
While yet upon the verge of heaven he stood,
God put a heap of letters in his hand,
And bade him make with them what word he could.

And man has turn'd them many times; made Greece, 5
Rome, England, France;--yes, nor in vain essay'd
Way after way, changes that never cease!
The letters have combined, something was made.

But ah! an inextinguishable sense
Haunts him that he has not made what he should; 10
That he has still, though old, to recommence,
Since he has not yet found the word God would.

And empire after empire, at their height
Of sway, have felt this boding sense come on;
Have felt their huge frames not constructed right, 15
And droop'd, and slowly died upon their throne.

One day, thou say'st, there will at last appear
The word, the order, which God meant should be.
--Ah! we shall know _that_ well when it comes near;
The band will quit man's heart, he will breathe free. 20


Weary of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards, o'er the starlit sea.

And a look of passionate desire 5
O'er the sea and to the stars I send:
"Ye who from my childhood up have calm'd me,
Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!

"Ah, once more," I cried, "ye stars, ye waters,
On my heart your mighty charm renew; 10
Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
Feel my soul becoming vast like you!"

From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,
Over the lit sea's unquiet way,
In the rustling night-air came the answer: 15
"Wouldst thou _be_ as these are? _Live_ as they.

"Unaffrighted by the silence round them,
Undistracted by the sights they see,
These demand not that the things without them
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy. 20

"And with joy the stars perform their shining,
And the sea its long moon-silver'd roll;
For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting
All the fever of some differing soul.

"Bounded by themselves, and unregardful 25
In what state God's other works may be,
In their own tasks all their powers pouring,
These attain the mighty life you see."

O air-born voice! long since, severely clear,
A cry like thine in mine own heart I hear: 30
"Resolve to be thyself; and know that he,
Who finds himself, loses his misery!"


In the deserted, moon-blanch'd street,
How lonely rings the echo of my feet!
Those windows, which I gaze at, frown,
Silent and white, unopening down,
Repellent as the world;--but see, 5
A break between the housetops shows
The moon! and, lost behind her, fading dim
Into the dewy dark obscurity
Down at the far horizon's rim,
Doth a whole tract of heaven disclose! 10

And to my mind the thought
Is on a sudden brought
Of a past night, and a far different scene.
Headlands stood out into the moonlit deep
As clearly as at noon; 15
The spring-tide's brimming flow
Heaved dazzlingly between;
Houses, with long white sweep,

Girdled the glistening bay;
Behind, through the soft air, 20
The blue haze-cradled mountains spread away,
The night was far more fair--
But the same restless pacings to and fro,
And the same vainly throbbing heart was there,
And the same bright, calm moon. 25

And the calm moonlight seems to say:
_Hast thou then still the old unquiet breast,
Which neither deadens into rest,
Nor ever feels the fiery glow
That whirls the spirit from itself away_, 30
_But fluctuates to and fro,
Never by passion quite possess'd
And never quite benumb'd by the world's sway?--_
And I, I know not if to pray
Still to be what I am, or yield and be 35
Like all the other men I see.

For most men in a brazen prison live,
Where, in the sun's hot eye,
With heads bent o'er their toil, they languidly
Their lives to some unmeaning taskwork give, 40
Dreaming of nought beyond their prison-wall.
And as, year after year,
Fresh products of their barren labour fall
From their tired hands, and rest
Never yet comes more near, 45
Gloom settles slowly down over their breast;
A while they try to stem
The waves of mournful thought by which they are prest,
And the rest, a few,
Escape their prison and depart 50
On the wide ocean of life anew.
There the freed prisoner, where'er his heart
Listeth, will sail;
Nor doth he know how these prevail,
Despotic on that sea, 55
Trade-winds which cross it from eternity.
Awhile he holds some false way, undebarr'd
By thwarting signs, and braves
The freshening wind and blackening waves
And then the tempest strikes him; and between 60
The lightning-bursts is seen
Only a driving wreck.
And the pale master on his spar-strewn deck
With anguished face and flying hair,
Grasping the rudder hard, 65
Still bent to make some port he knows not where,
Still standing for some false, impossible shore.
And sterner comes the roar
Of sea and wind, and through the deepening gloom
Fainter and fainter wreck and helmsman loom 70
And he, too, disappears and comes no more.

Is there no life, but there alone?
Madman or slave, must man be one?
Plainness and clearness without shadow of stain!
Clearness divine. 75
Ye heavens, whose pure dark regions have no sign
Of languor, though so calm, and though so great
Are yet untroubled and unpassionate;
Who though so noble, share in the world's toil.
And, though so task'd, keep free from dust and soil! 80

I will not say that your mild deeps retain
A tinge, it may he, of their silent pain
Who have longed deeply once, and longed in vain--
But I will rather say that you remain
A world above man's head, to let him see 85
How boundless might his soul's horizon be,
How vast, yet of which clear transparency!
How it were good to live there, and breathe free!
How fair a lot to fill
Is left to each man still! 90


Four years!--and didst thou stay above
The ground, which hides thee now, but four?
And all that life, and all that love,
Were crowded, Geist! into no more?

Only four years those winning ways, 5
Which make me for thy presence yearn,
Call'd us to pet thee or to praise,
Dear little friend! at every turn?

That loving heart, that patient soul,
Had they indeed no longer span, 10
To run their course, and reach their goal,
And read their homily deg. to man? deg.12

That liquid, melancholy eye,
From whose pathetic, soul-fed springs
Seem'd surging the Virgilian cry, deg. deg.15
The sense of tears in mortal things--

That steadfast, mournful strain, consoled
By spirits gloriously gay,
And temper of heroic mould--
What, was four years their whole short day? 20

Yes, only four!--and not the course
Of all the centuries yet to come,
And not the infinite resource
Of Nature, with her countless sum

Of figures, with her fulness vast 25
Of new creation evermore,
Can ever quite repeat the past,
Or just thy little self restore.

Stern law of every mortal lot!
Which man, proud man, finds hard to bear, 30
And builds himself I know not what
Of second life I know not where.

But thou, when struck thine hour to go,
On us, who stood despondent by,
A meek last glance of love didst throw, 35
And humbly lay thee down to die.

Yet would we keep thee in our heart--
Would fix our favourite on the scene,
Nor let thee utterly depart
And be as if thou ne'er hadst been. 40

And so there rise these lines of verse
On lips that rarely form them now deg.; deg.42
While to each other we rehearse:
Such ways, such arts, such looks hadst thou!

We stroke thy broad brown paws again, 45
We bid thee to thy vacant chair,
We greet thee by the window-pane,
We hear thy scuffle on the stair.

We see the flaps of thy large ears
Quick raised to ask which way we go; 50
Crossing the frozen lake, appears
Thy small black figure on the snow!

Nor to us only art thou dear
Who mourn thee in thine English home;
Thou hast thine absent master's deg. tear, 55
Dropt by the far Australian foam.

Thy memory lasts both here and there,
And thou shalt live as long as we.
And after that--thou dost not care!
In us was all the world to thee. 60

Yet, fondly zealous for thy fame,
Even to a date beyond our own
We strive to carry down thy name,
By mounded turf, and graven stone.

We lay thee, close within our reach, 65
Here, where the grass is smooth and warm,
Between the holly and the beech,
Where oft we watch'd thy couchant form,

Asleep, yet lending half an ear
To travellers on the Portsmouth road;-- 70
There build we thee, O guardian dear,
Mark'd with a stone, thy last abode!

Then some, who through this garden pass,
When we too, like thyself, are clay,
Shall see thy grave upon the grass, 75
And stop before the stone, and say:

_People who lived here long ago
Did by this stone, it seems, intend
To name for future times to know
The dachs-hound, Geist, their little friend._ 80



One morn as through Hyde Park deg. we walk'd, deg.1
My friend and I, by chance we talk'd
Of Lessing's famed Laocooen;
And after we awhile had gone
In Lessing's track, and tried to see 5
What painting is, what poetry--
Diverging to another thought,
"Ah," cries my friend, "but who hath taught
Why music and the other arts
Oftener perform aright their parts 10
Than poetry? why she, than they,
Fewer fine successes can display?

"For 'tis so, surely! Even in Greece,
Where best the poet framed his piece,
Even in that Phoebus-guarded ground deg. deg.15
Pausanias deg. on his travels found deg.16
Good poems, if he look'd, more rare
(Though many) than good statues were--
For these, in truth, were everywhere.
Of bards full many a stroke divine 20
In Dante's, deg. Petrarch's, deg. Tasso's deg. line, deg.21
The land of Ariosto deg. show'd; deg.22
And yet, e'en there, the canvas glow'd
With triumphs, a yet ampler brood,
Of Raphael deg. and his brotherhood. deg.25
And nobly perfect, in our day
Of haste, half-work, and disarray,
Profound yet touching, sweet yet strong,
Hath risen Goethe's, deg. Wordsworth's deg. song; deg.29
Yet even I (and none will bow 30
Deeper to these) must needs allow,
They yield us not, to soothe our pains,
Such multitude of heavenly strains
As from the kings of sound are blown,
Mozart, deg. Beethoven, deg. Mendelssohn. deg." deg.35

While thus my friend discoursed, we pass
Out of the path, and take the grass.
The grass had still the green of May,
And still the unblackan'd elms were gay;
The kine were resting in the shade, 40
The flies a summer-murmur made.
Bright was the morn and south deg. the air; deg.42
The soft-couch'd cattle were as fair
As those which pastured by the sea,
That old-world morn, in Sicily, 45
When on the beach the Cyclops lay,
And Galatea from the bay
Mock'd her poor lovelorn giant's lay. deg. deg.48
"Behold," I said, "the painter's sphere!
The limits of his art appear. 50
The passing group, the summer-morn,
The grass, the elms, that blossom'd thorn--
Those cattle couch'd, or, as they rise,
Their shining flanks, their liquid eyes--
These, or much greater things, but caught 55
Like these, and in one aspect brought!
In outward semblance he must give
A moment's life of things that live;
Then let him choose his moment well,
With power divine its story tell." 60

Still we walk'd on, in thoughtful mood,
And now upon the bridge we stood.
Full of sweet breathings was the air,
Of sudden stirs and pauses fair.
Down o'er the stately bridge the breeze 65
Came rustling from the garden-trees
And on the sparkling waters play'd;
Light-plashing waves an answer made,
And mimic boats their haven near'd.
Beyond, the Abbey-towers deg. appear'd, deg.70
By mist and chimneys unconfined,
Free to the sweep of light and wind;
While through their earth-moor'd nave below
Another breath of wind doth blow,
Sound as of wandering breeze--but sound 75
In laws by human artists bound.

"The world of music deg.!" I exclaimed:-- deg.77
"This breeze that rustles by, that famed
Abbey recall it! what a sphere
Large and profound, hath genius here! 80
The inspired musician what a range,
What power of passion, wealth of change
Some source of feeling he must choose
And its lock'd fount of beauty use,
And through the stream of music tell 85
Its else unutterable spell;
To choose it rightly is his part,
And press into its inmost heart.

"_Miserere Domine deg.!_ deg.89
The words are utter'd, and they flee. 90
Deep is their penitential moan,
Mighty their pathos, but 'tis gone.
They have declared the spirit's sore
Sore load, and words can do no more.
Beethoven takes them then--those two 95
Poor, bounded words--and makes them new;
Infinite makes them, makes them young;
Transplants them to another tongue,
Where they can now, without constraint,
Pour all the soul of their complaint, 100
And roll adown a channel large
The wealth divine they have in charge.
Page after page of music turn,
And still they live and still they burn,
Eternal, passion-fraught, and free-- 105
_Miserere Domine deg.!"_ deg.106

Onward we moved, and reach'd the Ride deg. deg.107
Where gaily flows the human tide.
Afar, in rest the cattle lay;
We heard, afar, faint music play; 110
But agitated, brisk, and near,
Men, with their stream of life, were here.
Some hang upon the rails, and some
On foot behind them go and come.
This through the Ride upon his steed 115
Goes slowly by, and this at speed.
The young, the happy, and the fair,
The old, the sad, the worn, were there;
Some vacant, deg. and some musing went,
And some in talk and merriment. 120
Nods, smiles, and greetings, and farewells!
And now and then, perhaps, there swells
A sigh, a tear--but in the throng
All changes fast, and hies deg. along. deg.124
Hies, ah, from whence, what native ground? 125
And to what goal, what ending, bound?
"Behold, at last the poet's sphere!
But who," I said, "suffices here?

"For, ah! so much he has to do;
Be painter and musician too deg.! deg.130
The aspect of the moment show,
The feeling of the moment know!
The aspect not, I grant, express
Clear as the painter's art can dress;
The feeling not, I grant, explore 135
So deep as the musician's lore--
But clear as words can make revealing,
And deep as words can follow feeling.
But, ah! then comes his sorest spell
Of toil--he must life's _movement_ deg. tell! deg.140
The thread which binds it all in one,
And not its separate parts alone.
The _movement_ he must tell of life,
Its pain and pleasure, rest and strife;
His eye must travel down, at full, 145
The long, unpausing spectacle;
With faithful unrelaxing force
Attend it from its primal source,
From change to change and year to year
Attend it of its mid career, 150
Attend it to the last repose
And solemn silence of its close.

"The cattle rising from the grass
His thought must follow where they pass;
The penitent with anguish bow'd 155
His thought must follow through the crowd.
Yes! all this eddying, motley throng
That sparkles in the sun along,
Girl, statesman, merchant, soldier bold,
Master and servant, young and old, 160
Grave, gay, child, parent, husband, wife,
He follows home, and lives their life.

"And many, many are the souls
Life's movement fascinates, controls;
It draws them on, they cannot save 165
Their feet from its alluring wave;
They cannot leave it, they must go
With its unconquerable flow.
But ah! how few, of all that try
This mighty march, do aught but die! 170
For ill-endow'd for such a way,
Ill-stored in strength, in wits, are they.
They faint, they stagger to and fro,
And wandering from the stream they go;
In pain, in terror, in distress, 175
They see, all round, a wilderness.
Sometimes a momentary gleam
They catch of the mysterious stream;
Sometimes, a second's space, their ear
The murmur of its waves doth hear. 180
That transient glimpse in song they say,
But not of painter can pourtray--
That transient sound in song they tell,
But not, as the musician, well.
And when at last their snatches cease, 185
And they are silent and at peace,
The stream of life's majestic whole
Hath ne'er been mirror'd on their soul.

"Only a few the life-stream's shore
With safe unwandering feet explore; 190
Untired its movement bright attend,
Follow its windings to the end.
Then from its brimming waves their eye
Drinks up delighted ecstasy,
And its deep-toned, melodious voice 195
For ever makes their ear rejoice.
They speak! the happiness divine
They feel, runs o'er in every line;
Its spell is round them like a shower--
It gives them pathos, gives them power. 200
No painter yet hath such a way,
Nor no musician made, as they,
And gather'd on immortal knolls
Such lovely flowers for cheering souls.
Beethoven, Raphael, cannot reach 205
The charm which Homer, Shakespeare, teach.
To these, to these, their thankful race
Gives, then, the first, the fairest place;
And brightest is their glory's sheen,
For greatest hath their labour been. deg." deg.210



One lesson, deg. Nature, let me learn of thee, deg.1
One lesson which in every wind is blown,
One lesson of two duties kept at one
Though the loud deg. world proclaim their enmity-- deg.4

Of toil unsever'd from tranquillity! 5
Of labour, that in lasting fruit outgrows
Far noisier deg. schemes, accomplish'd in repose, deg.7
Too great for haste, too high for rivalry!

Yes, while on earth a thousand discords ring,
Man's fitful uproar mingling with his toil, 10
Still do thy sleepless ministers move on,

Their glorious tasks in silence perfecting;
Still working, blaming still our vain turmoil,
Labourers that shall not fail, when man is gone.


Others abide our question. Thou art free.
We ask and ask--Thou smilest and art still,
Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill,
Who to the stars uncrowns his majesty,

Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea, 5
Making the heaven of heavens his dwelling-place,
Spares but the cloudy border of his base
To the foil'd searching of mortality;

And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know
Self-school'd, self-scann'd, self-honour'd, self-secure, 10
Didst tread on earth unguess'd at.--Better so!

All pains the immortal spirit must endure,
All weakness which impairs, all griefs which bow
Find their sole speech in that victorious brow.


When I shall be divorced, some ten years hence,
From this poor present self which I am now;
When youth has done its tedious vain expense
Of passions that for ever ebb and flow;

Shall I not joy deg. youth's heats deg. are left behind, deg.5
And breathe more happy in an even clime deg.?-- deg.6
Ah no, for then I shall begin to find
A thousand virtues in this hated time!

Then I shall wish its agitations back,
And all its thwarting currents of desire; 10
Then I shall praise the heat which then I lack,
And call this hurrying fever, deg. generous fire; deg.12

And sigh that one thing only has been lent
To youth and age in common--discontent.


That son of Italy deg. who tried to blow, deg.1
Ere Dante deg. came, the trump of sacred song, deg.2
In his light youth deg. amid a festal throng deg.3
Sate with his bride to see a public show.

Fair was the bride, and on her front did glow 5
Youth like a star; and what to youth belong--
Gay raiment, sparkling gauds, elation strong.
A prop gave way! crash fell a platform! lo,

'Mid struggling sufferers, hurt to death, she lay!
Shuddering, they drew her garments off--and found 10
A robe of sackcloth deg. next the smooth, white skin. deg.11

Such, poets, is your bride, the Muse! young, gay,
Radiant, adorn'd outside; a hidden ground
Of thought and of austerity within.


_Even in a palace, life may be led well!_
So spake the imperial sage, purest of men,
Marcus Aurelius. deg. But the stifling den deg.3
Of common life, where, crowded up pell-mell,

Our freedom for a little bread we sell, 5
And drudge under some foolish deg. master's ken. deg. deg.6
Who rates deg. us if we peer outside our pen-- deg.7
Match'd with a palace, is not this a hell?

_Even in a palace!_ On his truth sincere,
Who spoke these words, no shadow ever came; 10
And when my ill-school'd spirit is aflame

Some nobler, ampler stage of life to win,
I'll stop, and say: "There were no succour here!
The aids to noble life are all within."


'Twas August, and the fierce sun overhead
Smote on the squalid streets of Bethnal Green, deg. deg.2
And the pale weaver, through his windows seen
In Spitalfields, deg. look'd thrice dispirited. deg.4

I met a preacher there I knew, and said: 5
"Ill and o'erwork'd, how fare you in this scene?"--
"Bravely!" said he; "for I of late have been,
Much cheer'd with thoughts of Christ, _the living bread."_

O human soul! as long as thou canst so
Set up a mark of everlasting light, 10
Above the howling senses' ebb and flow,

To cheer thee, and to right thee if thou roam--
Not with lost toil thou labourest through the night!
Thou mak'st the heaven thou hop'st indeed thy home.


Crouch'd on the pavement, close by Belgrave Square, deg. deg.1
A tramp I saw, ill, moody, and tongue-tied.
A babe was in her arms, and at her side
A girl; their clothes were rags, their feet were bare.

Some labouring men, whose work lay somewhere there, 5
Pass'd opposite; she touch'd her girl, who hied
Across and begg'd, and came back satisfied.
The rich she had let pass with frozen stare.

Thought I: "Above her state this spirit towers;
She will not ask of aliens but of friends, 10
Of sharers in a common human fate.

"She turns from that cold succour, which attends
The unknown little from the unknowing great,
And points us to a better time than ours."



_April_, 1850

Goethe in Weimar sleeps, deg. and Greece, deg.1
Long since, saw Byron's deg. struggle cease. deg.2
But one such death remain'd to come;
The last poetic voice is dumb--
We stand to-day by Wordsworth's tomb. 5

When Byron's eyes were shut in death,
We bow'd our head and held our breath.
He taught us little; but our soul
Had _felt_ him like the thunder's roll.
With shivering heart the strife we saw 10
Of passion with eternal law;
And yet with reverential awe
We watch'd the fount of fiery life
Which served for that Titanic strife.

When Goethe's death was told, we said: 15
Sunk, then, is Europe's sagest head.
Physician of the iron age, deg. deg.17
Goethe has done his pilgrimage.
He took the suffering human race,
He read each wound, each weakness clear; 20
And struck his finger on the place,
And said: _Thou ailest here, and here!_
He look'd on Europe's dying hour
Of fitful dream and feverish power;
His eye plunged down the weltering strife, 25
The turmoil of expiring life--
He said: _The end is everywhere,
Art still has truth, take refuge there!_
And he was happy, if to know
Causes of things, and far below 30
His feet to see the lurid flow
Of terror, and insane distress,
And headlong fate, be happiness.

And Wordsworth!--Ah, pale ghosts, rejoice!
For never has such soothing voice 35
Been to your shadowy world convey'd,
Since erst, at morn, some wandering shade
Heard the clear song of Orpheus deg. come deg.38
Through Hades, and the mournful gloom.
Wordsworth has gone from us--and ye, 40
Ah, may ye feel his voice as we!
He too upon a wintry clime
Had fallen--on this iron time
Of doubts, disputes, distractions, fears.
He found us when the age had bound 45
Our souls in its benumbing round;
He spoke, and loosed our heart in tears.
He laid us as we lay at birth
On the cool flowery lap of earth,
Smiles broke from us and we had ease; 50
The hills were round us, and the breeze
Went o'er the sun-lit fields again;
Our foreheads felt the wind and rain.
Our youth returned; for there was shed
On spirits that had long been dead, 55
Spirits dried up and closely furl'd,
The freshness of the early world.

Ah! since dark days still bring to light
Man's prudence and man's fiery might,
Time may restore us in his course 60
Goethe's sage mind and Byron's force;
But where will Europe's latter hour
Again find Wordsworth's healing power?
Others will teach us how to dare,
And against fear our breast to steel; 65
Others will strengthen us to bear--
But who, ah! who, will make us feel
The cloud of mortal destiny?
Others will front it fearlessly--
But who, like him, will put it by? 70

Keep fresh the grass upon his grave
O Rotha, deg. with thy living wave! deg.72
Sing him thy best! for few or none
Hears thy voice right, now he is gone.


Go, for they call you, shepherd, from the hill;
Go, shepherd, and untie the wattled cotes deg.! deg.2
No longer leave thy wistful flock unfed,
Nor let thy bawling fellows rack their throats,
Nor the cropp'd herbage shoot another head. 5
But when the fields are still,
And the tired men and dogs all gone to rest,
And only the white sheep are sometimes seen;
Cross and recross deg. the strips of moon-blanch'd green, deg.9
Come, shepherd, and again begin the quest! 10

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, deg. deg.13
And in the sun all morning binds the sheaves,
Then here, at noon, comes back his stores to use-- 15
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 deg.-- deg.19
All the live murmur of a summer's day. 20

Screen'd is this nook o'er the high, half-reap'd field,
And here till sun-down, shepherd! will I be.
Through the thick corn the scarlet poppies peep,
And round green roots and yellowing stalks I see
Pale pink convolvulus in tendrils creep; 25
And air-swept lindens yield
Their scent, and rustle down their perfumed showers
Of bloom on the bent grass where I am laid,
And bower me from the August sun with shade;
And the eye travels down to Oxford's towers. deg. deg.30

And near me on the grass lies Glanvil's book deg.-- deg.31
Come, let me read the oft-read tale again!
The story of the Oxford scholar poor,
Of pregnant parts and quick inventive brain,
Who, tired of knocking at preferment's door, 35
One summer-morn forsook
His friends, and went to learn the gipsy-lore,
And roam'd the world with that wild brotherhood,
And came, as most men deem'd, to little good,
But came to Oxford and his friends no more. 40

But once, years after, in the country-lanes,
Two scholars, whom at college erst deg. he knew, deg.42
Met him, and of his way of life enquired;
Whereat he answer'd, that the gipsy-crew,
His mates, had arts to rule as they desired 45
The workings of men's brains,
And they can bind them to what thoughts they will.
"And I," he said, "the secret of their art,
When fully learn'd, will to the world impart;
But it needs heaven-sent moments for this skill. deg." deg.50

This said, he left them, and return'd no more.--
But rumours hung about the country-side,
That the lost Scholar long was seen to stray,
Seen by rare glimpses, pensive and tongue-tied,
In hat of antique shape, and cloak of grey, 55
The same the gipsies wore.
Shepherds had met him on the Hurst deg. in spring; deg.57
At some lone alehouse in the Berkshire moors, deg. deg.58
On the warm ingle-bench, the smock-frock'd boors
Had found him seated at their entering. 60

But, 'mid their drink and clatter, he would fly.
And I myself seem half to know, thy looks,
And put the shepherds, wanderer! on thy trace;
And boys who in lone wheatfields scare the rooks
I ask if thou hast pass'd their quiet place; 65
Or in my boat I lie
Moor'd to the cool bank in the summer-heats,
'Mid wide grass meadows which the sunshine fills.
And watch the warm, green-muffled deg. Cumner hills, deg.69
And wonder if thou haunt'st their shy retreats. 70

For most, I know, thou lov'st retired ground!
Thee at the ferry Oxford riders blithe,
Returning home on summer-nights, have met
Crossing the stripling Thames at Bab-lock-hithe, deg. deg.74
Trailing in the cool stream thy fingers wet, 75
As the punt's rope chops round;
And leaning backward in a pensive dream,
And fostering in thy lap a heap of flowers
Pluck'd in shy fields and distant Wychwood bowers
And thine eyes resting on the moonlit stream. 80

And then they land, and thou art seen no more!--
Maidens, who from the distant hamlets come;
To dance around the Fyfield elm in May, deg. deg.83
Oft through the darkening fields have seen thee roam
Or cross a stile into the public way.
Oft thou hast given them store 85
Of flowers--the frail-leaf'd, white anemony,
Dark bluebells drench'd with dews of summer eves
And purple orchises with spotted leaves--
But none hath words she can report of thee. 90

And, above Godstow Bridge, deg. when hay-time's here
In June, and many a scythe in sunshine flames,
Men who through those wide fields of breezy grass
Where black-wing'd swallows haunt the glittering Thames,
To bathe in the abandon'd lasher pass, deg. deg.95
Have often pass'd thee near
Sitting upon the river bank o'ergrown;
Mark'd thine outlandish deg. garb, thy figure spare, deg.98
Thy dark vague eyes, and soft abstracted air--
But, when they came from bathing, thou wast gone! 100

At some lone homestead in the Cumner hills,
Where at her open door the housewife darns,
Thou hast been seen, or hanging on a gate
To watch the threshers in the mossy barns.
Children, who early range these slopes and late 105
For cresses from the rills,
Have known thee eying, all an April-day,
The springing pastures and the feeding kine;
And mark'd thee, when the stars come out and shine,
Through the long dewy grass move slow away. 110

In autumn, on the skirts of Bagley Wood deg.-- deg.111
Where most the gipsies by the turf-edged way
Pitch their smoked tents, and every bush you see
With scarlet patches tagg'd deg. and shreds of grey, deg.114
Above the forest-ground called Thessaly deg.-- deg.115
The blackbird, picking food,
Sees thee, nor stops his meal, nor fears at all;
So often has he known thee past him stray
Rapt, twirling in thy hand a wither'd spray,
And waiting for the spark from heaven to fall. 120

And once, in winter, on the causeway chill
Where home through flooded fields foot-travellers go,
Have I not pass'd thee on the wooden bridge,
Wrapt in thy cloak and battling with the snow,
Thy face tow'rd Hinksey deg. and its wintry ridge? deg.125
And thou hast climb'd the hill,
And gain'd the white brow of the Cumner range;
Turn'd once to watch, while thick the snowflakes fall
The line of festal light in Christ-Church hall deg.-- deg.129
Then sought thy straw in some sequester'd grange. deg.130

But what--I dream! Two hundred years are flown
Since first thy story ran through Oxford halls,
And the grave Glanvil deg. did the tale inscribe deg.133
That thou wert wander'd from the studious walls
To learn strange arts, and join a gipsy-tribe; 135
And thou from earth art gone
Long since, and in some quiet churchyard laid--
Some country-nook, where o'er thy unknown grave
Tall grasses and white-flowering nettles wave,
Under a dark red-fruited yew-tree's deg. shade. deg.140

--No, no, thou hast not felt the lapse of hours!
For what wears out the life of mortal men?
'Tis that from change to change their being rolls
'Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,
Exhaust the energy of strongest souls 145
And numb the elastic powers.
Till having used our nerves with bliss and teen, deg. deg.147
And tired upon a thousand schemes our wit,
To the just-pausing Genius deg. we remit deg.149
Our worn-out life, and are--what we have been. 150

Thou hast not lived, deg. why should'st thou perish, so? deg.151
Thou hadst _one_ aim, _one_ business, _one_ desire deg.; deg.152
Else wert thou long since number'd with the dead!
Else hadst thou spent, like other men, thy fire!
The generations of thy peers are fled, 155
And we ourselves shall go;
But thou possessest an immortal lot,
And we imagine thee exempt from age
And living as thou liv'st on Glanvil's page,
Because thou hadst--what we, alas! have not. deg. deg.160

For early didst thou leave the world, with powers
Fresh, undiverted to the world without,
Firm to their mark, not spent on other things;
Free from the sick fatigue, the languid doubt,
Which much to have tried, in much been baffled, brings deg.. deg.165
O life unlike to ours!
Who fluctuate idly without term or scope,
Of whom each strives, nor knows for what he strives,
And each half lives a hundred different lives;
Who wait like thee, but not, like thee, in hope. deg. deg.170

Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! and we,
Light half-believers of our casual creeds,
Who never deeply felt, nor clearly will'd,
Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds,
Whose vague resolves never have been fulfill'd; 175
For whom each year we see
Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new;
Who hesitate and falter life away,
And lose to-morrow the ground won to-day--
Ah! do not we, wanderer! await it too deg. deg.180

Yes, we await it!--but it still delays,
And then we suffer! and amongst us one,
Who most has suffer'd, takes dejectedly
His seat upon the intellectual throne;
And all his store of sad experience he 185
Lays bare of wretched days;
Tells us his misery's birth and growth and signs,
And how the dying spark of hope was fed,
And how the breast was soothed, and how the head,
And all his hourly varied anodynes. deg. deg.190

This for our wisest! and we others pine,
And wish the long unhappy dream would end,
And waive all claim to bliss, and try to bear;
With close-lipp'd patience for our only friend,
Sad patience, too near neighbour to despair-- 195
But none has hope like thine!
Thou through the fields and through the woods dost stray,
Roaming the country-side, a truant boy,
Nursing thy project in unclouded joy,
And every doubt long blown by time away. 200

O born in days when wits were fresh and clear,
And life ran gaily as the sparkling Thames;
Before this strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims,
Its head o'ertax'd, its palsied hearts, was rife-- 205
Fly hence, our contact fear!
Still fly, plunge deeper in the bowering wood!
Averse, as Dido deg. did with gesture stern deg. deg.208
From her false friend's approach in Hades turn,
Wave us away, and keep thy solitude! 210

Still nursing the unconquerable hope,
Still clutching the inviolable shade, deg. deg.212
With a free, onward impulse brushing through,
By night, the silver'd branches deg. of the glade-- deg.214
Far on the forest-skirts, where none pursue, 215
On some mild pastoral slope
Emerge, and resting on the moonlit pales
Freshen thy flowers as in former years
With dew, or listen with enchanted ears,
From the dark dingles, deg. to the nightingales! 220

But fly our paths, our feverish contact fly!
For strong the infection of our mental strife,
Which, though it gives no bliss, yet spoils for rest;
And we should win thee from thy own fair life,
Like us distracted, and like us unblest. 225
Soon, soon thy cheer would die,
Thy hopes grow timorous, and unfix'd thy powers,
And thy clear aims be cross and shifting made;
And then thy glad perennial youth would fade,
Fade, and grow old at last, and die like ours. 230

Then fly our greetings, fly our speech and smiles!
--As some grave Tyrian deg. trader, from the sea,
Descried at sunrise an emerging prow
Lifting the cool-hair'd creepers stealthily,
The fringes of a southward-facing brow 235
Among the AEgaean isles deg.; deg.236
And saw the merry Grecian coaster come,
Freighted with amber grapes, and Chian wine, deg. deg.238
Green, bursting figs, and tunnies deg. steep'd in brine-- deg.239
And knew the intruders on his ancient home, 240

The young light-hearted masters of the waves--
And snatch'd his rudder, and shook out more sail;
And day and night held on indignantly
O'er the blue Midland waters deg. with the gale, deg.244
Betwixt the Syrtes and soft Sicily, 245
To where the Atlantic raves
Outside the western straits deg.; and unbent sails deg.247
There, where down cloudy cliffs, through sheets of foam,
Shy traffickers, the dark Iberians come deg.; deg.249
And on the beach undid his corded bales. deg. deg.250



How changed is here each spot man makes or fills deg.! deg.1
In the two Hinkseys deg. nothing keeps the same; deg.2
The village street its haunted mansion lacks,
And from the sign is gone Sibylla's name, deg. deg.4
And from the roofs the twisted chimney-stacks-- 5
Are ye too changed, ye hills deg.? deg.6
See, 'tis no foot of unfamiliar men
To-night from Oxford up your pathway strays!
Here came I often, often, in old days--
Thyrsis and I; we still had Thyrsis then. 10

Runs it not here, the track by Childsworth Farm,
Past the high wood, to where the elm-tree crowns
The hill behind whose ridge the sunset flames
The signal-elm, that looks on Ilsley Downs deg.? deg.14
The Vale, deg. the three lone weirs, deg. the youthful Thames?--, deg.15
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, deg. deg.19
She needs not June for beauty's heightening, deg. deg.20

Lovely all times she lies, lovely to-night!--
Only, methinks, some loss of habit's power
Befalls me wandering through this upland dim, deg. deg.23
Once pass'd I blindfold here, at any hour deg.; deg.24
Now seldom come I, since I came with him. 25
That single elm-tree bright
Against the west--I miss it! is it gone?
We prized it dearly; while it stood, we said,
Our friend, the Gipsy-Scholar, was not dead;
While the tree lived, he in these fields lived on. deg. deg.30

Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here,
But once I knew each field, each flower, each stick;
And with the country-folk acquaintance made
By barn in threshing-time, by new-built rick.
Here, too, our shepherd-pipes deg. we first assay'd. deg.35
Ah me! this many a year
My pipe is lost, my shepherd's holiday!
Needs must I lose them, needs with heavy heart
Into the world and wave of men depart;
But Thyrsis of his own will went away. deg. deg.40

It irk'd deg. him to be here, he could not rest. deg.41
He loved each simple joy the country yields,
He loved his mates; but yet he could not keep, deg. deg.43
For that a shadow lour'd on the fields,
Here with the shepherds and the silly deg. sheep. deg.45
Some life of men unblest
He knew, which made him droop, and fill'd his head.
He went; his piping took a troubled sound
Of storms deg. that rage outside our happy ground;
He could not wait their passing, he is dead. deg. deg.50

So, some tempestuous morn in early June,
When the year's primal burst of bloom is o'er,
Before the roses and the longest day--
When garden-walks and all the grassy floor
With blossoms red and white of fallen May deg. deg.55
And chestnut-flowers are strewn--
So have I heard the cuckoo's parting cry,
From the wet field, through the vext garden-trees,
Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze:
_The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I deg.!_ deg.60

Too quick despairer, wherefore wilt thou go?
Soon will the high Midsummer pomps deg. come on, deg.62
Soon will the musk carnations break and swell,
Soon shall we have gold-dusted snapdragon,
Sweet-William with his homely cottage-smell, 65
And stocks in fragrant blow;
Roses that down the alleys shine afar,
And open, jasmine-muffled lattices,
And groups under the dreaming garden-trees,
And the full moon, and the white evening-star. 70

He hearkens not! light comer, deg. he is flown! deg.71
What matters it? next year he will return,
And we shall have him in the sweet spring-days.
With whitening hedges, and uncrumpling fern,
And blue-bells trembling by the forest-ways, 75
And scent of hay new-mown.
But Thyrsis never more we swains deg. shall see; deg.77
See him come back, and cut a smoother reed, deg. deg.78
And blow a strain the world at last shall heed deg.-- deg.79
For Time, not Corydon, deg. hath conquer'd thee! deg.80

Alack, for Corydon no rival now!--
But when Sicilian shepherds lost a mate,
Some good survivor with his flute would go,
Piping a ditty sad for Bion's fate deg.; deg.84
And cross the unpermitted ferry's flow, deg. deg.85
And relax Pluto's brow,
And make leap up with joy the beauteous head
Of Proserpine, deg. among whose crowned hair deg.88
Are flowers first open'd on Sicilian air,
And flute his friend, like Orpheus, from the dead. deg. deg.90

O easy access to the hearer's grace
When Dorian shepherds sang to Proserpine!
For she herself had trod Sicilian fields,
She knew the Dorian water's gush divine, deg. deg.94
She knew each lily white which Enna yields, 95
Each rose with blushing face deg.; deg.96
She loved the Dorian pipe, the Dorian strain. deg. deg.97
But ah, of our poor Thames she never heard!
Her foot the Cumner cowslips never stirr'd;
And we should tease her with our plaint in vain! 100

Well! wind-dispersed and vain the words will be,
Yet, Thyrsis, let me give my grief its hour
In the old haunt, and find our tree-topp'd hill!
Who, if not I, for questing here hath power?
I know the wood which hides the daffodil, 105
I know the Fyfield tree, deg. deg.106
I know what white, what purple fritillaries
The grassy harvest of the river-fields,
Above by Ensham, deg. down by Sandford, deg. yields, deg.109
And what sedged brooks are Thames's tributaries; 110

I know these slopes; who knows them if not I?--
But many a dingle on the loved hill-side,
With thorns once studded, old, white-blossom'd trees
Where thick the cowslips grew, and far descried
High tower'd the spikes of purple orchises, 115
Hath since our day put by
The coronals of that forgotten time;
Down each green bank hath gone the ploughboy's team,
And only in the hidden brookside gleam
Primroses, orphans of the flowery prime. 120

Where is the girl, who by the boatman's door,
Above the locks, above the boating throng,
Unmoor'd our skiff when through the Wytham flats, deg. deg.123
Red loosestrife and blond meadow-sweet among
And darting swallows and light water-gnats, 125
We track'd the shy Thames shore?
Where are the mowers, who, as the tiny swell
Of our boat passing heaved the river-grass,
Stood with suspended scythe to see us pass?--
They all are gone, and thou art gone as well! 130

Yes, thou art gone! and round me too the night
In ever-nearing circle weaves her shade.
I see her veil draw soft across the day,
I feel her slowly chilling breath invade
The cheek grown thin, the brown hair sprent deg. with grey; deg.135
I feel her finger light
Laid pausefully upon life's headlong train;--
The foot less prompt to meet the morning dew,
The heart less bounding at emotion new,
And hope, once crush'd, less quick to spring again. 140

And long the way appears, which seem'd so short
To the less practised eye of sanguine youth;
And high the mountain-tops, in cloudy air,
The mountain-tops where is the throne of Truth,
Tops in life's morning-sun so bright and bare! 145
Unbreachable the fort
Of the long-batter'd world uplifts its wall;
And strange and vain the earthly turmoil grows,
And near and real the charm of thy repose,
And night as welcome as a friend would fall. deg. deg.150

But hush! the upland hath a sudden loss
Of quiet!--Look, adown the dusk hill-side,
A troop of Oxford hunters going home,
As in old days, jovial and talking, ride!
From hunting with the Berkshire deg. hounds they come. deg.155
Quick! let me fly, and cross
Into yon farther field!--'Tis done; and see,
Back'd by the sunset, which doth glorify
The orange and pale violet evening-sky,
Bare on its lonely ridge, the Tree! the Tree! 160

I take the omen! Eve lets down her veil,
The white fog creeps from bush to bush about,
The west unflushes, the high stars grow bright,
And in the scatter'd farms the lights come out.
I cannot reach the signal-tree to-night, 165
Yet, happy omen, hail!
Hear it from thy broad lucent Arno-vale deg. deg.167
(For there thine earth-forgetting eyelids keep
The morningless and unawakening sleep
Under the flowery oleanders pale), 170

Hear it, O Thyrsis, still our tree is there!--
Ah, vain! These English fields, this upland dim,
These brambles pale with mist engarlanded,
That lone, sky-pointing tree, are not for him;
To a boon southern country he is fled, deg. deg.175
And now in happier air,
Wandering with the great Mother's deg. train divine deg.177
(And purer or more subtle soul than thee,
I trow, the mighty Mother doth not see)
Within a folding of the Apennine, 180

Thou hearest the immortal chants of old!--
Putting his sickle to the perilous grain
In the hot cornfield of the Phrygian king,
For thee the Lityerses-song again
Young Daphnis with his silver voice doth sing; 185
Sings his Sicilian fold,
His sheep, his hapless love, his blinded eyes--
And how a call celestial round him rang,
And heavenward from the fountain-brink he sprang,
And all the marvel of the golden skies. deg. deg.190

There thou art gone, and me thou leavest here
Sole deg. in these fields! yet will I not despair.
Despair I will not, while I yet descry
'Neath the mild canopy of English air
That lonely tree against the western sky. 195
Still, still these slopes, 'tis clear,
Our Gipsy-Scholar haunts, outliving thee
Fields where soft sheep deg. from cages pull the hay,
Woods with anemonies in flower till May,
Know him a wanderer still; then why not me? deg. deg.200

A fugitive and gracious light he seeks,
Shy to illumin; and I seek it too. deg. deg.202
This does not come with houses or with gold,
With place, with honour, and a flattering crew;
'Tis not in the world's market bought and sold-- 205
But the smooth-slipping weeks
Drop by, and leave its seeker still untired;
Out of the heed of mortals he is gone,
He wends unfollow'd, he must house alone;
Yet on he fares, by his own heart inspired. 210

Thou too, O Thyrsis, on like quest was bound;
Thou wanderedst with me for a little hour!
Men gave thee nothing; but this happy quest,
If men esteem'd thee feeble, gave thee power,
If men procured thee trouble, gave thee rest. 215
And this rude Cumner ground,
Its fir-topped Hurst, its farms, its quiet fields,
Here cam'st thou in thy jocund youthful time,
Here was thine height of strength, thy golden prime!
And still the haunt beloved a virtue yields. 220

What though the music of thy rustic flute
Kept not for long its happy, country tone;
Lost it too soon, and learnt a stormy note
Of men contention-tost, of men who groan,
Which task'd thy pipe too sore, and tired thy throat-- 225
It fail'd, and thou wast mute!
Yet hadst thou alway visions of our light,
And long with men of care thou couldst not stay,
And soon thy foot resumed its wandering way,
Left human haunt, and on alone till night. 230

Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here!
'Mid city-noise, not, as with thee of yore,
Thyrsis! in reach of sheep-bells is my home.
Then through the great town's harsh, heart-wearying roar,
Let in thy voice a whisper often come, 235
To chase fatigue and fear:
_Why faintest thou? I wandered till I died.
Roam on! The light we sought is shining still.
Dost thou ask proof? our tree yet crowns the hill,
Our scholar travels yet the loved hill-side._ 240


_November 1857_

Coldly, sadly descends
The autumn-evening. The field
Strewn with its dank yellow drifts
Of wither'd leaves, and the elms,
Fade into dimness apace, 5
Silent;--hardly a shout
From a few boys late at their play!
The lights come out in the street,
In the school-room windows;--but cold,
Solemn, unlighted, austere, 10
Through the gathering darkness, arise
The chapel-walls, in whose bound
Thou, my father! art laid. deg. deg.13

There thou dost lie, in the gloom
Of the autumn evening. But ah! 15
That word, _gloom, deg._ to my mind deg.16
Brings thee back, in the light
Of thy radiant vigour, again;
In the gloom of November we pass'd
Days not dark at thy side; 20
Seasons impair'd not the ray
Of thy buoyant cheerfulness, clear.
Such thou wast! and I stand
In the autumn evening, and think
Of bygone autumns with thee. 25

Fifteen years have gone round
Since thou arosest to tread,
In the summer-morning, the road
Of death, at a call unforeseen,
Sudden. For fifteen years, 30
We who till then in thy shade
Rested as under the boughs
Of a mighty oak, deg. have endured deg.33
Sunshine and rain as we might,
Bare, unshaded, alone, 35
Lacking the shelter of thee.

O strong soul, by what shore deg. deg.37
Tarriest thou now? For that force,
Surely, has not been left vain!
Somewhere, surely, afar, 40
In the sounding labour-house vast
Of being, is practised that strength,
Zealous, beneficent, firm!

Yes, in some far-shining sphere,
Conscious or not of the past, 45
Still thou performest the word
Of the Spirit in whom thou dost live--
Prompt, unwearied, as here!
Still thou upraisest with zeal
The humble good from the ground, 50
Sternly repressest the bad!
Still, like a trumpet, doth rouse
Those who with half-open eyes
Tread the border-land dim
'Twixt vice and virtue; reviv'st, 55
Succourest!--this was thy work,
This was thy life upon earth. deg. deg.57

What is the course of the life
Of mortal men on the earth deg.?-- deg.59
Most men eddy about 60
Here and there--eat and drink,
Chatter and love and hate,
Gather and squander, are raised
Aloft, are hurl'd in the dust,
Striving blindly, achieving 65
Nothing; and then they die--
Perish;--and no one asks
Who or what they have been,
More than he asks what waves,
In the moonlit solitudes mild 70
Of the midmost Ocean, have swell'd,
Foam'd for a moment, and gone.

And there are some, whom a thirst
Ardent, unquenchable, fires,
Not with the crowd to be spent, 75
Not without aim to go round
In an eddy of purposeless dust,
Effort unmeaning and vain.
Ah yes! some of us strive
Not without action to die 80
Fruitless, but something to snatch
From dull oblivion, nor all
Glut the devouring grave!
We, we have chosen our path--
Path to a clear-purposed goal, 85
Path of advance!--but it leads
A long, steep journey, through sunk
Gorges, o'er mountains in snow.
Cheerful, with friends, we set forth--
Then, on the height, comes the storm. 90
Thunder crashes from rock
To rock, the cataracts reply,
Lightnings dazzle our eyes. deg. deg.93
Roaring torrents have breach'd
The track, the stream-bed descends 95
In the place where the wayfarer once
Planted his footstep--the spray
Boils o'er its borders! aloft
The unseen snow-beds dislodge
Their hanging ruin deg.; alas, deg.100
Havoc is made in our train!

Friends, who set forth at our side,
Falter, are lost in the storm.
We, we only are left!
With frowning foreheads, with lips 105
Sternly compress'd, we strain on,
On--and at nightfall at last
Come to the end of our way,
To the lonely inn 'mid the rocks;
Where the gaunt and taciturn host 110
Stands on the threshold, the wind
Shaking his thin white hairs--
Holds his lantern to scan
Our storm-beat figures, and asks:
Whom in our party we bring? 115
Whom we have left in the snow?

Sadly we answer: We bring
Only ourselves! we lost
Sight of the rest in the storm.
Hardly ourselves we fought through, 120
Stripp'd, without friends, as we are.
Friends, companions, and train,
The avalanche swept from our side. deg. deg.123

But thou would'st not _alone_
Be saved, my father! _alone_ 125
Conquer and come to thy goal,
Leaving the rest in the wild.
We were weary, and we
Fearful, and we in our march
Fain to drop down and to die. 130
Still thou turnedst, and still
Beckonedst the trembler, and still
Gavest the weary thy hand.

If, in the paths of the world,
Stones might have wounded thy feet, 135
Toil or dejection have tried
Thy spirit, of that we saw
Nothing--to us thou wast still
Cheerful, and helpful, and firm!
Therefore to thee it was given 140
Many to save with thyself;
And, at the end of thy day,
O faithful shepherd! to come,
Bringing thy sheep in thy hand. deg. deg.144

And through thee I believe 145
In the noble and great who are gone;
Pure souls honour'd and blest
By former ages, who else--
Such, so soulless, so poor,
Is the race of men whom I see-- 150
Seem'd but a dream of the heart,
Seem'd but a cry of desire.
Yes! I believe that there lived
Others like thee in the past,
Not like the men of the crowd 155
Who all round me to-day
Bluster or cringe, and make life
Hideous, and arid, and vile;
But souls temper'd with fire,
Fervent, heroic, and good, 160
Helpers and friends of mankind.

Servants of God!--or sons
Shall I not call you? because
Not as servants ye knew
Your Father's innermost mind, 165
His, who unwillingly sees
One of his little ones lost--
Yours is the praise, if mankind
Hath not as yet in its march
Fainted, and fallen, and died! 170

See! In the rocks deg. of the world
Marches the host of mankind,
A feeble, wavering line.
Where are they tending?--A God
Marshall'd them, gave them their goal. 175
Ah, but the way is so long!
Years they have been in the wild!
Sore thirst plagues them, the rocks,
Rising all round, overawe;
Factions divide them, their host 180
Threatens to break, to dissolve.
--Ah, keep, keep them combined!
Else, of the myriads who fill
That army, not one shall arrive;
Sole they shall stray: in the rocks 185
Stagger for ever in vain,
Die one by one in the waste.

Then, in such hour of need
Of your fainting, dispirited race,
Ye, deg. like angels, appear, 190
Radiant with ardour divine!
Beacons of hope, ye appear!
Languor is not in your heart,
Weakness is not in your word,
Weariness not on your brow. 195
Ye alight in our van! at your voice,
Panic, despair, flee away.
Ye move through the ranks, recall
The stragglers, refresh the outworn,
Praise, re-inspire the brave! 200
Order, courage, return.
Eyes rekindling, and prayers,
Follow your steps as ye go.
Ye fill up the gaps in our files,
Strengthen the wavering line, 205
Stablish, continue our march,
On, to the bound of the waste,
On, to the City of God. deg. deg.208

* * * * *


* * * * *


"I am occupied with a thing that gives me more pleasure than anything
I have ever done yet, which is a good sign, but whether I shall not
ultimately spoil it by being obliged to strike it off in fragments
instead of at one heat, I cannot quite say." (Arnold, in a letter to
Mrs. Foster, April, 1853.)

"All my spare time has been spent on a poem which I have just finished
and which I think by far the best thing I have yet done, and I think
it will be generally liked; though one can never be sure of this. I
have had the greatest pleasure in composing it, a rare thing with me,
and, as I think, a good test of the pleasure what you write is likely
to afford to others. But the story is a very noble and excellent one."
(Arnold, in a letter to his mother, May, 1853.)

The following synopsis of the story of Sohrab and Rustum the "tale
replete with tears," is gathered from several sources, chiefly
Benjamin's _Persia_, in _The Story of the Nations_, Sir John Malcolm's
_History of Persia_, and the great Persian epic poem, _Shah Nameh_.
The _Shah Nameh_ the original source of the story, and which purports
to narrate the exploits of Persia's kings and champions over a space
of thirty-six centuries, bears the same relation to Persian literature
as the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_ to the Greek, and the _AEneid_ to the
Latin, though in structure it more nearly resembles _Morte d'Arthur_,
which records in order the achievements of various heroes. In it
the native poet Mansur ibn Ahmad, afterwards known to literature
as Firdausi, the Paradisaical, has set down the early tales and
traditions of his people with all the vividness and color common to
oriental writers. The principal hero of the poem is the mighty Rustum,
who, mounted on his famous horse Ruksh, performed prodigies of valor
in defence of the Persian throne. Of all his adventures his encounter
with Sohrab is the most dramatic. The poem was probably written in
the latter half of the tenth century. As will be seen, the incidents
narrated in Arnold's poem form but an episode in the complete story of
the two champions. [150]

Rustum (or Rustem), having killed a wild ass while hunting on the
Turanian frontier, and having feasted on its flesh, composed himself
to sleep, leaving his faithful steed, Ruksh (or Raksh), to graze
untethered. On awakening, he found his horse had disappeared, and
believing it had been stolen, the warrior proceeded towards Semenjan,
a near-by city, in hopes of recovering his property. On the way, he
learned that Ruksh had been found by the servants of the king and was
stabled at Semenjan, as he had surmised. Upon Rustum's demand, the
steed was promptly restored to him, and he was about to depart when he
was prevailed upon to accept the king's invitation to tarry awhile and
rest himself in feasting and idleness.

Now the king of Semenjan had a fair daughter named Tahmineh, who had
become enamoured of Rustum because of his mighty exploits. Susceptible
as she was beautiful, she made her attachment so evident that the
young hero, who was as ardent as he was brave, readily yielded to
the power of her fascination. The consent of the king having been
obtained, Rustum and Tahmineh were married with all the rites
prescribed by the laws of the country. A peculiar feature of this
alliance lay in the fact that the king of Semenjan was feudatory to
Afrasiab, the deadly enemy of Persia, while Rustum was her greatest
champion. At this time, however, the two countries were at peace.
For a time all went happily, then Rustum found it necessary to leave
his bride, as he thought, for only a short time. At parting he gave
her an onyx, which he wore on his arm, bidding her, if a daughter
should be born to their union, to twine the gem in her hair under a
fortunate star; but if a son, to bind it on his arm, and he would be
insured a glorious career. Rustum then mounted Ruksh and rode away--as
time proved, never to return.

The months went by, and to the lonely bride was born a marvellous son,
whom, because of his comely features, she named Sohrab. Fearing Rustum
would send for the boy when he grew older, and thus rob her of her
treasure, Tahmineh sent word to him that the child was a girl--"no
son," and Rustum took no further interest in it.

While still of tender years, Sohrab showed signs of his noble lineage.
He early displayed a love for horses, and at the age of ten years,
according to the tradition, was large and handsome and highly
accomplished in the use of arms. Realizing at length that he was of
lofty descent, he insisted that his mother, who had concealed the
fact, should inform him of the name of his father. Being told that it
was the renowned Rustum, he exclaimed, "Since he is my father, I shall
go to his aid; he shall become king of Persia and together we shall
rule the world." After this the youth caused a horse worthy of him to
be found, and with the aid of his grandfather, the king of Semenjan,
he prepared to go on the quest, attended by a mighty host.

When Afrasiab, the Turanian ruler, learned that Sohrab was going to
war with the Persians, he was greatly pleased, and after counselling
with his wise men, decided openly to assist him in his enterprises,
with the expectation that both Rustum and Sohrab would fall in battle
and Persia be at his mercy. He accordingly sent an army of auxiliaries
to Sohrab, accompanied by two astute courtiers, Houman and Barman,
who, under the guise of friendship, were to act as counsellors to
the young leader. These he ordered to keep the knowledge of their
relationship from father and son and to seek to bring about an
encounter between them, in the hope that Sohrab would slay Rustum,
Afrasiab's most dreaded foeman, after which the unsuspecting youth
might easily be disposed of by treachery. [152]

Sohrab, with his army and that of Afrasiab, set out, intending to
fight his way until Rustum should be sent against him, when he would
reveal himself to his father and form an alliance with him that would
place the line of Seistan on the throne. On the way southward, Sohrab
overthrew and captured the Persian champion, Hujir, and the same
day conquered the warrior maiden Gurdafrid, whose beauty and tears,
however, prevailed upon him to release her. Guzdehern, father of
Gurdafrid, recognizing Sohrab's prowess, and alarmed for the safety
of the Persian throne, secretly despatched a courier to the king Kai
Kaoos to warn him of the young Tartar's approach. Kaoos, in great
terror, sent for Rustum to hurry to his aid. Regardless of the king's
request, Rustum spent eight days in feasting, then presented himself
at the court. Kaoos, angered at the delay, ordered both the champion
and the messenger to be executed forthwith; but Rustum effected his

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