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And yet her voice is in my dreams,
To witch me more and more;
That wooing voice Ah me, it seems 15
Less near me than of yore.
Lightly I sped when hope was high,
And youth beguiled the chase;
I follow — follow still; but I
Shall never see her Face. 2O
MATTHEW ARNOLD (1822–1888)
Who prop, thou ask'st, in these bad days, my mind?
He much, the old man, who, clearest-soul’d of men,
Saw The Wide Prospect, and the Asian Fen,
And Tmolus' hill, and Smyrna's bay, though blind.
Much he, whose friendship I not long since won,
That halting slave, who in Nicopolis
Taught Arrian, when Vespasian's brutal son
Clear'd Rome of what most sham'd him. But
My special thanks, whose even-balanc'd soul,
From first youth tested up to extreme old age, ro
Business could not make dull, nor Passion wild:
Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole:
The mellow glory of the Attic stage;
Singer of sweet Colonus, and its child.
Others abide our question. Thou art free.
We ask and ask: Thou smilest and art still,
Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill
That to the stars uncrowns his majesty,
Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea,
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-
Didst walk on Earth unguess'd at. Better so!
All pains the immortal spirit must endure, -
All weakness that impairs, all griefs that bow,
Find their sole voice in that victorious brow.,
Thou, who dost dwell alone —
Thou, who dost know thine own –
Thou to whom all are known
From the cradle to the grave —
Save, oh save.
From the world's temptations,
From that fierce anguish
Wherein we languish;
From that torpor deep Io
Wherein we lie asleep,
Heavy as death, cold as the grave;
Save, oh save.
When the Soul, growing clearer, Sees God no nearer: When the Soul, mounting higher, To God comes no nigher: But the arch-fiend Pride Mounts at her side, Foiling her high emprize, 2 o Sealing her eagle eyes, And, when she fain would soar, Makes idols to adore; Changing the pure emotion Of her high devotion, To a skin-deep sense Of her own eloquence: Strong to deceive, strong to enslave — Save, oh save.
From the ingrain’d fashion 3o
Of this earthly nature
That mars thy creature;
From grief, that is but passion; From mirth, that is but feigning; From tears, that bring no healing; From wild and weak complaining;
Thine old strength revealing,
Save, oh save.
From doubt, where all is double: Where wise men are not strong: 4o Where comfort turns to trouble: Where just men suffer wrong: Where sorrow treads on joy: Where sweet things soonest cloy: Where faiths are built on dust: Where Love is half mistrust, Hungry, and barren, and sharp as the sea; Oh, set us free. O let the false dream fly Where our sick souls do lie 5o Tossing continually.
O where thy voice doth come
Let all doubts be dumb:
Let all words be mild:
All strifes be reconcil'd;
All pains beguil'd.
Light bring no blindness;
Love no unkindness;
Knowledge no ruin;
Fear no undoing. 6o
From the cradle to the grave,
Save, oh save.
Come, dear children, let us away;
Down and away below.
Now my brothers call from the bay;
Now the great winds shorewards blow:
Now the salt tides seawards flow; 5
Now the wild white horses play,
Champ and chafe and toss in the spray.
Children dear, let us away.
This way, this way.
Call her once before you go. Io
Call once yet.
In a voice that she will know:
Children's voices should be dear
(Call once more) to a mother's ear:
Children's voices, wild with pain.
Surely she will come again.
Call her once and come away.
This way, this way.
“Mother dear, we cannot stay.” 2 o
.The wild white horses foam and fret.
Margaret! Margaret !
Come, dear children, come away down.
Call no more.
One last look at the white-wall'd town, 25
And the little grey church on the windy shore.
Then come down.
She will not come though you call all day
Come away, come away.
Children dear, was it yesterday 3o
We heard the sweet bells over the bay?
In the caverns where we lay,
Through the surf and through the swell
The far-off sound of a silver bell?
Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep.
Where the winds are all asleep;
Where the spent lights quiver and gleam;
Where the salt weed sways in the stream;
Where the sea-beasts rang'd all round,
Feed in the ooze of their pasture-ground; 4o
Where the sea-snakes coil and twine,
Dry their mail and bask in the brine;
Where great whales come sailing by,
Sail and sail, with unshut eye,
Round the world forever and aye? 45
When did music come this way?
Children dear, was it yesterday?
Children dear, was it yesterday
(Call yet once) that she went away?
Once she sate with you and me, So
On a red gold throne in the heart of the sea,
And the youngest sate on her knee,
She comb'd its bright hair, and she tended it well,
When down swung the sound of the far-off bell.
She sigh'd, she look'd up through the clear green
She said: “I must go, for my kinsfolk pray
In the little grey church on the shore to-day.
"Twill be Easter-time in the world — ah me!
And I lose my poor soul, Merman, here with
I said: “Go up, dear heart, through the waves
Say thy prayer, and come back to the kind sea-
caves.” 61 She smil'd, she went up through the surf in the bay.
Children dear, was it yesterday?
Children dear, were we long alone? “The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan. Long prayers,” I said, “in the world they say. Come,” I said, and we rose through the surf in the bay. We went up the beach, by the sandy down Where the sea-stocks bloom, to the white-wall'd
town. Through the narrow pav'd streets, where all was still, 72
To the little grey church on the windy hill.
From the church came a murmur of folk at their
But we stood without in the cold blowing airs.
We climb'd on the graves, on the stones, worn with
And we gaz'd up the aisle through the small leaded
She sat by the pillar; we saw her clear:
“Margaret, hist! come quick, we are here.
Dear heart,” I said, “we are long alone.
The sea grows stormy, the little ones moan.”
But, ah, she gave me never a look, 8c
For her eyes were seal'd to the holy book.
Loud prays the priest; shut stands the door.
Come away, children, call no more.
Come away, come down, call no more.
Down, down, down. Down to the depths of the sea. She sits at her wheel in the humming town, Singing most joyfully. Hark, what she sings; “O joy, O joy, For the humming street, and the child with its toy.
For the priest, and the bell, and the holy well. For the wheel where I spun, 92 And the blessed light of the sun.” And so she sings her fill, Singing most joyfully, Till the shuttle falls from her hand, And the whizzing wheel stands still. She steals to the window, and looks at the sand; And over the sand at the sea; And her eyes are set in a stare; Ioo And anon there breaks a sigh, And anon there drops a tear, From a sorrow-clouded eye, And a heart sorrow-laden, A long, long sigh. For the cold strange eyes of a little Mermaiden And the gleam of her golden hair.
But, children, at midnight,
When soft the winds blow;
When clear falls the moonlight;
When spring-tides are low;
When sweet airs come seaward
From heaths starr'd with broom;
And high rocks throw mildly 13o
On the blanch'd sands a gloom:
Up the still, glistening beaches,
Up the creeks we will hie;
Over banks of bright seaweed
The ebb-tide leaves dry.
We will gaze, from the sand-hills,
At the white, sleeping town;
At the church on the hill-side —
And then come back down.
Singing, “There dwells a lov'd one,
But cruel is she.
She left lonely forever
The kings of the sea.”
IN RETURNING A VOLUME OF THE LETTERS OF ORTIS
Yes: in the sea of life enisl'd,
With echoing straits between us thrown,
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
We mortal millions live alone.
The islands feel the enclasping flow,
And then their endless bounds they know. 6
But when the moon their hollows lights
And they are swept by balms of spring,
And in their glens, on starry nights
The nightingales divinely sing,
And lovely notes, from shore to shore,
Across the sounds and channels pour; I 2
Oh then a longing like despair
Is to their farthest caverns sent;
— For surely once, they feel, we were
Parts of a single continent.
Now round us spreads the watery plain—
Oh might our marges meet again! 18
Who order'd, that their longing's fire
Should be, as soon as kindled, cool'd?
Who renders vain their deep desire?
A God, a God their severance rul’d;
And bade betwixt their shores to be
The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea. 24
We cannot kindle when we will
The fire that in the heart resides,
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides:
But tasks in hours of insight will'd
Can be through hours of gloom fulfill’d. 6
With aching hands and bleeding feet
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
We bear the burden and the heat
Of the long day, and wish 'twere done.
Not till the hours of light return,
All we have built do we discern. I2
Then, when the clouds are off the soul,
When thou dost bask in Nature's eye,
Ask, how she view'd thy self-control,
Thy struggling task'd morality.
Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air,
Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair. 18
"Whose eye thou wert afraid to seek,
See, on her face a glow is spread,
A strong emotion on her cheek.
“Ah child,” she cries, “that strife divine —
Whence was it, for it is not mine? 24
“There is no effort on my brow —
I do not strive, I do not weep.
I rush with the swift spheres, and glow
In joy, and, when I will, I sleep. –
Yet that severe, that earnest air,
I saw, I felt it once — but where?” 3o
“I knew not yet the gauge of Time,
Nor wore the manacles of Space.
I felt it in some other clime —
I saw it in some other place.
— "Twas when the heavenly house I trod,
And the width of the waters, the hush
Of the grey expanse where he floats,
Freshening its current and spotted with foam 8o
As it draws to the Ocean, may strike
Peace to the soul of the man on its breast:
As the pale waste widens around him –
As the banks fade dimmer away—
As the stars come out, and the night-wind
Brings up the stream
Murmurs and scents of the infinite Sea.)
And the first grey of morning fill'd the east,
And the fog rose out of the Oxus stream.
But all the Tartar camp along the stream
Was hush'd, and still the men were plunged in
Sohrab alone, he slept not: all night long
He had lain wakeful, tossing on his bed;
But when the grey dawn stole into his tent,
He rose, and clad himself, and girt his sword,
And took his horseman's cloak, and left his tent,
And went abroad into the cold wet fog, Io
Through the dim camp to Peran-Wisa's tent.
Through the black Tartar tents he pass'd,
Clustering like bee-hives on the low flat strand
Of Oxus, where the summer floods o'erflow
When the sun melts the snows in high Pamere:
Through the black tents he pass'd, o'er that low
And to a hillock came, a little back
From the stream's brink, the spot where first a
Crossing the stream in summer, scrapes the land.
The men of former times had crown'd the top 20
With a clay fort: but that was fall'n; and now
The Tartars built there Peran-Wisa's tent,
A dome of laths, and o'er it felts were spread.
And Sohrab came there, and went in, and stood
Upon the thick-pil'd carpets in the tent,
And found the old man sleeping on his bed
Of rugs and felts, and near him lay his arms.
And Peran-Wisa heard him, though the step
Was dull'd; for he slept light, an old man's sleep;
And he rose quickly on one arm, and said: – 30
“Who art thou? for it is not yet clear dawn.
Speak! is there news, or any night alarm P’’
But Sohrab came to the bedside, and said: —
“Thou knowest me, Peran-Wisa: it is I.
The sun is not yet risen, and the foe
Sleep; but I sleep not; all night long I lie
Tossing and wakeful, and I come to thee.
For so did King Afrasiab bid me seek
Thy counsel, and to heed thee as thy son,
In Samarcand, before the army march'd; 4o
And I will tell thee what my heart desires.
Thou know'st if, since from Ader-baijan first
I came among the Tartars, and bore arms,
I have still serv'd Afrasiab well, and shown,
At my boy's years, the courage of a man.
This too thou know'st, that, while I still bear on
The conquering Tartar ensigns through the world,
And beat the Persians back on every field,
I seek one man, one man, and one alone. 49
Rustum, my father; who, I hop'd, should greet,
Should one day greet, upon some well-fought field
His not unworthy, not inglorious son.
So I long hop'd, but him I never find.
Come then, hear now, and grant me what I ask.
Let the two armies rest to-day: but I
Will challenge forth the bravest Persian lords
To meet me, man to man: if I prevail,
Rustum will surely hear it; if I fall —
Old man, the dead need no one, claim no kin.
Dim is the rumour of a common fight, 6o
Where host meets host, and many names are sunk:
But of a single combat Fame speaks clear.”
He spoke: and Peran-Wisa took the hand
Of the young man in his, and sigh'd, and said: –
“O Sohrab, an unquiet heart is thine!
Canst thou not rest among the Tartar chiefs,
And share the battle's common chance with us
Who love thee, but must press forever first,
In single fight incurring single risk,
To find a father thou hast never seen P 7o
Or, if indeed this one desire rules all,
To seek out Rustum — seek him not through fight:
Seek him in peace, and carry to his arms,
O Sohrab, carry an unwounded son
But far hence seek him, for he is not here.
For now it is not as when I was young,
When Rustum was in front of every fray:
But now he keeps apart, and sits at home,
In Seistan, with Za!, his father old.
Whether that his own mighty strength at last 8o
Feels the abhorr'd approaches of old age;
Or in some quarrel with the Persian King.
There go:-Thou wilt not? Yet my heart fore-
Danger or death awaits thee on this field.
Fain would I know thee safe and well, though lost
To us: fain therefore send thee hence, in peace
To seek thy father, not seek single fights
In vain: — but who can keep the lion's cub
From ravening? and who govern Rustum's son?
Go: I will grant thee what thy heart desires.” 90
So said he, and dropp'd Sohrab's hand, and left