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?H







POEMS.



NEW POEMS



BY

MATTHEW ARNOLD



LONDON

MACMILLAN AND CO.

M DCCC LXVII



OXFORD:

BY T. COMBE, MA., E, B. GARDNER, E. P. HALL, AND H. LATHAM, M.A.

PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY.



Though the Muse be gone anuay^
Though she move not earth to-day.
Souls, erenvhile <voho caught her <vjord,
Ah I still harp on nuhat they heard.



CONTENTS.

PACK

EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA 3

THYRSIS 73

SAINT BRANDAN 86

SONNETS 93-106

CALAIS SANDS 1 09

DOVER BEACH 112

THE TERRACE AT BERNE II5

STANZAS COMPOSED AT CARNAC . . . . 1 19

A SOUTHERN NIGHT 123

FRAGMENT OF CHORUS OF A DEJANEIRA . . 1 32

PALLADIUM 134

HUMAN LIFE 1 36

EARLY DEATH AND FAME 1 38

YOUTH AND CALM 140

youth's AGITATIONS 1 42



viii CONTENTS.

PAOB

GROWING OLD 143

THE PROGRESS OF POESY 1 46

EPITAPHS 147

THE LAST WORD I48

A WISH 150

LINES WRITTEN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS . . 1 54

THE SECOND BEST 157

A CAUTION TO POETS 1 59

PIS-ALLER 160

EPILOGUE TO LESSING'S LAOCOON. . . . 161

BACCHANALIA 172

PROGRESS 179

RUGBY CHAPEL 182

HEINE'S GRAVE 1 95

STANZAS FROM THE GRANDE CHARTREUSE . . 2o8

OBERMANN ONCE MORE 220



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.



A DRAMATIC POEM.



PERSONS.

Empedocles.
Pausanias, a Physician.
Callicles, a young Harp-player.



The Scene of the Poem is on Mount Etna ; at first in the forest
region, afterwards on the summit of the mountain.



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. ^

ACT I, SCENE I.
A Pass in the forest region of Etna. Morning.

CALLICLES.
{Alone, resting on a rock by the path.)
nPHE mules, I think, will not be here this hour.

They feel the cool wet turf under their feet
By the stream side, after the dusty lanes
In which they have toil'd all night from Catana,
And scarcely will they budge a yard. O Pan!
How gracious is the mountain at this hour !
A thousand times have I been here alone
Or with the revellers from the mountain towns,
But never on so fair a morn; — the sun
Is shining on the brilliant mountain crests,

B 2



4 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

And on the highest pines; but further down
Here in the valley is in shade; the sward
Is dark, and on the stream the mist still hangs;
One sees one's foot-prints crush'd in the wet grass,
One's breath curls in the air; and on these pines
That climb from the stream's edge, the long grey tufts,
Which the goats love, are jewell'd thick with dew.
Here will I stay till the slow litter comes.
I have my harp too — that is well. ~ Apollo !
What mortal could be sick or sorry here?
I know not in what mind Empedocles,
Whose mules I followed, may be coming up,
But if, as most men say, he is half mad
With exile, and with brooding on his wrongs,
Pausanias, his sage friend, who mounts with him,
Could scarce have lighted on a lovelier cure.
The mules must be below, far down. I hear
Their tinkling bells, mix'd with the song of birds.
Rise faintly to me — now it stops! — Who's here.?
Pausanias ! and on foot .? alone .?



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. i

PAUSANIAS.

And thou, then?
I left thee supping with Peisianax,
With thy head full of wine, and thy hair crown'd,
Touching thy harp as the whim came on thee,
And prais'd and spoil'd by master and by guests
Almost as much as the new dancing girl.
Why hast thou follow'd us?

CALLICLES.

The night was hot,
And the feast past its prime; so we slipp'd out,
Some of us, to the portico to breathe ; —
Peisianax, thou know'st, drinks late; — and then.
As I was lifting my soil'd garland off,
I saw the mules and litter in the court,
And in the litter sate Empedocles;
Thou, too, wert with him. Straightway I sped home
I saddled my white mule, and all night long
Through the cool lovely country follow'd you,
Pass'd you a little since as morning dawn'd.



6 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

And have this hour sate by the torrent here,
Till the slow mules should climb in sight again.
And now?

PAUSANIAS.
And now, back to the town with speed!
Crouch in the wood first, till the mules have pass'd;
They do but halt, they will be here anon.
Thou must be viewless to Empedocles;
Save mine, he must not meet a human eye.
One of his moods is on him that thou know'st.
I think, thou wouldst not vex him.

CALLICLES.

No — and yet

I would fain stay and help thee tend him; once

He knew me well, and would oft notice me.

And still, I know not how, he draws me to him.

And I could watch him with his proud sad face.

His flowing locks and gold-encircled brow

And kingly gait, for ever; such a spell

In his severe looks, such a majesty



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

As drew of old the people after him,

In Agrigentum and Olympia,

When his star reign'd, before his banishment,

Is potent still on me in his decline.

But oh, Pausanias, he is changed of late I

There is a settled trouble in his air

Admits no momentary brightening now;

And when he comes among his friends at feasts,

'Tis as an orphan among prosperous boys.

Thou know' St of old he loved this harp of mine,

When first he sojourn'd with Peisianax;

He is now always moody, and I fear him.

But I would serve him, soothe him, if I could,

Dared one but try.

PAUSANIAS.

Thou wert a kind child ever.
He loves thee, but he must not see thee now.
Thou hast indeed a rare touch on thy harp.
He loves that in thee, too; there was a time



8 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

(But that is pass'd) he would have paid thy strain
With music to have drawn the stars from heaven.
He has his harp and laurel with him still,
But he has laid the use of music by,
And all which might relax his settled gloom.
Yet thou may' St try thy playing if thou wilt,
But thou must keep unseen; follow us on.
But at a distance; in these solitudes, f

In this clear mountain air, a voice will rise,
Though from afar, distinctly; it may soothe him.
Play when we halt, and, when the evening comes
And I must leave him (for his pleasure is
To be left musing these soft nights alone
In the high unfrequented mountain spots),
Then watch him, for he ranges swift and far,
Sometimes to Etna's top, and to the cone;
But hide thee in the rocks a great way down,
And try thy noblest strains, my Callicles,
With the sweet night to help thy harmony.
Thou wilt earn my thanks sure, and perhaps his.



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA, g

CALLICLES.
More than a day and night, Pausanias,

Of this fair summer weather, on these hills,

Would I bestow to help Empedocles.

That needs no thanks; one is far better here

Than in the broiling city in these heats.

But tell me, how hast thou persuaded him

In this his present fierce, man-hating mood,

To bring thee out with him alone on Etna?

PAUSANIAS.
Thou hast heard all men speaking of Pantheia,
The woman who at Agrigentum lay
Thirty long days in a cold trance of death
And whom Empedocles call'd back to life.
Thou art too young to note it, but his power
Swells with the swelling evil of this time.
And holds men mute to see where it will rise.
He could stay swift diseases in old days,
Chain madmen by the music of his lyre.
Cleanse to sweet airs the breath of poisonous streams,



lo EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

And in the mountain chinks inter the winds.

This he could do of old; but now, since all

Clouds and grows daily worse in Sicily,

Since broils tear us in twain, since this new swarm

Of sophists has got empire in our schools

Where he was paramount, since he is banish' d,

And lives a lonely man in triple gloom,

He grasps the very reins of life and death.

I ask'd him of Pantheia yesterday.

When we were gathered with Peisianax,

And he made answer, I should come at night

On Etna here, and be alone with him.

And he would tell me, as his old, tried friend,

Who still was faithful, what might profit me;

That is, the secret of this miracle.

CALLICLES.
Bah ! Thou a doctor ? Thou art superstitious.

Simple Pausanias, 'twas no miracle !

Pantheia, for I know her kinsmen well,

Was subject to these trances from a girl.



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. H

Empedocles would say so, did he deign;

But he still lets the people, whom he scorns,

Gape and cry wizard at him, if they list.

But thou, thou art no company for him;

Thou art as cross, as soured as himself.

Thou hast some wrong from thine own citizens,

And then thy friend is banish'd, and on that.

Straightway thou fallest to arraign the times.

As if the sky was impious not to fall.

The sophists are no enemies of his;

I hear, Gorgias, their chief, speaks nobly of him.

As of his gifted master and once friend.

He is too scornful, too high-wrought, too bitter.

'Tis not the times, 'tis not the sophists vex him;

There is some root of suffering in himself,

Some secret and unfollow'd vein of woe.

Which makes the time look black and sad to him.

Pester him not in this his sombre mood

With questionings about an idle tale,

But lead him through the lovely mountain paths,



12 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

And keep his mind from preying on itself,
And talk to him of things at hand and common,
Not miracles; thou art a learned rnan,
But credulous of fables as a girl.

PAUSANIAS.
And thou, a boy whose tongue outruns his knowledge,
And on whose lightness blame is thrown away.
Enough of this ! I see the litter wind
Up by the torrent-side, under the pines.
I must rejoin Empedocles. Do thou
Crouch in the brush-wood till the mules have pass'd;
Then play thy kind part well. Farewell till night!



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.



SCENE II.



IVoon. A Glen on the highest skirts of the woody region
of Etna.

EMPEDOCLES. PaUSANIAS.

PAUSANIAS.
The noon is hot; when we have cross'd the stream
We shall have left the woody tract, and come
Upon the open shoulder of the hill.
See how the giant spires of yellow bloom
Of the sun-loving gentian, in the heat.
Are shining on those naked slopes like flame!
Let us rest here; and now, Empedocles,
Pantheia's history.

\A harp note below is heard.

EMPEDOCLES.

Hark! what sound was that
Rose from below? If it were possible,



14 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

And we were not so far from human haunt,

I should have said that some one touch'd a harp.

Hark! there again!

PAUSANIAS.

'Tis the boy Callicles,
The sweetest harp player in Catana.
He is for ever coming on these hills,
In summer, to all country festivals,
With a gay revelling band; he breaks from them
Sometimes, and wanders far among the glens.
But heed him not, he will not mount to us;
I spoke with him this morning. Once more, therefore,
Instruct me of Pantheia's story, Master,
As I have pray'd thee.

EMPEDOCLES.

That? and to what end?

PAUSANIAS.
It is enough that all men speak of it.
But I will also say, that when the Gods



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. 15

Visit US as they do with sign and plague,

To know those spells of time that stay their hand

Were to live free from terror.

EMPEDOCLES.

Spells? Mistrust them.
Mind is the spell which governs earth and heaven.
Man has a mind with which to plan his safety;
Know that, and help thyself.

PAUSANIAS.

But thy own words?

"The wit and counsel of man was never clear.

Troubles confuse the little wit he has."

Mind is a light which the Gods mock us with,

To lead those false who trust it.

[The harp sounds again.

EMPEDOCLES.

Hist ! once more !
Listen, Pausanias! — Ay, 'tis Callicles!
I know those notes among a thousand. Hark!



i6 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

CALLICLES.
{Sings unseen, from below.)
The track winds down to the clear stream
To cross the sparkUng shallows; there
The cattle love to gather, on their way
To the high mountain pastures, and to stay,
Till the rough cow-herds drive them past.
Knee-deep in the cool ford; for 'tis the last
Of all the woody, high, well-water'd dells
On Etna; and the beam
Of noon is broken there by chestnut boughs
Down its steep verdant sides; the air
Is freshen'd by the leaping stream, which throws
Eternal showers of spray on the moss'd roots
Of trees, and veins of turf, and long dark shoots
Of ivy-plants, and fragrant hanging bells
Of hyacinths, and on late anemonies,
That muffle its wet banks; but glade,
And stream, and sward, and chestnut trees.
End here; Etna beyond, in the broad glare



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. 17

Of the hot noon, without a shade,

Slope behind slope, up to the peak, lies bare ;

The peak, round which the white clouds play.

In such a glen, on such a day,

On Pelion, on the grassy ground,

Chiron, the aged Centaur, lay,

The young Achilles standing by.

The Centaur taught him to explore

The mountains; where the glens are dry.

And the tired Centaurs come to rest.

And where the soaking springs abound,

And the straight ashes grow for spears,

And where the hill-goats come to feed,

And the sea-eagles build their nest.

He show'd him Phthia far away.

And said: O boy, I taught this lore

To Peleus, in long distant years!

He told him of the Gods, the stars.

The tides; — and then of mortal wars,




1 8 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

And of the life which heroes lead
Before they reach the Elysian place
And rest in the immortal mead;
And all the wisdom of his race.

The music below ceases,, and Empedocles speaks,
accompanying himself in a solemn manner on
his harp.

The out-spread world to span
A cord the Gods first slung,
And then the soul of man
There, like a mirror, hung,
And bade the winds through space impel the gusty
toy.

Hither and thither spins
The wind-borne mirroring soul,
A thousand glimpses wins,
And never sees a whole;
Looks once, and drives elsewhere, and leaves its last
employ.



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. 19

The Gods laugh in their sleeve
To watch man doubt and fear,
Who knows not what to believe
Since he sees nothing clear,
And dares stamp nothing false where he finds nothing
sure.

Is this, Pausanias, so?
And can our souls not strive,
But with the winds must go,
And hurry where they drive?
Is Fate indeed so strong, man's strength indeed so
poor ?

I will not judge ! that man,

Howbeit, I judge as lost.

Whose mind allows a plan

Which would degrade it most;

And he treats doubt the best who tries to see least

ill.

2



20 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

Be not, then, fear's blind slave !
Thou art my friend; to thee,
All knowledge that I have,
All skill I wield, are free;
Ask not the latest news of the last miracle,



Ask not what days and nights
In trance Pantheia lay,
But ask how thou such sights
May'st see without dismay;
Ask what most helps when known, thou son of
Anchitus !

What? hate, and awe, and shame
Fill thee to see our world;
Thou feelest thy soul's frame
Shaken and rudely hurl'd.
What? life and time go hard with thee too, as
with us;



^ EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

Thy citizens, 'tis said,
Envy thee and oppress,
Thy goodness no men aid.
All strive to make it less;
Tyranny, pride, and lust fill Sicily's abodes;



Heaven is with earth at strife,
Signs make thy soul afraid,
The dead return to life.
Rivers are dried, winds stay'd;
Scarce can one think in calm, so threatening are the
Gods;

And we feel, day and night.
The burden of ourselves.
Well, then, the wiser wight
In his own bosom delves.
And asks what ails him so, and gets what cure
he can.



22 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

The sophist sneers: Fool, take
Thy pleasure, right or wrong !
The pious wail: Forsake
A world these sophists throng !
Be neither saint nor sophist-led, but be a man.



These hundred doctors try
To preach thee to their school.
We have the truth ! they cry.
And yet their oracle.
Trumpet it as they will, is but the same as thine.



Once read thy own breast right,
And thou hast done with fears!
Man gets no other light,
Search he a thousand years.
Sink in thyself! there ask what ails thee, at that shrine !



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. 23

What makes thee struggle and rave?
Why are men ill at ease? —
Tis that the lot they have
Fails their own will to please;
For man would make no murmuring, were his will
obey'd.

And why is it, that still
Man with his lot thus fights? —
'Tis that he makes this will
The measure of his rights,
And believes Nature outraged if his will's gainsaid.



Couldst thou, Pausanias, learn
How deep a fault is this !
Couldst thou but once discern
Thou hast no right to bliss,
No title from the Gods to welfare and repose;



24 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

Then thou wouldst look less mazed
Whene'er from bliss debarr'd,
Nor think the Gods were crazed
When thy own lot went hard.
But we are all the same — the fools of our own woes !



For, from the first faint morn
Of life, the thirst for bliss
Deep in man's heart is born ;
And, sceptic as he is,
lie fails not to judge clear if this be quench'd or no.



Nor is that thirst to blame !
Man errs not that he deems
His welfare his true aim.
He errs because he dreams
The world does but exist that welfare to bestow.



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. 25

We mortals are no kings
For each of whom to sway
A new-made world up-springs
Meant merely for his play;
No, we are strangers here; the world is from of old.



In vain our pent wills fret,
And would the world subdue.
Limits we did not set
Condition all we do ;
Born into life we are, and life must be our mould.



Born into life — man grows
Forth from his parents' stem,
And blends their bloods, as those
Of theirs are blent in them;
So each new man strikes root into a far fore-time.



26 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

Born into life — we bring
A bias with us here,
And, when here, each new thing
Affects us we come near ;
To tunes we did not call our being must keep chime.



Born into life— in vain,
Opinions, those or these,
Unalter'd to retain
The obstinate mind decrees;
Experience, like a sea, soaks all-effacing in.



Born into life— who lists
May what is false hold dear,
And for himself make mists
Through which to see less clear;
The world is what it is, for all our dust and din.



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. 27

Born into life — 'tis we,
And not the world, are new.
Our cry for bliss, our plea,
Others have urged it too;
Our wants have all been felt, our errors made before.



No eye could be too sound
To observe a world so vast.
No patience too profound
To sort what's here amass'd ;
How man may here best live no care too great to
explore.

But we — as some rude guest
Would change, where'er he roam,
The manners there profess'd
To those he brings from home —
We mark not the world's course, but would have //
take ours.



28 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

The world's course proves the terms
On which man wins content;
Reason the proof confirms;
We spurn it, and invent
A false course for the world, and for ourselves, false
powers.

Riches we wish to get,
Yet remain spendthrifts still;
We would have health, and yet
Still use our bodies ill;
Bafflers of our own prayers, from youth to life's last
scenes.

We would have inward peace,
Yet will not look within;
We would have misery cease.
Yet will not cease from sin;
We want all pleasant ends, but will use no harsh
means :



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA, 29

We do not what we ought,
What we ought not, we do,
And lean upon the thought
That chance will bring us through;
But our own acts, for good or ill, are mightier powers.



Yet, even when man forsakes
All sin — is just, is pure,
Abandons all which makes
His welfare insecure —
Other existences there are, that clash with ours.



Like us, the lightning fires
Love to have scope and play;
The stream, like us, desires
An unimpeded way;
Like us, the Libyan wind delights to roam at large.



30 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

Streams will not curb their pride
The just man not to entomb,
Nor lightnings go aside
To leave his virtues room;
Nor is that wind less rough which blows a good man's
barge.

Nature, with equal mind,
Sees all her sons at play;
Sees man control the wind,
The wind sweep man away;
Allows the proudly-riding and the founder'd bark.



And, lastly, though of ours
No weakness spoil our lot,
Though the non-human powers
Of Nature harm us not,
The ill-deeds of other men make often our life dark.



EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA. 31

What were the wise man's plan? —
Through this sharp, toil-set life,
To fight as best he can.
And win what's won by strife.
But we an easier way to cheat our pains have found.



Scratch'd by a fall, with moans
As children of weak age
Lend life to the dumb stones
Whereon to vent their rage,
And bend their little fists, and rate the senseless
ground ;

So, loath to suffer mute.
We, peopling the void air,
Make Gods to whom to impute
The ills we ought to bear;
With God and Fate to rail at, suffering easily.



32 EMPEDOCLES ON ETNA.

Yet grant— as sense long miss'd
Things that are now perceiv'd,
And much may still exist
Which is not yet belie v'd —
Grant that the world were full of Gods we cannot
see;

All things the world which fill
Of but one stuff are spun,
That we who rail are still,
With what we rail at, one;


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Online LibraryMatthew ArnoldNew poems → online text (page 1 of 7)