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Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold

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QUIET WORK One lesson, Nature, let me learn of thee,One lesson which in every wind is blown,One lesson of two duties kept at oneThough the loud world proclaim their enmity— Of toil unsever'd from tranquillity!Of labour, that in lasting fruit outgrowsFar noisier schemes, accomplish'd in repose,Too great for haste, too high for rivalry! Yes, while on earth a thousand discords ring,Man's fitful uproar mingling with his toil,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.
TO A FRIEND 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 bay, though blind. Much he, whose friendship I not long since won,That halting slave, who in NicopolisTaught Arrian, when Vespasian's brutal sonClear'd Rome of what most shamed him. But be his My special thanks, whose even-balanced soul,From first youth tested up to extreme old age,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.
SHAKESPEARE 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,Making the heaven of heavens his dwelling-place,Spares but the cloudy border of his baseTo 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,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.
WRITTEN IN EMERSON'S ESSAYS "O monstrous, dead, unprofitable world,That thou canst hear, and hearing, hold thy way!A voice oracular hath peal'd to-day,To-day a hero's banner is unfurl'd; Hast thou no lip for welcome?"—So I said.Man after man, the world smiled and pass'd by;A smile of wistful incredulityAs though one spake of life unto the dead— Scornful, and strange, and sorrowful, and fullOf bitter knowledge. Yet the will is free;Strong is the soul, and wise, and beautiful; The seeds of godlike power are in us still;Gods are we, bards, saints, heroes, if we will!—Dumb judges, answer, truth or mockery?
WRITTEN IN BUTLER'S SERMONS Affections, Instincts, Principles, and Powers,Impulse and Reason, Freedom and Control—So men, unravelling God's harmonious whole,Rend in a thousand shreds this life of ours. Vain labour! Deep and broad, where none may see,Spring the foundations of that shadowy throneWhere man's one nature, queen-like, sits alone,Centred in a majestic unity; And rays her powers, like sister-islands seenLinking their coral arms under the sea,Or cluster'd peaks with plunging gulfs between Spann'd by aërial arches all of gold,Whereo'er the chariot wheels of life are roll'dIn cloudy circles to eternity.
TO THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON ON HEARING HIM MISPRAISED Because thou hast believed, the wheels of lifeStand never idle, but go always round;Not by their hands, who vex the patient ground,Moved only; but by genius, in the strife Of all its chafing torrents after thaw,Urged; and to feed whose movement, spinning sand,The feeble sons of pleasure set their hand;And, in this vision of the general law, Hast labour'd, but with purpose; hast becomeLaborious, persevering, serious, firm—For this, thy track, across the fretful foam Of vehement actions without scope or term,Call'd history, keeps a splendour; due to wit,Which saw one clue to life, and follow'd it.