Matthew Arnold (1822–88). The Poems of Matthew Arnold, 1840–1867. 1909.New Poems, 1867
From bands of greedy heirs be free;
For these besiege the latest breath
Of fortune’s favour’d sons, not me.
Tearless, when of my death he hears;
Let those who will, if any, weep!
There are worse plagues on earth than tears.
The freedom to my life denied;
Ask but the folly of mankind,
Then, then at last, to quit my side.
The friends who come, and gape, and go;
The ceremonious air of gloom—
All, that makes death a hideous show!
Some doctor full of phrase and fame,
To shake his sapient head and give
The ill he cannot cure a name.
Of the poor sinner bound for death,
His brother doctor of the soul,
To canvass with official breath
That undiscover’d mystery
Which one who feels death’s winnowing wings
Must needs read clearer, sure, than he!
While all around in silence lies,
Moved to the window near, and see
Once more before my dying eyes
The wide aërial landscape spread—
The world which was ere I was born,
The world which lasts when I am dead.
Nor promised love it could not give,
But lit for all its generous sun,
And lived itself, and made us live.
In soul with what I gaze on wed!
To feel the universe my home;
To have before my mind—instead
The turmoil for a little breath—
The pure eternal course of life,
Not human combatings with death.
Compos’d, refresh’d, ennobled, clear;
Then willing let my spirit go
To work or wait elsewhere or here!