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Matthew Arnold (1822–88). The Poems of Matthew Arnold, 1840–1867. 1909.

New Poems, 1867

Austerity of Poetry

[First published 1867.]

THAT son of Italy who tried to blow,

Ere Dante came, the trump of sacred song,

In his light youth amid a festal throng

Sate with his bride to see a public show.

Fair was the bride, and on her front did glow

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

A robe of sackcloth next the smooth, white skin.

Such, poets, is your bride, the Muse! young, gay,

Radiant, adorn’d outside; a hidden ground

Of thought and of austerity within.