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

Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems


[First published 1852. Reprinted 1855.]

I TOO have suffer’d: yet I know

She is not cold, though she seems so:

She is not cold, she is not light;

But our ignoble souls lack might.

She smiles and smiles, and will not sigh,

While we for hopeless passion die;

Yet she could love, those eyes declare,

Were but men nobler than they are.

Eagerly once her gracious ken

Was turn’d upon the sons of men.

But light the serious visage grew—

She look’d, and smiled, and saw them through.

Our petty souls, our strutting wits,

Our labour’d puny passion-fits—

Ah, may she scorn them still, till we

Scorn them as bitterly as she!

Yet oh, that Fate would let her see

One of some worthier race than we;

One for whose sake she once might prove

How deeply she who scorns can love.

His eyes be like the starry lights—

His voice like sounds of summer nights—

In all his lovely mien let pierce

The magic of the universe.

And she to him will reach her hand,

And gazing in his eyes will stand,

And know her friend, and weep for glee,

And cry—Long, long I’ve look’d for thee.

Then will she weep—with smiles, till then,

Coldly she mocks the sons of men.

Till then her lovely eyes maintain

Their gay, unwavering, deep disdain.