Home  »  The Poems of Matthew Arnold  »  Fragment of Chorus of a Dejaneira

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

New Poems, 1867

Fragment of Chorus of a Dejaneira

[First published 1867.]

O FRIVOLOUS mind of man,

Light ignorance, and hurrying, unsure thoughts,

Though man bewails you not,

How I bewail you!

Little in your prosperity

Do you seek counsel of the Gods.

Proud, ignorant, self-adored, you live alone.

In profound silence stern

Among their savage gorges and cold springs

Unvisited remain

The great oracular shrines.

Thither in your adversity

Do you betake yourselves for light,

But strangely misinterpret all you hear.

For you will not put on

New hearts with the inquirer’s holy robe,

And purged, considerate minds.

And him on whom, at the end

Of toil and dolour untold,

The Gods have said that repose

At last shall descend undisturb’d,

Him you expect to behold

In an easy old age, in a happy home;

No end but this you praise.

But him, on whom, in the prime

Of life, with vigour undimm’d,

With unspent mind, and a soul

Unworn, undebased, undecay’d,

Mournfully grating, the gates

Of the city of death have for ever closed—

Him, I count him, well-starr’d.