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

Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems

Lines written in Kensington Gardens

[First published 1852. Reprinted 1867.]

IN this lone open glade I lie,

Screen’d by deep boughs on either hand;

And at its head, to stay the eye,

Those black-crown’d, red-boled pine-trees stand.

Birds here make song, each bird has his,

Across the girdling city’s hum.

How green under the boughs it is!

How thick the tremulous sheep-cries come!

Sometimes a child will cross the glade

To take his nurse his broken toy;

Sometimes a thrush flit overhead

Deep in her unknown day’s employ.

Here at my feet what wonders pass,

What endless, active life is here!

What blowing daisies, fragrant grass!

An air-stirr’d forest, fresh and clear.

Scarce fresher is the mountain sod

Where the tired angler lies, stretch’d out,

And, eased of basket and of rod,

Counts his day’s spoil, the spotted trout.

In the huge world which roars hard by

Be others happy, if they can!

But in my helpless cradle I

Was breathed on by the rural Pan.

I, on men’s impious uproar hurl’d,

Think often, as I hear them rave,

That peace has left the upper world,

And now keeps only in the grave.

Yet here is peace for ever new!

When I, who watch them, am away,

Still all things in this glade go through

The changes of their quiet day.

Then to their happy rest they pass;

The flowers close, the birds are fed,

The night comes down upon the grass,

The child sleeps warmly in his bed.

Calm soul of all things! make it mine

To feel, amid the city’s jar,

That there abides a peace of thine,

Man did not make, and cannot mar!

The will to neither strive nor cry,

The power to feel with others give!

Calm, calm me more! nor let me die

Before I have begun to live.