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

Poems from Magazines, 1860–1866

Men of Genius

[First published in the Cornhill Magazine, July, 1860.]

SILENT, the Lord of the world

Eyes from the heavenly height,

Girt by his far-shining train,

Us, who with banners unfurl’d

Fight life’s many-chanc’d fight

Madly below, in the plain.

Then saith the Lord to his own:—

‘See ye the battle below?

Turmoil of death and of birth!

Too long let we them groan.

Haste, arise ye, and go;

Carry my peace upon earth.’

Gladly they rise at his call;

Gladly they take his command;

Gladly descend to the plain.

Alas! How few of them all—

Those willing servants—shall stand

In their Master’s presence again!

Some in the tumult are lost:

Baffled, bewilder’d, they stray.

Some as prisoners draw breath.

Others—the bravest—are cross’d,

On the height of their bold-follow’d way,

By the swift-rushing missile of Death.

Hardly, hardly shall one

Come, with countenance bright,

O’er the cloud-wrapt, perilous plain:

His Master’s errand well done,

Safe through the smoke of the fight,

Back to his Master again.