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

Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems

On the Rhine

[First published 1852. Reprinted 1855.]

VAIN is the effort to forget.

Some day I shall be cold, I know,

As is the eternal moon-lit snow

Of the high Alps, to which I go:

But ah, not yet! not yet!

Vain is the agony of grief.

’Tis true, indeed, an iron knot

Ties straitly up from mine thy lot,

And were it snapt—thou lov’st me not!

But is despair relief?

Awhile let me with thought have done;

And as this brimm’d unwrinkled Rhine

And that far purple mountain line

Lie sweetly in the look divine

Of the slow-sinking sun;

So let me lie, and calm as they

Let beam upon my inward view

Those eyes of deep, soft, lucent hue—

Eyes too expressive to be blue,

Too lovely to be grey.

Ah Quiet, all things feel thy balm!

Those blue hills too, this river’s flow,

Were restless once, but long ago.

Tam’d is their turbulent youthful glow:

Their joy is in their calm.