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

New Poems, 1867


[First published 1867.]

SET where the upper streams of Simois flow

Was the Palladium, high ’mid rock and wood;

And Hector was in Ilium, far below,

And fought, and saw it not, but there it stood.

It stood; and sun and moonshine rain’d their light

On the pure columns of its glen-built hall.

Backward and forward roll’d the waves of fight

Round Troy; but while this stood, Troy could not fall.

So, in its lovely moonlight, lives the soul.

Mountains surround it, and sweet virgin air;

Cold plashing, past it, crystal waters roll;

We visit it by moments, ah! too rare.

Men will renew the battle in the plain

To-morrow; red with blood will Xanthus be;

Hector and Ajax will be there again;

Helen will come upon the wall to see.

Then we shall rust in shade, or shine in strife,

And fluctuate ’twixt blind hopes and blind despairs,

And fancy that we put forth all our life,

And never know how with the soul it fares.

Still doth the soul, from its lone fastness high,

Upon our life a ruling effluence send;

And when it fails, fight as we will, we die,

And while it lasts, we cannot wholly end.