Matthew Arnold (1822–88). The Poems of Matthew Arnold, 1840–1867. 1909.Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems
He saw a fire in his disciples’ eyes;
‘The old law,’ they said, ‘is wholly come to naught!
Behold the new world rise!’
The old law observed by Scribes and Pharisees?
I say unto you, see ye keep that law
More faithfully than these!
Think not that I to annul the law have will’d;
No jot, no tittle from the law shall pass,
Till all hath been fulfill’d.’
And what then shall be said to those to-day
Who cry aloud to lay the old world low
To clear the new world’s way?
Hence, hence,’ they cry, ‘ye do but keep man blind!
But keep him self-immersed, preoccupied,
And lame the active mind.’
‘Scorn ye this world, their tears, their inward cares?
I say unto you, see that your souls live
A deeper life than theirs.
And we must leave the old faiths, and walk therein?—
Leave then the Cross as ye have left carved gods,
But guard the fire within!
And no man may the other’s hurt behold;
Yet each will have one anguish—his own soul
Which perishes of cold.’
From a far lonelier distance, like the wind
Be heard, floating through heaven, and fill again
These men’s profoundest mind:
For ever doth accompany mankind,
Hath look’d on no religion scornfully
That man did ever find.
Which has not fall’n on the dry heart like rain,
Which has not cried to sunk, self-weary man:
Thou must be born again!
In pride of life the ages of your sires,
But that you think clear, feel deep, bear fruit well,
The Friend of man desires’