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

Poems, Second Series, 1855


[First published 1855.]

STOP—Not to me, at this bitter departing,

Speak of the sure consolations of Time.

Fresh be the wound, still-renew’d be its smarting,

So but thy image endure in its prime.

But, if the stedfast commandment of Nature

Wills that remembrance should always decay;

If the lov’d form and the deep-cherish’d feature

Must, when unseen, from the soul fade away—

Me let no half-effac’d memories cumber!

Fled, fled at once, be all vestige of thee—

Deep be the darkness, and still be the slumber—

Dead be the Past and its phantoms to me!

Then, when we meet, and thy look strays towards me,

Scanning my face and the changes wrought there,—

Who, let me say, is this Stranger regards me,

With the grey eyes, and the lovely brown hair?