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

The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems

Sonnets: Religious Isolation

[First published 1849. Reprinted 1853, ’54, ’57.]

CHILDREN (as such forgive them) have I known,

Ever in their own eager pastime bent

To make the incurious bystander, intent

On his own swarming thoughts, an interest own;

Too fearful or too fond to play alone.

Do thou, whom light in thine own inmost soul

(Not less thy boast) illuminates, control

Wishes unworthy of a man full-grown.

What though the holy secret which moulds thee

Moulds not the solid Earth? though never Winds

Have whisper’d it to the complaining Sea,

Nature’s great law, and law of all men’s minds?

To its own impulse every creature stirs:

Live by thy light, and Earth will live by hers.