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

The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems

Sonnets: Shakespeare

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

OTHERS abide our question. Thou art free.

We ask and ask: Thou smilest and art still,

Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill

That to the stars uncrowns his majesty,

Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea,

Making the Heaven of Heavens his dwelling-place,

Spares but the cloudy border of his base

To the foil’d searching of mortality:

And thou, who didst the stars and sunbeams know,

Self-school’d, self-scann’d, self-honour’d, self-secure,

Didst walk on Earth unguess’d at. Better so!

All pains the immortal spirit must endure,

All weakness that impairs, all griefs that bow,

Find their sole voice in that victorious brow.