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

The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems

Sonnets: To a Republican Friend (Continued)

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

YET, when I muse on what life is, I seem

Rather to patience prompted, than that proud

Prospect of hope which France proclaims so loud,

France, fam’d in all great arts, in none supreme.

Seeing this Vale, this Earth, whereon we dream,

Is on all sides o’ershadow’d by the high

Uno’erleap’d Mountains of Necessity,

Sparing us narrower margin than we deem.

Nor will that day dawn at a human nod,

When, bursting through the network superpos’d

By selfish occupation—plot and plan,

Lust, avarice, envy—liberated man,

All difference with his fellow man compos’d,

Shall be left standing face to face with God.