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

The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems

Sonnets: Written in Butler’s Sermons

[First published 1849.]

AFFECTIONS, Instincts, Principles, and Powers,

Impulse and Reason, Freedom and Control—

So men, unravelling God’s harmonious whole,

Rend in a thousand shreds this life of ours.

Vain labour! Deep and broad, where none may see,

Spring the foundations of the shadowy throne

Where man’s one Nature, queen-like, sits alone,

Centred in a majestic unity;

And rays her powers, like sister islands, seen

Linking their coral arms under the sea:

Or cluster’d peaks, with plunging gulfs between

Spann’d by aërial arches, all of gold;

Whereo’er the chariot wheels of Life are roll’d

In cloudy circles, to eternity.