Home  »  The Poems of Matthew Arnold  »  Sonnets: Written in Emerson’s Essays

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

The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems

Sonnets: Written in Emerson’s Essays

[First published 1849. Reprinted 1853.]

‘O MONSTROUS, dead, unprofitable world,

That thou canst hear, and hearing, hold thy way.

A voice oracular hath peal’d to-day,

To-day a hero’s banner is unfurl’d.

Hast thou no lip for welcome?’ So I said.

Man after man, the world smil’d and pass’d by:

A smile of wistful incredulity

As though one spake of noise unto the dead:

Scornful, and strange, and sorrowful; and full

Of bitter knowledge. Yet the Will is free:

Strong is the Soul, and wise, and beautiful:

The seeds of godlike power are in us still:

Gods are we, Bards, Saints, Heroes, if we will.—

Dumb judges, answer, truth or mockery?