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

New Poems, 1867

The Last Word

[First published 1867.]

CREEP into thy narrow bed,

Creep, and let no more be said!

Vain thy onset! all stands fast;

Thou thyself must break at last.

Let the long contention cease!

Geese are swans, and swans are geese.

Let them have it how they will!

Thou art tired; best be still!

They out-talk’d thee, hiss’d thee, tore thee.

Better men fared thus before thee;

Fired their ringing shot and pass’d,

Hotly charged—and broke at last.

Charge once more, then, and be dumb!

Let the victors, when they come,

When the forts of folly fall,

Find thy body by the wall.