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

Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems

The River

[First published 1852. Reprinted 1855.]

STILL glides the stream, slow drops the boat

Under the rustling poplars’ shade;

Silent the swans beside us float:

None speaks, none heeds—ah, turn thy head.

Let those arch eyes now softly shine,

That mocking mouth grow sweetly bland:

Ah, let them rest, those eyes, on mine;

On mine let rest that lovely hand.

My pent-up tears oppress my brain,

My heart is swoln with love unsaid:

Ah, let me weep, and tell my pain,

And on thy shoulder rest my head.

Before I die, before the soul,

Which now is mine, must re-attain

Immunity from my control,

And wander round the world again:

Before this teas’d o’erlabour’d heart

For ever leaves its vain employ,

Dead to its deep habitual smart,

And dead to hopes of future joy.