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

The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems

The Voice

[First published 1849.]

AS the kindling glances,

Queen-like and clear,

Which the bright moon lances

From her tranquil sphere

At the sleepless waters

Of a lonely mere,

On the wild whirling waves, mournfully, mournfully,

Shiver and die.

As the tears of sorrow

Mothers have shed—

Prayers that to-morrow

Shall in vain be sped

When the flower they flow for

Lies frozen and dead—

Fall on the throbbing brow, fall on the burning breast,

Bringing no rest.

Like bright waves that fall

With a lifelike motion

On the lifeless margin of the sparkling Ocean:—

A wild rose climbing up a mould’ring wall—

A gush of sunbeams through a ruin’d hall—

Strains of glad music at a funeral:—

So sad, and with so wild a start

To this long sober’d heart,

So anxiously and painfully,

So drearily and doubtfully

And, oh, with such intolerable change

Of thought, such contrast strange,

O unforgotten Voice, thy whispers come,

Like wanderers from the world’s extremity,

Unto their ancient home.

In vain, all, all in vain,

They beat upon mine ear again,

Those melancholy tones so sweet and still;

Those lute-like tones which in long distant years

Did steal into mine ears:

Blew such a thrilling summons to my will

Yet could not shake it:

Drain’d all the life my full heart had to spill;

Yet could not break it.