Home  »  The Poems of Matthew Arnold  »  To Marguerite

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

Poems, Third Edition, 1857

To Marguerite

[First published 1857.]

WE were apart: yet, day by day,

I bade my heart more constant be;

I bade it keep the world away,

And grow a home for only thee:

Nor fear’d but thy love likewise grew,

Like mine, each day more tried, more true.

The fault was grave: I might have known,

What far too soon, alas, I learn’d—

The heart can bind itself alone,

And faith is often unreturn’d.—

Self-sway’d our feelings ebb and swell:

Thou lov’st no more: Farewell! Farewell!

Farewell! and thou, thou lonely heart,

Which never yet without remorse

Even for a moment did’st depart

From thy remote and spherèd course

To haunt the place where passions reign,

Back to thy solitude again!

Back, with the conscious thrill of shame

Which Luna felt, that summer night,

Flash through her pure immortal frame,

When she forsook the starry height

To hang over Endymion’s sleep

Upon the pine-grown Latmian steep;—

Yet she, chaste Queen, had never prov’d

How vain a thing is mortal love,

Wandering in Heaven, far remov’d.

But thou hast long had place to prove

This truth—to prove, and make thine own:

Thou hast been, shalt be, art, alone.

Or, if not quite alone, yet they

Which touch thee are unmating things—

Ocean, and Clouds, and Night, and Day;

Lorn Autumns and triumphant Springs;

And life, and others’ joy and pain,

And love, if love, of happier men.

Of happier men—for they, at least,

Have dream’d two human hearts might blend

In one, and were through faith releas’d

From isolation without end

Prolong’d, nor knew, although not less

Alone than thou, their loneliness.