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

New Poems, 1867

Worldly Place

[First published 1867.]

Even in a palace, life may be led well!

So spoke the imperial sage, purest of men,

Marcus Aurelius.—But the stifling den

Of common life, where, crowded up pell-mell.

Our freedom for a little bread we sell,

And drudge under some foolish master’s ken,

Who rates us, if we peer outside our pen—

Match’d with a palace, is not this a hell?

Even in a palace! On his truth sincere,

Who spoke these words, no shadow ever came;

And when my ill-school’d spirit is aflame

Some nobler, ampler stage of life to win,

I’ll stop, and say: ‘There were no succour here!

‘The aids to noble life are all within.’