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

Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems

Youth’s Agitations

[First published 1852. Reprinted 1867.]

WHEN I shall be divorced, some ten years hence,

From this poor present self which I am now;

When youth has done its tedious vain expense

Of passions that for ever ebb and flow;

Shall I not joy youth’s heats are left behind,

And breathe more happy in an even clime?

Ah no! for then I shall begin to find

A thousand virtues in this hated time.

Then I shall wish its agitations back,

And all its thwarting currents of desire;

Then I shall praise the heat which then I lack,

And call this hurrying fever, generous fire,

And sigh that one thing only has been lent

To youth and age in common—discontent.