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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


A Southern Night

By Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)

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THE SANDY spits, the shore-locked lakes,

Melt into open, moonlit sea;

The soft Mediterranean breaks

At my feet, free.

Dotting the fields of corn and vine,

Like ghosts and huge, gnarled olives stand;

Behind, that lovely mountain-line!

While by the strand

Cette, with its glistening houses white,

Curves with the curving beach away

To where the lighthouse beacons bright

Far in the bay.

Ah, such a night, so soft, so lone,

So moonlit, saw me once of yore

Wander unquiet, and my own

Vext heart deplore!

But now that trouble is forgot;

Thy memory, thy pain, to-night,

My brother! and thine early lot,

Possess me quite.

The murmur of this Midland deep

Is heard to-night around thy grave

There where Gibraltar’s cannoned steep

O’erfrowns the wave.

For there, with bodily anguish keen,

With Indian heats at last fordone,

With public toil and private teen,

Thou sank’st, alone.

Slow to a stop, at morning gray,

I see the smoke-crowned vessel come;

Slow round her paddles dies away

The seething foam.

A boat is lowered from her side;

Ah, gently place him on the bench!

That spirit—if all have not yet died—

A breath might quench.

Is this the eye, the footstep fast,

The mien of youth we used to see,

Poor, gallant boy!—for such thou wast,

Still art, to me.

The limbs their wonted tasks refuse,

The eyes are glazed, thou canst not speak;

And whiter than thy white burnous

That wasted cheek!

Enough! The boat, with quiet shock,

Unto its haven coming nigh,

Touches, and on Gibraltar’s rock

Lands thee, to die.