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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


Rugby Chapel, November, 1857

By Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)

(See full text.)

COLDLY, sadly descends

The autumn evening. The field

Strewn with its dank yellow drifts

Of withered leaves, and the elms,

Fade into dimness apace,

Silent;—hardly a shout

From a few boys late at their play!

The lights come out in the street,

In the school-room windows; but cold,

Solemn, unlighted, austere,

Through the gathering darkness, arise

The Chapel walls, in whose bound

Thou, my father! art laid.

There thou dost lie, in the gloom

Of the autumn evening. But ah!

That word gloom to my mind

Brings thee back in the light

Of thy radiant vigor again!

In the gloom of November we passed

Days not of gloom at thy side;

Seasons impaired not the ray

Of thine even cheerfulness clear.

Such thou wast; and I stand

In the autumn evening, and think

Of bygone autumns with thee.

Fifteen years have gone round

Since thou arosest to tread,

In the summer morning, the road

Of death, at a call unforeseen,

Sudden. For fifteen years,

We who till then in thy shade

Rested as under the boughs

Of a mighty oak, have endured

Sunshine and rain as we might,

Bare, unshaded, alone,

Lacking the shelter of thee.

O strong soul, by what shore

Tarriest thou now? For that force,

Surely, has not been left vain!

Somewhere, surely, afar,

In the sounding labor-house vast

Of being, is practised that strength,

Zealous, beneficent, firm!

Yes, in some far-shining sphere,

Conscious or not of the past,

Still thou performest the word

Of the Spirit in whom thou dost live,

Prompt, unwearied, as here!

Still thou upraisest with zeal

The humble good from the ground,

Sternly repressest the bad.

Still, like a trumpet, dost rouse

Those who with half-open eyes

Tread the border-land dim

’Twixt vice and virtue; reviv’st,

Succorest;—this was thy work,

This was thy life upon earth.