Consolation

Original Text: 
Matthew Arnold, Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems (London: B. Fellowes, 1852). B-11 2384 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2Smoky dwarf houses
3Hem me round everywhere;
4A vague dejection
5Weighs down my soul.
6Yet, while I languish,
7Everywhere countless
8Prospects unroll themselves,
9And countless beings
10Pass countless moods.
11Far hence, in Asia,
12On the smooth convent-roofs,
13On the gilt terraces,
15Bright shines the sun.
16Grey time-worn marbles
17Hold the pure Muses;
18In their cool gallery,
19By yellow Tiber,
20They still look fair.
22Shrills round their portal;
23Yet not on Helicon
24Kept they more cloudless
25Their noble calm.
26Through sun-proof alleys
27In a lone, sand-hemm'd
28City of Africa,
29A blind, led beggar,
30Age-bow'd, asks alms.
31No bolder robber
32Erst abode ambush'd
33Deep in the sandy waste;
34No clearer eyesight
35Spied prey afar.
36Saharan sand-winds
37Sear'd his keen eyeballs;
38Spent is the spoil he won.
39For him the present
40Holds only pain.
41Two young, fair lovers,
42Where the warm June-wind,
43Fresh from the summer fields
44Plays fondly round them,
45Stand, tranced in joy.
46With sweet, join'd voices,
47And with eyes brimming:
48"Ah," they cry, "Destiny,
49Prolong the present!
50Time, stand still here!"
51The prompt stern Goddess
52Shakes her head, frowning;
53Time gives his hour-glass
54Its due reversal;
55Their hour is gone.
56With weak indulgence
57Did the just Goddess
58Lengthen their happiness,
59She lengthen'd also
60Distress elsewhere.
61The hour, whose happy
62Unalloy'd moments
63I would eternalise,
64Ten thousand mourners
65Well pleased see end.
66The bleak, stern hour,
67Whose severe moments
68I would annihilate,
69Is pass'd by others
70In warmth, light, joy.
71Time, so complain'd of,
72Who to no one man
73Shows partiality,
74Brings round to all men
75Some undimm'd hours.

Notes

1] First published in Empedocles on Etna, etc. (1852). Back to Line
14] Lassa: the capital of Tibet; often spelled Lhasa. Back to Line
21] uproar: "Written during the siege of Rome by the French, 1849 [M.A.]." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1852
RPO poem Editors: 
H. Kerpneck
RPO Edition: 
3RP 3.206.
Form: