Morality

Original Text: 
Matthew Arnold, Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems (London: B. Fellowes, 1852). B-11 2384 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
1   We cannot kindle when we will
2The fire which in the heart resides;
3The spirit bloweth and is still,
4In mystery our soul abides.
5     But tasks in hours of insight will'd
6     Can be through hours of gloom fulfill'd.
7   With aching hands and bleeding feet
8We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
9We bear the burden and the heat
10Of the long day, and wish 'twere done.
11     Not till the hours of light return,
12     All we have built do we discern.
13   Then, when the clouds are off the soul,
14When thou dost bask in Nature's eye,
15Ask, how she view'd thy self-control,
16Thy struggling, task'd morality--
17     Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air,
18     Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair.
19   And she, whose censure thou dost dread,
20Whose eye thou wast afraid to seek,
21See, on her face a glow is spread,
22A strong emotion on her cheek!
23     "Ah, child!" she cries, "that strife divine,
24     Whence was it, for it is not mine?
25   "There is no effort on my brow--
26I do not strive, I do not weep;
27I rush with the swift spheres and glow
28In joy, and when I will, I sleep.
29     Yet that severe, that earnest air,
30     I saw, I felt it once--but where?
31   "I knew not yet the gauge of time,
32Nor wore the manacles of space;
33I felt it in some other clime,
34I saw it in some other place.
35     'Twas when the heavenly house I trod,
36     And lay upon the breast of God."
Publication Start Year: 
1852
RPO poem Editors: 
J. D. Robins
RPO Edition: 
2RP 2.498.
Rhyme: