Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
Matthew Arnold. 1822–1888
754. From the Hymn of Empedocles
      IS it so small a thing 
      To have enjoy'd the sun, 
      To have lived light in the spring, 
      To have loved, to have thought, to have done; 
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes;         5
      That we must feign a bliss 
      Of doubtful future date, 
      And while we dream on this 
      Lose all our present state, 
And relegate to worlds yet distant our repose?  10
      Not much, I know, you prize 
      What pleasures may be had, 
      Who look on life with eyes 
      Estranged, like mine, and sad: 
And yet the village churl feels the truth more than you;  15
      Who 's loth to leave this life 
      Which to him little yields: 
      His hard-task'd sunburnt wife, 
      His often-labour'd fields; 
The boors with whom he talk'd, the country spots he knew.  20
      But thou, because thou hear'st 
      Men scoff at Heaven and Fate; 
      Because the gods thou fear'st 
      Fail to make blest thy state, 
Tremblest, and wilt not dare to trust the joys there are.  25
      I say, Fear not! life still 
      Leaves human effort scope. 
      But, since life teems with ill, 
      Nurse no extravagant hope. 
Because thou must not dream, thou need'st not then despair.  30
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