Verse > Matthew Arnold > Poems
Matthew Arnold (1822–88).  The Poems of Matthew Arnold, 1840–1867.  1909.
The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems
The Voice
[First published 1849.]

      AS the kindling glances,
      Queen-like and clear,
      Which the bright moon lances
      From her tranquil sphere
      At the sleepless waters        5
      Of a lonely mere,
On the wild whirling waves, mournfully, mournfully,
          Shiver and die.
      As the tears of sorrow
        Mothers have shed—        10
      Prayers that to-morrow
        Shall in vain be sped
      When the flower they flow for
        Lies frozen and dead—
Fall on the throbbing brow, fall on the burning breast,        15
          Bringing no rest.
      Like bright waves that fall
      With a lifelike motion
On the lifeless margin of the sparkling Ocean:—
A wild rose climbing up a mould’ring wall—        20
A gush of sunbeams through a ruin’d hall—
Strains of glad music at a funeral:—
      So sad, and with so wild a start
      To this long sober’d heart,
      So anxiously and painfully,        25
      So drearily and doubtfully
And, oh, with such intolerable change
      Of thought, such contrast strange,
O unforgotten Voice, thy whispers come,
Like wanderers from the world’s extremity,        30
      Unto their ancient home.
In vain, all, all in vain,
They beat upon mine ear again,
Those melancholy tones so sweet and still;
Those lute-like tones which in long distant years        35
      Did steal into mine ears:
Blew such a thrilling summons to my will
      Yet could not shake it:
Drain’d all the life my full heart had to spill;
      Yet could not break it.        40

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