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

IF, in the silent mind of One all-pure,
    At first imagin’d lay
The sacred world; and by procession sure
From those still deeps, in form and colour drest,
Seasons alternating, and night and day,        5
The long-mus’d thought to north south east and west
    Took then its all-seen way:
O waking on a world which thus-wise springs!
    Whether it needs thee count
Betwixt thy waking and the birth of things        10
Ages or hours: O waking on Life’s stream!
By lonely pureness to the all-pure Fount
(Only by this thou canst) the colour’d dream
    Of Life remount.
Thin, thin the pleasant human noises grow;        15
    And faint the city gleams;
Rare the lone pastoral huts: marvel not thou!
The solemn peaks but to the stars are known,
But to the stars, and the cold lunar beams:
Alone the sun arises, and alone        20
    Spring the great streams.
But, if the wild unfather’d mass no birth
    In divine seats hath known:
In the blank, echoing solitude, if Earth,
Rocking her obscure body to and fro,        25
Ceases not from all time to heave and groan,
Unfruitful oft, and, at her happiest throe,
    Forms, what she forms, alone:
O seeming sole to awake, thy sun-bath’d head
    Piercing the solemn cloud        30
Round thy still dreaming brother-world outspread!
O man, whom Earth, thy long-vext mother, bare
Not without joy; so radiant, so endow’d—
(Such happy issue crown’d her painful care)
    Be not too proud!        35
O when most self-exalted most alone,
    Chief dreamer, own thy dream!
Thy brother-world stirs at thy feet unknown;
Who hath a monarch’s hath no brother’s part;
Yet doth thine inmost soul with yearning teem.        40
O what a spasm shakes the dreamer’s heart——
    ‘I too but seem!’

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