Verse > Matthew Arnold > Poems
Matthew Arnold (1822–88).  The Poems of Matthew Arnold, 1840–1867.  1909.
Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems
[First published 1852. Reprinted 1853, ’54, ’57.]

        YE 1 storm-winds of Autumn
      Who rush by, who shake
      The window, and ruffle
      The gleam-lighted lake;
      Who cross to the hill-side        5
      Thin-sprinkled with farms,
      Where the high woods strip sadly
      Their yellowing arms;—
        Ye are bound for the mountains—
      Ah, with you let me go        10
      Where your cold distant barrier,
      The vast range of snow,
      Through the loose clouds lifts dimly
      Its white peaks in air—
      How deep is their stillness!        15
      Ah! would I were there!
    But on the stairs what voice is this I hear,
  Buoyant as morning, and as morning clear?
  Say, has some wet bird-haunted English lawn
  Lent it the music of its trees at dawn?        20
  Or was it from some sun-fleck’d mountain-brook
  That the sweet voice its upland clearness took?
        Ah! it comes nearer—
        Sweet notes, this way!
      Hark! fast by the window        25
      The rushing winds go,
      To the ice-cumber’d gorges,
      The vast seas of snow.
      There the torrents drive upward
      Their rock-strangled hum,        30
      There the avalanche thunders
      The hoarse torrent dumb.
      —I come, O ye mountains!
      Ye torrents, I come!
But who is this, by the half-open’d door,        35
Whose figure casts a shadow on the floor?
The sweet blue eyes—the soft, ash-colour’d hair—
The cheeks that still their gentle paleness wear—
The lovely lips, with their arch smile, that tells
The unconquer’d joy in which her spirit dwells—        40
        Ah! they bend nearer—
        Sweet lips, this way!
      Hark! the wind rushes past us—
      Ah! with that let me go
      To the clear waning hill-side        45
      Unspotted by snow,
      There to watch, o’er the sunk vale,
      The frore mountain wall,
      Where the nich’d snow-bed sprays down
      Its powdery fall.        50
      There its dusky blue clusters
      The aconite spreads;
      There the pines slope, the cloud-strips
      Hung soft in their heads.
      No life but, at moments,        55
      The mountain-bee’s hum.
      —I come, O ye mountains!
      Ye pine-woods, I come!
      Forgive me! forgive me!
        Ah, Marguerite, fain        60
      Would these arms reach to clasp thee:—
        But see! ’tis in vain.
      In the void air towards thee
        My strain’d arms are cast.
      But a sea rolls between us—        65
        Our different past.
      To the lips, ah! of others,
        Those lips have been prest,
      And others, ere I was,
        Were clasp’d to that breast;        70
      Far, far from each other
        Our spirits have grown.
      And what heart knows another?
        Ah! who knows his own?
      Blow, ye winds! lift me with you!        75
        I come to the wild.
      Fold closely, O Nature!
        Thine arms round thy child.
      To thee only God granted
        A heart ever new:        80
      To all always open;
        To all always true.
      Ah, calm me! restore me!
        And dry up my tears
      On thy high mountain platforms,        85
        Where Morn first appears,
      Where the white mists, for ever,
        Are spread and upfurl’d;
      In the stir of the forces
        Whence issued the world.        90
Note 1. Parting Title] Switzerland. IV. Parting 1853, 1854, 1857. [back]

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