Verse > Matthew Arnold > Poems
Matthew Arnold (1822–88).  The Poems of Matthew Arnold, 1840–1867.  1909.
Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems
Lines written in Kensington Gardens
[First published 1852. Reprinted 1867.]

IN this lone open glade I lie,
Screen’d by deep boughs 1 on either hand;
And at its head, to stay the eye,
Those black-crown’d, 2 red-boled pine-trees stand. 3
Birds here make song, each bird has his, 4        5
Across the girdling city’s hum.
How green under the boughs it is!
How thick the tremulous sheep-cries come!
Sometimes a child will cross the glade
To take his nurse his broken toy;        10
Sometimes a thrush flit overhead
Deep in her unknown day’s employ.
Here at my feet what wonders pass,
What endless, active life is here!
What blowing daisies, fragrant grass!        15
An air-stirr’d forest, fresh and clear.
Scarce fresher is the mountain sod
Where the tired angler lies, stretch’d out,
And, eased of basket and of rod,
Counts his day’s spoil, the spotted trout.        20
In 5 the huge world which roars hard by
Be others happy, if they can!
But in my helpless cradle I
Was breathed on by the rural Pan.
I, on men’s impious uproar hurl’d,        25
Think often, 6 as I hear them rave,
That peace has left the upper world,
And now keeps only in the grave.
Yet here is peace for ever new!
When I, who watch them, am away,        30
Still all things in this glade go through
The changes of their quiet day.
Then to their happy rest they pass;
The flowers close, the birds are fed,
The night comes down upon the grass,        35
The child sleeps warmly in his bed.
Calm soul of all things! make it mine
To feel, amid the city’s jar,
That there abides a peace of thine,
Man did not make, and cannot mar!        40
The will to neither strive nor cry,
The power to feel with others give!
Calm, calm me more! nor let me die
Before I have begun to live.
Note 1. deep boughs] dark trees 1852. [back]
Note 2. black-crown’d] black-topp’d 1852. [back]
Note 3. Between 4 and 5 1852 reads:
The clouded sky is still and grey,
Through silken rifts soft peers the sun.
Light the green-foliag’d chestnuts play,
The darker elms stand grave and dun.
Note 4. The birds sing sweetly in these trees 1852. [back]
Note 5. 21–24 first inserted in 1867. [back]
Note 6. often] sometimes 1852. [back]

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