Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The World and the Quietist
 
Matthew Arnold (1822–88)
 
 
    “WHY, when the world’s great mind
    Hath finally inclin’d,
Why,” you say, Critias, “be debating still?
    Why, with these mournful rhymes
    Learn’d in more languid climes,        5
    Blame our activity
    Who, with such passionate will,
    Are what we mean to be?”
 
    Critias, long since, I know
    (For Fate decreed it so),        10
Long since the world hath set its heart to live;
    Long since, with credulous zeal
    It turns life’s mighty wheel,
    Still doth for laborers send
    Who still their labor give,        15
    And still expects an end.
 
    Yet, as the wheel flies round,
    With no ungrateful sound
Do adverse voices fall on the world’s ear.
    Deafen’d by his own stir        20
    The rugged laborer
    Caught not till then a sense
    So glowing and so near
    Of his omnipotence.
 
    So, when the feast grew loud        25
    In Susa’s palace proud,
A white-rob’d slave stole to the Great King’s side.
    He spake—the Great King heard;
    Felt the slow-rolling word
    Swell his attentive soul;        30
    Breath’d deeply as it died,
    And drain’d his mighty bowl.
 

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