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.
 
From “Empedocles on Etna”
 
Matthew Arnold (1822–88)
 
 
AND you, ye stars,
Who slowly begin to marshal,
As of old, in the fields of heaven,
Your distant, melancholy lines!
Have you, too, surviv’d yourselves?        5
Are you, too, what I fear to become?
You, too, once liv’d;
You too mov’d joyfully,
Among august companions,
In an older world, peopled by Gods,        10
In a mightier order,
The radiant, rejoicing, intelligent Sons of Heaven.
But now, ye kindle
Your lonely, cold-shining lights,
Unwilling lingerers        15
In the heavenly wilderness,
For a younger, ignoble world;
And renew, by necessity,
Night after night your courses,
In echoing, unnear’d silence,        20
Above a race you know not—
Uncaring and undelighted,
Without friend and without home;
Weary like us, though not
Weary with our weariness.        25
 
No, no, ye stars! there is no death with you,
No languor, no decay! languor and death,
They are with me, not you! ye are alive—
Ye, and the pure dark ether where ye ride
Brilliant above me! And thou, fiery world,        30
That sapp’st the vitals of this terrible mount
Upon whose charr’d and quaking crust I stand—
Thou, too, brimmest with life!—the sea of cloud,
That heaves its white and billowy vapors up
To moat this isle of ashes from the world,        35
Lives; and that other fainter sea, far down,
O’er whose lit floor a road of moonbeams leads
To Etna’s Liparëan sister-fires
And the long dusky line of Italy—
That mild and luminous floor of waters lives,        40
With held-in joy swelling its heart; I only,
Whose spring of hope is dried, whose spirit has fail’d,
I, who have not, like these, in solitude
Maintain’d courage and force, and in myself
Nurs’d an immortal vigor—I alone        45
Am dead to life and joy, therefore I read
In all things my own deadness.
 

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