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Matthew Arnold (1822–88).  The Poems of Matthew Arnold, 1840–1867.  1909.
 
The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems
Sonnet. To a Friend
 
          [First published 1849. Reprinted 1853, ’54, ’57.]


WHO 1 prop, thou ask’st, in these bad days, my mind?
He much, the old man, who, clearest-soul’d of men,
Saw The Wide Prospect, 2 and the Asian Fen,
And Tmolus’ hill, and Smyrna’s bay, though blind.
Much he, whose friendship I not long since won,        5
That halting slave, who in Nicopolis
Taught Arrian, when Vespasian’s brutal son
Clear’d Rome of what most sham’d him. But be his
My special thanks, whose even-balanc’d soul,
From first youth tested up to extreme old age,        10
Business could not make dull, nor Passion wild:
Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole:
The mellow glory of the Attic stage;
Singer of sweet Colonus, and its child.
 
Note 1. The three referred to are Homer, Epictetus, and Sophocles. Vespasian’s brutal son (l. 7) is Domitian. [back]
Note 2. [Greek]. [back]
 
 
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