Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Austerity of Poetry
By Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)
 
THAT son of Italy 1 who tried to blow,
Ere Dante came, the trump of sacred song,
In his light youth amid a festal throng
Sate with his bride to see a public show.
 
Fair was the bride, and on her front did glow        5
Youth like a star; and what to youth belong,
Gay raiment, sparkling gauds, elation strong.
A prop gave way! crash fell a platform! lo,
 
Mid struggling sufferers, hurt to death, she lay!
Shuddering they drew her garments off—and found        10
A robe of sackcloth next the smooth, white skin.
 
Such, poets, is your bride, the Muse! young, gay,
Radiant, adorn’d outside; a hidden ground
Of thought and of austerity within.
 
Note 1. Giacopone di Todi. [back]
 
 
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