Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
II. Prayer and Aspiration
Desire
Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)
 
THOU, who dost dwell alone;
Thou, who dost know thine own;
Thou, to whom all are known,
From the cradle to the grave,—
    Save, O, save!        5
 
From the world’s temptations;
From tribulations;
From that fierce anguish
Wherein we languish;
From that torpor deep        10
Wherein we lie asleep,
Heavy as death, cold as the grave,—
    Save, O, save!
 
When the soul, growing clearer,
Sees God no nearer;        15
When the soul, mounting higher,
To God comes no nigher;
But the arch-fiend Pride
Mounts at her side,
Foiling her high emprize,        20
Sealing her eagle eyes,
And, when she fain would soar,
Make idols to adore;
Changing the pure emotion
Of her high devotion,        25
To a skin-deep sense
Of her own eloquence;
Strong to deceive, strong to enslave,—
    Save, O, save!
 
From the ingrained fashion        30
Of this earthly nature
That mars thy creature;
From grief, that is but passion;
From mirth, that is but feigning;
From tears, that bring no healing;        35
From wild and weak complaining;—
Thine old strength revealing,
    Save, O, save!
 
From doubt, where all is double,
Where wise men are not strong;        40
Where comfort turns to trouble;
Where just men suffer wrong;
Where sorrow treads on joy;
Where sweet things soonest cloy;
Where faiths are built on dust;        45
Where love is half mistrust,
Hungry, and barren, and sharp as the sea;
    O, set us free!
 
O, let the false dream fly
Where our sick souls do lie,        50
Tossing continually.
O, where thy voice doth come,
Let all doubts be dumb;
Let all words be mild;
All strife be reconciled;        55
All pains beguiled.
Light brings no blindness;
Love no unkindness;
Knowledge no ruin;
Fear no undoing,        60
From the cradle to the grave,—
    Save, O, save!
 
 
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