Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XXVI. Melancholy
From ‘Rugby Chapel’
By Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)
 
[See full text.]

COLDLY, sadly descends
The autumn evening! The field
Strewn with its dank yellow drifts
Of wither’d leaves, and the elms,
Fade into dimness apace,        5
Silent;—hardly a shout
From a few boys late at their play!
The lights come out in the street,
In the school-room windows; but cold,
Solemn, unlighted, austere,        10
Through the gathering darkness, arise
The chapel walls, in whose bound
Thou, my father! art laid….
 
O strong soul, by what shore
Tarriest thou now? For that force,        15
Surely, has not been left vain!
Somewhere, surely, afar,
In the sounding labour-house vast
Of being, is practised that strength,
Zealous, beneficent, firm!…        20
 
What is the course of the life
Of mortal men on the earth?—
Most men eddy about
Here and there—eat and drink,
Chatter and love and hate,        25
Gather and squander, are raised
Aloft, are hurl’d in the dust,
Striving blindly, achieving
Nothing; and then, they die—
Perish! and no one asks        30
Who or what they have been,
More than he asks what waves,
In the moonlit solitudes mild
Of the midmost Ocean, have swell’d,
Foam’d for a moment, and gone….        35
 
 
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