Consolation by Matthew Arnold

Mist clogs the sunshine.
Smoky dwarf houses
Hem me round everywhere;
A vague dejection
Weighs down my soul.

Yet, while I languish,
Everywhere countless
Prospects unroll themselves,
And countless beings
Pass countless moods.

Far hence, in Asia,
On the smooth convent-roofs,
On the gilt terraces,
Of holy Lassa,
Bright shines the sun.

Grey time-worn marbles
Hold the pure Muses;
In their cool gallery,
By yellow Tiber,
They still look fair.

Strange unloved uproar
Shrills round their portal;
Yet not on Helicon
Kept they more cloudless
Their noble calm.

Through sun-proof alleys
In a lone, sand-hemmed
City of Africa,
A blind, led beggar,
Age-bowed, asks alms.

No bolder robber
Erst abode ambushed
Deep in the sandy waste;
No clearer eyesight
Spied prey afar.

Saharan sand-winds
Seared his keen eyeballs;
Spent is the spoil he won.
For him the present
Holds only pain.

Two young fair lovers,
Where the warm June-wind,
Fresh from the summer fields,
Plays fondly round them,
Stand, tranced in joy.

With sweet joined voices,
And with eyes brimming:
"Ah," they cry "Destiny,
Prolong the present!
Time, stand still here!"

The prompt stern Goddess
Shakes her head, frowning;
Time gives his hour-glass
Its due reversal;
Their hour is gone.

With weak indulgence
Did the just Goddess
Lengthen their happiness,
She lengthened also
Distress elsewhere.

The hour, whose happy
Unalloyed moments
I would eternalize,
Ten thousand mourners
Well pleased see end.

The bleak stern hour,
Whose severe moments
I would annihilate,
Is passed by others
In warmth, light, joy.

Time, so complained of,
Who to no one man
Shows partiality,
Brings round to all men
Some undimmed hours.

by Matthew Arnold

Other poems by 'Matthew Arnold'

Shakespeare

The Voice

Sohrab and Rustum

Memorial Verses

East London

Requiescat

The Future

Hayeswater

The Pagan World

Philomela

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