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Thyrsis, A Monody

By Arnold, Matthew

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Book Id: WPLBN0000701646
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 133,571 KB.
Reproduction Date: 2007

Title: Thyrsis, A Monody  
Author: Arnold, Matthew
Language: English
Subject: Fiction, Poetry, Verse drama
Collections: Poetry Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: World Public Library Association


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Arnold, M. (n.d.). Thyrsis, A Monody. Retrieved from


Excerpt: HOW changed is here each spot man makes or fills! // In the two Hinkseys nothing keeps the same; // The village street its haunted mansion lacks, // And from the sign is gone Sibylla's name, // And from the roofs the twisted chimney-stacks- // Are ye too changed, ye hills? // See, 'tis no foot of unfamiliar men // To-night from Oxford up your pathway strays! // Here came I often, often, in old days- // Thyrsis and I; we still had Thyrsis then. // Runs it not here, the track by Childsworth Farm, // Past the high wood, to where the elm-tree crowns // The hill behind whose ridge the sunset flames? // The signal-elm, that looks on Ilsley Downs, // The Vale, the three lone weirs, the youthful Thames?- // This winter-eve is warm, // Humid the air! leafless, yet soft as spring, // The tender purple spray on copse and briers! // And that sweet city with her dreaming spires, // She needs not June for beauty's heightening, // Lovely all times she lies, lovely to-night!- // Only, methinks, some loss of habit's power // Befalls me wandering through this upland dim. // Once pass'd I blindfold here, at any hour; // Now seldom come I, since I came with him. // That single elm-tree bright // Against the west-I miss it! is it goner? // We prized it dearly; while it stood, we said, // Our friend, the Gipsy-Scholar, was not dead; // While the tree lived, he in these fields lived on. // Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here, // But once I knew each field, each flower, each stick; // And with the country-folk acquaintance made // By barn in threshing-time, by new-built rick. // Here, too, our shepherd-pipes we first assay'd. // Ah me! this many a year // My pipe is lost, my shepherd's holiday! // Needs must I lose them, needs with heavy heart // Into the world and wave of men depart; // But Thyrsis of his own will went away. // It irk'd him to be here, he could not rest. // He loved each simple joy the country yields, // He loved his mates; but yet he could not keep, // For that a shadow lour'd on the fields, // Here with the shepherds and the silly sheep. // Some life of men unblest // He knew, which made him droop, and fill'd his head. // He went; his piping took a troubled sound // Of storms that rage outside our happy ground; // He could not wait their passing, he is dead. // So, some tempestuous morn in early June, // When the year's primal burst of bloom is o'er, // Before the roses and the longest day- // When garden-walks and all the grassy floor // With blossoms red and white of fallen May // And chestnut-flowers are strewn- // So have I heard the cuckoo's parting cry, // From the wet field, through the vext garden-trees, // Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze: // The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I! // Too quick despairer, wherefore wilt thou go? // Soon will the high Midsummer pomps come on, // Soon will the musk carnations break and swell, // Soon shall we have gold-dusted snapdragon, // Sweet-William with his homely cottage-smell, // And stocks in fragrant blow; // Roses that down the alleys shine afar, // And open, jasmine-muffled lattices, // And groups under the dreaming garden-trees, // And the full moon, and the white evening-star. // He hearkens not! light comer, he is flown! // What matters it? next year he will return, // And we shall have him in the sweet spring-days, // With whitening hedges, and uncrumpling fern, // And blue-bells trembling by the forest-ways, // And scent of hay new-mown. // But Thyrsis never more we swains shall see; // See him come back, and cut a smoother reed, // And blow a strain the world at last shall heed- // For Time, not Corydon, hath conquer'd thee! // Alack, for Corydon no rival now!- // But when Sicilian shepherds lost a mate, // Some good survivor with his flute would go, // Piping a ditty sad for Bion's fate; // And cross the unpermitted ferry's flow, // 2 // And relax Pluto's brow, // And make leap up with joy the beauteous head // Of Proserpine, among whose crowned hair // Are flowers first open'd on Sicilian air, // And flute his friend, like Orpheus, from the dead. // O easy access to the hearer's grace // When Dorian shepherds sang to Proserpine! // For she herself had trod Sicilian fields, // She knew the Dorian water's gush divine, // She knew each lily white which Enna yields // Each rose with blushing face; // She loved the Dorian pipe, the Dorian strain. // But ah, of our poor Thames she never heard! // Her foot the Cumner cowslips never stirr'd; // And we should tease her with our plaint in vain! // Well! wind-dispersed and vain the words will be, // Yet, Thyrsis, let me give my grief its hour // In the old haunt, and find our tree-topp'd hill! // Who, if not I, for questing here hath power? // I know the wood which hides the daffodil, // I know the Fyfield tree, // I know what white, what purple fritillaries // The grassy harvest of the river-fields, // Above by Ensham, down by Sandford, yields, // And what sedged brooks are Thames's tributaries; // I know these slopes; who knows them if not I?- // But many a tingle on the loved hillside, // With thorns once studded, old, white-blossom'd trees, // Where thick the cowslips grew, and far descried // High tower'd the spikes of purple orchises, // Hath since our day put by // The coronals of that forgotten time; // Down each green bank hath gone the ploughboy's team, // And only in the hidden brookside gleam // Primroses, orphans of the flowery prime. // Where is the girl, who by the boatman's door, // Above the locks, above the boating throng, // Unmoor'd our skiff when through the Wytham flats, // Red loosestrife and blond meadow-sweet among // And darting swallows and light water-gnats, // We track'd the shy Thames shore? // Where are the mowers, who, as the tiny swell // Of our boat passing heaved the river-grass, // Stood with suspended scythe to see us pass?- // They all are gone, and thou art gone as well! // Yes, thou art gone! and round me too the night // In ever-nearing circle weaves her shade. // I see her veil draw soft across the day, // I feel her slowly chilling breath invade // The cheek grown thin, the brown hair sprent with grey; // 3 // I feel her finger light // Laid pausefully upon life's headlong train; - // The foot less prompt to meet the morning dew, // The heart less bounding at emotion new, // And hope, once crush'd, less quick to spring again. // And long the way appears, which seem'd so short // To the less practised eye of sanguine youth; // And high the mountain-tops, in cloudy air, // The mountain-tops where is the throne of Truth, // Tops in life's morning-sun so bright and bare! // Unbreachable the fort // Of the long-batter'd world uplifts its wall; // And strange and vain the earthly turmoil grows, // And near and real the charm of thy repose, // And night as welcome as a friend would fall. // But hush! the upland hath a sudden loss // Of quiet!-Look, adown the dusk hill-side, // A troop of Oxford hunters going home, // As in old days, jovial and talking, ride! // From hunting with the Berkshire hounds they come. // Quick! let me fly, and cross // Into yon farther field!-'Tis done; and see, // Back'd by the sunset, which doth glorify // The orange and pale violet evening-sky, // Bare on its lonely ridge, the Tree! the Tree! // I take the omen! Eve lets down her veil, // The white fog creeps from bush to bush about, // The west unflushes, the high stars grow bright, // And in the scatter'd farms the lights come out. // I cannot reach the signal-tree to-night, // Yet, happy omen, hail! // Hear it from thy broad lucent Arno-vale // (For there thine earth forgetting eyelids keep // The morningless and unawakening sleep // Under the flowery oleanders pale), // Hear it, O Thyrsis, still our tree is there!- // Ah, vain! These English fields, this upland dim, // These brambles pale with mist engarlanded, // That lone, sky-pointing tree, are not for him; // To a boon southern country he is fled, // And now in happier air, // Wandering with the great Mother's train divine // (And purer or more subtle soul than thee, // I trow, the mighty Mother doth not see) // Within a folding of the Apennine, // Thou hearest the immortal chants of old!- // Putting his sickle to the perilous grain // In the hot cornfield of the Phrygian king, // For thee the Lityerses-song again // Young Daphnis with his silver voice doth sing; // 4 // Sings his Sicilian fold, // His sheep, his hapless love, his blinded eyes- // And how a call celestial round him rang, // And heavenward from the fountain-brink he sprang, // And all the marvel of the golden skies. // There thou art gone, and me thou leavest here // Sole in these fields! yet will I not despair. // Despair I will not, while I yet descry // 'Neath the mild canopy of English air // That lonely tree against the western sky. // Still, still these slopes, 'tis clear, // Our Gipsy-Scholar haunts, outliving thee! // Fields where soft sheep from cages pull the hay, // Woods with anemonies in flower till May, // Know him a wanderer still; then why not me? // A fugitive and gracious light he seeks, // Shy to illumine; and I seek it too. // This does not come with houses or with gold, // With place, with honour, and a flattering crew; // 'Tis not in the world's market bought and sold- // But the smooth-slipping weeks // Drop by, and leave its seeker still untired; // Out of the heed of mortals he is gone, // He wends unfollow'd, he must house alone; // Yet on he fares, by his own heart inspired. // Thou too, O Thyrsis, on like quest wast bound; // Thou wanderedst with me for a little hour! // Men gave thee nothing; but this happy quest, // If men esteem'd thee feeble, gave thee power, // If men procured thee trouble, gave thee rest. // And this rude Cumner ground, // Its fir-topped Hurst, its farms, its quiet fields, // Here cams't thou in thy jocund youthful time, // Here was thine height of strength, thy golden prime! // And still the haunt beloved a virtue yields. // What though the music of thy rustic flute // Kept not for long its happy, country tone; // Lost it too soon, and learnt a stormy note // Of men contention-tost, of men who groan, // Which task'd thy pipe too sore, and tired thy throat- // It fail'd, and thou wage mute! // Yet hadst thou always visions of our light, // And long with men of care thou couldst not stay, // And soon thy foot resumed its wandering way, // Left human haunt, and on alone till night. // Too rare, too rare, grow now my visits here! // 'Mid city-noise, not, as with thee of yore, // Thyrsis! in reach of sheep-bells is my home. // -Then through the great town's harsh, heart-wearying roar, // Let in thy voice a whisper often come, // 5 // To chase fatigue and fear: // Why faintest thou! I wander'd till I died. // Roam on! The light we sought is shining still. // Dost thou ask proof? Our tree yet crowns the hill, // Our Scholar travels yet the loved hill-side. // Matthew Arnold // Immortality // FOIL'D by our fellow-men, depress'd, outworn, // We leave the brutal world to take its way, // And, Patience! in another life, we say // The world shall be thrust down, and we up-borne. // And will not, then, the immortal armies scorn // The world's poor, routed leavings? or will they, // Who fail'd under the heat of this life's day, // Support the fervours of the heavenly morn? // No, no! the energy of life may be // Kept on after the grave, but not begun; // And he who flagg'd not in the earthly strife, // From strength to strength advancing-only he, // His soul well-knit, and all his battles won, // Mounts, and that hardly, to eternal life. // Matthew Arnold // Philomela // HARK! ah, the nightingale- // The tawny-throated! // Hark, from that moonlit cedar what a burst! // What triumph! hark!-what pain! // O wanderer from a Grecian shore, // Still, after many years, in distant lands, // Still nourishing in thy bewilder'd brain // That wild, unquench'd, deep-sunken, old-world pain- // Say, will it never heal? // And can this fragrant lawn // With its cool trees, and night, // And the sweet, tranquil Thames, // And moonshine, and the dew, // To thy rack'd heart and brain // Afford no balm? // Dost thou to-night behold, // Here, through the moonlight on this English grass, // The unfriendly palace in the Thracian wild? // Dost thou again peruse // With hot cheeks and sear'd eyes // The too clear web, and thy dumb sister's shame? // Dost thou once more assay // Thy flight, and feel come over thee, // Poor fugitive, the feathery change // Once more, and once more seem to make resound // 6 // With love and hate, triumph and agony, // Lone Daulis, and the high Cephissian vale? // Listen, Eugenia- // How thick the bursts come crowding through the leaves! // Again-thou hearest? // Eternal passion! // Eternal pain! // Matthew Arnold // Isolation: To Marguerite // WE were apart; yet, day by day, // I bade my heart more constant be. // I bade it keep the world away, // And grow a home for only thee; // Nor fear'd but thy love likewise grew, // Like mine, each day, more tried, more true. // The fault was grave! I might have known, // What far too soon, alas! I learn'd- // The heart can bind itself alone, // And faith may oft be unreturn'd. // Self-sway'd our feelings ebb and swell- // Thou lov'st no more;-Farewell! Farewell! // Farewell!-and thou, thou lonely heart, // Which never yet without remorse // Even for a moment didst depart // From thy remote and sphered course // To haunt the place where passions reign- // Back to thy solitude again! // Back! with the conscious thrill of shame // Which Luna felt, that summer-night, // Flash through her pure immortal frame, // When she forsook the starry height // To hang over Endymion's sleep // Upon the pine-grown Latmian steep. // Yet she, chaste queen, had never proved // How vain a thing is mortal love, // Wandering in Heaven, far removed. // But thou hast long had place to prove // This truth-to prove, and make thine own: // Thou hast been, shalt be, art, alone. // Or, if not quite alone, yet they // Which touch thee are unmating things- // Ocean and clouds and night and day; // Lorn autumns and triumphant springs; // And life, and others' joy and pain, // And love, if love, of happier men. // Of happier men-for they, at least, // Have dream'd two human hearts might blend // In one, and were through faith released // From isolation without end // 7 // Prolong'd; nor knew, although not less // Alone than thou, their loneliness. // Matthew Arnold // To Marguerite: Continued // YES! in the sea of life enisled, // With echoing straits between us thrown, // Dotting the shoreless watery wild, // We mortal millions live alone. // The islands feel the enclasping flow, // And then their endless bounds they know. // But when the moon their hollows lights, // And they are swept by balms of spring, // And in their glens, on starry nights, // The nightingales divinely sing; // And lovely notes, from shore to shore, // Across the sounds and channels pour- // Oh! then a longing like despair // Is to their farthest caverns sent; // For surely once, they feel, we were // Parts of a single continent! // Now round us spreads the watery plain- // Oh might our marges meet again! // Who order'd, that their longing's fire // Should be, as soon as kindled, cool'd? // Who renters vain their deep desire?- // A God, a God their severance ruled! // And bade betwixt their shores to be // The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea. // Matthew Arnold // Palladium // SET where the upper streams of Simois flow // Was the Palladium, high 'mid rock and wood; // And Hector was in Ilium, far below, // And fought, and saw it not-but there it stood! // It stood, and sun and moonshine rain'd their light // On the pure columns of its glen-built hall. // Backward and forward roll'd the waves of fight // Round Troy-but while this stood, Troy could not fall. // So, in its lovely moonlight, lives the soul. // Mountains surround it, and sweet virgin air; // Cold plashing, past it, crystal waters roll; // We visit it by moments, ah, too rare! // We shall renew the battle in the plain // To-morrow;-red with blood will Xanthus be; // Hector and Ajax will be there again, // Helen will come upon the wall to see. // Then we shall rust in shade, or shine in strife, // And fluctuate 'twixt blind hopes and blind despairs, // 8 // And fancy that we put forth all our life, // And never know how with the soul it fares. // Still doth the soul, from its lone fastness high, // Upon our life a ruling effluence send. // And when it fails, fight as we will, we die; // And while it lasts, we cannot wholly end. // Matthew Arnold...


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