Second Edition

The Philosopher and the Stars

(Extracted from Empedocles on Etna)

Matthew Arnold

    [A long pause, during which EMPEDOCLES remains
            motionless, plunged in thought. The night deepens.
            He moves forward and gazes round him, and proceeds:

AND YOU, ye stars,
Who slowly begin to marshal,
As of old, in the fields of heaven,
Your distant, melancholy lines!
Have you, too, survived yourselves?
Are you, too, what I fear to become?
You, too, once lived!
You too moved joyfully
Among august companions
In an older world, peopled by Gods,
In a mightier order,
The radiant, rejoicing, intelligent Sons of Heaven
But now, you kindle
Your lonely, cold-shining lights,
Unwilling lingerers
In the heavenly wilderness,
For a younger, ignoble world;
And renew, by necessity,
Night after night your courses,
In echoing unnear’d silence,
Above a race you know not.
Uncaring and undelighted.
Without friend and without home;
Weary like us, though not
Weary with our weariness.

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