The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems

The World and the Quietist

To Critias

Matthew Arnold

        WHY, when the World’s great mind
        Hath finally inclin’d,
, you say, Critias, be debating still?
        Why, with these mournful rhymes
        Learn’d in more languid climes,
        Blame our activity,
        Who, with such passionate will,
        Are, what we mean to be?

        Critias, long since, I know,
        (For Fate decreed it so,)
Long since the World hath set its heart to live.
        Long since with credulous zeal
            It turns Life’s mighty wheel;
        Still doth for labourers send,
            Who still their labour give;
        And still expects an end.

        Yet, as the wheel flies round,
        With no ungrateful sound
Do adverse voices fall on the World’s ear.
        Deafen’d by his own stir
        The rugged Labourer
        Caught not till then a sense
        So glowing and so near
            Of his omnipotence.

        So, when the feast grew loud
        In Susa’s palace proud,
A white-rob’d slave stole to the Monarch’s side.
        He spoke: the Monarch heard:
        Felt the slow-rolling word
        Swell his attentive soul.
        Breath’d deeply as it died,
            And drain’d his mighty bowl.

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