The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems

The Voice

Matthew Arnold

            AS the kindling glances,
            Queen-like and clear,
            Which the bright moon lances
            From her tranquil sphere
            At the sleepless waters
            Of a lonely mere,
On the wild whirling waves, mournfully, mournfully,
                Shiver and die.

        As the tears of sorrow
            Mothers have shed—
        Prayers that tomorrow
            Shall in vain be sped
        When the flower they flow for
            Lies frozen and dead—
Fall on the throbbing brow, fall on the burning breast,
                Bringing no rest.

        Like bright waves that fall
        With a lifelike motion
On the lifeless margin of the sparkling Ocean:—
A wild rose climbing up a mouldering wall—
A gush of sunbeams through a ruined hall—
Strains of glad music at a funeral:—
        So sad, and with so wild a start
        To this deep-sobered heart,
        So anxiously and painfully,
        So drearily and doubtfully,
And oh, with such intolerable change
        Of thought, such contrast strange,
O unforgotten Voice, thy accents come,
Like wanderers from the world’s extremity,
        Unto their ancient home.

In vain, all, all in vain,
They beat upon mine ear again,
Those melancholy tones so sweet and still;
Those lute-like tones which in the bygone year
        Did steal into mine ears:
Blew such a thrilling summons to my will,
        Yet could not shake it:
Drain’d all the life my full heart had to spill;
        Yet could not break it.

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