Men of Genius

[First published in the Cornhill Magazine, July, 1860.]

Matthew Arnold

SILENT, the Lord of the world
    Eyes from the heavenly height,
        Girt by his far-shining train,
Us, who with banners unfurl’d
    Fight life’s many-chanc’d fight
        Madly below, in the plain.

Then saith the Lord to his own:—
    ‘See ye the battle below?
        Turmoil of death and of birth!
Too long let we them groan.
    Haste, arise ye, and go;
        Carry my peace upon earth.’

Gladly they rise at his call;
    Gladly they take his command;
        Gladly descend to the plain.
Alas! How few of them all—
    Those willing servants—shall stand
        In their Master’s presence again!

Some in the tumult are lost
    Baffled, bewilder’d, they stray.
        Some as prisoners draw breath.
Others—the bravest—are cross’d,
    On the height of their bold-follow’d way,
        By the swift-rushing missile of Death.

Hardly, hardly shall one
    Come, with countenance bright,
        O’er the cloud-wrapt, perilous plain:
His Master’s errand well done,
    Safe through the smoke of the fight,
        Back to his Master again.

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