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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Matthew Arnold 1822–88

Written in Emerson’s Essays


“O MONSTROUS, dead, unprofitable world,

That thou canst hear, and hearing, hold thy way!

A voice oracular hath peal’d to-day,

To-day a hero’s banner is unfurl’d;

Hast thou no lip for welcome?”—So I said.

Man after man, the world smil’d and pass’d by;

A smile of wistful incredulity

As though one spake of life unto the dead—

Scornful, and strange, and sorrowful, and full

Of bitter knowledge. Yet the will is free;

Strong is the soul, and wise, and beautiful;

The seeds of god-like power are in us still;

Gods are we, bards, saints, heroes, if we will!—

Dumb judges, answer, truth or mockery?