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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse

By Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)

(See full text.)

OH, hide me in your gloom profound,

Ye solemn seats of holy pain!

Take me, cowled forms, and fence me round,

Till I possess my soul again;

Till free my thoughts before me roll,

Not chafed by hourly false control!

For the world cries your faith is now

But a dead time’s exploded dream;

My melancholy, sciolists say,

Is a passed mood, and outworn theme—

As if the world had ever had

A faith, or sciolists been sad!

Ah, if it be passed, take away

At least the restlessness, the pain!

Be man henceforth no more a prey

To these out-dated stings again!

The nobleness of grief is gone—

Ah, leave us not the fret alone!

But—if you cannot give us ease—

Last of the race of them who grieve,

Here leave us to die out with these

Last of the people who believe!

Silent, while years engrave the brow;

Silent—the best are silent now.

Achilles ponders in his tent,

The kings of modern thought are dumb;

Silent they are, though not content,

And wait to see the future come.

They have the grief men had of yore,

But they contend and cry no more.

Our fathers watered with their tears

This sea of time whereon we sail;

Their voices were in all men’s ears

Who passed within their puissant hail.

Still the same ocean round us raves,

But we stand mute and watch the waves.

For what availed it, all the noise

And outcry of the former men?—

Say, have their sons achieved more joys,

Say, is life lighter now than then?

The sufferers died, they left their pain—

The pangs which tortured them remain.

What helps it now that Byron bore,

With haughty scorn which mocked the smart,

Through Europe to the Ætolian shore

The pageant of his bleeding heart?

That thousands counted every groan,

And Europe made his woe her own?

What boots it, Shelley! that the breeze

Carried thy lovely wail away,

Musical through Italian trees

Which fringe thy soft blue Spezzian bay?

Inheritors of thy distress,

Have restless hearts one throb the less?

Or are we easier to have read,

O Obermann! the sad, stern page,

Which tells us how thou hidd’st thy head

From the fierce tempest of thine age

In the lone brakes of Fontainebleau,

Or châlets near the Alpine snow?

Ye slumber in your silent grave!—

The world, which for an idle day

Grace to your mood of sadness gave,

Long since hath flung her weeds away.

The eternal trifler breaks your spell;

But we—we learnt your lore too well!

Years hence, perhaps, may dawn an age,

More fortunate, alas! than we,

Which without hardness will be sage,

And gay without frivolity.

Sons of the world, oh, speed those years;

But while we wait, allow our tears!