by: Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
- n Paris all look'd hot and like to fade.
- Sere, in the garden of the Tuileries,
- Sere with September, droop'd the chestnut-trees.
- 'Twas dawn; a brougham roll'd through the streets and made
- Halt at the white and silent colonnade
- Of the French Theatre. Worn with disease,
- Rachel, with eyes no gazing can appease,
- Sate in the brougham and those blank walls survey'd.
- She follows the gay world, whose swarms have fled
- To Switzerland, to Baden, to the Rhine;
- Why stops she by this empty play-house drear?
- Ah, where the spirit its highest life hath led,
- All spots, match'd with that spot, are less divine;
- And Rachel's Switzerland, her Rhine, is here!
- Unto a lonely villa, in a dell
- Above the fragrant warm Provençal shore,
- The dying Rachel in a chair they bore
- Up the steep pine-plumed paths of the Estrelle,
- And laid her in a stately room, where fell
- The shadow of a marble Muse of yore,
- The rose-crown'd queen of legendary lore,
- Polymnia, full on her death-bed.'Twas well!
- The fret and misery of our northern towns,
- In this her life's last day, our poor, our pain,
- Our jangle of false wits, our climate's frowns,
- Do for this radiant Greek-soul'd artist cease;
- Sole object of her dying eyes remain
- The beauty and the glorious art of Greece.
- Sprung from the blood of Israel's scatter'd race,
- At a mean inn in German Aarau born,
- To forms from antique Greece and Rome uptorn,
- Trick'd out with a Parisian speech and face,
- Imparting life renew'd, old classic grace;
- Then, soothing with thy Christian strain forlorn,
- A-Kempis! her departing soul outworn,
- While by her bedside Hebrew rites have place
- Ah, not the radiant spirit of Greece alone
- She hadone power, which made her breast its home!
- In her, like us, there clash'd, contending powers,
- Germany, France, Christ, Moses, Athens, Rome.
- The strife, the mixture in her soul, are ours;
- Her genius and her glory are her own.
POEMS BY MATTHEW ARNOLD
|"Rachel" is reprinted from Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold. Matthew Arnold. London: Macmillan and Co., 1905.