by: Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

      HE Gods are happy.
      They turn on all sides
      Their shining eyes:
      And see, below them,
      The Earth, and men.
      They see Tiresias
      Sitting, staff in hand,
      On the warm, grassy
      Asopus' bank:
      His robe drawn over
      His old, sightless head:
      Revolving inly
      The doom of Thebes.
      They see the Centaurs
      In the upper glens
      Of Pelion, in the streams,
      Where red-berried ashes fringe
      The clear-brown shallow pools;
      With streaming flanks, and heads
      Rear'd proudly, snuffing
      The mountain wind.
      They see the Indian
      Drifting, knife in hand,
      His frail boat moor'd to
      A floating isle thick matted
      With large-leav'd, low-creeping melon-plants,
      And the dark cucumber.
      He reaps, and stows them,
      Drifting--drifting:--round him,
      Round his green harvest--plot,
      Flow the cool lake-waves:
      The mountains ring them.
      They see the Scythian
      On the wide Stepp, unharnessing
      His wheel'd house at noon.
      He tethers his beast down, and makes his meal,
      Mares' milk, and bread
      Bak'd on the embers:--all around
      The boundless waving grass-plains stretch, thick-starr'd
      With saffron and the yellow hollyhock
      And flag-leav'd iris flowers.
      Sitting in his cart
      He makes his meal: before him, for long miles,
      Alive with bright green lizards,
      And the springing bustard fowl,
      The track, a straight black line,
      Furrows the rich soil: here and there
      Clusters of lonely mounds
      Topp'd with rough-hewn,
      Grey, rain-blear'd statues, overpeer
      The sunny Waste.
      They see the Ferry
      On the broad, clay-laden
      Lone Chorasmian stream: thereon,
      With snort and strain,
      Two horses, strongly swimming, tow
      The ferry-boat, with woven ropes
      To either bow
      Firm-harness'd by the mane:--a Chief,
      With shout and shaken spear
      Stands at the prow, and guides them: but astern,
      The cowering Merchants, in long robes,
      Sit pale beside their wealth
      Of silk-bales and of balsam-drops,
      Of gold and ivory,
      Of turquoise-earth and amethyst,
      Jasper and chalcedony,
      And mild-barr'd onyx stones.
      The loaded boat swings groaning
      In the yellow eddies.
      The Gods behold them.
      They see the Heroes
      Sitting in the dark ship
      On the foamless, long-heaving,
      Violet sea:
      At sunset nearing
      The Happy Islands.
      These things, Ulysses,
      The wise Bards also
      Behold and sing.
      But oh, what labour!
      O Prince, what pain!
      They too can see
      Tiresias:--but the Gods,
      Who give them vision,
      Added this law:
      That they should bear too
      His groping blindness,
      His dark foreboding,
      His scorn'd white hairs;
      Bear Hera's anger
      Through a life lenthen'd
      To seven ages.
      They see the Centaurs
      On Pelion:--then they feel,
      They too, the maddening wine
      Swell their large veins to bursting: in wild pain
      They feel the biting spears
      Of the grim Lapithae, and Theseus, drive,
      Drive crashing through their bones: they feel
      High on a jutting rock in the red stream
      Alcmena's dreadful son
      Ply his bow:--such a price
      The Gods exact for song;
      To become what we sing.
      They see the Indian
      On his mountain lake:--but squalls
      Make their skiff reel, and worms
      In the unkind spring have gnaw'd
      Their melon-harvest to the heart: They see
      The Scythian:--but long frosts
      Parch them in winter-time on the bare Stepp,
      Till they too fade like grass: they crawl
      Like shadows forth in spring.
      They see the Merchants
      On the Oxus' stream:--but care
      Must visit first them too, and make them pale.
      Whether, through whirling sand,
      A cloud of desert robber-horse has burst
      Upon their caravan: or greedy kings,
      In the wall'd cities the way passes through,
      Crush'd them with tolls: or fever-airs,
      On some great river's marge,
      Mown them down, far from home.
      They see the Heroes
      Near harbour:--but they share
      Their lives, and former violent toil, in Thebes,
      Seven-gated Thebes, or Troy;
      Or where the echoing oars
      Of Argo first
      Startled the unknown Sea.
      The old Silenus
      Came, lolling in the sunshine,
      From the dewy forest coverts,
      This way, at noon.
      Sitting by me, while his Fauns
      Down at the water side
      Sprinkled and smooth'd
      His drooping garland,
      He told me these things.
      But I, Ulysses,
      Sitting on the warm steps,
      Looking over the valley,
      All day long, have seen,
      Without pain, without labour,
      Sometimes a wild-hair'd Maenad;
      Sometimes a Faun with torches;
      And sometimes, for a moment,
      Passing through the dark stems
      Flowing-rob'd--the belov'd,
      The desir'd, the divine,
      Belov'd Iacchus.
      Ah cool night-wind, tremulous stars!
      Ah glimmering water--
      Fitful earth-murmur--
      Dreaming woods!
      Ah golden-hair'd, strangely-smiling Goddess,
      And thou, prov'd, much enduring,
      Wave-toss'd Wanderer!
      Who can stand still?
      Ye fade, ye swim, ye waver before me.
      The cup again!
      Faster, faster,
      O Circe, Goddess,
      Let the wild thronging train,
      The bright procession
      Of eddying forms,
      Sweep through my soul!




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