MATTHEW ARNOLD ON HEARING HIM READ HIS POEMS IN BOSTON - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Poems

 
 

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MATTHEW ARNOLD ON HEARING HIM READ HIS POEMS IN BOSTON

A stranger, schooled to gentle arts,
    He stept before the curious throng;
His path into our waiting hearts
    Already paved by song.

Full well we knew his choristers,
    Whose plaintive voices haunt our rest,
Those sable-vested harbingers
    Of melancholy guest.

We smiled on him for love of these,
    With eyes that swift grew dim to scan
Beneath the veil of courteous ease
    The faith-forsaken man.

To his wan gaze the weary shows
    And fashions of our vain estate,
Our shallow pain and false repose,
    Our barren love and hate,

Are shadows in a land of graves,
    Where creeds, the bubbles of a dream,
Flash each and fade, like melting waves
    Upon a moonlight stream.

Yet loyal to his own despair,
    Erect beneath a darkened sky,
He deems the austerest truth more fair
    Than any gracious lie;

And stands, heroic, patient, sage,
    With hopeless hands that bind the sheaf,
Claiming God's work with His wage,
    The bard of unbelief.