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Matthew Arnold Poems
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The Strayed Reveller by Matthew Arnold
1 Faster, faster,
2 O Circe, Goddess,
3 Let the wild, thronging train
4 The bright procession
5 Of eddying forms,
6 Sweep through my soul!

7 Thou standest, smiling
8 Down on me! thy right arm,
9 Lean'd up against the column there,
10 Props thy soft cheek;
11 Thy left holds, hanging loosely,
12 The deep cup, ivy-cinctured,
13 I held but now.

14 Is it, then, evening
15 So soon? I see, the night-dews,
16 Cluster'd in thick beads, dim
17 The agate brooch-stones
18 On thy white shoulder;
19 The cool night-wind, too,
20 Blows through the portico,
21 Stirs thy hair, Goddess,
22 Waves thy white robe!


23 Whence art thou, sleeper?

The Youth.

24 When the white dawn first
25 Through the rough fir-planks
26 Of my hut, by the chestnuts,
27 Up at the valley-head,
28 Came breaking, Goddess!
29 I sprang up, I threw round me
30 My dappled fawn-skin;
31 Passing out, from the wet turf,
32 Where they lay, by the hut door,
33 I snatch'd up my vine-crown, my fir-staff,
34 All drench'd in dew-
35 Came swift down to join
36 The rout early gather'd
37 In the town, round the temple,
38 Iacchus' white fane
39 On yonder hill.

40 Quick I pass'd, following
41 The wood-cutters' cart-track
42 Down the dark valley;-I saw
43 On my left, through the beeches,
44 Thy palace, Goddess,
45 Smokeless, empty!
46 Trembling, I enter'd; beheld
47 The court all silent,
48 The lions sleeping,
49 On the altar this bowl.
50 I drank, Goddess!
51 And sank down here, sleeping,
52 On the steps of thy portico.


53 Foolish boy! Why tremblest thou?
54 Thou lovest it, then, my wine?
55 Wouldst more of it? See, how glows,
56 Through the delicate, flush'd marble,
57 The red, creaming liquor,
58 Strown with dark seeds!
59 Drink, thee! I chide thee not,
60 Deny thee not my bowl.
61 Come, stretch forth thy hand, thee-so!
62 Drink-drink again!

The Youth.

63 Thanks, gracious one!
64 Ah, the sweet fumes again!
65 More soft, ah me,
66 More subtle-winding
67 Than Pan's flute-music!
68 Faint-faint! Ah me,
69 Again the sweet sleep!


70 Hist! Thou-within there!
71 Come forth, Ulysses!
72 Art tired with hunting?
73 While we range the woodland,
74 See what the day brings.


75 Ever new magic!
76 Hast thou then lured hither,
77 Wonderful Goddess, by thy art,
78 The young, languid-eyed Ampelus,
79 Iacchus' darling-
80 Or some youth beloved of Pan,
81 Of Pan and the Nymphs?
82 That he sits, bending downward
83 His white, delicate neck
84 To the ivy-wreathed marge
85 Of thy cup; the bright, glancing vine-leaves
86 That crown his hair,
87 Falling forward, mingling
88 With the dark ivy-plants--
89 His fawn-skin, half untied,
90 Smear'd with red wine-stains? Who is he,
91 That he sits, overweigh'd
92 By fumes of wine and sleep,
93 So late, in thy portico?
94 What youth, Goddess,-what guest
95 Of Gods or mortals?


96 Hist! he wakes!
97 I lured him not hither, Ulysses.
98 Nay, ask him!

The Youth.

99 Who speaks' Ah, who comes forth
100 To thy side, Goddess, from within?
101 How shall I name him?
102 This spare, dark-featured,
103 Quick-eyed stranger?
104 Ah, and I see too
105 His sailor's bonnet,
106 His short coat, travel-tarnish'd,
107 With one arm bare!--
108 Art thou not he, whom fame
109 This long time rumours
110 The favour'd guest of Circe, brought by the waves?
111 Art thou he, stranger?
112 The wise Ulysses,
113 Laertes' son?


114 I am Ulysses.
115 And thou, too, sleeper?
116 Thy voice is sweet.
117 It may be thou hast follow'd
118 Through the islands some divine bard,
119 By age taught many things,
120 Age and the Muses;
121 And heard him delighting
122 The chiefs and people
123 In the banquet, and learn'd his songs.
124 Of Gods and Heroes,
125 Of war and arts,
126 And peopled cities,
127 Inland, or built
128 By the gray sea.-If so, then hail!
129 I honour and welcome thee.

The Youth.

130 The Gods are happy.
131 They turn on all sides
132 Their shining eyes,
133 And see below them
134 The earth and men.

135 They see Tiresias
136 Sitting, staff in hand,
137 On the warm, grassy
138 Asopus bank,
139 His robe drawn over
140 His old sightless head,
141 Revolving inly
142 The doom of Thebes.

143 They see the Centaurs
144 In the upper glens
145 Of Pelion, in the streams,
146 Where red-berried ashes fringe
147 The clear-brown shallow pools,
148 With streaming flanks, and heads
149 Rear'd proudly, snuffing
150 The mountain wind.

151 They see the Indian
152 Drifting, knife in hand,
153 His frail boat moor'd to
154 A floating isle thick-matted
155 With large-leaved, low-creeping melon-plants
156 And the dark cucumber.

157 He reaps, and stows them,
158 Drifting--drifting;--round him,
159 Round his green harvest-plot,
160 Flow the cool lake-waves,
161 The mountains ring them.

162 They see the Scythian
163 On the wide stepp, unharnessing
164 His wheel'd house at noon.
165 He tethers his beast down, and makes his meal--
166 Mares' milk, and bread
167 Baked on the embers;--all around
168 The boundless, waving grass-plains stretch, thick-starr'd
169 With saffron and the yellow hollyhock
170 And flag-leaved iris-flowers.
171 Sitting in his cart
172 He makes his meal; before him, for long miles,
173 Alive with bright green lizards,
174 And the springing bustard-fowl,
175 The track, a straight black line,
176 Furrows the rich soil; here and there
177 Cluster of lonely mounds
178 Topp'd with rough-hewn,
179 Gray, rain-blear'd statues, overpeer
180 The sunny waste.

181 They see the ferry
182 On the broad, clay-laden
183 Lone Chorasmian stream;--thereon,
184 With snort and strain,
185 Two horses, strongly swimming, tow
186 The ferry-boat, with woven ropes
187 To either bow
188 Firm harness'd by the mane; a chief
189 With shout and shaken spear,
190 Stands at the prow, and guides them; but astern
191 The cowering merchants, in long robes,
192 Sit pale beside their wealth
193 Of silk-bales and of balsam-drops,
194 Of gold and ivory,
195 Of turquoise-earth and amethyst,
196 Jasper and chalcedony,
197 And milk-barred onyx-stones.
198 The loaded boat swings groaning
199 In the yellow eddies;
200 The Gods behold him.

201 They see the Heroes
202 Sitting in the dark ship
203 On the foamless, long-heaving
204 Violet sea.
205 At sunset nearing
206 The Happy Islands.

207 These things, Ulysses,
208 The wise bards, also
209 Behold and sing.
210 But oh, what labour!
211 O prince, what pain!
212 They too can see
213 Tiresias;--but the Gods,
214 Who give them vision,
215 Added this law:
216 That they should bear too
217 His groping blindness,
218 His dark foreboding,
219 His scorn'd white hairs;
220 Bear Hera's anger
221 Through a life lengthen'd
222 To seven ages.

223 They see the Centaurs
224 On Pelion:--then they feel,
225 They too, the maddening wine
226 Swell their large veins to bursting; in wild pain
227 They feel the biting spears
228 Of the grim Lapithж, and Theseus, drive,
229 Drive crashing through their bones; they feel
230 High on a jutting rock in the red stream
231 Alcmena's dreadful son
232 Ply his bow;--such a price
233 The Gods exact for song:
234 To become what we sing.

235 They see the Indian
236 On his mountain lake; but squalls
237 Make their skiff reel, and worms
238 In the unkind spring have gnawn
239 Their melon-harvest to the heart.--They see
240 The Scythian: but long frosts
241 Parch them in winter-time on the bare stepp,
242 Till they too fade like grass; they crawl
243 Like shadows forth in spring.

244 They see the merchants
245 On the Oxus stream;--but care
246 Must visit first them too, and make them pale.
247 Whether, through whirling sand,
248 A cloud of desert robber-horse have burst
249 Upon their caravan; or greedy kings,
250 In the wall'd cities the way passes through,
251 Crush'd them with tolls; or fever-airs,
252 On some great river's marge,
253 Mown them down, far from home.

254 They see the Heroes
255 Near harbour;--but they share
256 Their lives, and former violent toil in Thebes,
257 Seven-gated Thebes, or Troy;
258 Or where the echoing oars
259 Of Argo first
260 Startled the unknown sea.

261 The old Silenus
262 Came, lolling in the sunshine,
263 From the dewy forest-coverts,
264 This way at noon.
265 Sitting by me, while his Fauns
266 Down at the water-side
267 Sprinkled and smoothed
268 His drooping garland,
269 He told me these things.

270 But I, Ulysses,
271 Sitting on the warm steps,
272 Looking over the valley,
273 All day long, have seen,
274 Without pain, without labour,
275 Sometimes a wild-hair'd Mжnad--
276 Sometimes a Faun with torches--
277 And sometimes, for a moment,
278 Passing through the dark stems
279 Flowing-robed, the beloved,
280 The desired, the divine,
281 Beloved Iacchus.

282 Ah, cool night-wind, tremulous stars!
283 Ah, glimmering water,
284 Fitful earth-murmur,
285 Dreaming woods!
286 Ah, golden-haired, strangely smiling Goddess,
287 And thou, proved, much enduring,
288 Wave-toss'd Wanderer!
289 Who can stand still?
290 Ye fade, ye swim, ye waver before me--
291 The cup again!

292 Faster, faster,
293 O Circe, Goddess.
294 Let the wild, thronging train,
295 The bright procession
296 Of eddying forms,
297 Sweep through my soul!
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