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Matthew Arnold (1822–88).  The Poems of Matthew Arnold, 1840–1867.  1909.
 
The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems
The World and the Quietist
 
TO CRITIAS
[First published 1849. Reprinted 1855.]

    Why, when the World’s great mind
    Hath finally inclin’d,
Why, you say, Critias, be debating still?
    Why, with these mournful rhymes
    Learn’d in more languid climes,        5
    Blame our activity,
    Who, with such passionate will,
    Arc, what we mean to be?
 
    Critias, long since, I know,
    (For Fate decreed it so,)        10
Long since the World hath set its heart to live.
    Long since with credulous zeal
      It turns Life’s mighty wheel;
    Still doth for labourers send,
      Who still their labour give;        15
    And still expects an end.
 
    Yet, as the wheel flies round,
    With no ungrateful sound
Do adverse voices fall on the World’s ear.
    Deafen’d by his own stir        20
    The rugged Labourer
    Caught not till then a sense
    So glowing and so near
      Of his omnipotence.
 
    So, when the feast grew loud        25
    In Susa’s palace proud,
A white-rob’d slave stole to the Monarch’s side.
    He spoke: the Monarch heard:
    Felt the slow-rolling word
    Swell his attentive soul.        30
    Breath’d deeply as it died,
      And drain’d his mighty bowl.
 
 
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