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.