754. From the Hymn of Empedocles

Matthew Arnold. 1822-1888

      IS it so small a thing
      To have enjoy'd the sun,
      To have lived light in the spring,
      To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes;

      That we must feign a bliss
      Of doubtful future date,
      And while we dream on this
      Lose all our present state,
And relegate to worlds yet distant our repose?

      Not much, I know, you prize
      What pleasures may be had,
      Who look on life with eyes
      Estranged, like mine, and sad:
And yet the village churl feels the truth more than you;

      Who 's loth to leave this life
      Which to him little yields:
      His hard-task'd sunburnt wife,
      His often-labour'd fields;
The boors with whom he talk'd, the country spots he knew.

      But thou, because thou hear'st
      Men scoff at Heaven and Fate;
      Because the gods thou fear'st
      Fail to make blest thy state,
Tremblest, and wilt not dare to trust the joys there are.

      I say, Fear not! life still
      Leaves human effort scope.
      But, since life teems with ill,
      Nurse no extravagant hope.
Because thou must not dream, thou need'st not then despair.

The Oxford Book of English Verse, HTML edition