A region desolate and wild.
Black, chafing water: and afloat,
And lonely as a truant child
In a waste wood, a single boat:
No mast, no sails are set thereon;
It moves, but never moveth on:
And welters like a human thing
Amid the wild waves weltering.
Behind, a buried vale doth sleep,
Far down the torrent cleaves its way:
In front the dumb rock rises steep,
A fretted wall of blue and grey;
Of shooting cliff and crumbled stone
With many a wild weed overgrown:
All else, black water: and afloat,
One rood from shore, that single boat.
I ask not that my bed of death
From bands of greedy heirs be free;
For these besiege the latest breath
Of fortune’s favoured sons, not me.
I ask not each kind soul to keep
Tearless, when of my death he hears;
Let those who will, if any, weep!
There are worse plagues on earth than tears.
I ask but that my death may find
The freedom to my life denied;
Ask but the folly of mankind,
Then, at last, to quit my side.
Spare me the whispering, crowded room,
The friends who come, and gape, and go;
The ceremonious air of gloom–
All which makes death a hideous show!
Nor bring, to see me cease to live,
Some doctor full of phrase and fame,
To shake his sapient head and give
The ill he cannot cure a name.
Nor fetch, to take the accustomed toll
Of the poor sinner bound for death,
His brother doctor of the soul,
To canvass with official breath
The future and its viewless things–
That undiscovered mystery
Which one who feels death’s winnowing wings
Must need read clearer, sure, than he!
Bring none of these; but let me be,
While all around in silence lies,
Moved to the window near, and see
Once more before my dying eyes
Bathed in the sacred dew of morn
The wide aerial landscape spread–
The world which was ere I was born,
The world which lasts when I am dead.
Which never was the friend of one,
Nor promised love it could not give,
But lit for all its generous sun,
And lived itself, and made us live.
There let me gaze, till I become
In soul with what I gaze on wed!
To feel the universe my home;
To have before my mind -instead
Of the sick-room, the mortal strife,
The turmoil for a little breath–
The pure eternal course of life,
Not human combatings with death.
Thus feeling, gazing, let me grow
Composed, refreshed, ennobled, clear;
Then willing let my spirit go
To work or wait elsewhere or here!
Isolation: To Marguerite
We were apart; yet, day by day,
I bade my heart more constant be.
I bade it keep the world away,
And grow a home for only thee;
Nor fear’d but thy love likewise grew,
Like mine, each day, more tried, more true.
The fault was grave! I might have known,
What far too soon, alas! I learned–
The heart can bind itself alone,
And faith may oft be unreturned.
Self-sway’d our feelings ebb and swell–
Thou lov’st no more–Farewell! Farewell! Farewell!–and thou, thou lonely heart,
Which never yet without remorse
Even for a moment didst depart
From thy remote and sphered course
To haunt the place where passions reign–
Back to thy solitude again! Back! with the conscious thrill of shame
Which Luna felt, that summer-night,
Flash through her pure immortal frame,
When she forsook the starry height
To hang over Endymion’s sleep
Upon the pine-grown Latmian steep. Yet she, chaste queen, had never proved
How vain a thing is mortal love,
Wandering in Heaven, far removed.
But thou hast long had place to prove
This truth–to prove, and make thine own:
“Thou hast been, shalt be, art, alone.” Or, if not quite alone, yet they
Which touch thee are unmating things–
Ocean and clouds and night and day;
Lorn autumns and triumphant springs;
And life, and others’ joy and pain,
And love, if love, of happier men. Of happier men–for they, at least,
Have dreamed two human hearts might blend
In one, and were through faith released
From isolation without end
Prolonged; nor knew, although not less
Alone than thou, their loneliness. –Matthew Arnold