A Wish Poem by Matthew Arnold

A Wish

Rating: 3.2


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!

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Susan Williams 24 October 2015

After reading the intelligent comments below, I cannot think of anything to add to their musings. This poem is a great piece and the comments just as great.

32 2 Reply
Dima Sviridenko 21 May 2012

not bad) i think nice poem, but nothing more) 8/10))

8 19 Reply
Deci Hernandez 21 May 2012

Ha. all those poor heirs. to think of a mans death as something material to be gained. i am guilty of this, and the poem even has a wish to lose those material things, which actually do cause many a man many kinds of strife. and the hope is that in death if material things are or are not, they do not cause such squabbles in life after death. a perfect wish.

17 7 Reply
Juan Olivarez 21 May 2010

I am speechless. My only comment is 'wow'.

16 8 Reply
Herman Chiu 21 May 2010

What Mr. Olivarez said - only this is also my most sincere outlook on life and death that I finally find presented in poetic form. No, he doesn't discuss any afterlife. Instead, he presents an acceptance of life and death, and whatever the world can give. Thankyou, Mr. Arnold.

17 7 Reply
Lisa Flores 29 November 2021

Excellent.

0 0 Reply
Dr Dillip K Swain 07 August 2021

What a brilliant third stanza! Great expression! !

0 0 Reply
Enobong Ernest Enobong 01 February 2019

Hmmm...... Death throes Creativity has used thy ink

1 0 Reply
Terry Craddock 14 December 2016

we ask of death desires, death listens in dark silences, before taking his dramatic leave

3 4 Reply
Mizzy ........ 14 December 2016

Wonderful parting piece......

4 4 Reply
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