Matthew Arnold

(1822-1888 / Middlesex / England)

A Wish

Poem by Matthew Arnold

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 about A Wish by Matthew Arnold

  • Enobong Ernest Enobong (2/1/2019 1:24:00 AM)

    Hmmm...... Death throes Creativity has used thy ink(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Terry CraddockTerry Craddock (12/14/2016 9:17:00 PM)

    we ask of death desires, death listens in dark silences, before taking his dramatic leave(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Mizzy ........Mizzy ........ (12/14/2016 1:29:00 PM)

    Wonderful parting piece......(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Anil Kumar PandaAnil Kumar Panda (12/14/2016 11:16:00 AM)

    A great poem on death. Loved it.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Ratnakar Mandlik (12/14/2016 10:11:00 AM)

    To feel the universe my home
    An amazing death wish, seriously thought out and amply elaborated bt the master craftsman through his muse. Thanks for sharing it here.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Kenneth MaswabiKenneth Maswabi (12/14/2016 8:29:00 AM)

    It's a great poem. Thank you very much.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (12/14/2016 2:42:00 AM)

    Besiege! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Bisy UntanBisy Untan (12/14/2016 1:41:00 AM)

    I'm feeling death through the picturesque lines.Humble bow to the great poet...(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Oduro Bright Amoh (11/16/2015 3:16:00 AM)

    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.

    What marvelous way to tell the events of ones last breath! Very interesting poem(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (10/24/2015 2:19:00 PM)

    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.(Report)Reply

    32 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/23/2014 8:08:00 AM)

    Though I have read so many poems on death the final farewell of human life this poem made me so emotional since its minute details of departing the world and the after ripple effects that gone into my mind which I have so many times witnessed in houses of death of near and dear ones and also good and bad friends and their relatives and the after death effects bravely faced by the near relatives. The great poet tells the truth in detail to feel the universe as his own home and asks each type of soul to weep and tearful if it likes and I think what a beautiful words the great poet selected to create this wonderful poem and every one interested in his poem will definitely interest in the theme and its language breadth and depth in detail no doubt.(Report)Reply

    9 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • S.zaynab KamoonpuriS.zaynab Kamoonpuri (5/22/2013 12:44:00 AM)

    I tink dis was more than awesome with its sarcastic wry humor, let your spirit b pleasd with my praise.(Report)Reply

    8 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Dima Sviridenko (5/21/2012 3:29:00 PM)

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

    8 person liked.
    19 person did not like.
  • Deci Hernandez (5/21/2012 3:23:00 PM)

    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.(Report)Reply

    17 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • Carlos Echeverria (5/21/2012 11:03:00 AM)

    A bracing, ennobling poem, with a sincere, BRING IT ON bravado.(Report)Reply

    16 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Herman Chiu (5/21/2010 6:59:00 PM)

    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.(Report)Reply

    17 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • Juan OlivarezJuan Olivarez (5/21/2010 10:20:00 AM)

    I am speechless. My only comment is 'wow'.(Report)Reply

    16 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Ramesh T ARamesh T A (5/21/2010 3:55:00 AM)

    It is the wish of every man in trouble as long as one is in this world full of chaos and ambitions looming large over all!(Report)Reply

    15 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Sylva PortoianSylva Portoian (3/4/2010 12:01:00 AM)

    His Poetms are special
    Through means and means.
    Clear hearty starts to end
    Cautiously breathes
    To arrive the end
    Where is no end in life
    He lived and we still live…!

    Written Instantly(Report)Reply

    15 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • i <3 bein Me Hate Wanting To Be Her (5/21/2009 1:31:00 PM)

    brilliant poem, really enjoyed it and it's silent imagery. Bravo(Report)Reply

    15 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
Read all 28 comments »

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Read poems about / on: death, sick, brother, freedom, future, silence, work, friend, world, home, sun, life, wedding, son

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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