Matthew Arnold

(1822-1888 / Middlesex / England)

Morality - Poem by Matthew Arnold

We cannot kindle when we will
The fire which in the heart resides;
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides.
But tasks in hours of insight will'd
Can be through hours of gloom fulfill'd.

With aching hands and bleeding feet
We dig and heap, lay stone on stone;
We bear the burden and the heat
Of the long day, and wish 'twere done.
Not till the hours of light return,
All we have built do we discern.

Then, when the clouds are off the soul,
When thou dost bask in Nature's eye,
Ask, how she view'd thy self-control,
Thy struggling, task'd morality--
Nature, whose free, light, cheerful air,
Oft made thee, in thy gloom, despair.

And she, whose censure thou dost dread,
Whose eye thou wast afraid to seek,
See, on her face a glow is spread,
A strong emotion on her cheek!
'Ah, child!' she cries, 'that strife divine,
Whence was it, for it is not mine?

'There is no effort on my brow--
I do not strive, I do not weep;
I rush with the swift spheres and glow
In joy, and when I will, I sleep.
Yet that severe, that earnest air,
I saw, I felt it once--but where?

'I knew not yet the gauge of time,
Nor wore the manacles of space;
I felt it in some other clime,
I saw it in some other place.
'Twas when the heavenly house I trod,
And lay upon the breast of God.'


Comments about Morality by Matthew Arnold

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (5/16/2018 11:10:00 PM)


    Twas when the heavenly house I trod,
    And lay upon the breast of God.'...here i found the essence of the poem. Beautiful poem by Matthew Arnold.
    (Report) Reply

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  • (5/16/2018 1:43:00 PM)


    I dont care of this thing what the heck (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (5/16/2018 12:38:00 PM)


    The verses about the life of workers, how hard they labor from dawn to dark to feed themselves and their families and how hard they work until they die... that is a powerful piece of writing. The hardness of that life doesn't leave time to follow other paths, to live life fully, Arnold is deeply concerned about the fate of the the human spirit which needs some kind of release or it too withers and dies.... (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (5/16/2018 10:56:00 AM)


    In Nature's eye! !

    Thanks for sharing.
    (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (5/16/2018 7:22:00 AM)


    An insightful poem about the moral nature of a man in family lives by the embrace of home is nicely said in all its true aspects by the critical observation of poet critic, Mr. Mathew Arnold! (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (5/16/2018 1:34:00 AM)


    Such a great write by Matthew Arnold👍👍👍 (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (5/16/2018 12:53:00 AM)


    The lack of comments speak volumes about this poem. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: nature, despair, house, child, light, fire, sleep, joy, god, children



Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 6, 2001



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