Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WORLD AND THE QUIETEST, by MATTHEW ARNOLD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE WORLD AND THE QUIETEST, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Why, when the world's great mind
Last Line: And drained his mighty bowl.
Variant Title(s): To Critias
Subject(s): Labor & Laborers; Rest; Work; Workers

"Why, when the world's great mind
Hath finally inclined,
Why," you say, Critias, "be debating still?
Why, with these mournful rhymes
Learned in more languid climes,
Blame our activity
Who, with such passionate will,
Are what we mean to be?"
Critias, long since, I know
(For Fate decreed it so),
Long since the world hath set its heart to live;
Long since, with credulous zeal
It turns life's mighty wheel,
Still doth for laborers send
Who still their labor give,
And still expects an end.
Yet, as the wheel flies round,
With no ungrateful sound
Do adverse voices fall on the world's ear.
Deafened by his own stir
The rugged laborer
Caught not till then a sense
So glowing and so near
Of his omnipotence.
So, when the feast grew loud
In Susa's palace proud,
A White-robed slave stole to the Great King's side.
He spake -- the Great King heard;
Felt the slow-rolling word
Swell his attentive soul;
Breathed deeply as it died,
And drained his mighty bowl.

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