Friday, December 10, 2004


Props in Times of Trouble

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), To a Friend:
Who prop, thou ask'st in these bad days, my mind? --
He much, the old man, who, clearest-souled of men,
Saw The Wide Prospect, and the Asian Fen,
And Tmolus hill, and Smyrna bay, though blind.

Much he, whose friendship I not long since won,
That halting slave, who in Nicopolis
Taught Arrian, when Vespasian's brutal son
Cleared Rome of what most shamed him. But be his

My special thanks, whose even-balanced soul,
From first youth tested up to extreme old age,
Business could not make dull, nor passion wild;

Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole;
The mellow glory of the Attic stage,
Singer of sweet Colonus, and its child.
The three ancient Greek writers in whom Arnold found support in bad days are not named directly, but he gives ample clues to their identity:

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