The poetical works of Matthew Arnold/Rachel
In Paris all looked hot and like to fade;
Sere, in the garden of the Tuileries,
Sere with September, drooped the chestnut-trees;
'Twas dawn, a brougham rolled through the streets, and made
Halt at the white and silent colonnade
Of the French Theatre. Worn with disease,
Rachel, with eyes no gazing can appease,
Sate in the brougham, and those blank walls surveyed.
She follows the gay world, whose swarms have fled
To Switzerland, to Baden, to the Rhine;
Why stops she by this empty playhouse drear?
Ah! where the spirit its highest life hath led,
All spots, matched with that spot, are less divine;
And Rachel's Switzerland, her Rhine, is here!
Unto a lonely villa, in a dell
Above the fragrant warm Provençal shore,
The dying Rachel in a chair they bore
Up the steep pine-plumed paths of the Estrelle,
And laid her in a stately room, where fell
The shadow of a marble Muse of yore,—
The rose-crowned queen of legendary lore,
Polymnia,—full on her death-bed. 'Twas well!
The fret and misery of our northern towns,
In this her life's last day, our poor, our pain,
Our jangle of false wits, our climate's frowns,
Do for this radiant Greek-souled artist cease:
Sole object of her dying eyes remain
The beauty and the glorious art of Greece.
Sprung from the blood of Israel's scattered race,
At a mean inn in German Aarau born,
To forms from antique Greece and Rome uptorn,
Tricked out with a Parisian speech and face,
Imparting life renewed, old classic grace;
Then soothing with thy Christian strain forlorn,
A-Kempis! her departing soul outworn,
While by her bedside Hebrew rites have place,—
Ah! not the radiant spirit of Greece alone
She had—one power, which made her breast its home,
In her, like us, there clashed, contending powers,
Germany, France, Christ, Moses, Athens, Rome.
The strife, the mixture in her soul, are ours;
Her genius and her glory are her own.