Haworth Churchyard by Matthew Arnold

APRIL, 1855

Where, under Loughrigg, the stream
Of Rotha sparkles through fields
Vested for ever with green,
Four years since, in the house
Of a gentle spirit, now dead–
Wordsworth’s son-in-law, friend–
I saw the meeting of two
Gifted women.[1] The one,
Brilliant with recent renown,
Young, unpractised, had told
With a master’s accent her feign’d
Story of passionate life;
The other, maturer in fame,
Earning, she too, her praise
First in fiction, had since
Widen’d her sweep, and survey’d
History, politics, mind.

The two held converse; they wrote
In a book which of world-famous souls
Kept the memorial;–bard,
Warrior, statesman, had sign’d
Their names; chief glory of all,
Scott had bestow’d there his last
Breathings of song, with a pen
Tottering, a death-stricken hand.

Hope at that meeting smiled fair.
Years in number, it seem’d,
Lay before both, and a fame
Heighten’d, and multiplied power.–
Behold! The elder, to-day,
Lies expecting from death,
In mortal weakness, a last
Summons! the younger is dead!

First to the living we pay
Mournful homage;–the Muse
Gains not an earth-deafen’d ear.

Hail to the steadfast soul,
Which, unflinching and keen,
Wrought to erase from its depth
Mist and illusion and fear!
Hail to the spirit which dared
Trust its own thoughts, before yet
Echoed her back by the crowd!
Hail to the courage which gave
Voice to its creed, ere the creed
Won consecration from time!

Turn we next to the dead.
–How shall we honour the young,
The ardent, the gifted? how mourn?
Console we cannot, her ear
Is deaf. Far northward from here,
In a churchyard high ‘mid the moors
Of Yorkshire, a little earth
Stops it for ever to praise.

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Where, behind Keighley, the road
Up to the heart of the moors
Between heath-clad showery hills
Runs, and colliers’ carts
Poach the deep ways coming down,
And a rough, grimed race have their homes–
There on its slope is built
The moorland town. But the church
Stands on the crest of the hill,
Lonely and bleak;–at its side
The parsonage-house and the graves.

Strew with laurel the grave
Of the early-dying! Alas,
Early she goes on the path
To the silent country, and leaves
Half her laurels unwon,
Dying too soon!–yet green
Laurels she had, and a course
Short, but redoubled by fame.

And not friendless, and not
Only with strangers to meet,
Faces ungreeting and cold,
Thou, O mourn’d one, to-day
Enterest the house of the grave!
Those of thy blood, whom thou lov’dst,
Have preceded thee–young,
Loving, a sisterly band;
Some in art, some in gift
Inferior–all in fame.
They, like friends, shall receive
This comer, greet her with joy;
Welcome the sister, the friend;
Hear with delight of thy fame!

Round thee they lie–the grass
Blows from their graves to thy own!
She, whose genius, though not
Puissant like thine, was yet
Sweet and graceful;–and she
(How shall I sing her?) whose soul
Knew no fellow for might,
Passion, vehemence, grief,
Daring, since Byron died,
That world-famed son of fire–she, who sank
Baffled, unknown, self-consumed;
Whose too bold dying song[2]
Stirr’d, like a clarion-blast, my soul.

Of one, too, I have heard,
A brother–sleeps he here?
Of all that gifted race
Not the least gifted; young,
Unhappy, eloquent–the child
Of many hopes, of many tears.
O boy, if here thou sleep’st, sleep well!
On thee too did the Muse
Bright in thy cradle smile;
But some dark shadow came
(I know not what) and interposed.

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Sleep, O cluster of friends,
Sleep!–or only when May,
Brought by the west-wind, returns
Back to your native heaths,
And the plover is heard on the moors,
Yearly awake to behold
The opening summer, the sky,
The shining moorland–to hear
The drowsy bee, as of old,
Hum o’er the thyme, the grouse
Call from the heather in bloom!
Sleep, or only for this
Break your united repose!

[Footnote 1:

I saw the meeting of two
Gifted women.

Charlotte Bronte and Harriet Martineau.]

[Footnote 2:

Whose too bold dying song.

See the last verses by Emily Bronte in Poems by Currer, Ellis, and
Acton Bell
.]

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