To George Cruikshank by Matthew Arnold

ON SEEING, IN THE COUNTRY, HIS PICTURE OF
“THE BOTTLE”

Artist, whose hand, with horror wing’d, hath torn
From the rank life of towns this leaf! and flung
The prodigy of full-blown crime among
Valleys and men to middle fortune born,

Not innocent, indeed, yet not forlorn–
Say, what shall calm us when such guests intrude
Like comets on the heavenly solitude?
Shall breathless glades, cheer’d by shy Dian’s horn,

Cold-bubbling springs, or caves?–Not so! The soul
Breasts her own griefs; and, urged too fiercely, says:
“Why tremble? True, the nobleness of man

May be by man effaced; man can control
To pain, to death, the bent of his own days.
Know thou the worst! So much, not more, he can.”

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