The Tomb

A poem by Matthew Arnold

So rest, for ever rest, O princely Pair!
In your high church, ’mid the still mountain air,
Where horn, and hound, and vassals never come.
Only the blessed Saints are smiling dumb,
From the rich painted windows of the nave,
On aisle, and transept, and your marble grave:
Where thou, young Prince! shalt never more arise
From the fringed mattress where thy Duchess lies,
On autumn-mornings, when the bugle sounds,
And ride across the drawbridge with thy hounds
To hunt the boar in the crisp woods till eve;
And thou, O Princess! shalt no more receive,
Thou and thy ladies, in the hall of state,
The jaded hunters with their bloody freight,
Coming benighted to the castle-gate.
So sleep, for ever sleep, O marble Pair!
Or, if ye wake, let it be then, when fair
On the carved western front a flood of light
Streams from the setting sun, and colours bright
Prophets, transfigured Saints, and Martyrs brave,
In the vast western window of the nave,
And on the pavement round the Tomb there glints
A chequer-work of glowing sapphire-tints,
And amethyst, and ruby; then unclose
Your eyelids on the stone where ye repose,
And from your broider’d pillows lift your heads,
And rise upon your cold white marble beds;
And, looking down on the warm rosy tints,
Which chequer, at your feet, the illumined flints,
Say: ‘What is this? we are in bliss forgiven
Behold the pavement of the courts of Heaven!’
Or let it be on autumn nights, when rain
Doth rustlingly above your heads complain
On the smooth leaden roof, and on the walls
Shedding her pensive light at intervals
The moon through the clere-story windows shines,
And the wind washes through the mountain-pines.
Then, gazing up ’mid the dim pillars high,
The foliaged marble forest where ye lie,
‘Hush’, ye will say, ‘it is eternity!
This is the glimmering verge of Heaven, and these
The columns of the heavenly palaces.’
And, in the sweeping of the wind, your ear
The passage of the Angels’ wings will hear,
And on the lichen-crusted leads above
The rustle of the eternal rain of Love

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