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Edwin Arnold: author of The Light of Asia and winner of prestigious Newdigate Prize

Three poems: December, A Song, Destiny

  • December
  • In spangle of frost, and stars of snow,
  • Unto his end the Year doth wend;
  • And sad for some the days did go,
  • And glad for some were beginning and end;
  • But sad or glad, grieve not for his death,
  • Mournfully counting your measures of breath;
  • You that, before the worlds began,
  • Were seed of woman and surety of man;
  • You that are older than Aldebaran!
  • It was but a whirl round about the sun,
  • A silver dance of the planets done,
  • A step in the Infinite Minuet
  • Which the great stars pace to a music set
  • By Life Immortal and Love Divine
  • Which sounds, in your span of threescore and ten,
  • One chord of the Harmony, fair and fine,
  • Of What did make you women and men.
  • In spangle of frost, and stars of snow
  • Sad or glad—let the Old Year go!
  • A Song
  • Once — and only once — you gave
  • One rich gift, which Memory
  • Shuts within itself, to save
  • Sweet and fresh, while life may be:
  • Shuts it like a rose-leaf treasured
  • In the pages of a book,
  • Which we open, when heart-leisured,
  • Now and then — softly to look.
  • If I told you of that gift
  • How and when, the tend’ring of it,
  • Would you, out of rose-leaf thrift,
  • Claim from me the rend’ring of it?
  • That might make it two for one
  • (‘Twas of such unwonted kind!)
  • Half a mind I have to tell you
  • Not to tell you half a mind.
  • Destiny
  • Somewhere there waiteth in this world of ours
  • For one lone soul another lonely soul
  • Each choosing each through all the weary hours
  • And meeting strangely at one sudden goal.
  • Then blend they, like green leaves with golden flowers,
  • Into one beautiful and perfect whole;
  • And life’s long night is ended, and the way
  • Lies open onward to eternal day.
Edwin Arnold

Edwin Arnold (1832-1904) was an English poet best known for his work of interpreting into English verse the lived experience and philosophy of the East. His most notable work is The Light of Asia, a poem of eight books composed in blank verse which depicts through a fictional Buddhist the character and philosophy of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. Early in his poetic career, while an undergraduate student at Oxford, Arnold won the prestigious Newdigate Prize for Poetry in 1852.

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  • December
  • In spangle of frost, and stars of snow,
  • Unto his end the Year doth wend;
  • And sad for some the days did go,
  • And glad for some were beginning and end;
  • But sad or glad, grieve not for his death,
  • Mournfully counting your measures of breath;
  • You that, before the worlds began,
  • Were seed of woman and surety of man;
  • You that are older than Aldebaran!
  • It was but a whirl round about the sun,
  • A silver dance of the planets done,
  • A step in the Infinite Minuet
  • Which the great stars pace to a music set
  • By Life Immortal and Love Divine
  • Which sounds, in your span of threescore and ten,
  • One chord of the Harmony, fair and fine,
  • Of What did make you women and men.
  • In spangle of frost, and stars of snow
  • Sad or glad—let the Old Year go!
  • A Song
  • Once — and only once — you gave
  • One rich gift, which Memory
  • Shuts within itself, to save
  • Sweet and fresh, while life may be:
  • Shuts it like a rose-leaf treasured
  • In the pages of a book,
  • Which we open, when heart-leisured,
  • Now and then — softly to look.
  • If I told you of that gift
  • How and when, the tend’ring of it,
  • Would you, out of rose-leaf thrift,
  • Claim from me the rend’ring of it?
  • That might make it two for one
  • (‘Twas of such unwonted kind!)
  • Half a mind I have to tell you
  • Not to tell you half a mind.
  • Destiny
  • Somewhere there waiteth in this world of ours
  • For one lone soul another lonely soul
  • Each choosing each through all the weary hours
  • And meeting strangely at one sudden goal.
  • Then blend they, like green leaves with golden flowers,
  • Into one beautiful and perfect whole;
  • And life’s long night is ended, and the way
  • Lies open onward to eternal day.
Edwin Arnold

Edwin Arnold (1832-1904) was an English poet best known for his work of interpreting into English verse the lived experience and philosophy of the East. His most notable work is The Light of Asia, a poem of eight books composed in blank verse which depicts through a fictional Buddhist the character and philosophy of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. Early in his poetic career, while an undergraduate student at Oxford, Arnold won the prestigious Newdigate Prize for Poetry in 1852.

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