A thousand knights have reign'd their steeds
To watch this line of sand-hills run,
Along the never silent Strait,
To Calais glittering in the sun;

To look tow'rd Ardres' Golden Field
Across this wide aerial plain,
Which glows as if the middle Age
Were gorgeous upon earth again.

Oh, that to share this famous scene,
I saw, upon the open sand,
Thy lovely presence at my side,
Thy shawl, thy look, thy smile, thy hand!

How exquisite thy voice would come,
My darling, on this lonely air!
How sweetly would the fresh sea-breeze
Shake lose some band of soft brown hair!

Yet now my glance but once hath roved
O'er Calais and its famous plain;
To England's cliffs my gaze is turn'd,
On the blue strait mine eyes I strain.

Thou comest! Yes! The vessel's cloud
Hangs dark upon the rolling sea.
Oh, that yon sea-bird's wing were mine,
To win one instant's glimpse of thee!

I must not spring to grasp thy hand
To woo thy smile, to seek thine eye;
But I may stand far off, and gaze,
And watch thee pass unconscious by,

And apell thy looks, and guess thy thoughts,
Mixt with the idles on the pier. —
Ah, might I always rest unseen,
So I might have thee always near!

To-morrow hurry through the fields
Of Flanders to the storied Rhine!
To-night those soft-fringed eyes shall close
Beneath one roof, my Queen! with mine.

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Victorian Overview Matthew Arnold Works

Last modified 25 November 2006