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Featured Poem: Self Dependence by Matthew Arnold

Written by Lizzie Cain, 14th April 2014

Here at The Reader Organisation, we start every team meeting with a poem. Sometimes, one poem makes such an impact that it is passed from staff member to staff member and ends up being read at multiple team meetings, groups or events in the same week. At last count, this poem has popped up at least three times this week in Liverpool alone, and I've no doubt it's made an appearance elsewhere around the country.

If this poem strikes a chord with you, why not share it with your own colleagues, family or friends and enjoy some shared reading on a grand scale?


Weary of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards o'er the starlit sea.

And a look of passionate desire
O'er the sea and to the stars I send:
'Ye who from my childhood up have calmed me,
Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!'

'Ah, once more,' I cried, 'ye stars, ye waters,
On my heart your mighty charm renew;Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
Feel my soul becoming vast like you!'

From the intense, clear star-sown vault of heaven,
Over the lit sea's unquiet way,
In the rustling night-air came the answer:
'Wouldst though BE as they are? LIVE as they.'

'Unaffrighted by the silence round them,
Undistracted by the sights they see,
These demand not that the things without them
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.'

'And with joy the stars perform their shining,
And the sea its long moon-silvered roll;
For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting
All the fever of some differing soul.'

'Bounded by themselves and unregardful
In what state God's other works may be,
In their own tasks all their powers pouring,
These attain the mighty life you see.'

O air-born voice! long since, severly clear,
A cry like thine in mine own heart I hear:
'Resolve to be thyself; and know that he
Who finds himself loses his misery!'

Matthew Arnold

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