"The Same Heart Beats In Every Human Breast"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Two series of Arnold's love poems, "Switzerland" and "Faded Leaves," were apparently inspired by a girl whom he met in Switzerland in the 1840's. Sometimes called Marguerite, she is unnamed in "The Buried Life" (a poem related to the two series), in which the poet contrasts the self revealed to the world with that buried deep within. In the opening lines Arnold pleads for an end to "light words" and "gay smiles." "Give me thy hand," he says, "and hush awhile." Let me read in "those limpid eyes . . . thy inmost soul." Though most men hide their true selves from the world, surely lovers need not do so from each other.

Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men concealed
Their thoughts, for fear that if revealed
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Tricked in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves–and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!
But we, my love!–doth a like spell benumb
Our hearts, our voices?–must we too be dumb?