Friends, who set forth at our side,
Falter, are lost in the storm.
We, we only are left!
With frowning foreheads, with lips
Sternly compress'd, we strain on,
On--and at nightfall at last
Come to the end of our way,
To the lonely inn 'mid the rocks;
Where the gaunt and taciturn host
Stands on the threshold, the wind
Shaking his thin white hairs--
Holds his lantern to scan
Our storm-beat figures, and asks:
Whom in our party we bring?
Whom we have left in the snow?
Arnold is a master of the linebreak. That repetition of "on" over the next line is superb, and its grim persistence is transformed into triumph in the last lines of the poem, where Arnold reaffirms his faith, through his noble father's example, in the aid of "the noble and great who are gone":
Ye fill up the gaps in our files,
Strengthen the wavering line,
Stablish, continue our march,
On, to the bound of the waste,
On, to the City of God.
"Rugby Chapel" is both a touching elegy for a father, and a rallying cry for the exhausted children of god.