My pent-up tears
is a setting of the last twelve lines of a poem of forty-four lines, the first twenty-four of which were not published until 1958. Arnold, boating on the Thames with Fanny Wightman, was struggling for the courage to propose to her; the first part of the poem made the situation clearer—too clear for publication at the time. The setting may suggest ultimate failure through its intensely tragic mood, but in fact Arnold did propose and married Fanny in June 1851.
from notes by Michael Pilkington © 1997