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Best Famous Arthur Hugh Clough Poems

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by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

The Last Decalogue

 Thou shalt have one God only;—who
Would be at the expense of two?
No graven images may be
Worshipped, except the currency:
Swear not at all; for, for thy curse
Thine enemy is none the worse:
At church on Sunday to attend
Will serve to keep the world thy friend:
Honour thy parents; that is, all
From whom advancement may befall:
Thou shalt not kill; but need'st not strive
Officiously to keep alive:
Do not adultery commit;
Advantage rarely comes of it:
Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,
When 'tis so lucrative to cheat:
Bear not false witness; let the lie
Have time on its own wings to fly:
Thou shalt not covet, but tradition
Approves all forms of competition.


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

To Spend Uncounted Years Of Pain

 To spend uncounted years of pain
Again, again, and yet again
In working out in heart and brain
The problem of our being here,
To gather facts from far and near
Upon the mind to hold them clear,
And knowing more may yet appear
Until one's latest breath to fear
The premature result to draw - 
Is this the object, end, and law,
And purpose of our being here?


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

The Thread of Truth

 Truth is a golden thread, seen here and there
In small bright specks upon the visible side
Of our strange being's parti-coloured web.
How rich the universe! 'Tis a vein of ore Emerging now and then on Earth's rude breast, But flowing full below.
Like islands set At distant intervals on Ocean's face, We see it on our course; but in the depths The mystic colonnade unbroken keeps Its faithful way, invisible but sure.
Oh, if it be so, wherefore do we men Pass by so many marks, so little heeding?


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

Across the Sea Along the Shore

 Across the sea, along the shore,
In numbers more and ever more,
From lonely hut and busy town,
The valley through, the mountain down,
What was it ye went out to see,
Ye silly folk Galilee?
The reed that in the wind doth shake?
The weed that washes in the lake?
The reeds that waver, the weeds that float?
A young man preaching in a boat.
What was it ye went out to hear By sea and land from far and near? A teacher? Rather seek the feet Of those who sit in Moses' seat.
Go humbly seek, and bow to them, Far off in great Jerusalem.
From them that in her courts ye saw, Her perfect doctors of the law, What is it came ye here to note? A young man preaching in a boat.
A prophet! Boys and women weak! Declare, or cease to rave; Whence is it he hath learned to speak? Say, who his doctrine gave? A prophet? Prophet wherefore he Of all in Israel tribes? He teacheth with authority, And not as do the Scribes.


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

With Whom is no Variableness Neither Shadow of Turning

 It fortifies my soul to know
That, though I perish, Truth is so:
That, howsoe'er I stray and range,
Whate'er I do, Thou dost not change.
I steadier step when I recall That, if I slip, Thou dost not fall.


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

Ye Flags of Picadilly

 Ye flags of Piccadilly,
Where I posted up and down,
And wished myself so often
Well away from you and town--

Are the people walking quietly
And steady on their feet,
Cabs and omnibuses plying
Just as usual in the street?

Do the houses look as upright
As of old they used to be,
And does nothing seem affected
By the pitching of the sea?

Through the Green Park iron railings
Do the quick pedestrians pass?
Are the little children playing
Round the plane-tree in the grass?

This squally wild northwester
With which our vessel fights,
Does it merely serve with you to
Carry up some paper kites?

Ye flags of Piccadilly,
Which I hated so, I vow
I could wish with all my heart
You were underneath me now!


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

Ah! Yet Consider it Again!

 "Old things need not be therefore true,"
O brother men, nor yet the new;
Ah! still awhile the old thought retain,
And yet consider it again!

The souls of now two thousand years
Have laid up here their toils and tears,
And all the earnings of their pain,--
Ah, yet consider it again!

We! what do we see? each a space
Of some few yards before his face;
Does that the whole wide plan explain?
Ah, yet consider it again!

Alas! the great world goes its way,
And takes its truth from each new day;
They do not quit, nor can retain,
Far less consider it again.


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

In a Lecture Room

 Away, haunt thou me not,
Thou vain Philosophy!
Little hast thou bestead,
Save to perplex the head,
And leave the spirit dead.
Unto thy broken cisterns wherefore go, While from the secret treasure-depths below, Fed by the skyey shower, And clouds that sink and rest on hilltops high, Wisdom at once, and Power, Are welling, bubbling forth, unseen, incessantly? Why labor at the dull mechanic oar, When the fresh breeze is blowing, And the strong current flowing, Right onward to the Eternal Shore?


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

All Is Well

 Whate'er you dream, with doubt possessed,
Keep, keep it snug within your breast,
And lay you down and take your rest;
And when you wake, to work again,
The wind it blows, the vessel goes,
And where and whither, no one knows.
'Twill all be well: no need of care; Though how it will, and when, and where, We cannot see, and can't declare.
In spite of dreams, in spite of thought, 'Tis not in vain, and not for nought, The wind it blows, the ship it goes, Though where and whither, no one knows.


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

Where Lies The Land To Which The Ship Would Go

 Where lies the land to which the ship would go?
Far, far ahead, is all her seamen know.
And where the land she travels from? Away, Far, far behind, is all that they can say.
On sunny noons upon the deck's smooth face, Linked arm in arm, how pleasant here to pace! Or, o'er the stern reclining, watch below The foaming wake far widening as we go.
On stormy nights while wild north-westers rave, How proud a thing to fight with wind and wave! The dripping sailor on the reeling mast Exults to bear, and scorns to wish it past.
Where lies the land to which the ship would go? Far, far ahead, is all her seamen know.
And where the land she travels from? Away, Far, far behind, is all that they can say.


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

Say not the Struggle Naught availeth

 SAY not the struggle naught availeth,
 The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
 And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars; It may be, in yon smoke conceal'd, Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers, And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking, Seem here no painful inch to gain, Far back, through creeks and inlets making, Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only, When daylight comes, comes in the light; In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly! But westward, look, the land is bright!


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

In the Depths

 It is not sweet content, be sure,
That moves the nobler Muse to song,
Yet when could truth come whole and pure
From hearts that inly writhe with wrong?

'T is not the calm and peaceful breast
That sees or reads the problem true;
They only know, on whom 't has prest
Too hard to hope to solve it too.
Our ills are worse than at their ease These blameless happy souls suspect, They only study the disease, Alas, who live not to detect.


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

In A London Square

 Put forth thy leaf, thou lofty plane,
East wind and frost are safely gone;
With zephyr mild and balmy rain
The summer comes serenly on;
Earth, air, and sun and skies combine
To promise all that's kind and fair:— 
But thou, O human heart of mine,
Be still, contain thyself, and bear.
December days were brief and chill, The winds of March were wild and drear, And, nearing and receding still, Spring never would, we thought, be here.
The leaves that burst, the suns that shine, Had, not the less, their certain date:— And thou, O human heart of mine, Be still, refrain thyself, and wait.