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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Arthur Hugh Clough 1819–61

A Protest


LIGHT words they were, and lightly, falsely said;

She heard them, and she started,—and she rose,

As in the act to speak; the sudden thought

And unconsider’d impulse led her on.

In act to speak she rose, but with the sense

Of all the eyes of that mix’d company

Now suddenly turn’d upon her, some with age

Harden’d and dull’d, some cold and critical;

Some in whom vapors of their own conceit,

As moist malarious mists the heavenly stars,

Still blotted out their good, the best at best

By frivolous laugh and prate conventional

All too untun’d for all she thought to say,—

With such a thought the mantling blood to her cheek

Flush’d up, and o’er-flush’d itself, blank night her soul

Made dark, and in her all her purpose swoon’d.

She stood as if for sinking. Yet anon,

With recollections clear, august, sublime,

Of God’s great truth, and right immutable,

Which, as obedient vassals, to her mind

Came summon’d of her will, in self-negation

Quelling her troublous earthly consciousness,

She queen’d it o’er her weakness. At the spell

Back roll’d the ruddy tide, and leaves her cheek

Paler than erst, and yet not ebbs so far

But that one pulse of one indignant thought

Might hurry it hither in flood. So as she stood

She spoke. God in her spoke, and made her heard.