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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Poet’s Place in Life

By Arthur Hugh Clough (1819–1861)

COME, Poet, come!

A thousand laborers ply their task,

And what it tends to, scarcely ask,

And trembling thinkers on the brink

Shiver, and know not what to think.

To tell the purport of their pain,

And what our silly joys contain;

In lasting lineaments portray

The substance of the shadowy day;

Our real and inner deeds rehearse,

And make our meaning clear in verse—

Come, Poet, come! for but in vain

We do the work or feel the pain,

And gather up the evening gain,

Unless before the end thou come

To take, ere they are lost, their sum.

Come, Poet, come!

To give an utterance to the dumb,

And make vain babblers silent, come;

A thousand dupes point here and there,

Bewildered by the show and glare;

And wise men half have learnt to doubt

Whether we are not best without.

Come, Poet; both but wait to see

Their error proved to them in thee.

Come, Poet, come!

In vain I seem to call. And yet

Think not the living times forget.

Ages of heroes fought and fell

That Homer in the end might tell;

O’er groveling generations past

Upstood the Doric fane at last;

And countless hearts on countless years

Had wasted thoughts, and hopes, and fears,

Rude laughter and unmeaning tears,—

Ere England Shakespeare saw, or Rome

The pure perfection of her dome.

Others, I doubt not, if not we,

The issue of our toils shall see;

Young children gather as their own

The harvest that the dead had sown—

The dead forgotten and unknown.