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Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth -- Arthur Hugh Clough

Guest poem submitted by Patrick Brinton :
(Poem #1659) 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!
-- Arthur Hugh Clough
I am amazed, actually, that today's poem is not listed in the Minstrels
archive; it is my second favorite poem that I know of so far (Kubla Khan is
#1!). It is by Arthur Hugh Clough, and is quite different in tone from the
two examples you have of his work. It also contains at least one aphorism
that has entered the language ("If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars"). I
thing that the reason I like it so much is that I am fundamentally an
optimist, and it is a very optimistic poem.

Patrick Brinton.

[Minstrels Links]

Poem #30, Kubla Khan
Poem #69, There is no god, the wicked sayeth  -- Arthur Hugh Clough
Poem #159, The Latest Decalogue  -- Arthur Hugh Clough

61 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Peter & Rina Vardy said...

Your website is a wonderful discovery, However I searched for a poem by the South African poet Roy Campbell in vain. I first met him when he was in the next bed to me in a Military hospital in Oxford during World War II. We remained friends until his death.

I am particularly interested in a poem relating to "modern" poetry. One line -badly remembered- is: "They can ride the horse alright, but where`s the bloody whip!

My apologies to Clough but I used him to send my query.
Peter Adiel Vardy.

Bruce Dodd said...

Some years ago I was waiting with a score of others for permission to
pass through Check-Point Charlie into East Berlin. I was standing right
behind three or four young British surgeons on their way, they told me,
to a medical conference. The wait had been long while officials bullied
some poor woman with inadequate papers. At length the woman was
approved and the line began to move - slowly.

Without thinking, I uttered a common phrase in my family, "Say not the
struggle naught availeth".

Instantly, one of the young doctors pointed out the west-facing window
and, skipping to the last line, replied, "But westward, look, the land
is bright!" A fine thing, a quick-thinking surgeon.

Bruce Dodd, Ottawa

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