Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Extracts from Songs in Absence: Come Back!
By Arthur Hugh Clough (1819–1861)
 
COME back, come back, behold with straining mast,
And swelling sail, behold her steaming fast;
With one new sun to see her voyage o’er,
With morning light to touch her native shore.
      Come back, come back.        5
 
Come back, come back, while westward labouring by,
With sailless yards, a bare black hulk we fly.
See how the gale we fight with sweeps her back,
To our lost home, on our forsaken track.
      Come back, come back.        10
 
Come back, come back, across the flying foam,
We hear faint far-off voices call us home,
Come back, ye seem to say; ye seek in vain;
We went, we sought, and homeward turned again.
      Come back, come back.        15
 
Come back, come back; and whither back or why?
To fan quenched hopes, forsaken schemes to try;
Walk the old fields; pace the familiar street;
Dream with the idlers, with the bards compete.
      Come back, come back.        20
 
Come back, come back; and whither and for what?
To finger idly some old Gordian knot,
Unskilled to sunder, and too weak to cleave,
And with much toil attain to half-believe.
      Come back, come back.        25
 
Come back, come back; yea back, indeed, do go
Sighs panting thick, and tears that want to flow;
Fond fluttering hopes upraise their useless wings,
And wishes idly struggle in the strings;
      Come back, come back.        30
 
Come back, come back, more eager than the breeze,
The flying fancies sweep across the seas,
And lighter far than ocean’s flying foam,
The heart’s fond message hurries to its home.
      Come back, come back!        35
 
Come back, come back!
Back flies the foam; the hoisted flag streams back;
The long smoke wavers on the homeward track,
Back fly with winds things which the winds obey,
The strong ship follows its appointed way.        40
 
 
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