Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Atheism
By Arthur Hugh Clough (1819–1861)
 
“THERE is no God,” the wicked saith,
“And truly it’s a blessing,
For what he might have done with us
It’s better only guessing.”
 
“There is no God,” a youngster thinks,        5
“Or really if there may be,
He surely didn’t mean a man
Always to be a baby.”
 
“Whether there be,” the rich man thinks,
“It matters very little,        10
For I and mine, thank somebody,
Are not in want of victual.”
 
Some others also to themselves
Who scarce so much as doubt it,
Think there is none, when they are well,        15
And do not think about it.
 
But country-folks who live beneath
The shadow of the steeple;
The parson, and the parson’s wife,
And mostly married people;        20
 
Youths green and happy in first love,
So thankful for illusion;
And men caught out in what the world
Calls guilt and first confusion;
 
And almost every one when age,        25
Disease, and sorrow strike him,—
Inclines to think there is a God,
Or something very like him.
 
 
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