Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

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.        5
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,        10
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        15
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,        20
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.        25
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;        30
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,—        35
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        40
The harvest that the dead had sown—
The dead forgotten and unknown.

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