Poems and Prose Remains, Vol II

The Dream Land

Arthur Hugh Clough

TO THINK that men of former days
In naked truth deserved the praise
Which, fain to have in flesh and blood
An image of imagined good,
Poets have sung and men received,
And all too glad to be deceived,
Most plastic and most inexact,
Posterity has told for fact;—
To say what was, was not as we,
This also is a vanity.

Ere Agamemnon, warriors were,
Ere Helen, beauties equalling her,
Brave ones and fair, whom no one knows,
And brave or fair as these or those.
The commonplace whom daily we
In our dull streets and houses see,
To think of other mould than these
Were Cato, Solon, Socrates,
Or Mahomet or Confutze,
This also is a vanity.

Hannibal, Cæsar, Charlemain,
And he before, who back on Spain
Repelled the fierce inundant Moor;
Godfrey, St. Louis, wise and pure,
Washington, Cromwell, John, and Paul,
Columbus, Luther, one and all,
Go mix them up, the false and true,
With Sindbad, Crusoe, or St. Preux,
And say as he was, so was he,
This also is a vanity.

Say not: Behold it here or there,
Or on the earth, or in the air.
That better thing than can be seen
Is neither now nor e’er has been;
It is not in this land or that,
But in a place we soon are at,
Where all can seek and some can find,
Where hope is liberal, fancy kind,
And what we wish for we can see,
Which also is a vanity.

Poems and Prose Remains vol II - Contents

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