Poems and Prose Remains, Vol II

The Silver Wedding 1


Arthur Hugh Clough

THE SILVER Wedding! on some pensive ear
    From towers remote as sound the silvery bells,
To-day from one far unforgotten year
    A silvery faint memorial music swells.

And silver-pale the dim memorial light
    Of musing age on youthful joys is shed,
The golden joys of fancy’s dawning bright,
    The golden bliss of, Woo’d, and won, and wed.

Ah, golden then, but silver now! In sooth,
    The years that pale the cheek, that dim the eyes,
And silver o’er the golden hairs of youth,
    Less prized can make its only priceless prize.

Not so; the voice this silver name that gave
    To this, the ripe and unenfeebled date,
For steps together tottering to the grave,
    Hath bid the perfect golden title wait.

Rather, if silver this, if that be gold,
    From good to better changed on age’s track,
Must it as baser metal be enrolled,
    That day of days, a quarter-century back.

Yet ah, its hopes, its joys were golden too,
    But golden of the fairy gold of dreams
To feel is but to dream; until we do,
    There’s nought that is, and all we see but seems;

What was or seemed it needed cares and tears,
    And deeds together done, and trials past,
And all the subtlest alchemy of years,
    To change to genuine substance here at last.

Your fairy gold is silver sure to-day;
    Your ore by crosses many, many a loss,
As in refiners’ fires, hath purged away
    What erst it had of earthy human dross.

Come years as many yet, and as they go,
    In human life’s great crucible shall they
Transmute, so potent are the spells they know,.
    Into pure gold the silver of to-day.

Strange metallurge is human life! ’Tis true;
    And Use and Wont in many a gorgeous case
Full specious fair for casual outward view
    Electrotype the sordid and the base.

Nor lack who praise, avowed, the spurious ware,
    Who bid young hearts the one true love forego,
Conceit to feed, or fancy light as air,
    Or greed of pelf and precedence and show.

True, false, as one to casual eyes appear,
    To read men truly men may hardly learn;
Yet doubt it not that wariest glance would here
    Faith, Hope and Love, the true Tower-stamp discern.

Come years again! as many yet! and purge
    Less precious earthier elements away,
And gently changed at life’s extremest verge,
    Bring bright in gold your perfect fiftieth day!

That sight may children see and parents show!
    If not—yet earthly chains of metal true,
By love and duty wrought and fixed below,
    Elsewhere will shine, transformed, celestial-new;

Will shine of gold, whose essence, heavenly bright,
    No doubt-damps tarnish, worldly passions fray;
Gold into gold there mirrored, light in light,
    Shall gleam in glories of a deathless day.

1. This was written for the 25th wedding-day of Mr. and Mrs. Walrond, of Calder Park.    [back]

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