Poems and Prose Remains, Vol II

Thoughts of Home.1

Arthur Hugh Clough

I WATCHED them from the window, thy children at their play,
And I thought of all my own dear friends, who were far, oh, far away,
And childish loves, and childish cares, and a child’s own buoyant gladness
Came gushing back again to me with a soft and solemn sadness;
And feelings frozen up full long, and thoughts of long ago,
Seemed to be thawing at my heart with a warm and sudden flow.

I looked upon thy children, and I thought of all and each,
Of my brother and my sister, and our rambles on the beach,
Of my mother’s gentle voice, and my mother’s beckoning hand,
And all the tales she used to tell of the far, far English land;
And the happy, happy evening hours, when I sat on my father’s knee,—
Oh! many a wave is rolling now betwixt that seat and me!

And many a day has passed away since—I left them o’er the sea,
And I have lived a life since then of boyhood’s thoughtless glee;
Yet of the blessed times gone by not seldom would I dream,
And childhood’s joy, like faint far stars, in memory’s heaven would gleam,
And o’er the sea to those I loved my thoughts would often roam,
But never knew I until now the blessings of a home!

I used to think when I was there that my own true home was here,
But home is not in land or sky, but in those whom each holds dear.
The evening’s cooling breeze is fanning my temples now,
But then my frame was languid, and heated was my brow,
And I longed for England’s cool, and for England’s breezes then,
But now I would give full many a breeze to be back in the heat again.

But when cold strange looks without, and proud high thoughts within,
Are weaving round my heart the woof of selfishness and sin;
When self begins to roll a far, a worse and wider sea
Of careless and unloving thoughts between those friends and me,
I will think upon these moments, and call to mind the day
When I watched them from the window, thy children at their play.

1. This little poem was written when Arthur Clough was ill at school, and from the window of his room had been watching Dr. Arnold’s younger children at play. It has been extracted, together with the two following, from the ‘Rugby Magazine,’ as a specimen of his earliest style, and as throwing some light upon the thoughts that occupied his mind at school.    [back]

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