Arthur Hugh Clough: The Critical Heritage

By Michael Thorpe | Go to book overview
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common person might have developed itself easily and naturally, is overlaid and crushed in a profound thinker so as to be of no use to him to help him to express himself. —The trying to go into and to the bottom of an object instead of grouping objects is as fatal to the sensuousness of poetry as the mere painting, (for, in Poetry, this is not grouping) is to its airy and rapidly moving life.

‘Not deep the poet sees, but wide’ [Arnold quotes from his own ‘Resignation’]: —think of this as you gaze from Cumner Hill toward Cirencester and Cheltenham. —You succeed best you see, in fact, in the hymn, where man, his deepest personal feelings being in play, finds poetical expression as man only, not as artist: —but consider whether you attain the beautiful, and whether your product gives PLEASURE, not excites curiosity and reflexion. Forgive me all this: but I am always prepared to give up the attempt, on conviction: and so, I know, are you: and I only urge you to reflect whether you are advancing. Reflect too, as I cannot but do here more and more, in spite of all the nonsense some people talk, how deeply unpoetical the age and all one’s surroundings are. Not unprofound, not ungrand, not unmoving:—but unpoetical.

(Letters, 98-9)


From an unsigned review of Ambarvalia in Spectator

20 January 1849, 65

The passage given below is only that part of the review which relates to Clough’s contribution to the volume.

Although full of the faults that spring from the greenness and sufficiency of youth, there is more promise in Ambarvalia than in the great mass of verses that continually come before us. Whether this promise is to run wild and waste itself in wordy nothings, or be taught by study and self-cultivation to flow in a clear deep stream of poetry, is a question for the future to resolve.


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Arthur Hugh Clough: The Critical Heritage
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