Arthur Hugh Clough: The Critical Heritage

By Michael Thorpe | Go to book overview

And this fact is the more significant, from the company in which Mr. Clough’s poems appear; for as to Mr. Burbidge’s, —it will be enough to say, that the latter gentleman uses the phrase, ‘the sacred fire of youth’, openly and undisguisedly, to express the feeling of sensual passion in a married man.

And now our readers have some general idea of the ethical tone of Mr. Clough’s poems. To examine into this ethical tone, to endeavour, e.g. to decide how far on the whole it is hopeful or the reverse in regard to his chance of ultimately reaching to the truth; or how much is praiseworthy and how much reprehensible; —this would lead us to far too great a length, even if the task were in the compass of our ability. On their poetical merit, again, it is needless to speak; for the quotations we have given will enable our readers to judge for themselves. So much only we may say, that, to judge from our own experience, these poems possess one characteristic of high excellence, viz. that they grow greatly on the mind by repeated perusal, and that a first reading does them no sort of justice.


21.

From an unsigned review, ‘Recent Poetry’, Prospective Review

1850, vi, 134-6

The extract given below consists of that part of the review devoted to Clough, the general remarks on the differing qualities of Burbidge together with one sample of the reviewer’s taste for the latter poet.

The same serious spirit, the same sense of mystery, the same vivid consciousness of the Unseen in which we live and move—which characterises the poetry of Mr. Kingsley and Mr. Trench—appear in the little volume called Ambarvalia. Mr. Clough’s poems are generally more remarkable for spiritual than for poetical thought: his language is often stiff, and his ideas obscure and involved, which makes it difficult to

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