Arthur Hugh Clough: The Critical Heritage

By Michael Thorpe | Go to book overview

59.

Martha Hale Shackford, ‘The Clough Centenary: His Dipsychus’, in Sewanee Review

October 1919, xxvii, 401-10

If Clough’s centenary year was marked by little noteworthy remembrance in England, the Americans remained, as always, faithful with this first serious attempt to evaluate Dipsychus. Martha Hale Shackford was a lecturer at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Her commentary on the life, though it adds nothing new, has been retained for comparison in tone with the Victorian treatments of the subject.

An English poet with special interest for Americans is Arthur Hugh Clough, born in 1819, who spent several years of his childhood in America and in later years had many American friends. One of the most finely sensitive thinkers of the Victorian Age, Clough had traits that we admire especially: flexibility and shrewdness of intelligence joined with an invincible idealism. The friend of Lowell, Emerson, Norton, Agassiz, and others, he was respected, here, for his scholarship and loved for his personal charm. During one year, 1852, when he was living in Cambridge he became an affectionate interpreter of American character, and when he went back to England he was distinctly a medium of better understanding of our ideals and purposes. Even in death he has an American associate, for he lies near Theodore Parker in that beautiful Protestant cemetery in Florence, where purple fleursde-lis, roses, and tapering green cypress trees surround him with silence.

The general reader knows Clough as the author of several short poems which voice the spiritual unrest and aspiration of his day, but his position as a poet is not as clearly established as is that of his friend Matthew Arnold. A few people read Clough’s long vacation pastoral, The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich; fewer read the charming descriptions of Italy in Amours de Voyage (first published in America); fewer still read his most thoroughly characteristic long poem—the unfinished Dipsychus.

-388-

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