Amours de Voyage, Canto V

There is a city, upbuilt on the quays of the turbulent Arno,
Under Fiesole's heights,--thither are we to return?
There is a city that fringes the curve of the inflowing waters,
Under the perilous hill fringes the beautiful bay,--
Parthenope, do they call thee?--the Siren, Neapolis, seated
Under Vesevus's hill,--are we receding to thee?--
Sicily, Greece, will invite, and the Orient;--or are we turn to
England, which may after all be for its children the best?

I. Mary Trevellyn, at Lucerne, to Miss Roper, at Florence.

So you are really free, and living in quiet at Florence;
That is delightful news; you travelled slowly and safely;
Mr. Claude got you out; took rooms at Florence before you;
Wrote from Milan to say so; had left directly for Milan,
Hoping to find us soon;--if he could, he would, you are certain.--
Dear Miss Roper, your letter has made me exceedingly happy.
You are quite sure, you say, he asked you about our intentions;
You had not heard as yet of Lucerne, but told him of Como.--
Well, perhaps he will come; however, I will not expect it.
Though you say you are sure,--if he can, he will, you are certain.
O my dear, many thanks from your ever affectionate Mary.

II. Claude to Eustace.

Florence.

Action will furnish belief,--but will that belief be the true one?
This is the point, you know. However, it doesn't much matter.
What one wants, I suppose, is to predetermine the action,
So as to make it entail, not a chance belief, but the true one.
Out of the question, you say; if a thing isn't wrong we may do it.
Ah! but this wrong, you see--but I do not know that it matters.
Eustace, the Ropers are gone, and no one can tell me about them.

Pisa.

Pisa, they say they think, and so I follow to Pisa,
Hither and thither inquiring. I weary of making inquiries.
I am ashamed, I declare, of asking people about it.--
Who are your friends? You said you had friends who would certainly know them.

Florence.

But it is idle, moping, and thinking, and trying to fix her
Image once more and more in, to write the whole perfect inscription
Over and over again upon every page of remembrance.
I have settled to stay at Florence to wait for your answer.
Who are your friends? Write quickly and tell me. I wait for your answer.

III. Mary Trevellyn to Miss Roper.--at Lucca Baths.

You are at Lucca baths, you tell me, to stay for the summer;
Florence was quite too hot; you can't move further at present.
Will you not come, do you think, before the summer is over?
Mr. C. got you out with very considerable trouble;
And he was useful and kind, and seemed so happy to serve you.
Didn't stay with you long, but talked very openly to you;
Made you almost his confessor, without appearing to know it,--
What about?--and you say you didn't need his confessions.
O my dear Miss Roper, I dare not trust what you tell me!
Will he come, do you think? I am really so sorry for him.
They didn't give him my letter at Milan, I feel pretty certain.
You had told him Bellaggio. We didn't go to Bellaggio;
So he would miss our track, and perhaps never come to Lugano,
Where we were written in full, To Lucerne across the St. Gothard.
But he could write to you;--you would tell him where you were going.

IV. Claude to Eustace.

Let me, then, bear to forget her. I will not cling to her falsely:
Nothing factitious or forced shall impair the old happy relation.
I will let myself go, forget, not try to remember;
I will walk on my way, accept the chances that meet me,
Freely encounter the world, imbibe these alien airs, and
Never ask if new feelings and thoughts are of her or of others.
Is she not changing herself?--the old image would only delude me.
I will be bold, too, and change,--if it must be. Yet if in all things,
Yet if I do but aspire evermore to the Absolute only,
I shall be doing, I think, somehow, what she will be doing;--
I shall be thine, O my child, some way, though I know not in what way,
Let me submit to forget her; I must; I already forget her.

V. Claude to Eustace.

Utterly vain is, alas! this attempt at the Absolute,--wholly!
I, who believed not in her, because I would fain believe nothing,
Have to believe as I may, with a wilful, unmeaning acceptance.
I, who refused to enfasten the roots of my floating existence
In the rich earth, cling now to the hard, naked rock that is left me,--
Ah! she was worthy, Eustace,--and that, indeed, is my comfort,--
Worthy a nobler heart th
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Arthur Hugh Clough

Arthur Hugh Clough was an English poet, an educationalist, and the devoted assistant to ground-breaking nurse Florence Nightingale. more…

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