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Poem by Arthur Hugh Clough


The Silver Wedding


The silver Wedding! on some pensive ear
From towers remote as sound the silvery bells,
To-day from one far unforgotten year
A silvery faint memorial music swells.

And silver-pale the dim memorial light
Of musing age on youthful joys is shed,
The golden joys of fancys dawning bright,
The golden bliss of, Wood, and won, and wed.

Ah, golden then, but silver now! In sooth,
The years that pale the cheek, that dim the eyes,
And silver oer the golden hairs of youth,
Less prized can make its only priceless prize.

Not so; the voice this silver name that gave
To this, the ripe and unenfeebled date,
For steps together tottering to the grave,
Hath bid the perfect golden title wait.

Rather, if silver this, if that be gold,
From good to better changed on ages track,
Must it as baser metal be enrolled,
That day of days, a quarter-century back.

Yet ah, its hopes, its joys were golden too,
But golden of the fairy gold of dreams
To feel is but to dream; until we do,
Theres nought that is, and all we see but seems;

What was or seemed it needed cares and tears,
And deeds together done, and trials past,
And all the subtlest alchemy of years,
To change to genuine substance here at last.

Your fairy gold is silver sure to-day;
Your ore by crosses many, many a loss,
As in refiners fires, hath purged away
What erst it had of earthy human dross.

Come years as many yet, and as they go,
In human lifes great crucible shall they
Transmute, so potent are the spells they know,.
Into pure gold the silver of to-day.

Strange metallurge is human life! Tis true;
And Use and Wont in many a gorgeous case
Full specious fair for casual outward view
Electrotype the sordid and the base.

Nor lack who praise, avowed, the spurious ware,
Who bid young hearts the one true love forego,
Conceit to feed, or fancy light as air,
Or greed of pelf and precedence and show.

True, false, as one to casual eyes appear,
To read men truly men may hardly learn;
Yet doubt it not that wariest glance would here
Faith, Hope and Love, the true Tower-stamp discern.

Come years again! as many yet! and purge
Less precious earthier elements away,
And gently changed at lifes extremest verge,
Bring bright in gold your perfect fiftieth day!

That sight may children see and parents show!
If notyet earthly chains of metal true,
By love and duty wrought and fixed below,
Elsewhere will shine, transformed, celestial-new;

Will shine of gold, whose essence, heavenly bright,
No doubt-damps tarnish, worldly passions fray;
Gold into gold there mirrored, light in light,
Shall gleam in glories of a deathless day.



                      Arthur Hugh Clough


Arthur Hugh Clough's other poems:
  1. Hope Evermore and Believe!
  2. Genesis XXIV
  3. O Thou of Llittle Faith
  4. To a Sleeping Child
  5. Selene


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