Arthur Hugh Clough

Shadow and Light

Cease, empty Faith, the Spectrum saith,
I was, and lo, have been;
I, God, am nought: a shade of thought,
Which, but by darkness seen,
Upon the unknown yourselves have thrown,
Placed it and light between.

At morning’s birth on darkened earth,
And as the evening sinks,
Awfully vast abroad is cast
The lengthened form that shrinks
And shuns the sight in midday light,
And underneath you slinks.

From barren strands of wintry lands
Across the seas of time,
Borne onward fast ye touch at last
An equatorial clime;

In equatorial noon sublime
At zenith stands the sun,
And lo, around, far, near, are found
Yourselves, and Shadow none.

A moment! yea! but when the day
At length was perfect day!
A moment! so! and light we know
With dark exchanges aye,

Nor morn nor eve shall shadow leave
Your sunny paths secure,
And in your sight that orb of light
Shall humbler orbs obscure.

And yet withal, ’tis shadow all
Whate’er your fancies dream,
And I (misdeemed) that was, that seemed,
Am not, whate’er I seem.

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