Allan Massie

Accomplished, Witty, and Dandyish

Arthur Hugh Clough: A Poet’s Life


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Thou shalt not kill; but need’st not strive

Officiously to keep alive:

Do not adultery commit;

Advantage rarely comes of it…

Arthur Hugh Clough’s inversion of the Ten Commandments seemed agreeably witty and up to date when I first came on it, aged fourteen or so, in Lord Wavell’s anthology, Other Men’s Flowers. Next I knew of him as the subject of Matthew Arnold’s beautiful, if swoony, elegy ‘Thyrsis’, which, according to Anthony Kenny, was dismissed by Dr Jowett, the Master of Balliol, as ‘a most inadequate tribute’.

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