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Arthur Hugh Clough 1819 - 1861

English poet. His first poem of note, The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich (1848) is written in classical Hexameters and tells the story of an Oxford scholar who marries a 'Scotch lassie'. Amours de Voyage (1858) is similar in its treatment of religious doubt, class conflict and romantic love. Clough's dissatisfaction with the attitudes of the Victorian age is most forcefully expressed in two poems which were not published until after his death: 'Dypsichus', which he described as dealing with the 'conflict between a tender conscience and the world'; and 'The Latest Decalogue', a biting satire on Victorian morality. His collected Poems became very popular when they were published in 1862.


Arthur Hugh Clough's father was a Liverpool cotton merchant who emigrated with his family to America. In 1828 Clough was sent back to England to be educated. He attended Rugby school where he began a lifelong friendship with the headmaster's son, the future poet and critic Matthew Arnold. After Rugby he went to Oxford, and eventually became a fellow of Oriel College.

At this time Oxford dons were required to subscribe to the Thirty Nine Articles detailing the beliefs of the Church of England. Clough's religious doubts meant that he felt unable to do this, and he resigned his fellowship in 1848, the same year he published The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich. Following his resignation he became Head of University Hall, London, for a short while, and also lectured in America, before eventually taking up a post as an examiner for the Department of Education.

Clough's religious difficulties were part of his general dislike of the established political and religious establishment of his day. He hated the Victorian capitalist system, and regarded himself as a republican. His sensitivity to the limitations imposed by class barriers provides a recurrent theme in his poetry.

Although Clough's beliefs (or lack of them) prevented his professional career from developing, his poetic achievement is considerable. As well as Matthew Arnold, he counted literary figures such as Ruskin and Carlyle among his friends, and his marriage to Blanche Smith in 1854 brought him much happiness. He contracted Malaria on a visit to Italy in 1861 and died in Florence. Ten years later Arnold composed an elegy for him, entitled 'Thyrsis'.

Available Poems
In a London Square
The Last Decalogue
Qua Cursum Ventus
Where Lies the Land to Which the Ship Would Go

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