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Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)

The Latest Decalogue


              1Thou shalt have one God only; who
              2Would be at the expense of two?
              3No graven images may be
              4Worshipp'd, except the currency:
              5Swear not at all; for, for thy curse
              6Thine enemy is none the worse:
              7At church on Sunday to attend
              8Will serve to keep the world thy friend:
              9Honour thy parents; that is, all
            10From whom advancement may befall:
            11Thou shalt not kill; but need'st not strive
            12Officiously to keep alive:
            13Do not adultery commit;
            14Advantage rarely comes of it:
            15Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,
            16When it's so lucrative to cheat:
            17Bear not false witness; let the lie
            18Have time on its own wings to fly:
            19Thou shalt not covet; but tradition
            20Approves all forms of competition.

Notes

1] One of the two extant manuscripts has four additional lines, not printed in any early edition of Clough, summarizing his decalogue in an ironic restatement of the two great commandments of the law (Matthew 22: 37-39):
The sum of all is, thou shalt love,
If any body, God above:
At any rate shall never labour
More than thyself to love thy neighbour."


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Arthur Hugh Clough, Poems, with a Memoir (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1862). PR 4455 A2 1862 ROBA TRIN. The standard recent edition of Clough's poetry is The Poems of Arthur Hugh Clough, edited by H. F. Lowry, A. L. P. Norrington and F. L. Mulhauser (Oxford, 1951).
First publication date: 1862
RPO poem editor: Margaret Frances (Sister St. Francis) Nims
RP edition: 3RP 3.195.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/30

Form: Short Couplets


Other poems by Arthur Hugh Clough