Love, Not Duty

A poem by Arthur Hugh Clough

Thought may well be ever ranging,
And opinion ever changing,
Task-work be, though ill begun,
Dealt with by experience better;
By the law and by the letter
Duty done is duty done
Do it, Time is on the wing!

Hearts, ’tis quite another thing,
Must or once for all be given,
Or must not at all be given;
Hearts, ’tis quite another thing!

To bestow the soul away
Is an idle duty-play!
Why, to trust a life-long bliss
To caprices of a day,
Scarce were more depraved than this!

Men and maidens, see you mind it;
Show of love, where’er you find it,
Look if duty lurk behind it!
Duty-fancies, urging on
Whither love had never gone!

Loving if the answering breast
Seem not to be thus possessed,
Still in hoping have a care;
If it do, beware, beware!
But if in yourself you find it,
Above all things mind it, mind it!

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