Parting

A poem by Arthur Hugh Clough

O tell me, friends, while yet we part,
And heart can yet be heard of heart,
O tell me then, for what is it
Our early plan of life we quit;
From all our old intentions range,
And why does all so wholly change?
O tell me, friends, while yet we part!

O tell me, friends, while yet we part,
The rays that from the centre start
Within the orb of one warm sun,
Unless I err, have once begun,
Why is it thus they still diverge?
And whither tends the course they urge?
O tell me, friends, while yet we part!

O tell me, friends, while yet ye hear,
May it not be, some coming year,
These ancient paths that here divide
Shall yet again run side by side,
And you from there, and I from here,
All on a sudden reappear?
O tell me, friends, while yet ye hear!

O tell me, friends, ye hardly hear,
And if indeed ye did, I fear
Ye would not say, ye would not speak,
Are you so strong, am I so weak,
And yet, how much so e’er I yearn,
Can I not follow, nor you turn?
O tell me, friends, ye hardly hear!

O tell me, friends, ere words are o’er,
There’s something in me sad and sore
Repines, and underneath my eyes
I feel a somewhat that would rise,
O tell me, O my friends, and you,
Do you feel nothing like it too?
O tell me, friends, ere words are o’er!

O tell me, friends that are no more,
Do you, too, think ere it is o’er
Old times shall yet come round as erst,
And we be friends, as we were first?
Or do you judge that all is vain,
Except that rule that none complain?
O tell me, friends that are no more!

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