Say, will it, when our hairs are grey,
And wintry suns half light the day,
Which cheering hope and strengthening trust
Have left, departed, turned to dust,
Say, will it soothe lone years to extract
From fitful shows with sense exact
Their sad residuum, small, of fact?
Will trembling nerves their solace find
In plain conclusions of the mind?
Or errant fancies fond, that still
To fretful motions prompt the will,
Repose upon effect and cause,
And action of unvarying laws,
And human life’s familiar doom,
And on the all-concluding tomb.
Or were it to our kind and race,
And our instructed selves, disgrace
To wander then once more in you,
Green fields, beneath the pleasant blue;
To dream as we were used to dream,
And let things be whate’er they seem?
O feeble shapes of beggars grey
That, tottering on the public way,
Die out in doting, dim decay,
Is it to you when all is past
Our would-be wisdom turns at last?
Cold Comfort by Arthur Hugh Clough