A Protest

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A Protest
by Arthur Hugh Clough

LIGHT words they were, and lightly, falsely said;
She heard them, and she started,—and she rose,
As in the act to speak; the sudden thought
And unconsider’d impulse led her on.
In act to speak she rose, but with the sense
Of all the eyes of that mix’d company
Now suddenly turn’d upon her, some with age
Harden’d and dull’d, some cold and critical;
Some in whom vapors of their own conceit,
As moist malarious mists the heavenly stars,
Still blotted out their good, the best at best
By frivolous laugh and prate conventional
All too untun’d for all she thought to say,—
With such a thought the mantling blood to her cheek
Flush’d up, and o’er-flush’d itself, blank night her soul
Made dark, and in her all her purpose swoon’d.
She stood as if for sinking. Yet anon,
With recollections clear, august, sublime,
Of God’s great truth, and right immutable,
Which, as obedient vassals, to her mind
Came summon’d of her will, in self-negation
Quelling her troublous earthly consciousness,
She queen’d it o’er her weakness. At the spell
Back roll’d the ruddy tide, and leaves her cheek
Paler than erst, and yet not ebbs so far
But that one pulse of one indignant thought
Might hurry it hither in flood. So as she stood
She spoke. God in her spoke, and made her heard.

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.