Poetry Corner: How In All Wonder by Arthur Hugh Clough

How in all wonder Columbus got over, 

That is a marvel to me, I protest, 

Cabot, and Raleigh too, that well-read rover, 

Frobisher, Dampier, Drake and the rest. 

Bad enough all the same, 

For them that after came, 

But, in great Heaven’s name, 

How he should ever think 

That on the other brink 

Of this huge waste terra firma should be, 

Is a pure wonder, I must say, to me. 

How a man ever should hope to get thither, 

E’e’n if he knew of there being another side; 

But to suppose he should come any whither, 

Sailing right on into chaos untried, 

Across the whole ocean, 

In spite of the motion, 

To stick to the notion 

That in some nook or bend 

Of a sea without end 

He should find North and South Amerikee, 

Was a pure madness as it seems to me. 

What if wise men had, as far back as Ptolemy, 

Judged that the earth like an orange was round, 

None of them ever said, ‘Come along, follow, 

Sail to the West, and the East will be found.’ 

Many a day before 

Ever they’d touched the shore 

Of the San Salvador, 

Sadder and wiser men 

They’d have turned back again; 

And that he did not, but did cross the sea, 

Is a pure wonder, I must say, to me. 

And that he crossed and that we cross the sea 

Is a pure wonder, I must say, to me. 

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