Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth: Review

Arthur Hugh Clough

The poem Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth has been composed by Arthur Hugh Clough, the exponent of optimism. Arthur is a well-known stalwart of Victorian Age (1832-1901). There are three factors, which contributed to his name and fame:
  • Friendship with Mathew Arnold,
  • Association with famous social worker Florence Nightingale and
  • Sir Winston Churchill mostly quoted the poem Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth in his wartime famous speeches.


The poem pinpoints the dignity of labour. It emphasizes that struggle is always rewarded and hardships never waste. People who think that working industriously is a sheer waste of time are gravely mistaken. At times, it appears that man loses his time and energy for some mission impossible. He goes on exerting and then begins to collapse with disappointments. A stage comes when the fortune favours him and his efforts bear fruit. It is amazing to him that his struggle becomes rewarding.

It is true that one cannot live on false hopes nor can believe in miracles. One is supposed to be realistic and practical. A wise man thinks that mere expectation for achievement is self-deceit. However, one has to be in high spirits and optimistic while struggling. Only the effort without an objective and without a will and a spirit does not crown with victory.

The poet has given the example of a battlefield. An army is going to surrender for her weak fighting strategy and out-dated weapons. The commander refuses to surrender and finally his army prevail. Later, they come to know that the rival army does not have courage to fight and a spirit to sacrifice.

The poet then presents the situation of a beach. The tide rises and waves come to the bank. These get back and come again but do not advance. Yet the process of touching shore does not stop. The noisy waves sometimes cross the boundaries and take away everything what so ever come.

The third situation relates to the rising of sun. In the beginning, the sunbeams brighten only the western side. Gradually, these rays grow power and illuminate the whole land.


The poet presents these three examples to show to the man that achievement; advancement and up-gradation come with the passage of time and constant ceaseless effort.

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