Cui Bono

By Thomas Carlyle 1795–1881 Thomas Carlyle
What is Hope? A smiling rainbow
      Children follow through the wet;
’Tis not here, still yonder, yonder:
      Never urchin found it yet.

What is Life? A thawing iceboard
      On a sea with sunny shore;—
Gay we sail; it melts beneath us;
      We are sunk, and seen no more.

What is Man? A foolish baby,
      Vainly strives, and fights, and frets;
Demanding all, deserving nothing;—
      One small grave is what he gets.

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Poet Thomas Carlyle 1795–1881

POET’S REGION Scotland

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Living

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Thomas  Carlyle

Biography

Thomas Carlyle was an extremely long-lived Victorian author. He was also highly controversial, variously regarded as sage and impious, a moral leader, a moral desperado, a radical, a conservative, a Christian. Contradictions were rampant in the works of early biographers, and in the later twentieth century he is still far from being understood by a generation of critics awakening to his pivotal place in nineteenth-century . . .

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Poems by Thomas Carlyle

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living

POET’S REGION Scotland

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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