Amours de Voyage by Arthur Hugh Clough

Amours de Voyage

Through a series of letters Amours de Voyage follows Claude and Mary Trevellyn, traveling separately through what is today Italy. In 1849 during political unrest there is war, gunfire, and murder-Rome is falling. The letters sent by Claude and Mary are written in verse and they are the readers’ peek into not only the hearts and minds of 2 individuals at this time but also a peek into history. Claude writes to his friend Eustace and Mary to Miss Roper. We only see the letters of Claude and Mary but can guess their correspondents’ reply. The poem is arranged in five cantos.

Claude is traveling to view the sights, artifacts and relics of Rome. He is, however, displeased with his journey and appears to be rather snobbish and unlikeable. Mary Trevellyn and her companions alternatively are having a grand time and are impressed by the sights of Rome.

This is also a story about an attempt at love. It is not a love story because Claude fails. He over thinks his feelings and by the time that he realizes he is in love, he has lost his chance to rendezvous with Mary in Rome. As Rome falls and Claude realizes his predicament, he reflects:

    Rome is fallen, I hear, the gallant Medici taken,
    Noble manara slain, and Garibaldi has lost il Moro;-
    Rome is fallen; and fallen, or falling, heroical Venice.
    I, meanwhile, for the loss of a single small chit of a girl,
    Moping and mourning here,-for her, and myself much

I found it difficult sometimes to fully appreciate the poem. There were many references to historical elements to which I am unfamiliar. I suppose I could have stopped to investigate them all but that would have taken up lots of reading time. Even so, through Claude’s letters, the reader is able to glean a thoughtful commentary on history, the complexities of love, self-doubt, and one man’s (or every man’s) place in history.


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