Dipsychus "How Pleasant It Is To Have Money, Heigh Ho!"

Arthur Hugh Clough

"How Pleasant It Is To Have Money, Heigh Ho!"

Context: This poetic dialogue, like so much of Clough's poetry, illustrates his love of melancholy and his religious conflicts. In the poem we find a Faustian hero, with some touches of Lord Byron, speaking on a series of occasions with a somewhat Satan-like spirit. The poem, begun in 1850, while Clough was in Venice, was left unfinished at the time of his death. Echoes of the poetry of both Byron and Goethe abound in it. The Spirit of the dialogue, though at times Satanic, seems more often to be rather the worldly common-sense, while the figure of Dispsychus tends to speak for the poet's idealism; in a sense the dialogue is autobiographical, for Clough himself struggled inwardly, torn between idealism and worldliness. In this section of the poem the Spirit and Dipsychus converse as they slide along the Grand Canal in Venice; the smooth passage of the craft causes Dipsychus to lament that life cannot go as unvexed as their gondola; he decries the struggles over "quarrels, aims, and cares,/ And moral duties and affairs." After some exchange of comments about its being a pity that the gondoliers do not enjoy life more, the Spirit speaks up on behalf of the enjoyment of life, his speech going on through a dozen verses. At the end of each verse he comments (and one thinks of Iago's advice to Roderigo before they leave Venice, "Put money in thy purse.") in a refrain about the advantages of ready wealth:

As I sat at the café, I said to myself,
They may talk as they please about what they call pelf,
They may sneer as they like about eating and drinking,
But help it I cannot, I cannot help thinking,
How pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
How pleasant it is to have money.
I sit at my table en grand seigneur,
And when I have done, throw a crust to the poor;
Not only the pleasure, one's self, of good living,
But also the pleasure of now and then giving.
So pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
So pleasant it is to have money.