Meet me Tonight






















O meet me to-night by the bright starlight,
     Now the pleasant Spring's begun.
My own dear maid, by the greenwood shade,
     In the crimson set of the sun,
                    Meet me to-night.

The sun he goes down with a ruby crown
     To a gold and crimson bed;
And the falling dew, from heaven so blue,
     Hangs pearls on Phoebe's head.
                    Love, leave the town.

Come thou with me; 'neath the green-leaf tree
     We'll crop the bonny sweet brere.
O come, dear maid, 'neath the hazlewood shade,
     For love invites us there.
                    Come then with me.

The owl pops, scarce seen, from the ivy green,
     With his spectacles on I ween:
See the moon's above and the stars twinkle, love;
     Better time was never seen.
                    O come, my queen.

The fox he stops, and down he drops
     His head beneath the grass.
The birds are gone; we're all alone;
     O come, my bonny lass.
                    Come, O come!

J.L. Cherry, Life and Remains of John Clare
(London and Northampton: Frederick Warne and J. Taylor and Son, 1873)

John Clare Poet facebook group

[Holme Fen this year]

In December 2012, poet Angela Topping and I decided it was time to start a proper John Clare Facebook page. As of today (23rd November 2014), my how we have grown, with today no fewer than 473 members. Last year in August we held our inaugural 'group' weekend in the Helpston area, and over 19/20th May this year a gathering remembering our great poet by his graveside, and the gravesides of his wife Patty and muse Mary Joyce.  Over the weekend of the 12th/14th September, initially again in the Helpston area, we visited Holme Fen and Woodwalton Fen.  Lunch at the Admiral Wells at Holme Fen was fun!

We have writers, musicians, painters, photographers & illustrators, film-makers, poets, sculptors, several descendants of Clare, academics, and plain old fans of his work. We have a rolling virtual exhibition of work "John Clare 150" dedicated to Clare (more contributions would be welcomed), and several books have been published from members of the group who met via these pages, as well as other collaborations.

And to add to all that, the weekend of the 11th to 13th July was the 33rd Annual Festival in the village organised by our friends from the John Clare Society (many of us are of course, members of that organisation - one of the largest literary societies in the country).
Our cup runneth over...
Click here to go to the facebook page.

A dark and gothic excerpt...






















[Image: Peterbrough Cathedral by Thomas Girtin - Very likely the inspiration for these lines, Clare would have known it well]

... from Clare's 'Solitude' for All Hallow's Eve :

But as sorrows more opress
As the world does more distress
Yielding as misfortunes lower
Dulging mellancholys hour
Wishing to despise as then
Brunts of fate & scorn of men
When fates demons thus intrude
Then I seek thee solitude
Where the abbys height appears
Hoary neath a weight of years
Where the mouldering walls are seen
Hung wi pelitorry green (*)
Where the steeples taper stretch
Tries the eye its length to reach
Dizzy nauntling high & proud
Top stone loosing in a cloud
Where the cross to time resignd
Creaking harshly in the wind
Crowning high the rifted dome
Points the pilgrims wisht for home
While the look fear turns away
 Shuddering at its dread decay
 Then let me my peace pursue
 Neath the shades of gloomy yew
 Dolfull hung wi mourning green
 Suiting well the solemn scene

Pet MS C2 p36
Published in altered form in Village Minstrel, Volume 1 (1821)

(*)  Ben Johnson:
‘A good old woman . . . did cure me with sodden ale and pellitorie o’ the wall.’
Pellitory likes to grow in the cracks of walls, hence "Hung wi pelitorry green".  Often called Pellitory-of-the-wall.

from 'The Fallen Elm'

Thus came enclosure—ruin was its guide
But freedom's clapping hands enjoyed the sight
Though comfort's cottage soon was thrust aside
And workhouse prisons raised upon the site.
E'en nature's dwellings far away from men—
The common heath—became the spoiler's prey.
. . .
No matter—wrong was right and right was wrong
And freedom's bawl was sanction to the song.
. . .
As thou wert served, so would they overwhelm
In freedom's name the little that is mine.
And there are knaves that brawl for better laws
And cant of tyranny in stronger powers
Who glut their vile unsatiated maws
And freedom's birthright from the weak devours


John Clare, Poems of the Middle Period
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson,
Volume III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998)

And, here is Clare on a related subject (well, related in my mind anyway) :

The wigs & torys may be better classified
perhaps by the terms of outs & ins for
be they wigs or torys in those situations the
outs are always vociverators of “liberty”
“cruelty of taxation” & “good of the people”
while the ins are inflexible tyrants
& determined supporters of all that is
oppressing & annoying to the people &
benefitting to themselves & their connections

Pet MS A42 p94
(Unpublished as far as I know)

John Clare: Beginner's Luck


[This talk was prepared by Edmund Blunden for the 1964 centenary of Clare's death, and was published as a pamphlet in 1971 by Bridge Books / Kent Editions, in an edition of 250, to celebrate Blunden's 75th birthday]

     My purpose on this occasion is to give some account of amateur researches which have yielded greater results than those who under­took them could have counted on, although there were faith and fire within them. To judge by anthologies, broadcast programmes, the books of new poets, the catalogues of famous book-collections and other evidences, the reputation of John Clare is now considerable and probably lasting. In 1964 he will be honoured by many, including lovers of our literature from other nations, at his county town Northampton, his familiar city Peterborough, and sundry places besides: the Aldeburgh Festival will include a Clare occasion. Numerous publications on and of his poems are in preparation: the Oxford edition in several volumes may of course take longer to appear than the selections of which I am told. It is noteworthy that Clare attracts some whose first interest or training is not literary.

The rest of this talk may be found on
http://johnclareephemera.blogspot.co.uk/p/john-clare-beginners-luck.html

The link also appears on the left hand side of this posting... John Clare Ephemera

At the foot of Clifford Hill














Who loves the white-thorn tree,
And the river running free?
There a maiden stood with me
In Summer weather.
Near a cottage far from town,
While the sun went brightly down
O'er the meadows green and brown,
We loved together.

How sweet her drapery flowed,
While the moor-cock oddly crowed;
I took the kiss which love bestowed,
Under the white-thorn tree.
Soft winds the water curled,
The trees their branches furled;
Sweetest nook in all the world
Is where she stood with me.

Calm came the evening air,
The sky was sweet and fair,
In the river shadowed there,
Close by the hawthorn tree.
Round her neck I clasped my arms,
And kissed her rosy charms;
O'er the flood the hackle swarms,
Where the maiden stood with me.

O there's something falls so dear
On the music of the ear,
Where the river runs so clear,
And my lover met with me.
At the foot of Clifford Hill
Still I hear the clacking mill,
And the river's running still
Under the trysting tree.


J.L. Cherry, 'Life and Remains of John Clare'
(London and Northampton: Frederick Warne and J. Taylor and Son, 1873)

from "October"

Like to a painted map the landscape lies
And wild above shine the cloud thronged skies
The flying clouds urged on in swiftest pace
Like living things as if they runned a race
The winds that oer each coming tempest broods
Waking like spirits in their startling moods
Fluttering the sear leaves on the blackning lea
That litters under every fading tree
And pausing oft as falls the patting rain
Then gathering strength and twirling them again
Till drops the sudden calm—the hurried mill
Is stopt at once and every noise is still
The startld stockdove hurried wizzing bye
As the still hawk hangs oer him in the sky
Crows from the oak trees quawking as they spring
Dashing the acorns down wi beating wing


The Shepherd's Calendar, with Village Stories, and Other Poems (1827)