Cloud Shapes

Researching what I hope to be a future Chapbook, this one entitled 'Clouds'.  I am surprise just how much material there is from which to choose.  Here is just one of the strong candidates:

Clouds rack & drive before the wind 

In shapes & forms of every kind 

Like waves that rise without the roar 

& rocks that guard an untrodden shore 

Now castles pass majestic by 

& ships in peaceful havens lie 

These gone ten thousand shapes ensue 

For ever beautiful and new 


The scattered clouds lie calm and still 

& day throws gold on every hill 

Their thousand heads in glory run 

As each were worlds and owned a sun 

The rime it clings to everything 

It beards the early buds of spring 

The mossy pales, the orchard spray 

Are feathered with its silver-grey

MP V 198

From an Old Book of Fables


A shattering poem from my "Accursed Wealth" chapbook.  Obviously unpublished in his day, and too honest for most in our own time too.

‘Gold is a general purchaser – buys all
‘From the high alter pallace bench & Hall
‘Down to the humble cottage hut or stall
‘Buys smiles or tears melts eyes or drys em – gold
‘Like Esops satire buys[1]breath hot and cold
‘Makes out all wants & all defects supplies
‘Een the old wrinkled hag young courtier buys
‘Can buy an ass a penegaric – build
‘A dog a monument[2]– vice with virtue gild
‘Nay buys a coward laurels -- & what not
‘Thus the proud Gaul[3]the stile of a great has got
‘That neer faced foe in reach of cannon shot
‘Buys knaves an office traitors power & trust
‘High & low fliers bought with shining dust
‘Buys villany a mask hypocrisy paint
‘Buys inside devil the out side face o’ saint
‘Buys tyrants champions – cut throats caps & knees
‘Buys lies & oaths buys souls & consiences
‘Buys prayers & curses buys both earth & hell
‘Nay buys heaven too at least if Rome can sell
‘What is it which that tempting ore cant buy
‘Buys everything but truth & honesty

MP II 192

[1] Aesop has ‘blows’
[2] "Epitaph to a Dog" is a poem by Lord Byron.  It was written in 1808 in honour of his Newfoundland dog, Boatswain, who had just died of rabies.  The poem is inscribed on Boatswain's tomb, which is larger than Byron's, at Newstead Abbey, Byron's estate.
[3] Napoleon Bonaparte

To a cowslip early


  1. Cowslip bud so early peeping
  2. Warmd by aprils hazard hours
  3. Oer thy head tho sunshines creeping
  4. Hind it threatnd temp[e]sts lower
  5. Trembling blossom let me bear thee
  6. To a better safer home
  7. Tho a fairer blossom wear thee
  8. Near a tempest there shall come

  9. Marys bonny breasts to charm thee
  10. Bosom soft as down can be
  11. Eyes like any suns to warm thee
  12. & scores of sweets unknown to me
  13. Ah for joys thoult there be meeting
  14. In a station so divine
  15. I'd 'most wish thats vain repeating
  16. Cowslip bud thy life were mine

    EP II 51/2
    Village Minstrel I 82 (1821)
    In the Shadows (2014)

Early Spring


Winter is past—the little bee resumes
Her share of sun & shade & oer the lea
Hums its first hymnings to the flowers perfumes
& wakes a sense of gratfulness in me
The little daisey keeps its wonted pace
Ere march by april gets disarmd of snow
A look of joy opes on its smiling face
Turnd to that power that suffers it to blow
Ah pleasant time as pleasing as ye be
One still more pleasing, hope reserves for me
Where suns unsetting one long summer shine
Flowers endless bloom where winter neer destroys
O may the good mans righteous end be mine
As I may witness these unfading joys

The Village Minstrel
Volume II, page 172

The Crow (Sonnet)

How peaceable it seems for lonely men
To see a crow fly in the thin blue sky
Over the woods and fealds, o'er level fen
It speaks of villages, or cottage nigh
Behind the neighbouring woods -- when March winds high
Tear off the branches of the huge old oak
I love to see these chimney sweeps sail by
And hear them o'er gnarled forest croak
Then sosh askew from the hid woodman's stroke
That in the woods their daily labours ply
I love the sooty crow nor would provoke
Its march day exercises of croaking joy
I love to see it sailing to and fro
While feelds, and woods, and waters spread below


LP I 498

Did John Clare and Eliza Emmerson have an 'affair' ?

When I was in London the first time   Lord Radstock introduced me to Mrs Emmerson     she has been known as a very pretty woman & [it] is not a miss still     & a woman's pretty face is often very dangerous to her common sense   for the notion she has received in her young days throws affectation about her feelings   which she has not got shot of yet   for she fancys that her friends are admirers of her person as a matter of course & act accordingly     which happens in the eyes of a stranger as delicious enough   but the grotesque wears off on becoming acquainted with better qualities   & better qualities she certainly has to counter ballance them    

          She at once woud [be] the best friend I found    & my expectations are looking no further then correspondence with me early in my public life   & grew pretty thick as it went on     I fancyd it a pretty [thing] to correspond with a lady   & by degrees I grew up into an admirer   sometimes foolishly when I could not account for what I did   & I then after requested her portrait     & then I reccollect ridiculously enough   alluding to Lord Nelsons Lady Hamilton     she sent it & flattered my vanity in return     It was beautifully drawn by Behnes the sculptor     But bye & bye my knowledge of the world weakened my romantic feelings     I gave up in friendship & lost in flattery

          afterwards she took to patronizing one of Colridges   who had written a visionary ode on Beauty in Knights Quarterly Magazine in whom she discovered much genius     she called him   On that strike   one of the first Lyne poets in England --

          she soon wisht for her picture agen & I readily agreed to part with it   for the artificial flower of folly had run to seed

Pet MS B3 p82

Riches, Poverty and Slavery


Clare writing nearly 200 hundred years ago of what we observe all around us:

"Slavery originates with the luxury of tyranny & forced to submit to the crueltys [only] of oppression until the effeminancy of its oppressions grow into dotage     it then rises & regains its liberty like as the lion in his strength overawes the lesser beasts into unjust subjugation     but in the season of age when he looses his teeth [& needs] friends     they oppress him in turn [with injustice] & regain their former freedom     thus Tyrany generally gets paid with its own coin

Tyrants hate liberty the more bitterly because they themselves can enjoy every thing but liberty         they persecute their slaves into obedience but never consciliate them into friends     there for fear makes them the slave of slav[es]   for as they are dreaded by others      yet it is only as one tyrant to many of the oppressed so they more bitterly feel the dreaded vengance of the many enemys which their crueltys have made   recoiling upon themselves"

Pet MS A49 p1

"What a time we live in -- one class have been compaining & from complaints I fear have been encouraging the lower orders to break away from their own intention     this class complain of poverty but show no appearance of it   while the other is so destitute that one almost wonders they should have been silent so long"

Pet MS B5 p5