Sabbath Bells

A poem for Easter Day

Ive often on a sabbath day
Where pastoral quiet dwells
Lay down among the new mown hay
To listen distant bells
That beautifully flung the sound
Upon the quiet wind
While beans in blossom breathed around
A fragrance oer the mind
A fragrance & a joy beside
That never wears away
The very air seems deified
Upon a sabbath day

So beautiful the flitting wrack
Slow pausing from the eye
Earths music seemed to call them back
Calm settled in the sky
& I have listened till I felt
A feeling not in words
A love that rudest moods would melt
When those sweet sounds was heard
A melancholly joy at rest
A pleasurable pain
A love a rapture of the breast
That nothing will explain

A dream of beauty that displays
Imaginary joys
That all the world in all its ways
Finds not to realize
All idly stretched upon the hay
The wind-flirt fanning bye
How soft how sweetly swept away
The music of the sky
The ear it lost & caught the sound
Swelled beautifully on
A fitful melody around
Of sweetness heard & gone

I felt such thoughts I yearned to sing
The humming airs delight
That seemed to move the swallows wing
Into a wilder flight
The butterflye in wings of brown
Would find me where I lay
Fluttering & bobbing up & down
& settling on the hay
The waving blossoms seemed to throw
Their fragrance to the sound
While up & down & loud & low
The bells were ringing round

The Nightingale

This is the month the nightingale, clod brown,
Is heard among the woodland shady boughs:
This is the time when in the vale, grass-grown,
The maiden hears at eve her lover's vows,
What time the blue mist round the patient cows
Dim rises from the grass and half conceals
Their dappled hides. I hear the nightingale,
That from the little blackthorn spinney steals
To the old hazel hedge that skirts the vale,
And still unseen sings sweet. The ploughman feels
The thrilling music as he goes along,
And imitates and listens; while the fields
Lose all their paths in dusk to lead him wrong,
Still sings the nightingale her soft melodious song.

Of Corncrakes and 'The Tweet of the Day'

[Image : The Corncrake – Carry Akroyd]

From 'The Landrail'
How sweet & pleasant grows the way
Through summer time again
While landrails call from day to day
Amid the grass & grain
We hear it in the weeding time
When knee deep waves the corn
We hear it in the summers prime
Through meadows night & morn
& now I hear it in the grass
That grows as sweet again
& let a minutes notice pass
& now tis in the grain
Tis like a fancy everywhere
A sort of living doubt
We know tis somthing but it ne'er
Will blab the secret out

The corncraik rispt her summer call Just as the sun went down
Copper red a burning ball In woods behind the town
I wandered forth a maid to meet So bonny and so fair
No other flower was half so sweet And cole black was her hair
Upon the grasses stood the dew Bead drop O' clearest pearl
Her hair was black her eyes were blue O what a lovely Girl
Her neck was like the lilly white Her breast was like the swan
She was in heart and loves delight A worship for a Man
The corncraiks rispy song was oer The sun had left the light [alone]
I love dusk kisses on the Moor To lewder life unknown
Hid in the bosom of a flower Its lifetime there to dwell
Eternity would seem an hour And I'd be resting well

Clare lines above -- from his time in Northborough -- are from 'The Landrail', the lines italicised  were quoted on the entry in the BBC Book 'The Tweet of the Day', published on the 10th April 2014, and illustrated by this little linocut by Carry.  The second poem is much later, written during Clare's long incarceration in the Northampton General Asylum.

The book, published by Saltyard Books is by Stephen Moss and Brett Westwood with lots of illustrations by Carry.

The Lovers Meeting

Hot was the noon in summers sultry hour

The sun then raging with meridian power

When I more burning with the scorching heat

Of hot desire - lay hid in close retreat

Beneath the covert of a secret shade

Flush'd "with expectance of the lovley maid"

Sweet was the spot no one throughout the grove

Was better suited to the sports of Love

At last! 
An opportunity to buy a limited edition signed copy of our first book "The Lovers Meeting", edited by Roger Rowe, designed and illustrated by Anne Lee. (See pictures below)

This beautiful book has been letterpress printed by The Logan Press and hand bound by The Fine Book Bindery -- The same company produces books for The Folio Society.

This is the first time John Clare's "The Lovers Meeting - an Imitation of Ovid's Fifth Elegy" has been published outside Oxford University Press ‘Clarendon’ edition. Authenticity has been at the heart of our volume. The poem is presented exactly as Clare wrote it and has been typeset in a font designed in Northamptonshire in Clare's time (Founder's Caslon types of Justin Howes) and a beautiful calligraphic ampersand has been used to acknowledge its characteristic use by Clare. Background information about the poem and its context is included. The book is bound by hand in two cloths of complimentary colours with gold blocked titles and has hand printed end papers designed by Anne Lee.

Following a protracted period of negotiation with the John Clare Cottage, we are now in a position to sell 60 copies of our book with the aim of recouping our expenses. This will allow us to move on and publish our second volume in the series, "The Poet in Love - John Clare and Patty Turner". This is close to being ready for us to make our own limited edition of 10 copies, but to move beyond that we need to sell 60 copies of "The Lovers Meeting".

We do hope that many of you will feel able to support us in this and at the same time acquire one of this signed and numbered edition of 200 copies.

"The Lovers Meeting" is now available from me at the special price of £35 plus post and packing. Please support us and contact by leaving a comment below to order a copy. Please feel free to share this posting to spread the word as far as possible.

Roger & Anne

Child Harold - The Summer Canto: High Beech (A darker extract)

My life hath been one love—no blot it out
My life hath been one chain of contradictions

Madhouses Prisons wh---re shops—never doubt

But that my life hath had some strong convictions
That such was wrong—religion makes restrictions
I would have followed—but life turned a bubble

& clumb the jiant stile of maledictions

They took me from my wife & to save trouble

I wed again & made the error double

Yet abscence claims them both & keeps them too
& locks me in a shop in spite of law

Among a low lived set & dirty crew

Here let the Muse oblivions curtain draw

& let man think—for God hath often saw

Things here too dirty for the light of day

For in a madhouse there exists no law—

Now stagnant grows my too refined clay
I envy birds their wings to flue away

Adam Foulds "The Quickening Maze" -- Shortlisted for the 'Man Booker' prize in 2009, is a wonderful exploration, in fiction, of this period.  In some ways illustrating over a 259-page novel these two verses.

Child Harold - The Spring Canto: High Beech (extract)

The Paigles Bloom In Shower's In Grassy Close
How Sweet To Be Among Their Blossoms Led
& Hear Sweet Nature To Herself Discourse
While Pale The Moon Is Bering Over Head
& Hear The Grazeing Cattle Softly Tread
Cropping The Hedgerows Newly Leafing Thorn
Sounds Soft As Visions Murmured Oer In Bed
At Dusky Eve Or Sober Silent Morn
For Such Delights Twere Happy Man Was Born

Now Come The Balm & Breezes Of The Spring
Not With The Pleasure's Of My Early Day's
When Nature Seemed One Endless Song To Sing
A Joyous Melody & Happy Praise
Ah Would They Come Agen—But Life Betrays
Quicksands & Gulphs & Storms That Howl & Sting
All Quiet Into Madness & Delays
Care Hides The Sunshine With Its Raven Wing
& Hell Glooms Sadness Oer The Songs Of Spring

At this period in 1841 Clare capitalised every word in his manuscripts.  No one has yet come up with a convincing explanation as to why.

Ballad : "Young Chloe..."

Young Chloe looks sweet as the rose
And her love might be reckoned no less
But her bosom so freely bestows
That all may a portion possess.
Her smiles would be cheering to see
But so freely they’re lavished abroad
That each silly swain well as me
Can boast of the smiles she bestowed.

Her smiles and her kisses so free
Blesses all like the rain from the sky
As the blossoms love is to the bee
Each swain is as welcome as I.
And tho’ I my folly can see
Yet still must I love and adore
Tho’ I know the love whispered to me
Is a lie told to many before.

’Tis sad that a bosom so fair
And red lips so seemingly sweet
Should study false ways to ensnare
And breath in their kisses deceit.
But beauty’s no guide to the best
The rose that out blushes the morn
While it tempts the glad eye to its breast
Will pierce the fond hand with a thorn.

Yet still must I love silly swain
And put up with all her deceit
And try to be jealous in vain
For I cannot help thinking her sweet,
When I see other swains in her bower.
I sigh and excuse what I see
And say to myself ‘is the flower
Any worse when its kissed by the bee’?

The Moth a coy lover

The Moth a coy lover now ventures to creep
Out at night to steal kisses from flowers when asleep
But the Butterflye bold as the Bee for a plot
Kisses the flowers all the day whether willing or not
Now no longer able his sports to pursue
He lay neath a leaf to get out of the dew
Heres the Cockchaffer to with his old sullen drone
Sings as if he thought no song sweet as his own
The Bee too with grains of red dust on each thigh
Who had drained thro the day all the honey flowers dry
& in vain he attempted straight forward to drive
He reeled and mistook the way home to his hive
Till lost on this spot in a considerable fright
He makes on this thistle a bed for the night
Heres the rope dancing spider a trusting his threads
From his web on the branches high over their heads
Ah well may you laugh at the sports he doth make
While he dances away in no fears for his neck
The rest were all coupled & happy & they
Song the old merry songs which they sang at his day

Pet MS A31 p9