a hiatus...

Sorry that there will be a bit of a hiatus during my absence in 'foreign parts' for the next 10 weeks. I will try to post on occasion, but without regular access to a computer this might prove difficult.

Roger R.


The thistledown's flying, though the winds are all still,
On the green grass now lying, now mounting the hill,
The spring from the fountain now boils like a pot;
Through stones past the counting it bubbles red-hot.

The ground parched and cracked is like overbaked bread,
The greensward all wracked is, bents dried up and dead.
The fallow fields glitter like water indeed,
And gossamers twitter, flung from weed unto weed.

Hill-tops like hot iron glitter bright in the sun,
And the rivers we're eying burn to gold as they run;
Burning hot is the ground, liquid gold is the air;
Whoever looks round sees Eternity there.
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Life, Death, and Eternity

A shadow moving by one's side,
That would a substance seem;
That is, yet is not - though descried -
Like skies beneath the stream;
A tree that's ever in the bloom,
Whose fruit is never rife;
A wish for joys that never come,
Such are the hope of Life.

A dark, inevitable night,
A blank that will remain;
A waiting for the morning light,
Where waiting is in vain;
A gulph, where pathway never led
To show the depth beneath;
A thing we know not, yet we dread,
That dreaded thing is Death.

The vaulted void of purple sky
That everywhere extends,
That stretches from the dazzled eye,
In space that never ends;
A morning whose uprisen sun
No setting e'er shall see;
A day that comes without a noon,
Such is Eternity.
 Posted by Picasa


"Where art thou wandering, little child?"
I said to one I met to-day.--
She pushed her bonnet up and smiled,
"I'm going upon the green to play:
Folks tell me that the May's in flower,
That cowslip-peeps are fit to pull,
And I've got leave to spend an hour
To get this little basket full."

--And thou'st got leave to spend an hour!
My heart repeated.--She was gone;
--And thou hast heard the thorn's in flower,
And childhood's bliss is urging on:
Ah, happy child! thou mak'st me sigh,
This once as happy heart of mine,
Would nature with the boon comply,
How gladly would I change for thine.

The Fear of Flowers

The nodding oxeye bends before the wind,
The woodbine quakes lest boys their flowers should find,
And prickly dogrose spite of its array
Can't dare the blossom-seeking hand away,
While thistles wear their heavy knobs of bloom
Proud as a warhorse wears its haughty plume,
And by the roadside danger's self defy;
On commons where pined sheep and oxen lie
In ruddy pomp and ever thronging mood
It stands and spreads like danger in a wood,
And in the village street where meanest weeds
Can't stand untouched to fill their husks with seeds,
The haughty thistle oer all danger towers,
In every place the very wasp of flowers.

The Shepherd's Calendar


Old goody seeks her milking cloak
And hastens out to milk the cow
And fill the troughs to feed the sow
Or seeking old hens laid astray
Or from young chickens drives away
The circling kite that round them flyes
Waiting the chance to seize the prize
Hogs trye thro gates the street to gain
And steal into the fields of grain
From nights dull prison comes the duck
Waddling eager thro the muck
Squeezing thro the orchard pales
Where mornings bounty rarely fails
Eager gobbling as they pass
Dew worms thro the padded grass
Where blushing apples round and red
Load down the boughs and pat the head
Of longing maid that hither goes
To hang on lines the drying cloaths
Who views them oft with tempted eye
And steals one as she passes bye
Where the holly oak so tall
Far oer tops the garden wall
That latest blooms for bees provide
Hived on stone benches close beside
The bees their teazing music hum
And threaten war to all that come
Save the old dame whose jealous care
Places a trapping bottle there
Filled with mock sweets in whose disguise
The honey loving hornet dies
(excerpt) Posted by Picasa

Little Trotty Wagtail

Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain,
And tittering, tottering sideways he neer got straight again,
He stooped to get a worm, and looked up to get a fly,
And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.

Little trotty wagtail, he waddled in the mud,
And left his little footmarks, trample where he would.
He waddled in the water-pudge, and waggle went his tail,
And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail.

Little trotty wagtail, you nimble all about,
And in the dimpling water-pudge you waddle in and out;
Your home is nigh at hand, and in the warm pig-stye,
So, little Master Wagtail, I'll bid you a good-bye.

What is Life? (Final)

And what is Death? is still the cause unfound?
That dark, mysterious name of horrid sound?
A long and lingering sleep, the weary crave.
And Peace? where can its happiness abound?--
No where at all, save heaven, and the grave.

Then what is Life?--When stripped of its disguise,
A thing to be desired it cannot be;
Since every thing that meets our foolish eyes
Gives proof sufficient of its vanity.
Tis but a trial all must undergo;
To teach unthankful mortals how to prize
That happiness vain man's denied to know,
Until he's called to claim it in the skies.

What is Life? (2)

And thou, O Trouble? -- Nothing can suppose,
(And sure the power of wisdom only knows,)
What need requireth thee:
So free and liberal as thy bounty flows,
Some necessary cause must surely be;
But disappointments, pains, and every woe
Devoted wretches feel,
The universal plagues of life below,
Are mysteries still neath Fate's unbroken seal.

What is Life? (1)

And what is Life? -- An hour-glass on the run,
A mist retreating from the morning sun,
A busy, bustling, still repeated dream;
Its length? -- A minute's pause, a moment's thought;
And happiness? -- A bubble on the stream,
That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought.

What are vain Hopes? -- The puffing gale of morn,
That of its charms divests the dewy lawn,
And robs each floweret of its gem -- and dies;
A cobweb hiding disappointment's thorn,
Which stings more keenly through the thin disguise.

Summer Evening (Final)

The night-wind now, with sooty wings,
In the cotter's chimney sings;
Now, as stretching oer the bed,
Soft I raise my drowsy head,
Listening to the ushering charms,
That shake the elm tree's mossy arms:
Till sweet slumbers stronger creep,
Deeper darkness stealing round,
Then, as rocked, I sink to sleep,
Mid the wild wind's lulling sound.
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Summer Evening (VI)

Dark and darker glooms the sky;
Sleep gins close the labourer's eye:
Dobson leaves his greensward seat,
Neighbours where they neighbours meet
Crops to praise, and work in hand,
And battles tell from foreign land.
While his pipe is puffing out,
Sue he's putting to the rout,
Gossiping, who takes delight
To shool her knitting out at night,
And back-bite neighbours bout the town--
Who's got new caps, and who a gown,
And many a thing, her evil eye
Can see they don't come honest by.
Chattering at a neighbour's house,
She hears call out her frowning spouse;
Prepared to start, she soodles home,
Her knitting twisting oer her thumb,
As, both to leave, afraid to stay,
She bawls her story all the way;
The tale so fraught with 'ticing charms,
Her apron folded oer her arms.
She leaves the unfinished tale, in pain,
To end as evening comes again:
And in the cottage gangs with dread,
To meet old Dobson's timely frown,
Who grumbling sits, prepared for bed,
While she stands chelping bout the town.
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Summer Evening (V)

Come, poor birds, from foes severe
Fearless come, you're welcome here;
My heart yearns at fate like yours,
A sparrow's life's as sweet as ours.
Hardy clowns! grudge not the wheat
Which hunger forces birds to eat:
Your blinded eyes, worst foes to you,
Can't see the good which sparrows do.
Did not poor birds with watching rounds
Pick up the insects from your grounds,
Did they not tend your rising grain,
You then might sow to reap in vain.
Thus Providence, right understood,
Whose end and aim is doing good,
Sends nothing here without its use;
Though ignorance loads it with abuse,
And fools despise the blessing sent,
And mock the Giver's good intent.--
O God, let me what's good pursue,
Let me the same to others do
As I'd have others do to me,
And learn at least humanity.
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Summer Evening (IV)

To loose the door its fastening pin,
And let him with his corn begin.
Round the yard, a thousand ways,
Beasts in expectation gaze,
Catching at the loads of hay
Passing fodderers tug away.
Hogs with grumbling, deafening noise,
Bother round the server boys;
And, far and near, the motley group
Anxious claim their suppering-up.

From the rest, a blest release,
Gabbling home, the quarreling geese
Seek their warm straw-littered shed,
And, waddling, prate away to bed.
Nighted by unseen delay,
Poking hens, that lose their way,
On the hovel's rafters rise,
Slumbering there, the fox's prize.
Now the cat has ta'en her seat,
With her tail curled round her feet;
Patiently she sits to watch
Sparrows fighting on the thatch.
Now Doll brings the expected pails,
And dogs begin to wag their tails;
With strokes and pats they're welcomed in,
And they with looking wants begin;
Slove in the milk-pail brimming o'er,
She pops their dish behind the door.
Prone to mischief boys are met,
Neath the eaves the ladder's set,
Sly they climb in softest tread,
To catch the sparrow on his bed;
Massacred, O cruel pride!
Dashed against the ladder's side.
Curst barbarians! pass me by;
Come not, Turks, my cottage nigh;
Sure my sparrows are my own,
Let ye then my birds alone.
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Summer Evening (III)

In tall grass, by fountain head,
Weary then he drops to bed.
From the hay-cock's moistened heaps,
Startled frogs take vaunting leaps;
And along the shaven mead,
Jumping travellers, they proceed:
Quick the dewy grass divides,
Moistening sweet their speckled sides;
From the grass or flowret's cup,
Quick the dew-drop bounces up.
Now the blue fog creeps along,
And the bird's forgot his song:
Flowers now sleep within their hoods;
Daisies button into buds;
From soiling dew the butter-cup
Shuts his golden jewels up;
And the rose and woodbine they
Wait again the smiles of day.
Neath the willow's wavy boughs,
Dolly, singing, milks her cows;
While the brook, as bubbling by,
Joins in murmuring melody.
Dick and Dob, with jostling joll,
Homeward drag the rumbling roll;
Whilom Ralph, for Doll to wait,
Lolls him o'er the pasture gate.
Swains to fold their sheep begin;
Dogs loud barking drive them in.
Hedgers now along the road
Homeward bend beneath their load;
And from the long furrowed seams,
Ploughmen loose their weary teams:
Ball, with urging lashes wealed,
Still so slow to drive a-field,
Eager blundering from the plough,
Wants no whip to drive him now;
At the stable-door he stands,
Looking round for friendly hands
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Summer Evening (II)

Bats flit by in hood and cowl;
Through the barn-hole pops the owl;
From the hedge, in drowsy hum,
Heedless buzzing beetles bum,
Haunting every bushy place,
Flopping in the labourer's face.
Now the snail hath made its ring;
And the moth with snowy wing
Circles round in winding whirls,
Through sweet evening's sprinkled pearls,
On each nodding rush besprent;
Dancing on from bent to bent;
Now to downy grasses clung,
Resting for a while he's hung;
Then, to ferry oer the stream,
Vanishing as flies a dream;
Playful still his hours to keep,
Till his time has come to sleep;
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Summer Evening (I)

The sinking sun is taking leave,
And sweetly gilds the edge of Eve,
While huddling clouds of purple dye
Gloomy hang the western sky.
Crows crowd croaking over head,
Hastening to the woods to bed.
Cooing sits the lonely dove,
Calling home her absent love.
With "Kirchup! Kirchup!" mong the wheats
Partridge distant partridge greets;
Beckoning hints to those that roam,
That guide the squandered covey home.
Swallows check their winding flight,
And twittering on the chimney light.
Round the pond the martins flirt,
Their snowy breasts bedaubed with dirt,
While the mason, neath the slates,
Each mortar-bearing bird awaits:
By art untaught, each labouring spouse
Curious daubs his hanging house.
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Merry Maid

Bonny and stout and brown, without a hat,
She frowns offended when they call her fat--
Yet fat she is, the merriest in the place,
And all can know she wears a pretty face.
But still she never heeds what praise can say,
But does the work, and oft runs out to play,
To run about the yard and ramp and noise
And spring the mop upon the servant boys.
When old hens noise and cackle every where
She hurries eager if the eggs are dear,
And runs to seek them when they lay away
To get them ready for the market day.
She gambols with the men and laughs aloud
And only quarrels when they call her proud.

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The Hen's Nest

Among the orchard weeds, from every search,
Snugly and sure, the old hen's nest is made,
Who cackles every morning from her perch
To tell the servant girl new eggs are laid;
Who lays her washing by, and far and near
Goes seeking all about from day to day,
And stung with nettles tramples everywhere;
But still the cackling pullet lays away.
The boy on Sundays goes the stack to pull
In hopes to find her there, but naught is seen,
And takes his hat and thinks to find it full,
She's laid so long so many might have been.
But naught is found and all is given o'er
Till the young brood come chirping to the door. Posted by Picasa

Remembrances (excerpt)

When jumping time away on old Crossberry Way,
And eating awes like sugarplums ere they had lost the may,
And skipping like a leveret before the peep of day
On the roly poly up and downs of pleasant Swordy Well,
When in Round Oak's narrow lane as the south got black again
We sought the hollow ash that was shelter from the rain,
With our pockets full of peas we had stolen from the grain;
How delicious was the dinner time on such a showery day!
O words are poor receipts for what time hath stole away,
The ancient pulpit trees and the play.

(Ok, I know it's an oak, but I didn't have a photo of an hollow ash)!
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The Tramp

He eats (a moment's stoppage to his song)
The stolen turnip as he goes along;
And hops along and heeds with careless eye
The passing crowded stage coach reeling bye.
He talks to none but wends his silent way,
And finds a hovel at the close of day,
Or under any hedge his house is made.
He has no calling and he owns no trade.
An old smoaked blanket arches oer his head,
A whisp of straw or stubble makes his bed.
He knows a lawless law that claims no kin
But meet and plunder on and feel no sin--
No matter where they go or where they dwell
They dally with the winds and laugh at hell.
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Summer Images (Final)

I love to walk the fields, they are to me
A legacy no evil can destroy;
They, like a spell, set every rapture free
That cheered me when a boy.
Play--pastime--all time's blotting pen concealed,
Comes like a new-born joy,
To greet me in the field.

For nature's objects ever harmonize
With emulous taste, that vulgar deed annoys;
It loves in quiet moods to sympathize,
And meet vibrating joys
Oer nature's pleasant things; nor will it deem
Pastime the muse employs
A vain obtrusive theme.
 Posted by Picasa

Summer Images (XIII)

Now homeward-bound, the hedger bundles round
His evening faggot, and with every stride
His leathern doublet leaves a rustling sound.
Till silly sheep beside
His path start tremulous, and once again
Look back dissatisfied,
Then scour the dewy plain.

How sweet the soothing calm that smoothly stills
Oer the heart's every sense its opiate dews,
In meek-eyed moods and ever balmy trills!
That softens and subdues,
With gentle quiet's bland and sober train,
Which dreamy eve renews
In many a mellow strain.
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Helpston 2005

(Reedbeds - Carry Akroyd)

Just arrived home from the 24th Annual John Clare Festival in Helpston... as always a treat. Wish you could have heard Ronnie Blythe's talk on 'Clare and the Gypsies'... no doubt it will surface in one publication or another one day, or indeed on the planned Autumn 2005 CD... it was a joy to be there.

A publication to look out for: "The Wood is Sweet" a selection of Clare poems, selected and introduced by David Powell, and wonderfully illustrated with Carry Akroyd's evocative linocuts. For further information have a look at

www.johnclare.org.uk - The John Clare Society Website

www.carryakroyd.co.uk - Carrie's wonderfully illustrated Website (a 'must see') Posted by Picasa

Summer Images (XII)

The pranking bat its nighty circlet makes;
The glow-worm burnishes its lamp anew
Oer meadows dew-besprent; and beetle wakes
Enquiries ever new,
Teazing each passing ear with murmurs vain,
As wanting to pursue
His homeward path again.

Hark to the melody of distant bells
That on the wind with pleasing hum rebounds
By fitful starts, then musically swells
Oer the dun stilly grounds;
While on the meadow bridge the pausing boy
Listens the mellow sounds,
And hums in vacant joy.
 Posted by Picasa

Summer Images (XI)

And wind-enamoured aspin--mark the leaves
Turn up their silver lining to the sun,
And list! the brustling noise, that oft deceives,
And makes the sheep-boy run;
The sound so mimics fast-approaching showers,
He thinks the rain begun,
And hastes to sheltering bowers.

But now the evening curdles dank and grey,
Changing her watchet hue for sombre weed;
And moping owls, to close the lids of day,
On drowsy wing proceed;
While chickering crickets, tremulous and long,
Light's farewell inly heed,
And give it parting song.
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Summer Images (X)

I love the south-west wind, or low or loud,
And not the less when sudden drops of rain
Moisten my pallid cheek from ebon cloud,
Threatening soft showers again,
That over lands new ploughed and meadow grounds,
Summer's sweet breath unchain,
And wake harmonious sounds.

Rich music breathes in summer's every sound;
And in her harmony of varied greens,
Woods, meadows, hedge-rows, corn-fields, all around
Much beauty intervenes,
Filling with harmony the ear and eye;
While oer the mingling scenes
Far spreads the laughing sky.
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Summer Images (IX)

Or swallow heed on smoke-tanned chimney top,
Wont to be first unsealing morning's eye,
Ere yet the bee hath gleaned one wayward drop
Of honey on his thigh;
To see him seek morn's airy couch to sing,
Until the golden sky
Bepaint his russet wing:

And sawning boy by tanning corn espy,
With clapping noise to startle birds away,
And hear him bawl to every passer by
To know the hour of day;
And see the uncradled breeze, refreshed and strong,
With waking blossoms play,
And breathe eolian song.
 Posted by Picasa

Summer Images (VIII)

I love at early morn, from new mown swath,
To see the startled frog his route pursue;
To mark while, leaping oer the dripping path,
His bright sides scatter dew,
The early lark that, from its bustle flies,
To hail his matin new;
And watch him to the skies:

To note on hedgerow baulks, in moisture sprent,
The jetty snail creep from the mossy thorn,
With earnest heed, and tremulous intent,
Frail brother of the morn,
That from the tiny bents and misted leaves
Withdraws his timid horn,
And fearful vision weaves:
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Summer Images (VII)

And mark by rustic bridge, oer shallow stream,
Cow-tending boy, to toil unreconciled,
Absorbed as in some vagrant summer dream;
Who now, in gestures wild,
Starts dancing to his shadow on the wall,
Feeling self-gratified,
Nor fearing human thrall:

Then thread the sunny valley laced with streams,
Or forests rude, and the oershadowed brims
Of simple ponds, where idle shepherd dreams,
And streaks his listless limbs;
Or trace hay-scented meadows, smooth and long,
Where joy's wild impulse swims
In one continued song.
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Summer Images (VI)

And green lane traverse heedless where it goes
Nought guessing, till some sudden turn espies
Rude battered finger post, that stooping shows
Where the snug mystery lies;
And then a mossy spire, with ivy crown,
Clears up the short surprise,
And shows a peeping town.

I see the wild flowers, in their summer morn
Of beauty, feeding on joy's luscious hours;
The gay convolvulus, wreathing round the thorn,
Agape for honey showers;
And slender kingcup, burnished with the dew
Of morning's early hours,
Like gold yminted new;
(tbc) Posted by Picasa

Summer Images (V)

And think me how some barter joy for care,
And waste life's summer-health in riot rude,
Of nature, nor of nature's sweets aware;
Where passions vain and rude
By calm reflection, softened are and still;
And the heart's better mood
Feels sick of doing ill.

There I can live, and at my leisure seek
Joys far from cold restraints - not fearing pride -
Free as the winds, that breathe upon my cheek
Rude health, so long denied.
Here poor integrity can sit at ease,
And list self-satisfied
The song of honey-bees;
 Posted by Hello