The Crow

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.

Schoolboys in Winter

The schoolboys still their morning ramble take
To neighboring village school with playing speed,
Loitering with passtime's leisure till they quake,
Oft looking up the wild-geese droves to heed,
Watching the letters which their journeys make;
Or plucking haws on which their fieldfares feed,
And hips and sloes; and on each shallow lake
Making glib slides, where they like shadows go
Till some fresh passtimes in their minds awake.
Then off they start anew and hasty blow
Their numbed and clumpsing fingers till they glow;
Then races with their shadows wildly run
That stride huge giants o'er the shining snow
In the pale splendour of the winter sun.

The "pale splendour of the winter sun" is even now shining through my study window. We are off to walk on Woodbury Common again (see previous entry)... and hope not to be too "numbed and clumpsing...". Incidentally, you can listen to a walk on the Common if you follow the BBC link: a treat!

Emmonsail's Heath in Winter

I love to see the old heath's withered brake
Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling,
While the old heron from the lonely lake
Starts slow and flaps his melancholy wing,
And oddling crow in idle motions swing
On the half rotten ashtree's topmost twig,
Beside whose trunk the gipsy makes his bed.
Up flies the bouncing woodcock from the brig
Where a black quagmire quakes beneath the tread,
The fieldfares chatter in the whistling thorn
And for the awe round fields and closen rove,
And coy bumbarrels twenty in a drove
Flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain
And hang on little twigs and start again.

Have a look at these three sites for a glimpse of Woodbury Common (see posting below)... just a few minutes up the road from our home... unchanged in centuries.

The Winter's Spring

A Clare poem for this Siberian blast we are experiencing in the UK at present

The winter comes; I walk alone,
I want no bird to sing;
To those who keep their hearts their own
The winter is the spring.
No flowers to please--no bees to hum--
The coming spring's already come.

I never want the Christmas rose
To come before its time;
The seasons, each as God bestows,
Are simple and sublime.
I love to see the snowstorm hing;
'Tis but the winter garb of spring.

I never want the grass to bloom:
The snowstorm's best in white.
I love to see the tempest come
And love its piercing light.
The dazzled eyes that love to cling
O'er snow-white meadows sees the spring.

I love the snow, the crumpling snow
That hangs on everything,
It covers everything below
Like white dove's brooding wing,
A landscape to the aching sight,
A vast expanse of dazzling light.

It is the foliage of the woods
That winters bring--the dress,
White Easter of the year in bud,
That makes the winter Spring.
The frost and snow his posies bring,
Nature's white spurts of the spring.

Snow Storm

What a night! The wind howls, hisses, and but stops
To howl more loud, while the snow volley keeps
Incessant batter at the window pane,
Making our comfort feel as sweet again;
And in the morning, when the tempest drops,
At every cottage door mountainous heaps
Of snow lie drifted, that all entrance stops
Untill the beesom and the shovel gain
The path, and leave a wall on either side.
The shepherd rambling valleys white and wide
With new sensations his old memory fills,
When hedges left at night, no more descried,
Are turned to one white sweep of curving hills,
And trees turned bushes half their bodies hide.

The boy that goes to fodder with surprise
Walks oer the gate he opened yesternight.
The hedges all have vanished from his eyes;
Een some tree tops the sheep could reach to bite.
The novel scene emboldens new delight,
And, though with cautious steps his sports begin,
He bolder shuffles the huge hills of snow,
Till down he drops and plunges to the chin,
And struggles much and oft escape to win--
Then turns and laughs but dare not further go;
For deep the grass and bushes lie below,
Where little birds that soon at eve went in
With heads tucked in their wings now pine for day
And little feel boys oer their heads can stray.

Mary Bateman

My love she wears a cotton plaid,
A bonnet of the straw;
Her cheeks are leaves of roses spread,
Her lips are like the haw.
In truth she is as sweet a maid
As true love ever saw.

Her curls are ever in my eyes,
As nets by Cupid flung;
Her voice will oft my sleep surprise,
More sweet then ballad sung.
O Mary Bateman's curling hair!
I wake, and there is nothing there.

I wake, and fall asleep again,
The same delights in visions rise;
There's nothing can appear more plain
Than those rose cheeks and those bright eyes.
I wake again, and all alone
Sits Darkness on his ebon throne.

All silent runs the silver Trent,
The cobweb veils are all wet through,
A silver bead's on every bent,
On every leaf a bleb of dew.
I sighed, the moon it shone so clear;
Was Mary Bateman walking here?

Where she told her Love

I saw her crop a rose
Right early in the day,
And I went to kiss the place
Where she broke the rose away
And I saw the patten rings
Where she o'er the stile had gone,
And I love all other things
Her bright eyes look upon.
If she looks upon the hedge or up the leafing tree,
The whitethorn or the brown oak are made dearer things to me.

I have a pleasant hill
Which I sit upon for hours,
Where she cropt some sprigs of thyme
And other little flowers;
And she muttered as she did it
As does beauty in a dream,
And I loved her when she hid it
On her breast, so like to cream,
Near the brown mole on her neck that to me a diamond shone;
Then my eye was like to fire, and my heart was like to stone.

There is a small green place
Where cowslips early curled,
Which on Sabbath day I traced,
The dearest in the world.
A little oak spreads o'er it,
And throws a shadow round,
A green sward close before it,
The greenest ever found:
There is not a woodland nigh nor is there a green grove,
Yet stood the fair maid nigh me and told me all her love.

The ants

What wonder strikes the curious, while he views
The black ant's city, by a rotten tree,
Or woodland bank! In ignorance we muse:
Pausing, annoyed,--we know not what we see,
Such government and thought there seem to be;
Some looking on, and urging some to toil,
Dragging their loads of bent-stalks slavishly:
And what's more wonderful, when big loads foil
One ant or two to carry, quickly then
A swarm flock round to help their fellow-men.
Surely they speak a language whisperingly,
Too fine for us to hear; and sure their ways
Prove they have kings and laws, and that they be
Deformed remnants of the Fairy-days.

Now is Past

Now is past - the happy now
When we together roved
Beneath the wildwood's oak-tree bough
And Nature said we loved.
Winter's blast
The now since then has crept between,
And left us both apart.
Winters that withered all the green
Have froze the beating heart.
Now is past.

Now is past since last we met
Beneath the hazel bough;
Before the evening sun was set
Her shadow stretched below.
Autumn's blast
Has stained and blighted every bough;
Wild strawberries like her lips
Have left the mosses green below,
Her bloom's upon the hips.
Now is past.

Now is past, is changed agen,
The woods and fields are painted new.
Wild strawberries which both gathered then,
None know now where they grew.
The skys oercast.
Wood strawberries faded from wood sides,
Green leaves have all turned yellow;
No Adelaide walks the wood rides,
True love has no bed-fellow.
Now is past.


Mary, leave thy lowly cot
When thy thickest jobs are done;
When thy friends will miss thee not,
Mary, to the pastures run.
Where we met the other night
Neath the bush upon the plain,
Be it dark or be it light,
Ye may guess we'll meet again.

Should ye go or should ye not,
Never shilly-shally, dear.
Leave your work and leave your cot,
Nothing need ye doubt or fear:
Fools may tell ye lies in spite,
Calling me a roving swain;
Think what passed the other night--
I'll be bound ye'll meet again.

Sorrow for a favourite tabby cat, who left this scene of troubles, Friday Night, Nov. 26, 1819

Let brutish hearts, as hard as stones,
Mock The weak Muse's tender moans,
As now she wails o'er Titty's bones
With anguish deep;
Doubtless o'er parent's dying groans
They'd little weep.

Ah, Pity! thine's a tender heart,
Thy sigh soon heaves, thy tears soon start;
And thou hast given the muse her part
Salt tears to shed,
To mourn and sigh with sorrow's smart;
For pussy's dead.

Ah, mourning Memory! 'neath thy pall
Thou utterest many a piercing call,
Pickling in vinegar's sour gall
Ways that are fled -
The way, the feats, the tricks, and all,
Of pussy dead.

Thou tell'st of all the gamesome plays
That mark'd her happy kitten-days:
-Ah, I did love her funny way
On the sand floor;
But now sad sorrow damps my lays:
Pussy's no more.

Thou paint'st her flirting round and round,
As she was wont, with things she'd found,
Chasing the spider o'er the ground,
Straws pushing on;
Thou paint'st them on a bosom-wound:
Poor pussy's gone.

Ah mice, rejoice! ye've lost your foe,
Who watch'd your scheming robberies so,
That while she liv'd twa'n't yours to know
A crumb of bread;
'Tis yours to triumph, mine's the woe,
Now pussy's dead.

While pussy liv'd ye'd empty maws;
No sooner peep'd ye out your nose,
But ye were instant in her claws
With squeakings dread:
Ye're now set free from tyrant-laws;
Poor pussy's dead.

Left freely here to prowl at night,
To wake me, like some squeaking sprite,
There's nothing now but ye dare bite,
Your terror's fled;
Put up I must with all your spite,
Poor pussy's dead.

But if "wide nicks" ye mean to run,
To scoop my barley crust in fun,
And drop your tails on't when ye've done,
Beware your head;
Or ye'll find what ye'd wish to shun,
Though pussy's dead.

As sure's you're born within your clothes,
If puss can't nab ye by the nose,
I'll find a scheme ye'd ill-suppose
To save my bread;
Ye may'nt too much infringe the laws,
If pussy's dead.

So don't ye drive your jokes too far,
Ye cupboard-plunderers as ye are;
For while I've sixpence left to spare,
And traps are had,
I'll make among ye dreadful war,
Though pussy's dead.

And now, poor puss! thou'st lost thy breath,
And decent laid the molds beneath,
As ere a cat could wish in death
For her last bed;
This to thy memory I bequeath,
Poor pussy dead!

Young Lambs

The spring is coming by a many signs;
The trays are up, the hedges broken down,
That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two—till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
And then a little lamb bolts up behind
The hill and wags his tail to meet the yoe,
And then another, sheltered from the wind,
Lies all his length as dead—and lets me go
Close bye and never stirs but baking lies,
With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.