Rural Morning (II)

Onward he jolls, nor can the minstrel-throngs
Entice him once to listen to their songs;
Nor marks he once a blossom on his way;
A senseless lump of animated clay--
With weather-beaten hat of rusty brown,
Stranger to brinks, and often to a crown;
With slop-frock suiting to the ploughman's taste,
Its greasy skirtings twisted round his waist;
And hardened high-lows clenched with nails around,
Clamping defiance oer the stoney ground,
The deadly foes to many a blossomed sprout
That luckless meets him in his morning's rout.
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1 comment:

Nomad said...

'Clamping defiance oer the stoney ground'-- marvellous! You can just hear it, can't you. It makes you wince as though you were being trodden on by the hefty boots, as well!

I do like the 'senseless lump of animated clay', as well.

This is Clare being the *realistic* rural poet (as Bate notes well): refusing to paint every countryman or -woman as shining, freshly-scrubbed innocents utterly 'in touch' with the natural world. But, for all that, still belonging entirely, as much shaped and smeared by the elements as the horse he'll ride and the plants he tramples. He paints a different kind of fittingness, if that's the right word, though not one that'd sell well as a chocolate-box picture!

I confess I (rolling along on my bicycle) feel a 'deadly foe' to many a creeping snail that I don't see on the tow-path until too late. Mea culpa.