The Shepherd’s Calendar - June

Now summer is in flower and natures hum
Is never silent round her sultry bloom
Insects as small as dust are never done
Wi' glittering dance and reeling in the sun
And green wood fly and blossom haunting bee
Are never weary of their melody
Round field hedge now flowers in full glory twine
Large bindweed bells wild hop and streakd woodbine
That lift athirst their slender throated flowers
Agape for dewfalls and for honey showers
These round each bush in sweet disorder run
And spread their wild hues to the sultry sun.

from "Summer Images"

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.

from "Song's Eternity"

"Tootle tootle tootle tee" --
Can it be
Pride and fame must shadows be?
Come and see --
Every season own her own;
Bird and bee
Sing creation's music on;
Nature's glee
Is in every mood and tone

Clare the naturalist

May 25 1825
I watched a bluecap or blue titmouse feeding her young, whose nest was in a wall close to an orchard. She got caterpillars out of the blossoms of the apple trees and leaves of the plum. She fetched 120 caterpillars in half an hour. Now suppose she only feeds them four times a day, a quarter of an hour each time, she fetched no less than 480 caterpillars.

Love of Nature

I love thee, Nature, with a boundless love!
The calm of earth, the storm of roaring woods!
The winds breathe happiness where'er I rove!
There's life's own music in the swelling floods!
My heart is in the thunder-melting clouds,
The snow-cap't mountain, and the rolling sea!
And hear ye not the voice where darkness shrouds
The heavens? There lives happiness for me!

My pulse beats calmer while His lightnings play!
My eye, with earth's delusions waxing dim,
Clears with the brightness of eternal day!
The elements crash round me! It is He!
Calmly I hear His voice and never start.
From Eve's posterity I stand quite free,
Nor feel her curses rankle round my heart.

Love is not here. Hope is, and at His voice--
The rolling thunder and the roaring sea--
My pulses leap, and with the hills rejoice;
Then strife and turmoil are at end for me.
No matter where life's ocean leads me on,
For Nature is my mother, and I rest,
When tempests trouble and the sun is gone,
Like to a weary child upon her breast.

from November

Another of Clare's trees...
At length it comes among the forest oaks,
With sobbing ebbs, and uproar gathering high;
The scared, hoarse raven on its cradle croaks,
And stockdove-flocks in hurried terrors fly,
While the blue hawk hangs oer them in the sky.--
The hedger hastens from the storm begun,
To seek a shelter that may keep him dry;
And foresters low bent, the wind to shun,
Scarce hear amid the strife the poacher's muttering gun.

The Shepherd's Tree

I'm sure we all know such wonderful trees as the elm that Clare here immortalises in verse in this early poem:

Huge elm, with rifted trunk all notched and scarred,
Like to a warrior's destiny!
I love To stretch me often on thy shadowed sward,
And hear the laugh of summer leaves above;
Or on thy buttressed roots to sit, and lean
In careless attitude, and there reflect
On times, and deeds, and darings that have been --
Old castaways, now swallowed in neglect;
While thou art towering in thy strength of heart,
Stirring the soul to vain imaginings,
In which life's sordid being hath no part.
The wind of that eternal ditty sings,
Humming of future things, that burn the mind
To leave some fragment of itself behind.

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.

Excerpt from "The Village Minstrel"

O who can tell the sweets of May-day's morn,
To waken rapture in a feeling mind,
When the gilt East unveils her dappled dawn,
And the gay wood-lark has its nest resigned,
As slow the sun creeps up the hill behind;
Moon reddening round, and daylight's spotless hue,
As seemingly with rose and lily lined;
While all the prospect round beams fair to view,
Like a sweet Spring flower with its unsullied dew.

Ah, often, brushing through the dripping grass,
Has he been seen to catch this early charm,
List'ning to the "love song" of the healthy lass
Passing with milk-pail on her well-turned arm,
Or meeting objects from the rousing farm--
The jingling plough-teams driving down the steep
Waggon and cart, and shepherd dog's alarm,
Raising the bleatings of unfolding sheep,
As o'er the mountain top the red sun 'gins to peep.

The Shepherd's Calendar - May

[Image from Carry Akroyd’s linocut illustrating May from “The Shepherd’s Calendar 2007” published by Carcanet Publications]

My wild field catalogue of flowers
Grows in my ryhmes as thick as showers
Tedious and long as they may be
To some, they never weary me

The wood and mead and field of grain
I coud hunt oer and oer again
And talk to every blossom wild
Fond as a parent to a child

And cull them in my childish joy
By swarms and swarms and never cloy
When their lank shades oer morning pearls
Shrink from their lengths to little girls

And like the clock hand pointing one
Is turnd and tells the morning gone
They leave their toils for dinners hour
Beneath some hedges bramble bower

And season sweet their savory meals
Wi joke and tale and merry peals
Of ancient tunes from happy tongues
While linnets join their fitful songs

Perchd oer their heads in frolic play
Among the tufts of motling may
The young girls whisper things of love
And from the old dames hearing move

Oft making 'love knotts' in the shade
Of blue green oat or wheaten blade
And trying simple charms and spells
That rural superstition tells

They pull the little blossom threads
From out the knapweeds button heads
And put the husk wi many a smile
In their white bosoms for awhile

Who if they guess aright the swain
That loves sweet fancys trys to gain
Tis said that ere its lain an hour
Twill blossom wi a second flower

And from her white breasts hankerchief
Bloom as they ne'er had lost a leaf
When signs appear that token wet
As they are neath the bushes met

The girls are glad wi hopes of play
And harping of the holiday