Untitled [Langley Bush is no more]

The hind that were chopping them up for his fire
Een stood like a poet awhile to admire
& when I last sat here to listen the thrush
I lookd on yon knowll at our favourite bush
Were gipseys campd round it in freedom did dwell
& a swain told its history that knew it so well
About a court yearly being kept neath its boughs
In its youth—when his forefathers herded the cows
While the bush oer our heads blooming feeble & old
Seemd listning in sorrow the story he told
& sighd as the winds summer breath flutterd bye
Its few scatterd leaves as one ready to dye
Tho the gipseys haunt still the lovd spot as before
& the swain calls it still by the name it once bore
Langley bush with its scard trunk & grey mossy bough
Is fled & the scene is left desolate now
A storm that made shepherds in dread for an hour
& boild oer the hills with its thunder & shower
Struck it down to the earth were it withering lay
Till the gipseys sought firing & hauld it away
When the shepherd returnd as the tempest was bye
From his hut of thatchd brakes that had sheltered him dry
He lookd with supprise & a fearful anoy
On the fall of his favourite known from a boy
& I thus to witness its sorrowful end
Feel a loss for its fate as I do for a friend

Langley Bush was an old whitethorn tree that stood at the junction of the parishes of Ufford, Upton, Ailsworth and Helpston and was the traditional meeting place of Langdyke Hundred and the hundred court. It was a key landmark for Clare, not least as one of the favoured haunts of the local gypsies, with whom Clare had a particular affinity. The original bush was one of the victims of the enclosure movement, as Clare notes:

“By Langley Bush I roam, but the bush have left its hill” (Remembrances)

A new Langley Bush has been planted in recent years and can be seen from King Street (the old Roman Road running north/south through the area) just before the sharp turn west towards Southey Woods after Heath Farm.

2 comments:

purejuice said...

thanks for this. even if it only commemorates the death of the old, natural world of clare, it's good news.
is a bush a tree or a copse?

Roger R. said...

A tree. A copse is a group of trees.

RR