The Green Wood Side

I wandered down a green wood side
On Sunday noon in spring
Where little birds their dwellings hide
And Thrushes sweetly sing
The moss so green round Hazel roots
The Primrose by its side
That in its brimstone livery shoots
In bunches far and wide

Oh there I met a pretty maid
The fairest of her kind
She stood beneath the Hazels shade
Where lightly blew the wind
I gave her cheek a hearty smack
As leaning on her neck
Her soft hair trailed adown her back
Without a mark or Speck

Within the dyke the bullrush grew
Although the place was dry
And Thrushes nest wi’ Eggs o' blue
Did on the hedge ribs lye
The Woodbines in green leaves look'd wan
The Blue bell stooped i' pride
And there I claspt my bonny Ann
Along the greenwood side

Oh bonny Ann Oh bonny Ann
What makes you look so fair
Is it the love for some fond man
Or is't for none you care
My love to thee my bonny Ann
Where primrose blooms wi’ pride
I’ll talk and please thee all I can
Down by the greenwood side

(for a lady...)

A Christmas Treat

[Image: from the Shepherds Calendar ~ Carry Akroyd]

An excerpt from Ronnie Blythe's Word from Wormingford, published weekly in the Church Times...

"I HAD hardly turned my back on the late afternoon when the vast, bleached Advent moon swung up in the north-east. It whitened the puddles and lit the wet fields. The paths are darkened with sodden leaves, and rainwater dribbles from a blocked gutter.

Carry Akroyd arrives from far Northamptonshire, and we splash off to Lavenham for Sunday lunch. My boyhood lanes twist and turn through a scrubbed universe. The pub restaurants boom in and out of season.

When we walked here long ago, Lavenham was still asleep after all the toil of the Middle Ages, when the looms clattered in every cottage, the sheep were Abrahamic, and wool was gold. We visit Carry’s exhibition in the wildlife gallery, where her hares and foxes slink across canvas and paper. She is mistress of the fenland nocturn and of the geometry of sluices and cuts, of measureless skies, and this end-of-the-year moon. Our mutual passion is John Clare.

For everything I felt a love,
The weeds below, the birds above.

She can actually paint that amazing second when a thousand starlings turn left, turn right, all at once. Their only human equivalent is a thousand North Korean soldiers on parade, a breathtaking drill not without its absurdity.

Carry gone, I take part in the Advent carol service at Little Horkesley. Packed church and much expectancy. The stunning Advent antiphons, the gloriously scary Advent hymns. The first andsecond coming, the one precipit­ating the other... "

A very Happy and Blessed Christmas to all followers of this weblog... it's a labour of love for me.

The Stranger

His presence was a peace to all,
He bade the sorrowful rejoice.
Pain turned to pleasure at his call,
Health lived and issued from his voice.
He healed the sick and sent abroad
The dumb rejoicing in the Lord.

The blind met daylight in his eye,
The joys of everlasting day;
The sick found health in his reply;
The cripple threw his crutch away.
Yet he with troubles did remain
And suffered poverty and pain.

Yet none could say of wrong he did,
And scorn was ever standing bye;
Accusers by their conscience chid,
When proof was sought, made no reply.
Yet without sin he suffered more
Than ever sinners did before.


I would not feign a single sigh
Nor weep a single tear for thee:
The soul within these orbs burns dry;
A desert spreads where love should be.
I would not be a worm to crawl
A writhing suppliant in thy way;
For love is life, is heaven, and all
The beams of an immortal day.

For sighs are idle things and vain,
And tears for idiots vainly fall.
I would not kiss thy face again
Nor round thy shining slippers crawl.
Love is the honey, not the bee,
Nor would I turn its sweets to gall
For all the beauty found in thee,
Thy lily neck, rose cheek, and all.

I would not feign a single tale
Thy kindness or thy love to seek;
Nor sigh for Jenny of the Vale,
Her ruby smile or rosy cheek.
I would not have a pain to own
For those dark curls and those bright eyes
A frowning lip, a heart of stone,
False love and folly I despise.

From: Poems Chiefly from Manuscript

Walks in the Woods (excerpt)

Oh, I do love to force a way
Through woods where lone the woodman goes,
Through all the matted shades to stray,
The brambles tearing at my clothes;
And it may tear; I love the noise
And hug the solitary joys.

The woodman, he from top to toe
In leathern doublet brushes on;
He cares not where his rambles go,
Thorns, briers, he beats them every one;
Their utmost spite his armour foils;
Unhurt, he dares his daily toils.

Knee-deep in fern he daily stoops
And loud his bill or hatchet chops,
As snug he trims the faggot up
Or gaps in mossy hedges stops;
While echo chops as he hath done
As if she counted every one.

You promised me, a year ago

You promised me, a year ago,
When autumn bleach'd the mistletoe,
That you and I should be as one;
But now another autumn's gone—
Its solemn knell is in the blast,
And love's bright sun is overcast;
Yet flowers will bloom and birds will sing,
And e'en the winter claim the spring.

The hedges will be green again,
And flowers will come on hill and plain;
And though we meet a rainy day,
The hawthorn will be white with May.
If love and nature still agree,
Green leaves will clothe the trysting-tree;
And when these pleasing days you view,
Think Lucy's heart yet be true.

After a fine winter's day

The sun lookd out the dreary scene to bless
Old winters grinning horrors forcful smild
His flinty bosom thawd wi tenderness
So fiercfull savages have melted mild
Neath the sweet looks of womans lovliness
So poesy thy witcheries so wild
Doth warm the chilly heart of wants distress
& forcful give a joy to natures child
Spite of his anguish—ah he coud express
Full many a pleasure & full many a pain
Mingling like gaul & honey sun & rain
A fine decembers day thou art to me
Tho winter still beneath thy rays remain
Her grinning frowns are melted soft by thee

from 'November'

The cleanly maiden thro the village streets
In pattens clicks down causways never drye
While eaves above head drops—where oft she meets
The school boy leering on wi mischiefs eye
Trying to splash her as he hurrys bye
While swains afield returning to their ploughs
Their passing aid wi gentle speech apply
And much loves rapture thrills when she allows
Their help wi offerd hand to lead her oer the sloughs
The hedger soakd wi the dull weather chops
On at his toils which scarcly keeps him warm
And every stroke he takes large swarms of drops
Patter about him like an april storm

The Shepherd’s Calendar