Mary (A Ballad)

Love is past and all the rest
Thereto belonging fled away
The most esteemed and valued best
Are faded all and gone away

How beautiful was Mary's dress
While dancing at the meadow ball
—'Tis twenty years or more at least
Since Mary seemed the first of all

Lord how young bonny Mary burnt
With blushes like the roses hue
My face like water thrown upon't
Turned white as lilies i' the dew

When grown a man I went to see
The school where Mary's name was known
I looked to find it on a Tree
But found it on a low grave stone

Now is past—was this the now
In fine straw-hat and ribbons gay
I'd court her neath the white thorn bough
And tell her all I had to say

But all is gone—and now is past
And still my spirits chill alone
Loves name that perished in the blast
Grows mossy on a church-yard stone

(11th November 1848)

3 comments:

Lionel Little said...

When grown a man I went to see
The school where Mary's name was known
I looked to find it on a Tree
But found it on a low grave stone

Is this true? Mary died in 1838 and John was sent to Northampton in 1841. Did he make this visit in that brief period he was at Northborough?
It's odd because all the accounts I've read say that we do not know that John ever did learn that Mary had died. Surely, without some proof that she was dead, he wouldn't have wrote this. In 1841 she would have been only 44 years old and though then it was not so unusual for people to die young, would John have just assumed that she was already dead?

Roger said...

Hi Lionel...

Absolutely. Funny thing, I have been writing a series of articles for the JC Society Newsletter about this very subject.

If you send me your email address, I will send you all three pieces for your perusal.

Suffice it to say here the poem (above) was written in 1848. By then Clare realised that all he had been told WAS true. She was dead (in a house fire in 1838). And yes, he did spend some months in Northborough/Glinton in the autumn of 1841.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Roger R.

Lionel Little said...

If you have time please send me the articals. My e-mail is; lionel.little@Gmail.com