Idle Fame

I would not wish the burning blaze
Of fame around a restless world,
The thunder and the storm of praise
In crowded tumults heard and hurled.
I would not be a flower to stand
The stare of every passer-bye;
But in some nook of fairyland,
Seen in the praise of beauty's eye.

--- oOo ---

20, Stratford Place, March 21st, 1828.

My Dear Patty,

I have been so long silent that I feel ashamed of it, but I have been so much engaged that I really have not had time to write; and the occasion of my writing now is only to tell you that I shall be at home next week for certain. I am anxious to see you and the children and I sincerely hope you are all well. I have bought the dear little creatures four books, and Henry Behnes has promised to send Frederick a wagon and horses as a box of music is not to be had. The books I have bought them are "Puss-in-Boots," "Cinderella," "Little Rhymes," and "The Old Woman and Pig"; tell them that the pictures are all coloured, and they must make up their minds to chuse which they like best ere I come home. Mrs. Emmerson desires to be kindly remembered to you, and intends sending the children some toys. I hope next Wednesday night at furthest will see me in my old corner once again amongst you. I have made up my mind to buy Baxter "The History of Greece," which I hope will suit him.

I have been poorly, having caught cold, and have been to Dr. Darling. I would have sent you some money which I know you want, but as I am coming home so soon I thought it much safer to bring it home myself than send it; and as this is only to let you know that I am coming home, I shall not write further than hoping you are all well -- kiss the dear children for me all round -- give my remembrances to all -- and believe me, my dear Patty,

Yours most affectionately,

John Clare

During this stay in London, Clare had had proofs that his poems were not completely overlooked. Strangers, recognizing him from the portrait in the "Village Minstrel," often addressed him in the street. In this way he first met Alaric A. Watts, and Henry Behnes, the sculptor, who induced Clare to sit to him. The result was a strong, intensely faithful bust (preserved now in the Northampton Free Library). Hilton, who had painted Clare in water-colours and in oils, celebrated with Behnes and Clare the modelling of this bust…

(from ‘Poems Chiefly From Manuscript’
Edited by Edmund Blunden and Alan Porter.
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1921

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