In Hilly Wood

How sweet to be thus nestling deep in boughs
Upon an ashen stoven pillowing me
Faintly are heard the ploughmen at their ploughs
But near an eye can find its way to see
The sun beams scarce molest me wi a smile
So thick the leafy armies gather round
& where they do the breeze blows cool the while
Their leafy shadows dancing on the ground
—Full many a flower too wishing to be seen
Perks up its head the hiding grass between—
In midwood silence thus how sweet to be
Where all the noises that on peace intrude
Comes from the chittering cricket bird & bee
Whose songs have charms to sweeten solitude

The Village Minstrel, and Other Poems (2 volumes, 1821)
[Image: Carry Akroyd]


Anonymous said...

Hilly Wood is still there

Roger R... said...

Just a few months ago I was running south down King Street (now known as Langley Bush Road) from Helpston, when I realised that the woods on my right and left were almost entirely unchanged since they were walked by Clare in the early years of the nineteenth century. The names are so familiar to Cleareans worldwide: Rice (Royce) Wood, Hilly Wood, Oxhey Wood, Lampits Spinney, Southey Wood and the quite wonderful Castor Hanglands and Emmonsale Heath... (for the rest you will have to be at the Festival in July).

Anonymous said...

Will be there at Easter taking photographs of the woods. I'm not sure how unchanged the woods are, there seemed to be few if any very mature trees (ie a few hundred years old) - would this have been the case in Clare's time? Also I'm not sure how much these woodlands have been reduced in size - Hilly wood is very small. I constantly hear that Helpston was "destroyed" by enclosure and agribusiness - it was certainly changed but i feel it is important to remember AS YOU SAY - much still survives, even Clare's cottage, his home of homes however sterile it is presently

Anonymous said...

it is. I spent a lot of my adolescent yrs in there . occassionally a gamekeeper would give chase ! always imagined it much bigger in clares day