Ballad: "Ive often had hours..."

Ive often had hours to be meeting the lasses
& wisht that the sun in his setting coud stay
& old creeping time a doz'd over his glasses
& make lovers hours at least long as a day

But when at the even loves presence were greeting
Swift as the race horse time seems to spur bye
& when lovers part till the next hour of meeting
As slow as a snail creeps the lagging hours dye

& Ive been wi many as fair as thee Mary
& Ive kissd full many a cheek red as thine
& round as soft bosoms in dresses as airy
My arm did full often enrapturd entwine

But never o never such 'lectrified feeling
Ere throbd thro my heart be as fair as they be
When round thy sweet charms my embraces was stealing
My soul stood spectator in presence of thee

The mould of an angel gave birth to thee Mary
& all reason startld away from thy charms
My senses mixd vapour in summer gales airy
& thou seemd imortal when rapt in my arms

& Ive met wi blisses & crosses contrary
But that happy moment that blest me wi thee
That heaven crownd swoonings unrivald my Mary
Nor can hell be worse then that parting wi thee

The Early Poems of John Clare 1804-1822,
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and Margaret Grainger
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1989)

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