'Revisiting the Helpston grave of John Clare' by Charles Causley

[It is very rare for me to post anything but poems by John Clare to this weblog... but in Charles Causley we encounter a poet with a love of Clare and his work.  Here is his poem 'Revisiting the Helpston grave of John Clare ']

Hills sank like green fleets on the land's long rim
About the village of toast-coloured stone.
Leaving the car beside the Blue Bell, we
Walked with a clutch of flowers the clear lane
Towards the grave.

It was well combed, and quiet as before.
An upturned stone boat
Beached at God's thick door.
Only the water in the spiked grave-pot
Smelt sourly of death.
Yet no wind seemed to blow
From off the fen or sea
The flowers flickered in the painted pot
Like green antennae,
As though John Clare from a sounding skull
Brim with a hundred years of dirt and stone
Signalled to us;
And light suddenly breathed
Over the plain.

Later, drinking whisky in The Bull at Peterborough,
The face of the poet
Lying out on the rigid plain
Stared at me
As clearly as it once stared through
The glass coffin-lid
In the church-side pub on his burial day:
Head visible, to prove
The bulging brain was not taken away
By surgeons, digging through the bone and hair
As if to find poems still
Beating there;
Then, like an anchor, to be lowered fast
Out of creation's pain, the stropping wind,
Deep out of sight, into the world's mind.
Charles Causley


Anonymous said...

beautiful poem - great choice
mike h

scskillman said...

I was delighted to find this poem by Charles Causley. I, too, have been moved by my visits to John Clare's grave,most recently this weekend, when I attended the John Clare Festival in Helpston: http://scskillman.com/2013/07/17/flowers-for-john-clare-poet-of-rural-england-the-peasant-poet/