Sports of the Village (Song)

Yesterday night I drest up for the dancing
& vowd for a sweet heart if so it coud be
& no sooner there but a wench fell a glancing
Her eye in loves language: ‘Im waiting for thee’
What shoud I do but I ‘quires are ye willing
To go down a dance a few minutes wi me
Be sure ont she were so I outs wi my shilling
& stopt the old scraper to pay him his fee

Then stampt the foot of the scraper to warn us
& off wi the fiddle as pleasd as coud be
I fudgd to the end of the dance were in corners
I often snatchd kisses when no one coud see
I thought how I knackt it & sweet was the beagle
All but what I ought to have ta’en her to be
Tho her black eye as brazen & bold as the eagle
Oft glanced [in] loves language to more beside me

She left me at morn & went home wi another
The sigh was sold cheaply I left wi her then
But curse on her deepness love lightly might bother
I neer dreampt on troubles Id fall in agen
I went to the feast & the beagle there met me
The gleg of her eye was as keen as before
& tryd but as usual all trappings to get me
But I swore to my sen Id be fool├ęd no more

& what did she do but she vowd she’d expose me
& gun say Id playd her the follies of youth
& taking in tear drops be’slubberd her bosom
Till folks they were foold to believe it the truth
My case to be’sure it got mighty alarming
Twas provd I had bin wi the bitch by the bye
But as to the deed of her innosence harming
The king on his throne wornt less guilty then I

& she told her griefs in a many sad ditty
& she threatnd poison as wishing to dye
Till old women out wi their snuff rags in pity
To stop the false teardrops that blinkt in her eye
Ah curse on the night I ere gangd to the dancing
The parish hounds forcd the bad bargain on me
Ive payd dear enuff for the hisseys eye glancing
& provd a fools take in I then coudnt see

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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