John Clare 'facebook' group

Be really good if all John Clare lovers could join the new John Clare group on facebook  - Click on the title above.

[Come and join us... we now (1st June) have over 100 members]

Langley Bush

O Langley Bush the shepherds sacred shade
Thy hollow trunk oft gaind a look from me
Full many a journey oer the heath Ive made
For such like curious things I love to see
What truth the story of the swain alows
That tells of honours which thy young days knew
Of 'langley court' being kept beneath thy boughs
I cannot tell-thus much I know is true
That thou art reverencd even the rude clan
Of lawless gipseys drove from stage to stage
Pilfering the hedges of the husband man
Leave thee as sacred in thy withering age
Both swains & gipseys seem to love thy name
Thy spots a favourite wi the smutty crew
& soon thou must depend on gipsey fame
Thy mulldering trunk is nearly rotten thro
My last doubts murmuring on the zephers swell
My last looks linger on thy boughs wi pain
To thy declining age I bid farwell
Like old companions neer to meet again

The Poems of John Clare
ed. J. W. Tibble (2 volumes, Dent, 1935)

All that is left of Langley Bush in 2012... a bump in a field, surrounded by 'Enclosed land legally acquired' from the commons in the early 19th century.

The Mores (excerpt)

Far spread the moorey ground a level scene
Bespread with rush & one eternal green
That never felt the rage of blundering plough
Though centurys wreathed springs blossoms on its brow
Still meeting plains that stretched them far away
In uncheckt shadows of green brown & grey
Unbounded freedom ruled the wandering scene
Nor fence of ownership crept in between
To hide the prospect of the following eye
lts only bondage was the circling sky
One mighty flat undwarfed by bush & tree
Spread its faint shadow of immensity
& lost itself which seemed to eke its bounds
In the blue mist the orisons edge surrounds
(lines 1-14)

Selected Poems of John Clare
ed. James Reeves (London: Heinemann, 1954)

The Forest Maid

 O once I loved a pretty girl, and dearly love her still;
  I courted her in happiness for two short years or more.
  And when I think of Mary it turns my bosom chill,
  For my little of life's happiness is faded and is o'er.
  O fair was Mary Littlechild, and happy as the bee,
  And sweet was bonny Mary as the song of forest bird;
  And the smile upon her red lips was very dear to me,
  And her tale of love the sweetest that my ear has ever heard.

  O the flower of all the forest was Mary Littlechild;
  There's few could be so dear to me and none could be so fair.
  While many love the garden flowers I still esteem the wild,
  And Mary of the forest is the fairest blossom there.
  She's fairer than the may flowers that bloom among the thorn,
  She's dearer to my eye than the rose upon the brere;
  Her eye is brighter far than the bonny pearls of morn,
  And the name of Mary Littlechild is to me ever dear.

  O once I loved a pretty girl. The linnet in its mirth
  Was never half so blest as I with Mary Littlechild--
  The rose of the creation, and the pink of all the earth,
  The flower of all the forest, and the best for being wild.
  O sweet are dews of morning, ere the Autumn blows so chill,--
  And sweet are forest flowers in the hawthorn's mossy shade,
  But nothing is so fair, and nothing ever will
  Bloom like the rosy cheek of my bonny Forest Maid.

  J.L. Cherry
  Life and Remains of John Clare
  London: Frederick Warne & Co.
  Northampton: J. Taylor & Son. 1873

Now evening rosey streaks - a ribbond sky

Now evenings rosey streaks—a ribbond sky
Spreads in the golden light of the far west
& mighty rocks are pillowed dark & high
The image & the prototype of rest
The heavens prophesy where peace is blest—
A stillness soft as fall of silent dews
Is felt around—the very dusk looks blest
As is the maiden while her heart pursues
Her evening walk oer fields in silent dews
Ave Maria tis the hour of love
When sighs & pains & tears on beautys breast
Are whispered into blessings from above
Ave Maria tis the hour of rest
For man & woaman & the weary beast
& parents love the minature delights
That blesses all with sleep & quiet rest
Ave Maria tis the hour of night
Like to an Indian Maiden dressed in white

The Later Poems of John Clare 1837-1864
ed. Eric Robinson and David Powell
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1984)

The beauties of Myra...

The beauties of Myra in its lustre now dawning
As the spring is first seen to disclose
When the dew dropping silver of May's infant morning
Unfoldeth the blush of the Rose
While her charms O as varied as summers profusion
& Ripe as the autumn for love
In her blue Eyes sweet beaming the thrilling confusion
Near failing each bosom to move
While the snows of the Winter improvd on her bosom
No need of a Rival be told
— & O my sad pains — when I went to disclosem
I found it as killing & cold

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

From "Child Harold"

Now melancholly autumn comes anew
With showery clouds & fields of wheat tanned brown
Along the meadow banks I peace pursue
& see the wild flowers gleaming up & down
Like sun & light—the ragworts golden crown
Mirrors like sunshine when sunbeams retire
& silver yarrow—there's the little town
& oer the meadows gleams that slender spire
Reminding me of one—& waking fond desire

I love thee nature in my inmost heart
Go where I will thy truth seems from above
Go where I will thy landscape forms a part
Of heaven—e'en these fens where wood nor grove
Are seen—their very nakedness I love
For one dwells nigh that secret hopes prefer
Above the race of women—like the dove
I mourn her abscence—fate that would deter
My hate for all things—strengthens love for her

(lines 357 to 374)
The Poems of John Clare,
ed. J. W. Tibble (2 volumes, Dent, 1935)

Happy 90th Birthday Ronnie...

[Ronnie, as always, deep in conversation.  Here with musician David Rowe at an Inn in Great Casterton after visiting the church where John & Patty Clare were married]

A nice Guardian leader in today's on Ronald Blythe in its 'In praise of ...' section.  It reads:

Tucked away on the back page of the Church Times each week is one of the most elegant and thoughtful columns in British journalism. Word from Wormingford mixes acute, elegiac rural observation with a strand of English mystical thinking that often seems to reach back to its 17th-century roots. Its author, Ronald Blythe, is 90 today. He lives down a Saxon track in the farm bequeathed to him by his friend, the artist John Nash. The son of a farmworker, he has spent nearly all his life in Suffolk and is probably best remembered for Akenfield, the 1969 book (made into a Peter Hall film) that chronicled the changing character and rhythms o f a fictional East Anglian village. "A hundred years from now," wrote this paper, "anyone wanting to know how things were on the land will turn more profitably to Akenfield than to a sheaf of anaemically professional social surveys." May there be many more Words from Wormingford.

You promised me, a year ago

You promised me, a year ago,
When autumn bleach'd the mistletoe,
That you and I should be as one;
But now another autumn's gone—
Its solemn knell is in the blast,
And love's bright sun is overcast;
Yet flowers will bloom and birds will sing,
And e'en the winter claim the spring.

The hedges will be green again,
And flowers will come on hill and plain;
And though we meet a rainy day,
The hawthorn will be white with May.
If love and nature still agree,
Green leaves will clothe the trysting-tree;
And when these pleasing days you view,
Think Lucy's heart yet be true.

The Later Poems of John Clare 1837-1864
ed. Eric Robinson and David Powell
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1984)