There is a beauty upon womans' face

Treat for the day?  An unpublished Clare sonnet :

There is a beauty upon womans’ face
When smiles in sunny rapture dominates
There is on beauty’s cheek a winning grace
When clouded with the eloquence of tears
Sweet gem of artless loves sincerely
Womans’ bright eye is thy resting place —
To moan & sigh is every harlots forgery,
But womans’ tears like dews from roses falling:
Are the souls essence — its most deepest feeling
That words can’t utter, but can be read in thee.
Clear looking glass of the unfolded heart
Its undissembled purity to prove
For when with thee, cares, sorrows have no part
Thy further affection and thyself live love

Pet MS A18 p73

Song : O aince I loved the lily

O aince I loved the lily
As the first & fairest flower
& aince I luved the rose
On simmers hedge row bower
& I luv'd the white thorn bower
Clad softly green at spring
But sweeter then the flower
Is my luv' Mary King

I luved her in her childhood
In sorrow & in joy
Red as blossoms i' the wildwood
& brown as any boy
As the linnet luv's its young
I' the green leaves o' the spring
So I've often said & sung
Of my true luv' Mary King

Sae I've often said & sung
When her links o' flaxen hair
Oer her fair shoulders hung
& her little breast was bare
I luved her more & more
Till she got a fair young thing
Fond & tender as before
Was the bonny Mary King

& now she's ripe & blooming
I' the prime o' rosey may
& her bosoms luv' untombing
Bursts lace & pins away
‘All sueing to be prest’
White as snow drops o' the spring
Love warms the lily breast
O sweet bonny Mary King

My bonny Mary King
Ripe & rosey Mary King
Sweetest flower o' a' the spring
Is my ain true luv' Mary King
Sae I luv' her night & day
A ripe & bonny thing
Till lifes sands waste away
Young handsome Mary King

The Later Poems of John Clare
ed. Eric Robinson and Geoffrey Summerfield
(Manchester University Press, 1964)

From... A Raphsody

Sweet solitude what joy to be alone
In wild wood shady dell to stay for hours
Twould soften hearts if they were hard as stone
To see glad Butterflies & smiling flowers
Tis pleasant in these quiet lonely places
Where not the voice of Man our pleasure mars
To see the little bees with coal black faces
Gath'ring sweets from little flowers like stars

The wind seems calling though not understood
A voice is speaking Hark! it louder calls
It echoes in the far outstretching wood
First twas a hum but now it loudly squalls
And then the pattering rain begins to fall
And tis hush'd—the fern leaves scarcely shake
The totter grass it scarcely stirs at all
And then the rolling thunder gets awake

(lines 1 - 16)

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

From ‘The Rivals’

A Pastoral

Force puts no choice their own free will is best
What we urge earnest they but take in jest
One day while picking sprigs of hillock thyme
A little pismire in the flowers did climb
That to her bosom proved a rebel guest
& stung her as she placed it in her breast
Red pimples rose upon the snowy skin
& sighs bespoke the anguish it was in
But when she showed it me with blushing face
I bent with trembling heart & kissed the place
Urging the charm as cure for all her pain
She smiled as wishing to be kissed again

(lines 151 – 162)

The Shepherd's Calendar, with Village Stories, and Other Poems (1827)

(pismire = an ant)

By A Cottage Near A Wood (excerpt)

By A Cottage Near A Wood
Where The Small Birds Build & Sing
In My Dreaming Hours I've Stood
To Review The Lovely Spring
There Once Dwelt A Lovely Maiden
Whose Name I Sought In Vain
Some Called Her Lovely Lucey
& Others Honest Jane

Bye That Cottage Near A Wood
I Have Often Stood Alone
In A Sad Or Happy Mood
& Wished She Was My Own
The Small Birds Flitted Round Me
But Nature Pleased in Vain
For The Dark & Lovely Maiden
I Never Saw Again

Bye The Cottage Near The Wood
I Wished With Peace To Be
& The Blossoms Where She Stood
They Were More Then Gems To Me
More Fair Or Sweeter Blossoms
My Rambles Sought In Vain
& The Dark & Lovely Maiden
I Never Found Again

(lines 1-24)

Poems of John Clare's Madness
ed. Geoffrey Grigson (RKP, 1949)

Thrice Welcome to thy song sweet warbling thrush

(A sonnet)
Thrice Welcome to thy song sweet warbling thrush
May you be happy as you still have been
The present sunshine warms your covert bush
The future clouds you know not what they mean
Vain foolish thought & why should ye be sad
Why be like me with ills to come oprest
To pass the present bliss that may be had
& wait on sorrow as a welcome guest
No sing thou on & let me sorrow still
I cant be happy be it as it will
In vain the sun gleams thro the prison grate
To cheer the felon thats condemnd to dye
His soul in anguish mourns impending fate
Such pains are his & such a one am I
The Early Poems of John Clare 1804-1822
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and Margaret Grainger
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1989)

John Clare’s Journal (9th May 1825) :
Wrote another portion of my Life & took a Walk to seek a Nightingales nest.  Found a Song thrush’s in bushy close by the side of a young oak with 4 eggs.  Never saw one of this kind in such a place before.

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)

From Clare's Journal (6th May 1825) :
Could not sleep all night got up at 3 o’dock in the morning & walked about the fields.  The birds were high in their songs in Royce Wood & almost deafening.  I heard the Cricket-bird* again in full cry in Royce Wood -- it is just like a childs 'screeker'.  Saw a Hawk-like bird that made an odd noise like one of the notes of the Nightingale, as if to decoy his prey into sight.

* The high, insect-like reeling song of the grasshopper warbler is the best clue to its presence. Even when you hear one it can be difficult to locate it due to the ventriloquial effect of its singing. If seen on migration it moves like a little mouse, creeping through the foliage. (RSPB)

BBC Countryfile

WELCOME to anyone who has landed here seeking information about John Clare following BBC's 'Countryfile' on the 5th May.

This weblog has been a labour of love for the past 9 years... you will find much to interest you in its pages.  AND you can comment/ask questions on every page.

The Chiff-Chaff

My transcription of Clare's ‘The Chippichap’, published and known ever since at 'The Chiff-Chaff'.  My transcription seeks to show every change Clare made to his work, including words crossed through.

My photograph of the actual manuscript is above.  Have a go at transcribing it yourself, this is very typical of the many manuscripts within the various archives.

See at yon restless flitting bird that flies
Above the oak tree tops at play,
Uttering its restless restless melodies
Of “chipichap” throughout the day.
Its nest is built in little bush
Scarcely a foot above the ground,
Or hid in clumps of sedge or rush
In woods where they are rarely found.
Its nest are is like an oven made
With moss and leaves and bits of grass,
& all so nice and snugly laid
That hands may spoil but not replace.
It enters by a little hole,
Its inside like a downy bed is a feather bed
From farm yards poultry hovels stole;
Its eggs are small and spotted red.

& all the spring & all the May,
If I forbore the gate to clap,
Down that wood riding day by day
I’ve heard it singing ‘chipichap,’
or seen it ever on the wing
like a fairy thing
above the trees tops dancing high by  [overwritten with ‘by’And o'er the tree-tops saw it fly,        [ originally transposed
Dancing about, a fairy thing,               [ with the line above
But never yet could come so nigh
To tell the colour of its wing.
                                                                             [reverse of page
The bushes they are wet or we dripping wet,
would turn  her and seek its nestOr we would seek its curious nest,
Theyre often in such bushy places met,
Where sedges mingle with the rest.

Pet MS A51 pp. 53 r & v