from : ‘O for one real imaginary blessing’

[Image: Eddie Bairstow]

I wooed a Gipsy wench on Sunday e'ens
& worshiped beggar girls & courted Queens
Love is the fire that burns the heart to cinders
Love is the thought that makes the poets sigh
Sweet as Queen’s portraits stuck in London windows
For loyal subjects in their love to buy

Love is of every heart the painted toy
The idol of man’s worship — faces fair
Were my enchanted magic from a boy
The pouting lip, the colour of the hair
Left me in raptures, next of kin to care
I loved & wooed them in the field like gems

Of too much value for the clown who sung
The azure bluebells in their sapphire stems
Among green bushes low their mute bells hung
These seemed love's modest maidens, dew bestrung
With blebs o' mornings glittering pearls
I loved them in the valleys where I sung

With their green drapery & crispy curls
I loved them as a crowd of blooming girls
With bonny bosom white as is the May
The wild brere blushes wi' the break o' day
Sweet as the cowslip fields that spread before thee
Sweet are the dusky clouds that sprinkle oer thee

(lines 17 to 37, 39-41)

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

The line I’ve removed for this post (line 38 of the poem) reads :
‘Sweet milkmaid o' May mornings — Queen Victoria’

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