A shattering poem, written 7 years after his incarceration in Northampton.  Clare's mind is ranging back to the death of his muse, Mary Joyce.

To come upon in line 9 the line “Lord how young bonny Mary burnt”, even if he is speaking of her blushes at their first meeting, is an astonishing shock for readers of Clare’s work.  Clare, possibly unconsciously, recording the manner of her death in the most shocking way imaginable.

Mary had, as Clare had been avoiding for so long, perished in the fire at her parent’s farm-house in Glinton on the 14th of July 1838.  Her grave in the churchyard of St. Benedict’s Church, Glinton was, and is, clear for all to see.

A Ballad
Love is past and all the rest
Thereto belonging fled away
The most esteemed and valued best
Are faded all and gone away

How beautiful was Mary's dress
While dancing at the meadow ball
—'Tis twenty years or more at least
Since Mary seemed the first of all

Lord how young bonny Mary burnt
With blushes like the roses hue
My face like water thrown upon't
Turned white as lilies i' the dew

When grown a man I went to see
The school where Mary's name was known
I looked to find it on a Tree
But found it on a low grave stone

Now is past—was this the now
In fine straw-hat and ribbons gay
I'd court her neath the white thorn bough
And tell her all I had to say

But all is gone—and now is past
And still my spirits chill alone
Loves name that perished in the blast
Grows mossy on a church-yard stone

(11th November 1848)

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