"How could I how should I..."

Yesterday morning in the Clare archive I was examining Pet MS D20, which is simply a (blue) cover of a quarto exercise book that belonged to Clare son.  It's dated 1841.  I copied one of the poems scribbled thereon (it did not seem familiar), but when I checked I found a slightly different version is part of Child Harold from, of course, 1841.  Below is my copied version from yesterday.

How could I how should I — that loved her so early
Forget when I've sung of her beauty in song
How could I forget what I've worshiped so dearly
From boyhood to manhood and all my life long
As leaves to the branches in summer comes daily
& blossoms will bloom on the stalk & the tree
To her beauty I'll cling & i'll love her as truly
& think of sweet Mary wherever I be

Child Harold
(lines 485-492)

The Clown

With hands in pocket hid and buttoned up,
The clown goes jogging merrily along;
The wind blows in his face and makes him stoop,
And rain beats hard and stops his merry song;
His shaggy coat is buttoned with a loop,
With whip held up for stroke robust and strong,
And hat half stuffed with straw to keep it up;
He gruffly hollos ‘whop’ and lobs along;
He never turns, but with a careless switch
Whoos up his team that answers with a jerk;
When friends are met he gives his coat a hitch
And cocks his beaver up and talks of work;
To lose no time he trails his whip along
And bends it 'neath his arm to tie the thong.

Northborough Sonnets
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson
(Ashington/Manchester: Mid-NAG/Carcanet, 1995)

Drinking Song

Come along my good fellow
Let's sit and get mellow
For sorrow we haven’t got leisure
We've money and time
And that's just the prime
To enjoy it in comfort & pleasure
Call for ale or else wine
On roast beef we dine
And joy we shall have without measure

The parson may preach
Against ale, and beseech
His church folks to head no such liquor
But in neat sanded rooms
With young girls in their blooms
Pray who'd ever think of the vicar?
Then leave that dull dunce
Let's have sandwich for lunch
And pull at the tankard or pitcher

Let the dull parson think
Was he here but to drink
He would say beer was made for to please us
When man is a dry
A good sermon's my eye
The vicar?  His task is to tease us
Tankards foam o'er the rim
Where the fly loves to swim
And that is the lecture to please us

So come my old fellow
Let's go and get mellow
For care brings no hour of leisure
We've money and time
And just now in prime
To sit down enjoying our pleasure
'Tis summer's prime hours
And the room smells of flowers
Now boys, is the season for leisure

John Clare, Selected Poems,
ed. J.W. and Anne Tibble (Everyman, 1965)


[Image by Anne Lee]

O woman sweet witchingly woman
Amid the worlds bustle & strife
Thourt the only sweet blossom thats blooming
Perfuming the garden of life
Thourt the only pure fountain thats given
From whence all true pleasures doth flow
The angels are unknowns of heaven
But womans real angels below
Our lives woud be lives of vexation

Our days woud be days of despair
Wi out the sweet jems of creation
Soft women to sweeten our care
& powers that formd beauty protect us
If weaknesses cant be conseald
Shoud we view heavens joys as conjectures
& women as heaven reveald
& far be a souls savage natures

That cannot wi tenderness burn
That turns from a look of such creatures
As one from a statue woud turn
When beauty its charms are unsealing
From glances of eyes dewey blue
Devoid must they be of all feeling
That thrills wi no raptures to view
O women sweet witchin[g]ly women

Amid the worlds bustle & strife
Yere the only sweet blossom thats blooming
Perfuming the garden of life
Yere the only pure fountain that[s] given
From whence real happiness flow
While angels are unknowns of heaven
Sweet womens provd angels below

[Note in the MSS: —Tune ‘Away Wi This Pouting’]

Woman, Sweet Witchingly Woman
(Market Drayton: Tern Press, 1993)

This is my 1,000 posting to this blog since July 2004.

Tis autumn now & harvests reign (excerpt)

[Image : 'A Cornfield' by Peter De Wint]

Tis autumn now & harvests reign
Brown swelling hills & hollow vales
The sudden shower sweeps oer the plain
& health breaths in the shivering gales
The coveys rise—the sportsman joys
& in the stubbles bleeding fall
The hunters face glows in the chase
He loves to hear the bugle call
That loud through wood & dingle rings
As oer the fence the courser springs
The songs of home in every field
From merry harvesters is heard
The hare as yet from harm will shield
Where barley waves its tawney beard

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

Two early sonnets

A pair of sonnets, written at about the same time, the first published in ‘Poems Descriptive...’ the second unpublished in any popular edition?  Puzzling...


The landscapes stretching view that opens wide
With dribbling brooks & rivers wider floods
& hills & vales & darksome lowering woods
With grains of varied hues & grasses pied
The low brown cottage in the shelter'd nook
The steeple peeping just above the trees
Whose dangling leaves keep rustling in the breeze—
& thoughtful shepherd bending oer his hook
& maidens stript haymaking too apear
& hodge a wistling at his fallow plough
& herdsman hallooing to intruding cow
All these with hundreds more far off & near
Approach my sight—& please to such excess
That Language fails the pleasure to express

Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820)


Long sweeping bends of croppings brightning green
That wind along the vallies sheltering crown
Large swelling hills that nauntle up the scene
Which winters pencil tips wi bleachy brown
Here steeple points & there a misty town
As stretching thro each opening to be seen
& woods enlivning from their gloomy hue
To sprout in freshness—while the heath hills lean
In triumph on the eye their blooming goss
Wild natures brightest ornaments as now
Speckt oer wi sheep & beast & nibbling horse
That still roamd free from the long lazy plough
& the horison sweeping faintly blue
That prickt its bordering circle round the view

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

The scene it was cheery when I met my deary

[Image : Anne Lee]

The scene it was cheery when I met my deary
In even’s cool mantle of dew
T’was heaven unfolding in sunset so golden
But ah it was sweeter far sweeter beholding
Fond love at its first interview

O fond loves excesses the heart how it blesses
Wi the jem of our raptures in view
We fancy none fairer we fancy none dearer
There may be as true but we think none sincerer
Loves sketches are perfectly drew

But fancy is waining & love is complaining
Of beautys that time weareth thro
Summers day may be golden ripe flowers sweet beholding
But the honey of sweetness is springs bliss unfolding
Wi tender loves first interview

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

Child Harold (first three stanzas)

The Paigles Bloom In Shower's In Grassy Close
How Sweet To Be Among Their Blossoms Led
& Hear Sweet Nature To Herself Discourse
While Pale The Moon Is Bering Over Head
& Hear The Grazeing Cattle Softly Tread
Cropping The Hedgerows Newly Leafing Thorn
Sounds Soft As Visions Murmured Oer In Bed
At Dusky Eve Or Sober Silent Morn
For Such Delights Twere Happy Man Was Born

Now Come The Balm & Breezes Of The Spring
Not With The Pleasure's Of My Early Day's
When Nature Seemed One Endless Song To Sing
A Joyous Melody & Happy Praise
Ah Would They Come Agen—But Life Betrays
Quicksands & Gulphs & Storms That Howl & Sting
All Quiet Into Madness & Delays
Care Hides The Sunshine With Its Raven Wing
& Hell Glooms Sadness Oer The Songs Of Spring

Like Satans Warcry First In Paradise
When Love Lay Sleeping On The Flowery Slope
Like Virtue Wakeing In The Arms Of Vice
Or Deaths Sea Bursting In The Midst Of Hope
Sorrows Will Stay—& Pleasures Will Elope
In The Uncertain Cartnty Of Care
Joys Bounds Are Narrow But A Wider Scope
Is Left For Trouble Which Our Life Must Bear
Of Which All Human Life Is More Or Less The Heir

The Spring Canto: High Beech
John Clare ‘The Living Year 1841’
Tim Chilcott (ed.)

You will notice that every word is capitalised.  Clare did this in the early months of 1841, and stopped mid-poem.  No one has any idea why.