Jinny





















Song

She tied up her few things
And laced up her shoe strings
And put on her bonnet worn through at the crown
Her apron tied tighter
Than snow her caps whiter
She lapt up her earnings and left our old town

The Dog barked again
All the length o’ his chain
And licked her hand kindly and huffed her good bye
Old hens prated loudly
The Cock strutted proudly
And the horse at the gate turned to let her go bye

The Thrasher man stopping
The old barn floor wopping
Wished oer the door cloth her luck and no harm
Bees hummed round the thistle
While the red Robins whistle
And she just one look on the old mossy farm

‘Twas Michaelmas season
They’d got corn and pears in
And all the Fields cleared save some ru[c]kings and tythes
Cute piegon flocks muster
Round beans shelling cluster
And done are the whettings o reap hooks and scythes

Next years flowers a springing
Will miss Jinneys singing
She opened her Bible and turned a leaf down
In her bosoms forewarnings
She lapt up her earnings
And ere the suns set ‘ll be in her own town

Edmund Blunden (ed),
"Madrigals and Chronicles:
Being newly found Poems written by John Clare"
(Beaumont Press, 1924)

Recorded by Vikki Clayton as "Singing Jinny" on her 1993 CD of Clare songs.

If you were a farm labourer in the early 19th century, you'd be thinking about moving to another employer at Michaelmas.  The traditional Quarter Day, known in the Anglican calendar as the feast of St. Michael, or Michaelmas was the time when farmers hired shepherds, plowmen, labourers and many other agricultural workers.  In this Clare poem we encounter Jinny, who is moving back to her home town... I have always wondered about the 'back story'?  Why she was moving?

No comments: