To Innoscence

[Taken around 1860 this is one of Lady Clementina Hawarden's famous photos of one of her daughters.  Such an early photo and so stunning a composition.  A large collection can be viewed in the V&A.]

O Innoscence thou captivating charm
Thou beauty's gem pure, heavenly, & divine
The Virgins cheek—when thy soft flushes warm
What 'witching sweetness & what powers are thine
Coy bashfull looks turn'd from admiring eyes
Chill'd trembling paleness aw'd by fancied fear
Short timid Answers blushing sweet suprise
When Loves soft sighs are wisper'd in her ear
These charms! The very soul's recesses thrills
These sweet confusions every bosom feels
In every heart the magic sweet Instills
Which each coy lover painfully consceals—
The rose & rubys charms—frail beautys pride
But vainly please the wise—devoid of thine
A dazzling toy by fools & younkers ey'd
Like brazen lure that daubs inviting sign
Tho tempted Eve thy sweet origin lost
A 'zembling shade the virtues still retain—
Still Emmas Face thy sweetest charm can boast
& heaven it self more sweetness boasts in vain

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

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