Spirit of the woods awake (extract)

A recent finding... only published, as far as I am aware, in the Clarendon Editions.  An early Clare poem virtually impossible to read from the manuscript notebook. Clare wrote all the poems in pencil, then erased to reuse the little book - he was very short of paper.  The notebook dates from 1819 or thereabouts, certainly before his marriage to Patty in March 1820. Because of the difficulties in transcription, most of the poems therein have been largely overlooked.  Here is an excerpt, the first two verses.  The poem will figure in its entirety in Anne Lee and my fourth book, "Wood Pictures" which is now some weeks into its planning stage.

Spirit of the woods awake
In thy wildest dress appear
Trace with me the curdled brake
Sound thy wildness in my ear
Genius of the woods that dwells
Sweeping boughs & grains among
As I climb thy rough rude dells
Breath thy roughness in my song

While I brush the branches by
& this woods still ways forsake
Woodland spirit meet my eye
Genius of the woods awake

Breath thy wildness in my ear
To thy trees  I do belong
Genius of the woods appear
Sound thy roughness in my song

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

1 comment:

seymourjacklin said...

This is tantalising! I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of it.