The Cross Roads (or Haymakers Story) (Final)

What particularly interests me about this tale is the fact that it was written between January and August 1820 - that most incredible year of Clare's life with celebrity and marriage.

Like Jinny in the tale, in the autumn of 1919 Patty became pregnant 'out of wedlock' with their first daughter Anna Maria.  However, after much self-examination, all too obvious from his poems about the pregnancy, Clare married Patty - as Anne Lee and I have shown in our book "The Poet in Love".  Jinny however in Dame Goodys tale was deserted, and driven by shame to kill herself.

O say not love I too despise thee
& wi malice evil tongud
Slander & reproach against thee
& delight to see thee wrongd
Every arm that vice is urging
At my bared breast they throw
Every weapon raisd against thee
Raises mine to stay the blow

Every tear thy cheek that moistens
Moists the eye that sees it start
Every sigh that rends thy bosom
Thrills its echo in my heart
Every shaft that flies to wound thee
On my aching heart they fall
Every wound that pains thy bosom
Mines the love that shares it all

I have also 'isolated' 18 lines below one of Clare's 'lists'.  Although they do not add a great deal to the narrative, they are a brilliant evocation of the plants that Clare loved.

‘The birds that ranted in the hedgerow boughs
‘As night & morning we have sought our cows
‘With yokes & buckets as she bouncd along
‘Were often deafd to silence with her song
‘But now shes gone—girls shun decietfull men
‘The worst of stumbles ye can fall agen
‘Be deaf to them & then as twere yell see
‘Yer pleasures safe as under lock & key
‘Throw not my words away as many do
‘Theyre gold in value tho theyre cheap to you
‘& husseys hearken & be warnd from this
‘If ye love mothers never do amiss
‘Jane might love hers but she forsook the plan
‘To make her happy when she thought of man
‘Poor tottering dame it was too plainly known
‘Her daughters dying hastend on her own
‘For from the day the tydings reachd her door
‘She took to bed & looked up no more
‘& ere agen another year came round
‘She well as Jane was laid within the ground
‘& all was grievd poor goodys end to see
‘No better neighbour enterd house then she
‘A harmless body wi no 'busive tongue
‘Trig as new pins & tights the day were long
‘& go the week about nine times in ten
‘Yed find her house as cleanly as her sen
‘But Lord protect us time such change does bring
‘We cannot dream what oer our heads may hing
‘The very house she livd in stick & stone
‘Sin goody dyd has tumbld down & gone

‘& where the majoram ance & sage & rue
‘& balm & mint wi curld leaf parsley grew
‘& double marygolds & silver thyme
‘& pumkins neath the window usd to climb
‘& where I often when a child for hours
‘Tryd thro the pails to get the tempting flowers
‘As Ladys Laces everlasting peas
‘True love lies bleeding with the hearts at ease
‘& golden rods & tanzey running high
‘That oer the pail tops smild on passers bye
‘Flowers in my time that every one woud praise
‘Tho thrown like weeds from gardens now adays
‘Were these all grew now henbane stinks & spreads
‘& docks & fissles shake their seedy heads
‘& yearly keeps wi nettles smothering oer
‘Nor house nor dame nor gardens known no more
‘While neighbouring nigh one lonly eldern tree
‘Is all thats left of what had us'd to be

‘Marking the place & bringing up wi tears
‘The recollections of ones younger years
‘& now Ive done yere each at once as free
‘To take yer trundle as ye usd to be
‘To take right ways as Jinney shoud have taen
‘Or headlong run & be a second Jane
‘For by one thoughtless girl thats acted ill
‘A thousand may be guided if they will
‘As oft mong folks to labour bustling on
‘We mark the foremost kick agen a stone
‘Or stumble oer a stile they meant to climb
‘While hind ones see & shun the fall in time
‘But ye Ill bound fort like a mort the best
‘Loves tickling nick nacks & the laughing jest
‘& ten times sooner then be warnd by me
‘Woud each be sitting on some fellows knee
‘& sooner 'lieve the lyes wild chaps will tell
‘Then old dames cautions who woud wish ye well
‘So have yer wills’—
                                    she pinchd her box again
& ceasd her tale & listnd to the rain
Which still as usual patterd fast around
& bowd the bent head loaded to the ground
While larks their naked nests by force forsook
Prund their wet wings in bushes by the brook
The maids impatient now old goody ceasd
As restless childern from the school releasd
Right gladly proving what she'd just foretold
That young ones stories was preferd to old
Turn to the wisperings of their former joy
That oft decieve but very rarely cloy

WHAT a poem!

Village Minstrel (1821)

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