This is the first of Clare's poems that grasped me as a young(er) man in the early 1970s. I learned it then -- probably as I was then newly engaged -- and find it is still on my mind and lips from time to time. And to illustrate it? A lover's view of Swaddywell in the Summer.
To live and die and live again?
Say what is love? Is it to be
In prison still and still be free --
Or seem as free? Alone and prove
The hopeless hopes of real love?
Does real love on earth exist?
Tis like a sun beam on the mist,
That fades and nowhere will remain,
And nowhere is o’ertook again.
Say what is love? -– A blooming name,
A rose-leaf on the page of fame,
That blooms, then fades, to cheat no more,
And is what nothing was before?
Say what is love? Whate’er it be,
It centres, Mary, still with thee.