[Image: The Shepherd’s Calendar (April) – Carry Akroyd]

The infant April joins the spring
And views its watery skye
As youngling linnet trys its wing
And fears at first to flye
With timid step she ventures on
And hardly dares to smile
The blossoms open one by one
And sunny hours beguile
But finer days approacheth yet
With scenes more sweet to charm
And suns arive that rise and set
Bright strangers to a storm
And as the birds with louder song
Each mornings glory cheers
With bolder step she speeds along
And looses all her fears

John Clare – The Shepherd’s Calendar (April - excerpt)

The village band crossed the street and made its way slowly among the hobbling pilgrims, along Church Lane towards Eastwell Spring.

As they drew close they could see that the elms and willows, that last year had made a green and shady grove around the spring, had been dragged to the saw-mill. It is a scarred and barren slope that now leads down to the little pool. The crowds were lining up to fill their leather bottles and jugs. Charlie Turner stood white and shivering, waist deep in water, pulling his ragged half-wit daughter Isabel towards him while she wailed like a lost soul. Mrs Bullimore had set her jug upon a wooden table. Children were jostling around it with farthings in their fists, eager for a cup of sugared water.

Hugh Lupton – The Ballad of John Clare (Chapter 16)

THAT was how it was, but after the enclosures, here is John remembering...

My sundays harmless pleasures were forsook
Nor turnd my rambles to the pasture brook
Were in my youth at ‘Eastwells’ fountain side
Which winters never froze nor summer dryd
Young men & maidens usd to talk & play
In the cool shadows of its willows grey
Drinking loves healths in totts of sugard drink
On the soft swellings of its rushy brink
From the spring head like winter cold & chill
Were boils the white sand that is never still
Now swimming up in silver threads & then
Slow siling down to bubble up agen
There shepherds usd to sit & tell the while
Their tales & jokes to win each maidens smile

(From, “The Memory of Love”, lines 353-366)

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