Spring love... (titled by Clare, 'Song')

When Jimmy did leave me the thorns wer in blossom
Three years have gone bye but I think on the day
I stoopt for a cowslip to stick in my bosom
While he from the bush got a branch of the may
& when we had done wi our vows & our parling
My heart when I think ont wi doubtfulness burns
He held it to me & he calld me his darling
Saying take this & keep it till Jimmy returns


A keep sake so odd did he mean to abuse me
& give me the thorn that his scorn I might see
But how foolish girl—coud he mean to ill use me
When he rubd off the pricks ere he gave it to me
We parted good friends & he hugld me dearly
& telld me hed neer gi me cause for a pain
& so coud I think were his last vow sincerly
Saying go where I will my heart stick to my Jane


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

Written in Clare's wonderful Northamptonshire dialect, with a word Clare no doubt learned from his gypsy friends   Written in what a recent anonymous 'scholar' writing of Clare in a recent paper called 'the stark "textual primitivism" of the Oxford edition', in which this poem may be found (EP II 208) in precisely the way that Clare wrote it (I've examined the manuscript).  An amazingly ignorant comment showing his/her total disregard for the incredible work of the lifetime of scholarship that the 9 volumes of the OUP Clarendon editions represents.

1 comment:

Toffeeapple said...

I do enjoy reading the poem in dialect. I live near Northampton and there are now very few native speakers, sadly.