Betty Sell

[Image: Annie Lee]

‘They ask me who I love the best’

They ask me who I love the best
But who I never tell
& when I laugh among the rest
I think of Betty Sell

They ask me who my heart preferred
& much on beauty dwell
I never say a single word
But think of Betty Sell

They talk of who their hearts has won
But mine I never tell
& look as if I knew of none
But think of Betty Sell

Pet MSA61 p91
MP V 303

Betty Sell was the daughter of a labourer at Southorp, near Barnack.  “… and while I was at home in the winter (1819/20) I renewd my acquaintance with a former love and had made a foolish confidence with a young girl at Southorpe and tho it began in a heedless <       >* at Stamford fair from accompanying her home it grew up in to an affection that made my heart ach to think it must be broken for patty was then in a situation that marriage coud only remedy”  *The manuscript leaves a space between 'heedless' and 'at Stamford fair'

John Clare By Himself p111

Betty Sell

When woodbine blossoms twining high
Comingld with the thorn
& busy bees wewed bumming bye
To sip the sweets of morn
A stranger lass with rake afield
Blyth stepping thro the dell
As wisht a swain her name reveald
‘Good morning betty Sell’

She gave me room to climb the stile
I lingerd soodling bye
My jumping heart beheld the smile
& vanishd in a sigh
As bird lime daubs the linnets nest
By her enchantments fell
I pausd me trembling at her feet
A slave to betty sell

Her ringlets black as gloss rind sloes
The hazel melts her eye
As flusht as the dayrosey blows
Who coud gang safly bye
Love unmasked wi a sigh
I gan my story tell
While new charms shone in curls wip'd bye
O charming betty Sell

Ye busy bees intruding round
Some meaner blossom seek
Think not your welcom tho your found
A rose upon her cheek
Your medling insults here decline
To hunt the ether bell
The honey of the flower is mine
While courting betty Sell

While woodbine flowers in wanton twine
Weave round the matted thorn
While bees their humming musick join
To rob the sweets of morn
When ere I wipe the boughs away
To tread the bushy dell
Or be't a year or be't a day
I'll think of Betty Sell

Pet MS B1 p58
EP 1 487
(April 1819)

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