Ann hath a way

Clare's copy of Shakespeare's works (1825) contains lines pretended to be from the pen of the poet to his wife, Anne Hathaway.  The book is further inscribed in Clare's hand 'John Clare / His Book / Novr 15. 1827'

The lines are in Clare's handwriting could well be of his own composition, for we know that he had imitated several of the early poets.  There has been much speculation over the years, but no-one is any further forward as far as I know, to proving or disproving Clare's authorship.  Very interesting...

Would ye be taught, ye feathered throng,   
With love’s sweet notes to grace your song,
To perce the heart with thrilling lay,        
Listen to mine Ann Hathaway!               
She hath a way to sing so clear,               
Phoebus might wondering stop to hear.      
To melt the sad, make blythe the gay,       
& nature charm, Ann hath a way.          
        She hath a way,                             
        Ann Hathaway                          
To breathe delight Ann hath a way!          
When envy’s breath and rancorous tooth,   
Do soil & bite fair worth & truth,         
& merit to distress betray                    
To soothe the heart, Anne hath a way         
She hath a way to chace despair,               
To heal all grief, to cure all care               
Turn foulest night, to fairest day                
Thou know’st fond heart Ann hath a way            
        She hath a way                           
        Ann Hathaway                           
To make grief bliss Ann hath a way.       
Talk not of gems, the orient list,              
The diamond, topaze, amethist,                
The emerald mild, the ruby gay,             
Talk of my gem, Ann Hathaway          
She hath a way with her bright eye,         
Their various colours to defye—                
The jewel she & the foil they,             
So sweet to look, Ann hath a way,          
        She hath a way                              
        Ann Hathaway                             
To shame bright eyes Anne hath a way!

Published in 'Northamptonshire Natural History Society & Field Club' 
Vol XXV - No 199 - September 1929

MP II 345

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