Birds Nesting - Chapbook No.13

Here is part of my introduction to Chapbook number 13 - 'Birds Nesting' which was published in  July 2019. 

From my 'introduction':
"The John Clare Peterborough Manuscript MS A47 contained the original text of Clare’s long poem ‘Birds Nesting’.  We owe Eric Robinson a great debt, as if he had not struggled to copy this manuscript 50 years ago, it would only have survived in fragments and in unsatisfactory copies by earlier hands. Of course, it is possible that Eric made mistakes but comparisons can easily be made with readings made by the Tibbles in the 1930s, so readers can judge for themselves.  Perhaps one day the original manuscript will surface again, but in the meantime, it is a real privilege to bring Eric’s transcription to the public eye in this little volume: 'Birds Nesting'.

What happened to the manuscript?  We do not know, nor when exactly it disappeared.  What we do know, however, is that it was loaned to an unnamed scholar by a senior member of the Peterborough Museum Society, and left in a railway compartment between Peterborough and Cambridge.  Was it swept away as waste-paper or is it still being hoarded by some miserly soul?  If the latter, we plead for its restoration to the Peterborough Central Library Clare archive, where it can be properly conserved for future generations.

A spirit of young adventure permeates the texture of Clare’s verse as the reader is brought to join hands with the eager schoolboys scouring the fields around Helpston in the search for birds and their nests.  Clare came to denounce bird-nesting as a hobby, but the excitement of this early pursuit filled his mind and heart with the recollection of those heady days at the turn of the Nineteenth Century."

Birds Nesting (Arbour Chapbook No. 13) is available from me at £4.00 + £1.00 postage and packing (UK).  It is dedicated to Professor Eric and includes a photograph of the great man and one of his poems on the subject of Clare's words.

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