Hopes sun shines sweet...

Here is one of Lady Clementina Hawarden's delicious daughters (whoops, sorry... but they are all so beautiful) - the photo taken in around 1860 - coupled with a Clare sonnet published in our third handmade limited edition volume "In the Shadows".

Hopes sun shines sweet but who of hopes are proud

To see how soon it meeteth with a cloud

How many hopes & memorys went with thee

That forwerd looked to better destiny

Song seems not worth the muses care

Unless to grace it womans love be there

& fame is but a shadow crowned with {     }

Without the cheering sun of womans grace

When thy young bosom at the tales it heard

Heavd up & panted like a timid bird

Thy splendid beauty blushed upon the sight

Like sudden frenzy of unlooked for flight

Thou haven of my trouble when I see

That lovely face the show is past with me

A discovery from the Clare Archive in Peterborough 

by Professor Eric Robinson and Roger Rowe

Any thoughts on the missing word?

Pleasures Past

Springs sweets they are not fled tho summers blossom

Has met its blight of sadness drooping low
Still flowers gone bye find beds in memrys bosom
Lifes nursling buds among the weeds of woe
Each pleasing token of springs early morning
Warms wi the pleasures which we once did know
Each little stem the leafy wood bank 'dorning
Reminds of joys from infancy that flow
Springs early herralds on the winter smileing
That often on their errands meet their doom
Primrose & daisey dreary hours beguiling
Smile oer my pleasures past when ere they come
& the speckt throstle never wakes his song
But lifes past spring seems melting from his tongue

Love & Memory

Thou art gone the dark journey

That leaves no returning
Tis fruitless to mourn thee
But who can help mourning
To think of the life
That did laugh on thy brow
In the beautiful past
Left so desolate now

When youth seemed immortal
So sweet did it weave
Heavens haloo around thee
Earths hopes to decieve
Thou fairest & dearest
Where many were fair
To my heart thou art nearest

Though this name is but there
The nearer the fountain
More pure the stream flows
& sweeter to fancy
The bud of the rose
& now thourt in heaven
More pure is the birth
Of thoughts that wake of thee
Than ought upon earth

As a bud green in spring
As a rose blown in June
Thy beauty looked out
& departed as soon
Heaven saw thee too fair
For earths tennants of clay
& ere age did thee wrong
Thou wert summoned away

I know thou art happy
Why in grief need I be
Yet I am & the more so
To feel its for thee
For thy presence possest
As thy abscence destroyed

The most that I loved
& the all I enjoyed

So I try to seek pleasure
But vainly I try
Now joys cup is drained
& hopes fountain is dry
I mix with the living
Yet what do I see
Only more cause for sorrow
In loosing of thee

The year has its winter
As well as its May
So the sweetest must leave us
& the fairest decay
Suns leave us to night
& their light none may borrow
So joy retreats from us
Overtaken by sorrow

The sun greets the spring
& the blossom the bee
The grass the blea hill
& the leaf the bare tree
But suns nor yet seasons
As sweet as they be
Shall ever more greet me
With tidings of thee

The voice of the cuckoo
Is merry at noon
& the song of the nightingale
Gladdens the moon
But the gayest to day
May be saddest to morrow
& the loudest in joy
Sink the deepest in sorrow

For the lovely in death
& the fairest must die
Fall once & for ever
Like stars from the sky
So in vain do I mourn thee

I know its in vain
Who would wish thee from joy
To earths troubles again

Yet thy love shed upon me
Life more then mine own
& now thou art from me
My being is gone
Words know not my grief
Thus without thee to dwell
Yet in one I felt all
When life bade thee farewell


(Clare wrote in 1828 “Written a good while ago.” – ‘Letters, p436)


Due to the hot weather in July, the humble ragwort seems rather early this year.  Here in Devon it appears in profusion, even in places where it has been persecuted for years.

Ragwort, thou humble flower with tattered leaves
I love to see thee come & litter gold,
What time the summer binds her russet sheaves;
Decking rude spots in beauties manifold,
That without thee were dreary to behold,
Sunburnt and bare-- the meadow bank, the baulk
That leads a wagon-way through mellow fields,
Rich with the tints that harvest's plenty yields,
Browns of all hues; and everywhere I walk
Thy waste of shining blossoms richly shields
The sun tanned sward in splendid hues that burn
So bright & glaring that the very light
Of the rich sunshine doth to paleness turn
& seems but very shadows in thy sight.

John Clare Society Festival

Helpston : 15th-16th July, 2022


Our Annual Pilgrimage for the Festival is now just days away, when quite a lot of us will be meeting to honour the great man, on the anniversary of his birth, this year his 229th birthday!  All sorts of good things are planned.  As usual we will be travelling up from East Devon and will be staying in Northborough for two nights.  


On Friday 15th -- the first day of the Festival - many will wander up Woodgate together to St. Botolph’s church for the Midsummer Cushions ceremony with the children of the John Clare Primary School.  If you have never been, this is a mini-treat in itself, with the children laying their ‘cushions’ around Clare’s grave, and then we follow the children into the church to hear poems, specially written by the children, judged by members of the Society.  


Later in the day my wife Mary and I will be at the Blue Bell for dinner with a few friends and then we will be attending the Folk Evening.  Always fun.  I might even sing one of Clare’s songs again!


The Festival proper gets underway on the Saturday morning, the 16th with the usual mix of events including the AGM of the Society, an address by the President, Carry Akroyd, bookstalls, and much, much more.  Most of the day, Mary and I will be manning our bookstall in Botolphs Barn (next to the old Exeter pub that was), all my books will be at a discount especially for the Festival.


At around 3pm during the afternoon (meet at the Butter Cross) I will be leading a walk around Helpston, seeking out the old pubs that Clare knew and probably we will read a poem here and there.


We will again be at the Blue Bell in the evening for dinner, and a glass or two I’m sure.


It is always a treat to meet with folk that we have met at previous Festivals, but a special joy to meet new friends, especially those that hitherto we have only known via my ‘John Clare Poet’ facebook page.



--- oOo ---

SONG: 'Now the Aprils Gentle Showers'

Now the aprils gentle showers
Notts the thorn for blosom

& the spring the sunny hours
Pricks daiseys on her bosom

Fear nothing love thy shoe to stain
As save the dewey morning
The pasture pads are dryd again
As soons the sun is dawning
Not till then I woud be fain
    To meet thee on the green

Then Ill get thee posies love
Then Ill get thee posies
Rob the woodbines from the grove
& hedgrow of its roses
Cull the cowslips from the lea
Wet wi the dewey morning
Bind it up & keept for thee
Gen the sun is dawning
Thens the time Id wish to see
    Thy beauties cheer the green

EP II 310

The Workhouse

Rural Evening (excerpt)

While at the parish cottage walld wi dirt
Were all the cumbergrounds of life resort
From the low door that bows two props between
Some feeble tottering dame surveys the scene
By them reminded of the long lost day
When she her self was young & went to play
& turning to the painfull scenes agen
The mournfull changes she has met since then
Her aching heart the contrast moves so keen
Een sighs a wish that life had never been

& vainly sinning while she strives to pray
Half smotherd discontent pursues its way

In wispering providence how blest shed been
If lifes last troubles shed escapd unseen
If ere want sneakd for grudgd support from pride
Shed only shard of childhoods joys & dyd
& as to talk some passing neighbours stand
& shoves their box within her tottering hand
She turns from echos of her younger years
& nips the portion of her snuff wi tears

(lines 137-156)

Chapbook No.23 was published on the 2nd April 2022, 

price £5 inclusive of P&P.

Drop me a line : arborfield (at) pm (dot) me