Winter Walk

The holly bush, a sober lump of green,
Shines through the leafless shrubs all brown and grey,
And smiles at winter be it eer so keen
With all the leafy luxury of May.
And O it is delicious, when the day
In winter's loaded garment keenly blows
And turns her back on sudden falling snows,
To go where gravel pathways creep between
Arches of evergreen that scarce let through
A single feather of the driving storm;
And in the bitterest day that ever blew
The walk will find some places still and warm
Where dead leaves rustle sweet and give alarm
To little birds that flirt and start away.

Spring's Messengers

Where slanting banks are always with the sun
The daisy is in blossom even now;
And where warm patches by the hedges run
The cottager when coming home from plough
Brings home a cowslip root in flower to set.
Thus ere the Christmas goes the spring is met
Setting up little tents about the fields
In sheltered spots.--Primroses when they get
Behind the wood's old roots, where ivy shields
Their crimpled, curdled leaves, will shine and hide.
Cart ruts and horses' footings scarcely yield
A slur for boys, just crizzled and that's all.
Frost shoots his needles by the small dyke side,
And snow in scarce a feather's seen to fall.

Earth's Eternity

Man, Earth's poor shadow! talks of Earth's decay:
But hath it nothing of eternal kin?
No majesty that shall not pass away?
No soul of greatness springing up within?
Thought marks without hoar shadows of sublime,
Pictures of power, which if not doomed to win
Eternity, stand laughing at old Time
For ages: in the grand ancestral line
Of things eternal, mounting to divine,
I read Magnificence where ages pay
Worship like conquered foes to the Apennine,
Because they could not conquer. here sits Day
Too high for Night to come at--mountains shine,
Outpeering Time, too lofty for decay.

Clare's Diary

December 25.--

Christmas Day: gathered a handful of daisies in full bloom: saw a woodbine and dogrose in the woods putting out in full leaf, and a primrose root full of ripe flowers. What a day this used to be when I was a boy! How eager I used to be to attend the church to see it stuck with evergreens (emblems of eternity), and the cottage windows, and the picture ballads on the wall, all stuck with ivy, holly, box, and yew!

The Fens (excerpt)

The geese in troops come droving up,
Nibble the weeds, and take a sup;
And, closely puzzled to agree,
Chatter like gossips over tea.
The gander with his scarlet nose
When strife's at height will interpose;
And, stretching neck to that and this,
With now a mutter, now a hiss,
A nibble at the feathers too,
A sort of "pray be quiet do,"
And turning as the matter mends,
He stills them into mutual friends;
Then in a sort of triumph sings
And throws the water oer his wings.
(Image - Carry Akroyd)

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With careful step to keep his balance up
He reels on warily along the street,
Slabbering at mouth and with a staggering stoop
Mutters an angry look at all he meets.
Bumptious and vain and proud he shoulders up
And would be something if he knew but how;
To any man on earth he will not stoop
But cracks of work, of horses and of plough.
Proud of the foolish talk, the ale he quaffs,
He never heeds the insult loud that laughs:
With rosy maid he tries to joke and play,--
Who shrugs and nettles deep his pomp and pride.
And calls him "drunken beast" and runs away--
King to himself and fool to all beside.

O Silly Love! O Cunning Love!

O silly love! O cunning love!
An old maid to trepan:
I cannot go about my work
For loving of a man.
I cannot bake, I cannot brew,
And, do the best I can,
I burn the bread and chill the mash,
Through loving of a man.

Shrove Tuesday last I tried, and tried,
To turn the cakes in pan,
And dropt the batter on the floor,
Through thinking of a man.
My mistress screamed, my master swore,
Boys cursed me in a troop;
The cat was all the friends I had,
Who helped to clean it up.

Last Christmas eve, from off the spit
I took the goose to table,
Or should have done, but teasing Love
Did make me quite unable;
And down slipt dish, and goose, and all
With din and clitter-clatter;
All but the dog fell foul on me;
He licked the broken platter.

Although I'm ten years past a score,
Too old to play the fool,
My mistress says I must give o'er
My service for a school.
Good faith! What must I do, and do,
To keep my service still;
I'll give the winds my thoughts to love,
Indeed and so I will.

And if the wind my love should lose,
Right foolish were the play,
For I should mourn what I had lost,
And love another day.
With crosses and with losses
Right double were the ill,
So I'll e'en bear with love and all,
Alack, and so I will.

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The poet's Death

The world is taking little heed
And plods from day to day:
The vulgar flourish like a weed,
The learned pass away.

We miss him on the summer path
The lonely summer day,
Where mowers cut the pleasant swath
And maidens make the hay.

The vulgar take but little heed;
The garden wants his care;
There lies the book he used to read,
There stands the empty chair.

The boat laid up, the voyage oer,
And passed the stormy wave,
The world is going as before,
The poet in his grave.