Of Colin & Lucy

You promised me, a year ago,
When autumn bleach'd the mistletoe,
That you and I should be as one;
But now another autumn's gone—
Its solemn knell is in the blast,
And love's bright sun is overcast;
Yet flowers will bloom and birds will sing,
And e'en the winter claim the spring.

The hedges will be green again,
And flowers will come on hill and plain;
And though we meet a rainy day,
The hawthorn will be white with May.
If love and nature still agree,
Green leaves will clothe the trysting-tree;
And when these pleasing days you view,
Think Lucy's heart yet be true.

Love Cannot Die

[Christ Child by Lorna L. Effler (detail)]

In crime and enmity they lie
Who sin and tell us love can die,
Who say to us in slander's breath
That love belongs to sin and death.

From heaven it came on angel's wing
To bloom on earth, eternal spring;
In falsehood's enmity they lie
Who sin and tell us love can die.

'Twas born upon an angel's breast.
The softest dreams, the sweetest rest,
The brightest sun, the bluest sky,
Are love's own home and canopy.

The thought that cheers this heart of mine
Is that of love—love so divine,
They sin who say in slander's breath
That love belongs to sin and death.

The sweetest voice that lips contain,
The sweetest thought that leaves the brain,
The sweetest feeling of the heart—
There's pleasure in its very smart.

The scent of rose and cinnamon
Is not like love remembered on;
In falsehood's enmity they lie
Who sin and tell us love can die.

O Thrice Lucky Town

[Image: 'The Saviour is Born' by Vitali Linitsky]
O thrice lucky town (the more lucky poor creatures)
Who ere could have thought that such luck would be thine
Such a stranger as thou art to things o' like nature
But time bringeth all things to pass—so its sighing

& O' what a blessing o' poor peoples sides
Who just before this were near pining to dead
That his Lordship’s great goodness condescends to provide
An odd sort of something that they may be fed

What a good Christian heart must his honour possess
To 'mean him so low when so high riches rank him
In giving this hodgepodge—they cant do no less
Then down on their knappers & twenty times thank him

And benevolent charity sure such as this is
'll set others a going for the good o poor ce'turs
And warm squeezing Mizers to open their fis'es
And soften the wit-leather hearts of our betters

The Early Poems of John Clare 1804-1822
ed. Eric Robinson, David Powell and Margaret Grainger
(Oxford, 2 volumes, I-II, 1989)

Song: 'How can I sing the songs of love'

How can I sing the songs of love
How can I strike the chords to wake a strain
That every bosom moves
And nothing hears in vain
I've sung of blossoms blooming
In early spring
But these are cold to woman
What shall I sing

Love is the beating heart
That ever hidden secret of the soul
Of faith and life a living part
That animates the whole
'Tis in the bright eyes hidden
On beating bosoms seen
No where on earth forbidden
And woman is its queen

O where can man discover
The pleasure love conceals
But in his faithful lover
Whose ways the truth reveals
'Tis not in joys of earth
But kin to joys above
For woman was its birth
And woman's heart is love

Love and Beauty

WHEN Beauty fills the lover's eyes,
And lives like doubtful weather,
Her bosom seems to sleep with love;
They lie like birds together.

Love finds them angels ready made,
So beautiful and blooming;
But Time comes in, though half afraid,
And rudely calls them woman.

Time, like a robber, every year
Takes all the fame he gives;
While Beauty only goes away,
And Virtue only lives.

The Lovers Song

I've heard thee sing of plaintive things,
And as thy fingers swept the strings,
Thy eyes have wept most tenderly;
Then list awhile till I beguile
Thy heart with sorrow's melody.

A young heart tried a maid to move
And pined to death for very love;
The maiden naught but scorn returned
Nor dropt one tear upon his bier;
He died unhonoured and unmourned.

I knew thou'dst mourn so sad a thing;
Oh, touch, my Anna, touch the string
With sprightlier airs, nor grief endure;
That heart you weep, though wounded deep,
Is yet not past your cure.

The Gardener's Bonny Daughter

[Image: "The Gardener's Daughter; or, the Pictures"]
J. C. Horsley (1857)
The chaffinch in the hedgerow sings, by a brown and naked thorn
By it's tail the titmouse hings searching the buds at morn
I'll wish dirty roads away and the meadows flooded water
And court before I end the day the gardners bonny daughter

She's sweeter than the first of spring , more fair than Christmas roses
When robins by the hovel sings sweet smiles this maid discloses
Her hair so brown her eyes so bright as clear as meadow water
I'll go and have a word tonight with the gardners bonny daughter

Her cheeks they're like a coloured rose, oh a kiss would surely burn ye
Her lips are gems more red than those for love I'll go the journey
When the white thorn comes in bloom and the chaffinch lays it's lauter
I'll walk where singing birds are brief with the gardners bonny daughter

I passed the gardeners house one night my heart burned to a cinder
I saw her face and her eyes so bright she was looking through the window
But when I passed the house again I'd been pounded in a mortar
But she smiled and looked upon me then, so I love the gardeners daughter

I love the gardners daughter -- Ooh that sweet daughter

Child Harold (IV)

[Image: ‘Grey Fox’ by Carry Akroyd]

From: The Winter Canto: Northborough

Tis winter & the fields are bare & waste
The air one mass of ‘vapour clouds & storms’
The suns broad beams are buried & overcast
& chilly glooms the midday light deforms
Yet comfort now the social bosom warms
Friendship of nature which I hourly prove
Even in this winter scene of frost & storms
Bare fields the frozen lake & leafless grove
Are natures grand religion & true love

(lines 901 to 909)

Child Harold (III)

[Image: ‘Bendy Lane’ by Carry Akroyd]

From: The Autumn Canto: Northborough

The floods come oer the meadow leas
The dykes are full & brimming
Field furrows reach the horses knees
Where wild ducks oft are swimming

The skyes are black the fields are bare
The trees their coats are loosing
The leaves are dancing in the air
The sun its warmth refusing

Brown are the flags & fadeing sedge
& tanned the meadow plains
Bright yellow is the osier hedge
Beside the brimming drains

The crows sit on the willow tree
The lake is full below
But still the dullest thing I see
Is self that wanders slow

The dullest scenes are not so dull
As thoughts I cannot tell
The brimming dykes are not so full
As my hearts silent swell

I leave my troubles to the winds
With none to share a part
The only joy my feeling finds
Hides in an aching heart

(lines 840 to 863)

Child Harold (II)

[Image: ‘Summer Parish’ by Carry Akroyd’

From: The Summer Canto: High Beech
[June? – mid-July]

Summer morning is risen
& to even it wends
& still Im in prison
Without any friends

I had joys assurance
Though in bondage I lie—
I am still left in durance
Unwilling to sigh

Still the forest is round me
Where the trees bloom in green
As if chains ne'er had bound me
Or cares had ne'er been

Nature's love is eternal
In forest & plain
Her course is diurnal
To blossom again

For home & friends vanished
I have kindness not wrath
For in days care has banished
My heart possessed both

My hopes are all hopeless
My skys have no sun
Winter fell in youths mayday
& still freezes on

But Love like the seed is
In the heart of a flower
It will blossom with truth
In a prosperous hour

True love is eternal
For God is the giver
& love like the soul will
Endure—& forever

(lines 10 to 41)