John Clare Festival 2009

Not too long to this year's John Clare festival at his birthplace in Helpston. 10th - 12th July the weekend is packed with events.

2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the Helpston Enclosure Act, therefore 'Enclosure' will feature in much of the programme.

1.30pm at Helpston Parish Church
The Midsummer Cushion Ceremony. The pupils of the John Clare Primary School, Helpston bring the cushions of flowers to place around the grave of John Clare. The pupils’ prize winning poems are read, followed by a song and prayers.
6pm – a guided walk around Helpston.
6.30 pm – a guided walk around Maxey Pitts
An opportunity to experience this wonderful, brand new wetland reserve being created between Maxey and Etton. Meet outside the old Post Office at 6.15 pm. Transport provided.
8pm Folk music in the Barn at the Exeter Arms.

From 9.30am – coffee in the Botolph’s Barn – behind the church!

10:00am Festival opens in the school hall
Stalls include the John Clare Society sales, booksellers, local tourist offices and exhibitions.
Book for the Coach Tour and the evening performance of ‘Common Ground’ with the poet and story teller Hugh Lupton and the talented musician Chris Woods

10.30am (Marquee)
Welcome and Introduction to the Festival from the Chair of the Society. The Annual Meeting of the Society.

11.15am (Marquee)
President’s address by Ronald Blythe.

12noon – 1:00pm and 1.30pm – 2.30pm
Poetry Workshops in the school for children aged 6 -12 years led by Keely Mills – teacher and Poet Laureate of Peterborough.

Lunches in the Village Hall: John Clare Cottage open, Botolph’s Barn open: Morris Dancers and the Peterborough Folk Dance Society perform.

2:00pm (Marquee)
'Who Hung the Moles?', the story of enclosure – an illustrated talk with poetry readings by Richard Keymer and Richard Astle, from the Langdyke Countryside Trust.
3:00pm Coach outing
To Glinton where Clare went to school and Mary Joyce is buried. There will be a short village walk, poetry and song and teas in the church.

3:00pm Guided walks round Helpston - meet at the Butter Cross

3.15pm – 4pm In the church
Read your favourite poem.

Teas in the Village Hall

In the church another chance to your favourite Clare poem

7:00pm (Marquee)
‘Common Ground’ [Not to be missed]!
With story teller and poet Hugh Lupton
And the renowned musician Chris Woods

Tickets (£10 and £8 concess.) are available in the school hall or from Stamford and Peterborough Tourist Offices.

Later the Northamptonshire folk group Ock 'n Dough play in the Blue Bell.

11:00am Family service in St. Botolph’s Church
Celebrating Clare led by Vic-Chair of the Society Revd. Ron Ingamells.

Footpaths (final) - from Footpaths

Theres somthing rich & joyful to the mind
To view through close & field those crooked shreds
Of footpaths that most picturesqly wind
From town to town or some tree hidden sheds
Where lonely cottager lifes peace enjoys
Far far from strife & all its troubled noise
The pent up artizan by pleasure led
Along their winding ways right glad employs
His sabbath leisure in the freshening air
The grass the trees the sunny sloping sky
From his weeks prison gives delicious fare
But still he passes almost vacant bye
The many charms that poesy finds to please
Along the little footpaths such as these

Now tracking fields where passenger appears
As wading to his waist in crowding grain
Where ever as we pass the bending ears
Pat at our sides & gain their place again
Then crooked stile with little steps that aids
The climbing meets us—& the pleasant grass
& hedgrows old with arbours ready made
For weariness to rest in pleasant shades
Surround us & with extacy we pass
Wild flowers & insect tribes that ever mate
With joy & dance from every step we take
In numberless confusion—all employ
Their little aims for peace & pleasures sake
& every summers footpath leads to joy

Footpaths - from 'Out of Door Pleasures'

The day is all round me the woods and the fields
And sweet is the singing their birds music yields
The waterfall music, there's none such at home
It spreads like a sheet, and then falls into foam
The meadows are mown, what a beautiful hue
There is in green closes as I wander through
A green of all colours, yellow, brown and dark grey
While the footpaths all darkly goes winding away
Creeping onto a foot-brig that crosses a brook
Or a gate, or a stile, and how rustic they look
Some leaning so much that the maidens will go
Lower down with their buckets, and try to creep through
There is nothing more sweet in the fields and the sun
Than those dear little footpaths that o'er the fields run

Footpaths - from 'The Wheat Ripening'

[Image from Simona Cola in Italy]

What time the wheat field tinges rusty brown
& barley bleaches in its mellow grey
Tis sweet some smooth mown baulk to wander down
Or cross the fields on footpaths narrow way
Just in the mealy light of waking day
As glittering dewdrops moise the maidens gown
& sparkling bounces from her nimble feet
Journeying to milking from the neighbouring town
Making life light with song—& it is sweet
To mark the grazing herds & list the clown
Urge on his ploughing team with cheering calls
& merry shepherds whistling toils begun
& hoarse tongued birdboy whose unceasing calls
Join the larks ditty to the rising sun

Footpaths - from 'Jockey & Jinney or First Love'

Wereover many a stile neeth willows grey
The winding footpath leaves the public way
Free from the dusty din & ceasless chime
Of bustling waggons in the summer time
Crossing a brook—were braving storms in vain
Two willows fell & still for brigs remain
Corn field & clover closes leading down
In peacful windings to the neighbouring town

Footpaths - from 'The Beanfield'

A beanfield full in blossom smells as sweet
As Araby, or groves of orange flowers;
Black-eyed and white, and feathered to one's feet,
How sweet they smell in morning's dewy hours!
When seething night is left upon the flowers,
And when morn's sun shines brightly o'er the field,
The bean bloom glitters in the gems of showers,
And sweet the fragrance which the union yields
To battered footpaths crossing o'er the fields

Footpaths - from 'June - The Shepherds Calendar'

[Image: 'June' - Carry Akroyd]

The hay time butterflyes dance up and down
And gads that teaze like whasps the timid maid
And drive the herdboys cows to pond and shade
Who when his dogs assistance fails to stop
Is forcd his half made oaten pipes to drop
And start and halloo thro the dancing heat
To keep their gadding tumult from the wheat
Who in their rage will dangers overlook
And leap like hunters oer the pasture brook
Brushing thro blossomd beans in maddening haste
And stroying corn they scarce can stop to taste
Labour pursues its toil in weary mood
And feign woud rest wi shadows in the wood
The mowing gangs bend oer the beeded grass
Where oft the gipseys hungry journeying ass
Will turn its wishes from the meadow paths